“Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2): Its Implications (Part 2)
We previously saw (post #1) that 2 Timothy 4:2, within its context and with careful attention to its wording, provides us with a much needed clarifier and corrective to the pulpit ministry in our local churches. The prescription to “preach the word” is a prescription for ‘expository preaching’ (post #3)—the divinely mandated means (post #2) of feeding God’s flock.
Already we’ve seen that not just any kind of communication fulfills this sacred commission (post #3). Now, in this final post, we’ll briefly unpack two more observations.
The command prescribes a particular content of communication: “the word”. The definite article in Greek here is anaphoric referring to the earlier synonymous term “Scripture” (2 Tim. 3:16). You’ll note that no preposition precedes this direct object of what we are to preach. It doesn’t say to preach ‘about’ (peri), ‘with reference to’ (eis), ‘on the basis of’ (epi), or ‘by means of’ (en) the word; and neither does it say merely to preach. Rather, it is to herald, explain, and apply (cf. post #3) the original God-intended meaning of the Scripture passage in view. It is preaching where the passage of Scripture is the sovereign and the source that dictates the substance, structure, summons, and spirit of the sermon. All else in the sermon is servant to this. The text is king (textus rex). It thus bears the authority of God not man. This has at least three implications…
- ‘Expository preaching’ is driven by the text, not by the felt-needs of the people, philosophies, or even theology. It is text first, which God knows will meet the actual spiritual needs of the people and ought to determine our understanding of the world and doctrine. It is nothing less than an arrogant view of self and blasphemously low view of God’s word that assumes any other source (include one self) has something more important, more relevant, or more helpful to say than what God Himself has said through Scripture.
- ‘Expository preaching’ is derived from the text and thus governed by the original intent of the text, not the agenda of the preacher. The text of Scripture is not merely a resource of the sermon but the source and substance of the sermon. The Scripture is not the proof-text for what the preacher says, rather the preacher proves from the text that it is in fact what God says.
- ‘Expository preaching’ is disclosure of the text. It is exposition not imposition. It is to bring out of the text what is actually there, not impose on the text what is not. This requires developed skills in the original grammar, literary devices, context, and historical and geographical background of a passage in order to extract the God-intended meaning from it. The very skills TSBC exists to equip God’s people in.
Of course, there are those who disparage ‘expository preaching’, claiming it is “outdated”, “irrelevant”, and “doesn’t work.” But God doesn’t think so. Because this command prescribes a particular context of communication: “in season and out of season”. Fruit is seasonal, but expository preaching is not! And it must never be set aside in the name of relevance.
Still some argue that the West is increasingly becoming post-Christian and post-modern and our approach should change to more effectively minister to our age. But they purport to know better than God, for the context of this prescription is for these “last days” (2 Tim. 3:1) in which we are in at present. Moreover, we are to preach expositorily not only despite of, but in light of (“for”) people’s natural intolerance for it (2 Tim. 4:3-4)!
So God says to us, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2). May God raise up another generation of such faithful preachers. Feel you need some equipping toward this end? We’re here to help.
If you would like to learn to preach biblically consider studying with us!