BIBLICAL EXEGESIS AND EXPOSITION 1
What is the relationship between exegesis and exposition?
What is Bible exposition or expository preaching?
This article gives a method for moving from exegesis to ex-
pository preaching. Think of a tower with several spigots: high,
medium, and low. Exegesis is at the top; exposition is at the bot-
tom. The exegete deals with Greek and Hebrew syntax, herme-
neutics, theological arguments, and so forth. Exegesis (the high
spigot) discovers the text's meaning. The pulpit is for teaching
our congregations. A high spigot spills our exegetical work be-
fore the congregation. The medium or low ones permit teaching
to flow from a level more comprehensible for the flock. The ob-
jective is to Communicate, not to drown anyone with our depth.
A pastor should start with exegesis of the text, before seek-
ing to communicate and illustrate it. One cannot communicate
Bible exposition clearly and accurately without first discovering
what the text means. A pastor must know the passage's exegetical
truth, but should communicate that in expository words. Exegeti-
cal study uses the high spigot, exposition opens a lower spigot.
When pastors do not understand this--I speak as one who has
made this mistake, and it is a mistake--they make a premature
assessment: "I taught twenty people for six months, giving them
good stuff! Now, we are down to two, proving how negative peo-
ple are to doctrine." Are there people who are negative to Bible
doctrine? Certainly, but pastors ought to go back to a checklist
1 Editor's note: This article was Chet McCalley's message to the National
Teaching Pastors' Conference, October 8, 1990. One week before the May,
2000, NTPC, the Lord called Chet home. Though he is now at home with the
Lord, we lost a good friend and an outstanding expositor. In memory of Chet,
we replayed the tape of his 1990 message ten years later during the first ses-
sion of the May, 2000, NTPC. This article comes from a posthumously edited
transcription. It is our privilege to share it with our readers.
Biblical Exegesis and Exposition 3
and ask, "Does my study move from exegesis down to expository
teaching?" If not, we pastors certainly bear the blame. The pastor
is responsible both for teaching the nine-year old and his parents,
is he not? Yes, indeed, a shephard cares for lambs, not just adult
Exegesis: Exposition's Foundation
Upon what does expository teaching rest? The foundation of
exposition is exegesis, but what does that word mean? It is the
process of determining the meaning of a text of Scripture, the
word of God.
It is important to understand "determining the meaning."
Many simply advocate reading the Bible and blindly asking,
"How does this apply to me?" Application, though essential, is
the last step. Moreover, one must base it upon the text's meaning
to the original audience, in the language and the culture in which
it was spoken. The objective meaning (apart from a reader's sub-
jective response to it) must be the focus. Exegesis is to lead forth,
to let the word speak for itself. Imposing a sermon on the Bible
(not letting it speak) is eisegesis (reading into God's word). The
basis of exposition is the meaning that comes from Scripture.
The word exegesis (or exegete) occurs six times in the New
Testament. No lexicon or Greek dictionary determines the mean-
ing of exegesis. When teachers drilled us in using dictionaries, I
asked, "How does Webster know everything?" No dictionary is
greater than its contributors' word studies.
To illustrate, saying "I have a shibglub" does not many
clues. Picture something that a pastor might have. Context can
eliminate many options. For example, "A shibglub is in my
pocket." That narrows the possibilities. A shibglub must be small
enough to fit in a pocket. Contextual usage defines words. Usage
is the key! An item larger than a pocket could not be a shibglub
(unless it can come in different sizes).
4 CTS Journal 6 (October-December 2000)
Next, "I took the shibglub out of my pocket to wipe my
forehead." Contextually it must resemble a handkerchief. These
three uses of this word eliminate many other possibilities. Usage
always determines meaning. The pastor's best friend is the con-
cordance (whether on paper or in electronic form).
His best friend is not the lexicon. Consider the word exege-
sis (or exegete). Usage of this word-group in Scripture is more
useful than any definition that a dictionary may offer. Context is
the key. What is the Biblical concept for the word e@evoma@
(exhgeomai "to exegete")?
