Why Expository Studies?

If you spend some time on this blog, you’ll notice that the studies I do in God’s word are largely line by line, or “expository.” Some people may not be familiar with expository studies as many churches tend to only teach in “topical” ways. That is, there is a subject selected and then scriptures are taken to “fit” that subject. Many topical studies can be beneficial; however, they can tend to give you only part of the story.

I think of it like this.¬†Imagine if you are hungry and instead of giving you a satisfying, full, and nutritious meal, I threw a tiny bit of food at you every 6 hours and called it good. While it may be good to get some food rather than nothing, ultimately you will just walk around half fed and starving! It’s the same with God’s word. We need the whole counsel of God, not just bite-sized pieces.

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Photo credit: christthetruth.wordpress.com

With the advent of sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc., we see a lot more bite-sized pieces of the bible thrown around. But the bible is not a buffet table where we pick and choose what we like and leave what doesn’t seem interesting. The danger of treating the bible this way is we do not get a well-rounded, complete picture of who God is.

Scripture in Context

Another reason it is critical to read and study the whole bible line by line rather than picking “pet verses” is that otherwise you risk taking a verse or verses completely out of their intended context. So often we can approach scripture with something on our minds and we search for a way to validate our agenda. We force the scripture into our presupposed idea rather than allowing the truth of scripture to shape our thinking.

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Photo credit: growing4life.net

“A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text.”

D.A. Carson, quoting his father, minister to French- and English- speaking Canadians

This quote means that context is key to rightly understanding God’s word. It means that you don’t use scripture as a “proof” to your agenda. By this you can understand the differences between, say, what scripture is a command and what scripture is simply descriptive. You learn what the whole bible teaches about a specific subject and you will be less likely to make the mistake of basing your doctrine on one verse.

Resources for Expository Study

  • A basic overview of how to read the bible in context: seedbed.com.
  • A nice list, broken up in readable chunks, of how to approach bible reading: Blue Letter Bible
  • Bill Mounce, a former pastor and New Testament and Greek seminary professor, has a very simple and straightforward way of helping you be able to study your bible without aids. He begins the process here: Phrasing Part 1 and continues it with Phrasing Part 2.

More information and expository bible teacher recommendations under Books and Resources: Expository Study

2 thoughts on “Why Expository Studies?

  1. Wow! This passage in Psalm 37 in your short but awesome commentary has been such a blessing. I look forward to studying your material in-depth. I was searching for the background overview of Psalm 37 and came across your material and I am so blessed and looking forward to studying more of your work. Thanks for being a great blessing. John.

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  2. Wow! How well said! The best professor, bar none, I had throughout College and, some 20 years later, in Seminary was Dr Robert Delnay! I remember him giving this quote by Dr Carson the first class I ever had with him in my first semester of Bible College. Now some 51 years later I have not changed my mind and apart from the Word of God is the greatest quote I have ever read. I yet live by that quote.

    If only I had the gift of writing so eloquently as you have demonstrated in this short essay! I cannot foresee how it could have been written any better. Oh that Pastors of churches would get back to expository preaching. I lived by it all of my years of ministry as a pastor and very very rarely deviated.

    Thank you for this article. I accidentally stumbled upon it while looking for Dr Carson’s quote. I hope to read more of your writings should God give me the years and clarity of mind. Although my health is failing me my mind is not. I can only pray that my mind and sight will be the last to go should it be in His glorious Grace to grant me such!

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