Like any catch-phrase, expository preaching has become quite elastic, used to describe almost any kind of preaching. Over the next couple of days, I thought I might just jot down a few helpful qualifying thoughts from Between Two Worlds by John Stott on the nature of true expository preaching.
*It is Christian preaching.
It is not a style of preaching but a philosophy of preaching.
"...if by an expository sermon is meant a verse by verse explanation of a lengthy passage of Scripture, then indeed it is only one possible way of preaching, but this would be a misuse of the word. Properly speaking, exposition has a much broader meaning. It refers to the content of the sermon (biblical truth) rather than its style (a running commentary). To expound Scripture is to bring out of the text what is there and expose it to view." (p.125,126)
* It is Scripture-dominated preaching.
It is preaching that begins and ends and is centered in the text of God's Word.
"The Christian preacher has a boundary set for him. When he enters the pulpit, he is not entirely a free man. There is a very real sense in which it may be said of him that the Almighty has set him his bounds that he shall not pass. He is not at liberty to invent or choose his message; it has been committed to him, and it is for him to declare, expound and to commend to his hearers..." (p.126)
* It is faithful preaching.
It is preaching that accurately explains the original meaning of the text being considered.
"What did the original author intend his words to mean? That was the question. Moreover it is a question which can with patience be answered, and answered confidently...the biblical authors were honest men, not deceivers, and their writings intended to be understood."
"...to search for its contemporary message without first wrestling with its original meaning is to attempt a forbidden short cut. It dishonours God (disregarding his chosen way of revealing himself in particular historical and cultural contexts), it misuses his Word (treating it like an almanac or book of magic spells) and it misleads his people (confusing them about how to interpret Scripture.)" (p.221)