And they (began) to relate their experiences on the road and how
He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.2
Two disciples met Jesus on the road to Emmaus. After walk-
ing with them, He broke bread and they recognized Him. The
disciples began to relate something to others. The word relate is
exegete (exhgeomai). The New King James Version translates
the word as told: And they told about the things that had hap-
pened on the road. . . .3 The disciples began to tell or relate their
experiences on the road and how they recognized Jesus during a
meal. Exegesis deals with objective truth, because what they said
was true. They began to exegete or tell about their objective ex-
periences. It refers to explaining objective truth.
No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten God who is
in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
2 Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture citations are from the New American
Standard Bible (NASB), copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1994 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
3 New King James Version. (Nashville: Nelson, 1982). Used by permission.
Biblical Exegesis and Exposition 5
The New American Standard Bible translates the verb as has
explained. The New King James Version assigns the meaning told
in Luke, but now uses declared in John 1:18, . . . He has declared
Him. Did Christ give a subjective or objective explanation of the
Father? Again, this is objective truth!
. . . and after he had explained everything to them, he sent them
An angel explained to Cornelius that he should arrange for
Peter to meet him. Cornelius gathered like-minded men together
after the angel had explained [exegeted] everything to them. . . .
Acts 15:12, 14
And all the multitude kept silent, and they were listening to
Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and won-
ders God had done through them among the Gentiles. . . .
"Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about tak-
ing from among the Gentiles a people for His name.
The New King James Version uses declaring and declared
for relating and related. Paul and Barnabas relate or declare (exe-
gete) certain facts at the Jerusalem Council (verse 12). Paul
related objective signs and wonders? Simon Peter does likewise
in verse 14. Peter related/exegeted objective facts. Exegeting a
text explains objective truth or fact.
And after he had greeted them, he (began) to relate one by one
the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his
Again, the New King James Version uses a slightly different
translation: . . . he told in detail those things which God had done
6 CTS Journal 6 (October-December 2000)
among the Gentiles through his ministry. Paul objectively related
or told (exegeted) what God had done among the Gentiles during
his evangelistic journeys.
Exegesis refers to the explaining, declaring, telling, or relat-
ing of objective truth.4 Now, what elements of exegesis are nec-
essary for an accurate textual meaning?
Elements of Exegesis
Why should a pastor examine the Hebrew Old Testament
and the Greek New Testament? The strongest claim made by the
Bible is this: Thus saith the Lord ("This is God speaking"). The
Old Testament uses similar expressions about 3800 times. The
reminder that "This is God's word" appears an average of four
times per page.5 The fact that Scripture is His word means, even
dictates, that we ought to be careful and precise in studying it.
Exegesis requires examining original languages.
Helpful tools enable interpreters to know what the gram-
mars say about biblical passages. Timothy Owings indexed eight
4 If our congregations spoke Greek and Hebrew fluently, we could communi-
cate exegesis is the original language--as in the above examples. However,
our congregations speak English. The form of English that they use is not the
same as the technical vocabulary of the original language tools. Thus, we face
a problem that is analogous to Nehemiah 8:8, where Ezra give(s) the sense of
the Law (written in Hebrew) to returned exiles whose Hebrew had started slip-
ping. Although one could call the whole process exegesis, modern parlance
regards exposition as to give the sense. The modern use of exegesis is narrower
than the biblical meaning, but is not contrary to it.
5 This assumes an Old Testament with about 950 pages. Page size, print size,
and the number of notes affect the number of pages required.
Biblical Exegesis and Exposition 7
major grammars.6 He enables one to consult quickly even major
grammar's analysis of a passage. For Matthew 1:1, he says,
"MHT III 167; ROB 780, 793, 795"7 (Moulton-Howard-Turner,
Grammar, vol. 3, page 167, and Robertson, Grammar, pages 780,
793, and 795). Only two of the eight grammars directly refer to
this verse. Saying, "I consulted every major grammar's analysis
of this passage" is impressive--unless people know that this
book exists (leaving the aura of scholarly dignity intact). Unfor-
tunately, lack of interest caused this gem to go out of print. This
is a tragic commentary on how few pastors now exegete.
