Preaching - Lesson 4

The Road from Text to Sermon

The process of constructing a sermon that communicates the meaning of the text as well as its application.

Bryan Chapell
Lesson 4
Watching Now
The Road from Text to Sermon

The Road from Text to Sermon

Lecture by Zack Eswine


What we need from Scripture is not just answers to pass the test. What we need is help to know how to live life. How do the truths of Scripture help me to live? (As a Christian, in God’s sight, for his glory) We’re trying to equip people for living.

6 Questions to ask of a passage:

I. What does this text mean?

A. Read, re-read, digest the text.

B. Psalm 1. Who is the blessed man?

II. How do I know what it means?

A. Create a thought-flow outline: discourse analysis, outline

1. Subject, object

2. Sentence and paragraph structure

3. Independent and dependent clauses

4. Conceptual outline

5. For larger texts: use conceptual outlines (less detail)

6. For smaller texts: use sentence analysis (more detail)

7. ALWAYS show what verse you used to get a point.

B. Use the development of this outline to lead you to and through an in-depth study of:

1. Language

2. Genre

3. Context: involves 4 things

a. Observation: what is there

b. Comparison: with other scriptures

c. Word study

d. Context study: historical background, intratextuality (references within the same work), intertextuality (references with other works)

e. Redemptive: where is this passage located in light of Jesus?

III. What concerns caused this text to be written?

A. Study the author’s intentions: Why this text to this audience?

B. The passage’s context: Specifically, what’s going on with the audience that they need to be written to?

C. God’s mind

1. God is the author of Scripture

2. Why is God saying this to his people?

D. Remembering

1. Causal concerns may be implied (implicit) or stated (explicit). John’s gospel was written “so that you may believe.” John 20:30-31. Galatians written because of Judaizers twisting the gospel.

At this point, you have a lecture. Not a sermon. “People need the word of God to come to bear on their lives.” 2 Tim. 3:16.

IV.What do we share in common with (mutual human condition):

A. Those to whom the text was written (recipients)

B. Those by whom the text was written (author)

How we answer these 2 questions will determine how we find the Fallen Condition Focus. This can be a specific sin that the text is concerned with. Or it can be the simple fact that we are not God <&mdash> we are finite. What’s in their heart is what’s in my heart. What they needed to hear, I also need to hear.

We can also ask, how are we not like the recipient/author. Biblical foundation for mutual human condition: 1 Cor. 10:13. We face the same temptations. It if helped the audience then, it can help me.

V. How can we respond to the truths of scripture?

A. Why do we need this? So what? What difference does it make?

B. How does it apply to us? How does it shape my actions and beliefs?

1. Prophet Nathan to David: “You are the man [in the parable]” Nathan is applying the parable.

2. Joshua 24: In light of what’s been said, “choose this day whom you will serve.”

C. What change does God require of my heart and life?

VI. What is the most effective way I can communicate the content and application of the text?

Since we have so much information, we use organizational tools.

A. Collection: Grouping multiple ideas into single thought packets

B. Subordination: Prioritize and arrange major and minor supporting ideas.

C. Simplification: Make complex ideas simple. Not vice versa.

1. Complexity does not equal greatness or maturity.

2. Seriousness does not equal complexity plus volume.

3. We change KISS from, “keep it simple stupid,” to “keeping it simple is smart”

4. The best preaching says profound things simply.

5. Col 4:3-4 “that I might make it clear.”

I. Introduction

D. Explanation: there are four ways we can explain a text:

1. Repeat (just say it again)

2. Reword it

3. Define it

4. Prove it (show connections, grammar)

You owe no more to explanation than what’s required for people to get it. When people understand, MOVE ON.

E. Use communication tools to keep it simple

1. Determine how we can best say something

2. Exegete our listeners: social class, age, what do they listen to, read?

All Lessons
Class Resources
  • The power of God is inherent in the Word. The power of the Word is manifested in Christ and applied in expository preaching.

  • In expository preaching, unity is accomplished when the elements of a passage are legitimately shown to support a single major idea that is the theme of a sermon.

  • Tools and rules for selecting and interpreting texts.

  • The process of constructing a sermon that communicates the meaning of the text as well as its application.

  • Outlining provides structure for the truth to be related.

  • A proposition is a theme statement covering the content of all the main points and including the introduction as well as an indication of what the rest of the message will be about.

  • Harmonizing the propositions and main points helps the listener follow the development of the ideas in your sermon.

  • The first five minutes of your sermon are important for getting people interested enough to listen to the rest.

  • Exposition is shedding some ordinary light on the path that leads to truth in God's Word.

