Preaching…Not A Running Commentary (Ferguson)

Some Pastors and Teachers: Reflecting a Biblical Vision of What Every Minister is Called to Be Ferguson, Sinclair B. cover image

In his collection of previously published articles (Some Pastors and Teachers), Sinclair Ferguson shared some of his helpful thoughts on preaching in the chapter called “Exegetical Preaching.” (This chapter is also found in the 1986 book, “The Preacher and Preaching” – edited by Samuel T. Logan.) I appreciated the section where Ferguson noted that exegetical/expository preaching is not simply a spoken verse-by-verse commentary on the text:

…Exegetical preaching should not be confused with a homiletical running commentary on the text. The function of the exegetical sermon is not limited to furnishing information. Rather, it is dominated by a message, and is intended to produce action as well as to impart instruction. Indeed precisely because this is a function of the teaching of Scripture (grace leads to faith, indicative lead to imperatives), it is also necessarily a dimension of exegetical preaching. The words of Jonathan Edwards about his own preaching are equally applicable to exegetical and to textual preaching:

“I should think myself in the way of my duty, to raise the affections of my hearers as high as I possibly can.… Such preaching has been thought to have the greatest tendency to answer the ends of preaching.… Our people do not so much need to have their heads stored, as to have their hearts touched; and they stand in need of that sort of preaching which has the greatest tendency to do this.”

Exegetical preaching seeks to do this precisely because it is biblical preaching and recognizes that, as such, it will speak to the whole man, not exclusively to men as a cerebral being.

Sinclair Ferguson, Some Pastors and Teachers, p.652.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

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