My first Greek class (at age seventeen) motivated me to do
scholarly work, but to avoid parading it. Students always made it
a point to be early to that class (a five hour course), not to get on
the front row, but the last row. Dr. Brunner, the beginning Greek
teacher, had been an assistant to A. T. Robertson, so no one
wanted to answer his questions in class. He was too awe-
inspiring. He did not need to carry a New Testament, because he
had memorized it. Good texts, grammars, and lexical tools exist
for the rest of us! Our congregations need teaching that results
from solid scholarship, but we should not make our abilities seem
6 F. Blass and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and
Other Early Christian Literature, trans. and rev. Robert W. Funk (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1961); J. A. Brooks and C. L. Winbery, Syntax of
New Testament Greek (Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1979);
H. E. Dana and J. R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament
(New York. Macmillan, 1927); C. F. D. Moule, An Idiom Book of New Testa-
ment Greek (Cambridge: University Press, 1959); J. H. Moulton, A Grammar
of New Testament Greek; vol. 1, Prolegomena, 3d ed., by J. H. Moulton (Edin-
burgh: Clark, 1908); vol. 2, Accidence, by J. H. Moulton (Edinburgh: Clark,
1929); vol. 3, Syntax, by N. Turner (Edinburgh: Clark, 1963); and vol. 4, Style,
by Nigel Turner (Edinburgh: Clark, 1976); A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the
Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, 4th ed. (New York:
Hodder & Stoughton, 1923); A. T. Robertson and W. H. Davis, A New Short
Grammar of the Greek Testament, 10th ed. (New York: Harper, 1931); M.
Zerwick, Biblical Greek Illustrated by Examples, ed. and trans. Joseph Smith
(Rome: Pontifical Bible Institute, 1963).
7 Timothy Owings, A Cumulative Index to New Testament Greek Grammars
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983), 13.
8 CTS Journal 6 (October-December 2000)
unapproachable. Rather than intimidating the flock, we should
challenge and equip them for the work of ministry.
Expository preaching never implies sacrificing exegesis. For
those who share our belief in the absolute authority of the Scrip-
ture, the accuracy of little things argues strongly for careful study.
The gospel record sometimes focuses on little things. Consider
Matthew 26:16: So from that time he (Judas) sought opportunity to
betray Him. Matthew consistently uses parad@dmm@ (paradid-
wmi, "to betray") to describe the act of Judas in betraying Jesus
(cf. Matthew 10:4; 26:16, 21, 46; 27:3). The one who betrays (in
Matthew) is always singular.
After the death and resurrection of Christ, Peter makes a
fascinating point (Acts 3:13a). He also uses paradidwmi, but
this passage is different. Peter preaches and says,
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers,
has glorified his servant Jesus, the one whom you (plural) deliv-
ered up (paradidwmi) and disowned. . . .
You delivered up is the same word, but it is a second person plural
you!8 Whereas Matthew spoke of betrayal as the singular act of
Judas, Peter addresses the nation saying, "You (plural)." In one
sense the act uniquely belongs to Judas, but it is also the whole
nation's responsibility. A change to the plural reveals this. Pastors
ought to respect the word of God, painstakingly interpreting its
words. Many other similar examples exist,9 so language belongs
to the elements of exegesis.
8 English no longer distinguishes you (singular) and ye (plural), except in the
South, y'all. The King James Version used you (singular) and ye (plural).
9 For example, Galatians 3:16 emphasizes a singular versus a plural. Acts 2:29
makes the point that David did not speak of himself in Psalm 16, since he was
buried in a well-known tomb. Matthew 22:45 proves that Psalm 110 that the
son of David is also his Lord, which invalidates a pharisaic argument against
Christ. Small details can have major implications, because this is God's word.
