John Broadus – 6 Rules for Interpreting a Text for Preaching

No Comments April 24, 2015

interpreting a text

A.T. Robertson (1863-1934), famed Southern Baptist Theological Seminary scholar of New Testament Greek, wrote of his seminary colleague and father-in-law John Albert Broadus (1827-1895), “It has been my fortune to hear Beecher and Phillip Brooks, Maclaren, Joseph Parker and Spurgeon, John Hall and Moody, John Clifford and David Lloyd George. At his best and in a congenial atmosphere Broadus was the equal of any man I have ever heard” (The Minister and His Greek New Testament, 118 [1923]).

In 1870, Broadus published A Treatise on the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons. The volume is thought to be the most popular homiletics textbook in American history. Broadus was a famed preacher, the first professor of homiletics of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and he also served as its second president. Broadus describes the importance of preaching in vivid language,

The great appointed means of spreading the good tidings of salvation through Christ is preaching—words spoken whether to the individual, or to the assembly. And this, nothing can supersede. Printing has become a mighty agency for good and for evil; and Christians should employ it, with the utmost diligence and in every possible way, for the spread of truth. But printing can never take the place of the living word. When a man who is apt in teaching, whose soul is on fire with the truth which he trusts has saved him and hopes will save others, speaks to his fellow-men, face to face, eye to eye, and electric sympathies flash to and fro between him and his hearers, till they lift each other up, higher and higher, into the intensest thought, and the most impassioned emotion—higher and yet higher, till they are borne as on chariots of fire above the world,—there is a power to move men, to influence character, life, destiny, such as no printed page can ever possess. Pastoral work is of immense importance, and all preachers should be diligent in performing it. But it cannot take the place of preaching, nor fully compensate for lack of power in the pulpit (All quotes unless otherwise noted are from: Broadus, A Treatise on the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, 10th edition, 17-18 [A.C. Armstrong, 1887]).

Consider Broadus’s six rules for interpreting a biblical text for preaching from A Treatise on the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons:

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