  • In order to understand the basic subdivisions of your sermon in expository development, it is important to it is helpful to see what the specific members of your sermon's body looks like in standard development.

  • The conclusion is the high point of the message and requires careful craftsmanship.

  • The three types of sermons are topical, textual, and expositional.

  • "Explanation" is a central component in an exposition sermon. The purpose of "explanation" is to answer the question, "What does this text mean?"

  • Using illustrations can make sermons more effective because they help people remember the main points and are effective motivating people.

  • How to create and use illustrations in expository preaching.

  • How to create and use illustrations in expository preaching.

  • Without application, meaning is hidden. Application is essential to full exposition.

  • Without application, meaning is hidden. Application is essential to full exposition.

  • It is helpful to understand how sermon components and listener involvement can be knit together through the use of effective transitions and "pulpit dialogue."

  • Materials you can take into the pulpit when you preach can include notes, outlines and manuscripts.

  • Using your voice and gestures to communicate energy and enthusiasm with sincerity makes your communication powerful.

  • You can deliver your message more effectively by considering how you dress in a way that identifies with your congregation.

  • Changing formally worded outlines to fundamentally reduced outlines can help you make your main points concise and memorable.

  • Reading the Bible meaningfully and referring to the text often while you are preaching helps you demonstrate that the Word takes priority in your preaching. Preaching is a redemptive and a supernatural event that depends on the conviction and illumination of the Holy Spirit.

  • We are fallen creatures in a fallen condition and God's redemptive work is making us whole in ways we cannot by ourselves. Just as every scripture echoes our incompleteness, it also in some manner signals the Savior's work which makes us whole.

  • Using "redemptive lenses" to preach the whole Bible emphasizes the person and work of Christ as revealed in all Scripture. This is different than teaching that our relationship with God is based on our own efforts to be "good."

  • The ultimate goal of a sermon is not simply proclaiming more duty or doctrine, but promoting a more dear relationship with God (i.e., love).

  • One way to learn how to apply redemptive principles to a sermon is by listening to a master preacher do so and then evaluate his message.


Dr. Bryan Chapell explores the unifying principle of grace that binds all Scripture together. He outlines and demonstrates the principles and practice of sermon-crafting and delivery to illuminate the message of grace in each passage, and to submit it to God's Spirit for the transformation of lives through preaching. Dr. Chapell is making these recorded lectures available for you to access at no charge on BiblicalTraining.org. However, there is no personal interaction with Dr. Chapell in this format. The assignments and activities described are for classes that he teaches in person. We left the descriptions in for your benefit, but we do not offer personal or group interaction to participate in these activities. 

Dr. Chapell is helped in this course by Zachary W. Eswine, Assistant Professor of Homiletics and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program (BSW, Ball State University; MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary; PhD, Regent University). Dr. Eswine served as senior pastor of Grace Church of the Western Reserve in Hudson, Ohio, for six years before joining Covenant Seminary's faculty in 2001. He has served as a campus minister with the Navigators, as a church youth director, and as a chaplain-evangelist in retirement facilities. Since arriving at the Seminary, Dr. Eswine has also served as interim pastor for Tates Creek Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Kentucky, as advisory pastor for the Chinese Gospel Church of St. Louis, and as interim pastor for Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in St. Louis. He has taught New Testament in Ukraine and served as a short-term missionary in the Caribbean. Dr. Eswine is a gifted preacher and has authored the book Kindled Fire: How the Methods of C. H. Spurgeon Can Help Your Preaching and numerous articles on homiletics. In addition, as an accomplished musician and songwriter, he has recorded three collections of original songs.

Philosophy and Goals of the Course

1. "Prep and Del" is an introduction to the basics of sermon construction and delivery. This is not primarily a course on the theology of preaching, but rather is a practical introduction to the tools, structures, and concepts that help preachers learn to put a sermon together. 

2. Because this course is introductory, certain standards of sermon construction are taught that I hope you will consider "foundational" rather than universal. There is not only one "right way" to preach. However, mastering the methods of this course will help you develop the tools needed for many kinds of future sermons. Students from many backgrounds and preaching traditions have found these tools helpful even as they prepare for other styles in the future. Other methods and styles will be taught and encouraged in future semesters.

3. In Dr. Chapell's seminary class, you would be asked to present some short oral assignments to the class in order to: a) begin integrating the information presented in lectures; b) begin honing your preaching skills; c) and, remove some of the intimidation of your first preaching experience next semester.

(At this time, we do not provide personal interaction to evaluate your progress. We included the suggested assignments and activities to give you direction as you apply the principles you are learning to your own sermon preparation and delivery.)