Biblical Exegesis and Exposition 9
Although sound hermeneutics is the foundation of accurate
exegesis, some interpretive systems distort the literal meaning.
The most common method of destructive hermeneutics is al-
legorizing (spiritualizing). This makes the literal secondary to the
supposedly superior allegorical meaning. An example of this dis-
astrous method is the Epistle of Barnabas, a veritable loose can-
non of speculation. He merely uses Moses as a springboard.
Now, in that Moses said, "Ye shall not eat swine, nor an eagle,
nor a hawk, nor a crow, nor any fish which has no scales on it-
self," he included three doctrines in his understanding. More-
over he says to them in Deuteronomy, "And I will make a
covenant of my ordinances with this people (emphasis mine)."10
What are those doctrines to which the Epistle of Barnabas
refers? He introduces them with the phrase he means.
So then the ordinance of God is not abstinence from eating, but
Moses spoke in the spirit. He mentioned swine for this reason:
you shall not consort, he means, with men who are like swine
[who forget the Lord when they have plenty to eat]. . . . "Neither
shalt thou eat the eagle, nor the hawk, nor the kite, nor the
crow." Thou shalt not, he means, joint thyself to such men [who
do not work, but steal from others (emphasis mine)]. . . . 11
His interpretive errors are rife. As a start, he:
1. denies that God literally forbade eating certain animals,
2. allegorizes "eating" into "associating with,"
3. allegorizes various animals into classes of people.
10 The Epistle of Barnabas 10:1-2, in The Apostolic Fathers, trans. Kirsopp
Lake, LCL (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; London: Heinemann,
11 Ibid. 10:3-5.
10 CTS Journal 6 (October-December 2000)
His approach lacks hermeneutical controls. Not only does he
speculate about theology, but biology, "For this animal [the wea-
sel] gives birth with its mouth."12 We must be more careful than
the Epistle of Barnabas in interpretation.
Allegorizing is not the only type of interpretive problem. It
is also easy to distort the historical meaning with a parallel-
passage approach (saying, "Let's go over to this passage"). When
Dr. Merrill Unger taught the book of Zechariah, he would not al-
low us to use a typical Hebrew Bible. It seemed crazy to buy
Zechariah bound separately. He said, "Read Zechariah with refer-
ence only to Zechariah. Cross-reference is fine, but not now.
Read it only with reference to Zechariah." This is insightful.
Other methods try to read Ephesians into Exodus, intra-biblical
eisegesis: reading Scripture into non-parallel Scriptures.
Teaching emphatically from the text and emphasizing doc-
trine eventually causes a congregation to ask, "How do you know
that this is what it means? What is the proof? Is the whole world
wrong and you alone are right? What says that this interpretation
is correct? That is not the way my denomination interprets it! Are
we not all free to interpret as we wish?" Interpreting as one
wishes reduces God's word to a subjective, confusing thing. The
congregation must be able to say, "I can prove what it means."
The congregation's growth in this area is an important aspect of
the saints being equipped to do the work of the ministry (Ephe-
sians 4:12). How one interprets Scripture is a crucial issue.
Again, sound hermeneutics are essential to proper exegesis.
Recently, an unbelieving professor in Florida, made an in-
teresting remark. He said, "I do not agree with what you believe,
although it is what the Bible says." He is honest in this regard. As
far as the meaning goes, people who know Greek sometimes may
not like or believe it, but still know that this is what it says.
12 Ibid. 10:8.
Biblical Exegesis and Exposition 11
The structure of Scripture is as inspired as the words of
Scripture. Hebrew often expresses ideas in parallel lines. Though
often missed, this structure balances thoughts and ideas against
their counterparts. When the first line says something and the
second (using different words) means the same thing, it is syn-
onymous. If the second line states the opposite (posi-
tive/negative), it is antithetic. Parallel structure is a good teaching
Why? These structures show that the Bible has design. The
architecture of biblical passages is a strong argument against
various liberal schools of thought that deny its inspiration and
inerrancy (freedom from error). The various parallel-line struc-
tures can bolster his congregation's appreciation of biblical truth.
