My Definition of Preaching

March 8th, 2012| Topic: aBeLOG, Definition | 4

My Definition of Preaching

Welcome to the “reincarnated” aBeLOG. In its previous existence, this name served, for five plus years, as the label for a weekly devotional (that one now has been baptized as RaMbLeS—also located on HOMILETIX). The new aBeLOG is intended to serve as a preaching blog.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
2 Timothy 3:16–4:2

Well, I suppose it is only appropriate that I commence a preaching blog with my definition of preaching. To be honest, the possessive preposition is not entirely accurate. What follows is a substantial reworking of a definition that has itself evolved from the days of Haddon Robinson when he was teaching at Dallas Seminary in the 1970s and 80s (and reflected in his textbook on preaching, Biblical Preaching) to the time of the current crop of homiletics profs at this institution, among whom, dear reader, is included your humble blogger. And what I have come up with here is a modified version of what is propounded in our preaching classes.

Here it goes:

Preaching is
the communication—
in a gathering of Christians for worship—
by a leader of the church
of a biblical idea that is
discerned by a theological exegesis of a pericope of Scripture,
and applied to that specific body of believers,
that they may be conformed to the image of Christ,
for the glory of God
—all in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Definitions of preaching are many and varied. I like to think that what I have created is a distillation of historical elements funneled down to our age through the work of many worthies—elements that are sine quibus non for preaching, i.e., without which conditions or characteristics preaching is not. (BTW, the picture is Raphael’s St. Paul Preaching in Athens.)

As one scans the various elements of the definition above, one can see immediately that this is an ideal, a goal to shoot for. Not every criterion is necessarily realized to its fullest extent in every instance of preaching, of course. The fallibility of preacher and listener, and their less-than-perfect communication and comprehension abilities, respectively, render this activity dependent in all its facets upon the work of God for its success.

Over a series of blog posts in the coming fortnights I’d like to unpack this definition element by element. So stay tuned …

And, of course, comments are always welcome.


  1. Simon Finley March 22, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Hey Abe. Sounds very thoughtful. Will part of you definition touch upon the idea of preaching being usually thought of as a 20min monologue in a Christian gathering. And can preaching (under this definition) be a part of a dialogue?

    • Abe Kuruvilla March 22, 2012 at 7:28 am

      Thanks, Simon. Permit me to reply to this question in your restatement of the issue in “Preaching is Communicational.”

  2. Vinodh Gunasekera March 18, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Great definition – clear, practical and comprehensive. But I have a question: so would you say that when a worship leader exegetes a pericope of Scripture to move a congregation to Christ-likeness and God’s glory, he would be preaching? Thanks!

    • Abe Kuruvilla March 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm

      Vinodh, Thanks!

      Sure, if all the criteria are met, it’s preaching! Notice there is no length-of-time element in the definition. I would probably say, however, that you’d need at least 10-15 minutes to do justice to even a small slice of Scripture.


Share Your Thoughts

Copyright © 2012 Homiletix  |  Blog theme by ThemeShift customized by Gurry Design  |  Full sitemap