Book Notice: Preaching the Farewell Discourse

Kellum_preaching-the-farewell-discourseYou can’t say you weren’t informed. Scott Kellum’s fine new book, Preaching the Farewell Discourse: An Expository Walk-Through of John 13:31–17:26, is published (B&H, 2014) and available for purchase.

Kellum, Associate Professor of Greek and New Testament at SEBTS, is perfectly positioned to write this book, as he is both an expert in the Farewell Discourse and a seasoned preacher. In the book, he argues that expository preaching is more than the serial public exegesis of a biblical book on Sunday mornings. He argues that preaching is a complex exercise that combines hermeneutics, exegesis, examination of literary context, illustration, and application.

He argues that the structure and concepts of a given text (from its largest to smallest parts) ought to form the structure of your sermon. Kellum says, “In an expository sermon everything about the text should drive the framework of the sermon (in both structure and concept).” (p. 12) In discovering the structure of a passage one discovers the meaning a biblical author wanted to convey. To preach is to discover that meaning and translate it into a contemporary idiom when the church gathers.

In chapter one, Kellum outlines his expository theory, which contains a step-by-step process for doing this. Sermon prep should include: an examination of literary context, identification of the historical context and canonical (whole Bible) context, and preparation of the proclamation, which includes outlining and illustrations (pp. 15–39). Chapter two contains Kellum’s method for analyzing the literary structure and flow of thought of John 13:31–17:26. He employs what linguists and biblical scholars call “discourse analysis” to show readers what he means. (He is clear that this is a way, not the way to study the text –– see p. 227.) Though the terminology may be new and somewhat daunting, Kellum ably explains this approach and demonstrates its payoff for studying the Bible.

Chapters 3–7 contain his study of each major section of the Farewell Discourse using the approach outlined in chapter 2. Each major unit (e.g. 14:1–31) is broken into smaller sections. Sermon sketches of these smaller units show how one moves from text to sermon. Each sketch shows the main idea of the text, main idea of the sermon, and an outline of the text. Two appendices offer practical helps in study resources (Appendix 1) and collected outlines of the Farewell Discourse (Appendix 2).

Kellum closes the book by saying, “Be confident that our Paraclete is working through you to his people. His Word will not return void to him. Set his Word on the wind, and watch the Spirit go where he desires. He requires you to be faithful. Abide in him. May God richly bless your preaching and teaching ministry.” (p. 227) The best books challenge our minds and stir our hearts. This book does both. It is well worth buying.


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