Genesis 11 illustrates chiasm (sandwich parallelism). Verse 9 re-
fers to something that verse 1 says. Verse 8 does the same for
verse 2, and so forth. This structure repeats throughout the first
nine verses. Is any doctrine inherent in this structure? God's
awareness about what is happening (verse 5a) is the centerpiece.
Liberals suggest that this structure is mere chance, as various edi-
tors cut and paste snippets from this story and that story together.
Did this chiasm just happen? It is time for those liberals to be-
come serious about the Bible and to stop playing games.
12 CTS Journal 6 (October-December 2000)
How could the structure of Genesis 11:1-9 reflect the unity
of God's word any better?13 Pastors need to use all of the tools of
exegesis, so that their congregation's appreciation for Scripture
will grow. We must not take it for granted. The evidences that the
Bible is God's supernatural book for man are everywhere.
Thus, patterns of parallelism also apply to larger contexts.
Genesis 6:11-8:22 is a prime illustration.
A. God resolves to destroy (6:11-13),
B. Noah builds an ark (6:14-22),
C. God commands men and women to enter (7:1-3),
D. The flood begins (7:10-12),
E. The flood prevails for 150 days (7:24),
E´. The flood recedes for 150 days (8:2-3).
D´. The earth dries (8:13-14),
C´. God commands men and women to exit (8:15-19).
B´. Noah builds an altar (8:20).
A´. God resolves not to destroy (8:21-22).
The centerpiece of this passage is that God remembers
Noah. This emphasizes God's grace in the midst of judgment.
Does Scripture teach that truth elsewhere? In the midst of divine
wrath one regularly finds expressions of grace. Our teaching
should reflect God's inspired structure. That is good teaching.
13 Allen P. Ross, Creation and Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition
of Genesis (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988). This commentary on Genesis by Al-
len Ross emphasizes antithetic parallelism. The unity, which this reveals,
shows that the once popular notions of the Documentary Hypothesis have
failed. Likewise, it also is evidence against more modern schools of thought
that also promote destructive criticism of the Bible.
Biblical Exegesis and Exposition 13
Charlie Clough has worked extensively on the structure
form of the Psalms (lament psalms, praise psalms, and so forth).14
One determines a psalm's kind by what predominates. Praise
psalms emphasize praise. Lament psalms focus on complaint.
Clough emphasizes, for example, that (national or individual) la-
ment psalms usually have this order: (1) address to God, (2) la-
ment, (3) a trust section, (4) petition, (5) praise. That structure
Although Psalm 6 is unquestionably a lament of David, its
sequence is different. This psalm turns the normal order around.
Notice the petition (verses 4-5): Return, O Lord, rescue my soul,
precedes the lament in verse 6: I am weary with my sighing.
He placed the petition before the lament. How does one who
is in trouble pray?15 When mired in deep trouble, one does not
pray: "Thou great, almighty, omniscient God, we praise Thee
for. . . ." The emotion of the need pushes the lament (complaint)
forward. This structure shows this Psalm's emotion. David is
emotional; he feels it. Urgency brings it forward. Faithful exposi-
tion must communicate David's emotion, because that is central.
If we do not reveal the tone and the structure, we really do not
14 Charles Clough, unpublished sermon notes, Lubbock Bible Church, Lub-
bock, TX, n.d. Published works on this topic also exist, but unfortunately, they
tend to stray into abuses of this. Other than Clough's work, one can only make
qualified bibliographic recommendations here. (This is similar to recommend-
ing Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English
Lexicon of the Old Testament [Oxford: Clarendon, 1907]. BDB is an important
work, but not for the theologically unstable or uninformed).
With regard to forms in the Psalms, it is possible to give a qualified rec-
ommendation to a basic introduction: Bernhard W. Anderson, Out of the
Depths, the Psalms Speak for Us Today, rev. ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster,
1983). He tends to do well in classifying the various Psalms and identifying
the different sections within each psalm for making outline divisions. He does
not explain the grammatical basis for making those divisions. Furthermore,
one cannot recommend Anderson's interpretations of those psalms.
