Engaging Exposition (15): Developing the Main Idea of the Text

By way of summary, we have noted the following as essential components of steps one (studying) and two (structuring) of the hermeneutical process:

1. Study the book as a Whole.

  1. Consider the questions of date, authorship, recipients, and purpose (general matters of introduction.)
  2. Develop an outline of the entire book (study Bibles and commentaries will be helpful.)
  3. Examine the relationship of the passage under consideration in both its near and far context.

2. Establish the Best Textual Base Possible.

  1. Use the original languages if you can.
  2. Compare various versions and translations.

3. Investigate the Text Linguistically (e.g. word by word within its context and semantic range)

  1. Make a lexical (definitional) study of crucial words.
  2. Research the passage for key words, phrases, and ideas.
  3. Track the verbs!
  4. Cross reference.

4. Determine the Genre of the Discourse

  1. What is the literary type (history, poetry, prophetic, apocalyptic)?
  2. What literary devices are used?
  3. Is there any indication of the life situation from which the material came?

5. Analyze The Structure Of The Passage

  1. Determine if the material constitutes a literary unity.
  2. Is there a logical sequence of ideas present?
  3. Isolate the basic themes or emphases.
  4. Outline the text you are studying. Use the outline as the framework for your teaching.

We can also highlight some of the basic interpretive rules we discovered that must constantly guide us in the hermeneutical/homiletical construction process.

  1. The context rules when interpreting the text.
  2. The text must be interpreted in light of all Scripture.
  3. Scripture will never contradict itself.
  4. Scripture should be interpreted literally (or “naturally” according to its genre.)
  5. Do not develop a doctrine from obscure or difficult passages.
  6. Discover the author’s original intended meaning and honor that meaning.
  7. Check your conclusions using reliable resources.

Now, at this point we want to introduce a diagram that provides an overview of where we have been and where we are. It should help you get a grasp of the “big picture” of sermon development.

Akin Triangle

In our pyramidic diagram you can see a number of interesting points and parallels.

1) The hermeneutical and the homiletical beautifully balance one another.

2) Steps 2 and 6 complement each other, as do steps 3 and 5.

3) If the hermeneutical aspect of sermon development is done well, the homiletical component will naturally follow because the latter should flow from the former.

4) This method is simple and easily transferable to others we might teach and instruct in building biblically faithful expository sermons.

Engaging Exposition (1): Preaching God’s Word In a Faithful and Compelling Manner

Later this Spring Broadman & Holman will release a book entitled Engaging Exposition. The book is co-authored by Pastor Bill Curtis (Cornerstone Baptist, Darlington, South Carolina, Ph.D. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary), Pastor Stephen Rummage (Bell Shoals Baptist, Brandon, Florida, Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) and myself. Combined we bring nearly 100 years of study and experience to the glorious and high calling of preaching the infallible and inerrant Word of God. We love the Bible and are committed without reservation or apology to its faithful exposition.

Over the next several weeks I will highlight sections of the book that I hope will be a blessing and encouragement to all who proclaim the “unsearchable” riches of Christ.” We are honored that David Platt was willing to write the Forward to the book. We have also been encouraged by a number of kind words of endorsement from some wonderful expositors and teachers of preaching.

So, we will journey through hermeneutics, homiletics and sermon delivery. My prayer is it will be both instructive and encouraging. Below is the table of contents. You will note there are 10 chapters devoted to each section for a total of 30.

Daniel L. Akin

Section One (Hermeneutics)

Chapter 1: A Journey of Discovery

Chapter 2: The Origins of Biblical Hermeneutics

Chapter 3: The Author’s Intended Meaning in a Text

Chapter 4: Basic Principles of Hermeneutics

Chapter 5: Discovering the Author’s Method of Communication (1)-Prose

Chapter 6: The Author’s Method of Communication (2)-Poetry

Chapter 7: The Importance of Structuring the Text

Chapter 8: Issues Concerning Context

Chapter 9: Discovering the Author’s Language Clues in a Text

Chapter 10: Identifying the Main Idea of the Text

Section Two (Homiletics)

Chapter 11: Developing the Main Idea of the Text and Message

Chapter 12: The Work of Exposition: Structuring the Message

Chapter 13: The Word of Exposition: Developing the Message

Chapter 14: Illustrations: Helping Your People See Bible Truth in Action

Chapter 15: Application: How Does It Work?

Chapter 16: The Introduction: How to Begin Well

Chapter 17: The Conclusion: How to Land the Plane Safely

Chapter 18: Giving an Invitation: Soul Winning from the Pulpit

Chapter 19: Preaching on Special Occasions

Chapter 20: 20 Common Questions and Answers in Crafting Biblical Messages

Section Three (Sermon Delivery)

Chapter 21: What’s the Big Deal about Delivery?

Chapter 22: How We Produced Speech

Chapter 23: Putting Your Best Voice Forward

Chapter 24: Preaching with Your Entire Body

Chapter 25: Making a Lasting Impression

Chapter 26: Your Delivery System

Chapter 27: Style Can Make a Difference

Chapter 28: Preaching to the People in Front of You

Chapter 29: Preaching with Visual Appeal

Chapter 30: The Preacher’s Personal Life and Public Behavior


Daniel L. Akin