15 The Psalmist thought that he was going to die.
14 CTS Journal 6 (October-December 2000)
preach the word; we are preaching our sermon. Sermons do not
edify believers, but God's word does.
Likewise the book of Acts has an undeniable structure.
Seven times in Acts, a narrative of history precedes a summary of
the period.16 Each cycle covers about five years. In the beautiful
and forceful Acts 12:20-24, Luke calmly looks back at a period
of turmoil. For each summary (verse 24 here), ask, "Why did he
summarize it that way? What happened that brought him to this
summary?" Acts 12:20-24 follows:
Now he was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; and
with one accord they came to him, and having won over Blastus
the king's chamberlain, they were asking for peace, because their
country was fed by the king's country. And on an appointed day
Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the ros-
trum and (began) delivering an address to them. And the people
kept crying out, "The voice of a god and not of a man!" And im-
mediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not
give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died. But
the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied.
The word of the Lord continued to grow! Verse 24 is the
summary, but note verse 23! God removed Agrippa, but the word
of God continued to progress. These progress reports of Acts
look back at the events, indicating such things as, King Agrippa
could not stop the gospel, because the word of God moves on.
When we miss the structure of God's word, we fail to exe-
gete. We are preaching sermons on the text, rather than preaching
the text itself. This ought not to be the case.
16 Acts contains seven narrative sections, each of which ends with a progress
report. The following lists the seven sections.
1. 1.1-2.47 3. 6.8-9.31 5. 12.25-16.5 7. 19.21-28.31
2. 3.1-6.7 4. 9.32-12.24 6. 16.6-19.20
Biblical Exegesis and Exposition 15
Determination of Theme
Another tool of exegesis is determination of theme. Every
preacher, even those of the first century under the inspiration of
God such as Peter,17 has a theme. Preachers love to say certain
things (their themes). It is such a delight to preach them. For ex-
ample, in Acts 2:23-24, 36; 3:13-15; 4:10; and 5:3, what did Pe-
ter love to say? "You Israelites killed him! God raised him!"
Repeatedly, that barb comes through. Peter loves antithesis! This
is what you did to him. This is what God the Father did. "You
killed him. God raised him!" "Kill Him," was the verdict of
man's court. God's court says, "Out!" and He came forth from
the grave. Moreover, Peter loves to do that repeatedly.
Missing the theme of the text leads to imposing our own
onto the text. Then we do not preach the Word, we preach our
sermons. This does not edify.
Expression or Exposition
A good definition of Bible exposition is: The skill of trans-
lating careful exegesis into food for sheep. Scholarly work in
exegesis is necessary, but we are not here to impress scholars. We
have congregations that come for food. They come to grow and
to develop. Expositional skill is taking all the technical data and
presenting it in a form that sheep can understand.
The pastor who knows how to feed sheep will have sheep. If
he does not, he ought to look at one of two things. Maybe he is
not a pastor, or maybe he needs to assume responsibility and say,
"Perhaps, my thinking about exposition needs to change."
Just because people come only sporadically on Sundays or
do not return, should we suppose they are negative to doctrine?
17 This only refers to the apostles, prophets, or their close associates that God
moved to write Scripture. No one can add books to our God-breathed Bible.
16 CTS Journal 6 (October-December 2000)
They may be, but do not start at that point. It is more responsible
for a pastor to say, "Perhaps, I am not converting my exegesis
into food for them. Perhaps, my message uses a spigot that is too
high on the tower." We cannot ignore this.
Summarizing, exegesis has to do with determining the truth
of the text. Exposition follows completing all the homework with
technical matters. Now, the pastor is ready to present the truth
determined by exegesis.
Clarity Is Essential to Presentation
Clarity is the collection of everything determined by exege-
sis then reduced to the simplest sentence that communicates. The
purpose of teaching is not to confuse or impress. The task is to
communicate! Returning to the analogy of a tower with a spigot,
spend as much time in the lower part of the tower (exposition), as
in the higher part (exegesis). It can be difficult to present exegesis
as clear and accurate exposition. Spend time on this step.
Should one preach grammatical terms? They can be mean-
ingless, even for many people who know them. What is a Hebrew
casus pendens?18 Must every sheep hear, "It is a casus pendens"?
How edifying! Everyone needs to know that! Take the names of
the cases, for example, genitive. What does genitive mean to
most people? Is it not necessary to translate a genitive into some-
thing people understand? In addition, those good Latin terms,
such as accusative of general reference are not part of the sheep's
vocabulary.19 While a good exegete ought to know these things,
as an expositor, he must focus on making clear what he has exe-
getically determined from the text.
18 This is a word that is grammatically isolated from its natural function in a
clause. It usually is the first word in its clause.
19 This is a rare usage of the accusative case that generally makes a broad
qualification or limitation of a verbal idea.
Biblical Exegesis and Exposition 17
A professor said, "After making a beautiful cabinet, what
should the carpenter display? His tools or his workmanship?"
Proper use of the language tools is more important than helping
people understand those language tools. Similarly, why not use
the tools to create a good meal, but serve them the meal (not the
tools)? Who would enjoy a dinner consisting of a raw piece of
steak, a stick of butter, a pan, some garlic and sliced mushrooms?
Are those things essential? Absolutely, but despite our imagina-
tion, they are not a meal until the steak is barbequed and the
mushrooms sautéed. Likewise, exposition must display the end
result of careful exegesis in a way that the congregation can rec-
ognize as food. Otherwise, it cannot edify the flock.
Study does not only occur behind a desk. Why not learn be-
tween the office and the lunchtime destination? Look out the
window (after all, it is God's creation!). It just may portray truth.
Learn to think this way: "This really illustrates that doctrine."
Consider, for example 1 Corinthians 15:3, starting with exe-
gesis: Christ died for [u , huper] our sins. . . . That passage
requires carefully determining the meaning of the preposition hu-
per. What is the case of its object? One might also want to look at
anti, a somewhat related preposition. Christ died huper ("for")
our sins. The doctrine of the substitutionary death rides on the
little preposition huper.20
A pastor could read explanations of huper from the lexi-
cons, from the grammars, and so forth to his congregation. More-
over, the use of this preposition in classical Greek, in Koine
20 Exegetes often become technical on this issue because liberals have attacked
this doctrine and the use of this preposition. An excellent technical presenta-
tion of evidence supporting a conservative view comes from Bruce K. Waltke,
"The Theological Significations of @ and in the New Testament,"
Th.D. dissertation (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1958). Understanding the
arguments helps pastors protect their flocks.
18 CTS Journal 6 (October-December 2000)
Greek, in the New Testament, and in this epistle is vital and of-
fers amazing insights into this verse. However, teaching this doc-
trine to children can show whether our message is exposition or
raw exegesis. The question is not accuracy, for exegesis has al-
ready given us the meaning of the passage, rather the issue is
whether we open a spigot that is low enough. Two scenarios
show the difference.
In the first, we set children in front and present the gospel.
In this case, we tell a group of nine year olds that Christ died on
behalf of them. Paul used the word huper. Children just love
Greek! Just imagine their excitement as they anticipate going to
school and telling their friends, "Christ died huper our sins."
In another scenario, imagine using a small cross for illustrat-
ing that Christ has taken the penalty of our sins upon Himself on
the children's level. Place a paper ring with the word "SINS" on a
boy's head. Humor can capture their attention, "We only put it on
boys because it does not apply to girls. This ring on Kevin's head
represents the fact that he is a sinner. Now, Kevin, Christ died for
our sins. Where did Jesus place your sins?" He points to the
cross. We take "SINS" from his head and put them on the cross.
Is that useful doctrine? Sure it is, even though Kevin has no un-
derstanding of the exegetical usage of huper. The doctrine re-
mains the same, but choosing the right spigot enables exposition
Effective exposition may contrast truth with compassion
against truth that lacks it. For example, in Acts chapter 9, did
God answer Ananias' wrong thinking with truth alone? Or, do
verses 11-13 communicate truth with compassion?
So the Lord said to him, "Arise and go to the street called
Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of
Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. "And in a vision he has seen a
Biblical Exegesis and Exposition 19
man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so
that he might receive his sight." Then Ananias answered, "Lord,
I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has
done to Your saints in Jerusalem. " And here he has authority
from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name."
Ananias rejection of divine viewpoint and wisdom clearly
evidences carnality. In effect, he says: "Lord, I have heard from
many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints in
Jerusalem. . . and (by inference) do You think I will go to his
house?" That deserves rebuke, does it not? He rebelled against
divine viewpoint by challenging divine wisdom.
God says none of those things, but instead gives Ananias a
little more truth to correct his ignorance.
But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine
to bear My name before the Gentiles, kings, and the children of
Israel. " For I will show him how many things he must suffer for
My name's sake" (Acts 9:15-16).
"Go. . . ." repeats truth. "Let Me give you reasons. Let Me
support why you ought to do this. I am not going to rebuke your
lack of wisdom, or your resisting My viewpoint. He is a chosen
vessel, a chosen instrument to Me. He shall bear My name before
the Gentiles." Ananias went.
God did not sternly give truth without compassion, saying
"Ananias, you rebel, you are rejecting truth." Neither did He ex-
press compassion without truth, saying, "Ananias, I understand
and would be scared spitless, too. Thank you for listening. Thank
you for letting Me share this with you, but I will choose someone
else." The message was both compassionate and truthful. It cor-
rected him without destroying him.
God presented truth with compassion. Likewise, it is impor-
tant that a pastor stand for truth, but have some feeling and some
20 CTS Journal 6 (October-December 2000)
compassion for his sheep. What does compassion have to do with
communication? 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says that it has everything
to do with it. When we are not compassionate, it shows. People
understand this well. We must not only determine what the pas-
sage teaches (exegesis), but we must communicate it compas-
sionately and clearly. It is God's part to prepare the hearers to
receive that meal and (by it) to grow.
Those who hear us may include spiritual giants and those
who have no background in the Bible. Give the poor soul coming
for the first time a break! The fact that he found the church door
may indicate that he has already overcome tremendous barriers.
After all, sleep is so wonderful on Sunday morning. Give this
poor fellow credit for hoping, "Maybe they can teach me some-
thing." He is so ignorant that he thinks John 3:16 is room sixteen
on the third floor. He is looking to you for some teaching that
What happens if the pastor's philosophy of the Sunday
morning message is: "The name of this game is exegesis." The
newcomer says, "What is that?" Opening a spigot that is too high
can still bless the spiritual giant. He is impressed because the pas-
tor digs into the Word. However, that message does not do any-
thing positive for the newcomer. A balance is necessary.
Preaching should challenge the spiritual giants without neglecting
those who are biblically illiterate.
Do not neglect exegesis. Do not lower the standards, but
raise them by increasing your ability to exposit. Go deeper, but
learn how to open the spigot a little bit lower. This is enormously
helpful in the exposition of the Word of God. It may improve
your ministry. It may even lead to saying, "Maybe he was not so
negative to doctrine. Maybe he just did not understand what I was
trying to say." It is our responsibility to find out exactly what the
Bible means and to communicate that message clearly and accu-
Biblical Exegesis and Exposition 21
rately. We must both exegete and exposit. Unless we translate
exegesis into exposition our message is as a sounding brass: We
alone receive edification. Exposition translates exegesis into the
language of the sheep and the lambs. Then and only then are the
The late Chester McCalley was the pastor of Beth Haven Church
in Kansas City for 40 years. He was on the National Board of
Advisors of Chafer Theological Seminary, a frequent Bible con-
ference speaker, and author of many publications and tapes,
which are still available. For further information, please contact
email@example.com, or call (800) 326-4414.