Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages

by Haddon W. Robinson

Hardcover, 1980





This bestselling book by Haddon Robinson, considered by many to be the "teacher of preachers," has sold over 300,000 copies and is a contemporary classic in the field. It offers students, pastors, and Bible teachers expert guidance in the development and delivery of expository sermons. This new edition has been updated throughout and includes helpful exercises.


Baker Pub Group (1980), 230 pages

Media reviews

In-depth teaching of Scripture is relevant and critical to the carnal and chaotic society in which we live. The faith community needs to hear the truth. This book is a great study of how ministers and lay leaders can teach in a manner that is clear and relevant to the contemporary audience and
Show More
Show Less
1 more
Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly
After you give it your best shot. When you do the most diligent exegesis you can do. When you have read the best commentaries and crafted your sermon with skill and then delivered it with passion. Even if you follow the counsel I have given you in this book. Face it. When you have done your utmost,
Show More
it's simply not enough.
Show Less


(112 ratings; 4)

User reviews

LibraryThing member temsmail
Any preaching book by Robinson is worth owning for the preacher and seminary student. This volume inparticular is used in many seminaries as their practical theology text book.
LibraryThing member David_Norman
In Biblical Preaching, Haddon Robinson (Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) lays out a process to assist preachers in the development of their sermons. Even at the time of it’s original publication, Robinson recognized a trend moving away from the
Show More
importance of the sermon in the life of the church. Despite this trend, he states that, “no one who takes the Bible seriously should count preaching out” (19).

In light of this conviction, Robinson begins by presenting a case for expository preaching, defining this as:

“the communication of a biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and experience of the preacher, then through the preacher, applies to the hearers” (21).

Within the first few chapters, the reader quickly dicerns that Robinson is significantly less interested in the actual words of the text, but is rather infatuated instead with concepts and ideas. He infers as much early in the first chapter, writing, “Some conservative preachers have been led astray by their doctrine of inspiration,” which results in an overemphasis in the words, which, “are stupid things until linked with other words to convey meaning” (23). Robinson prefers sermons that convey a Biblical idea or concept derived from the text of Scripture, rather than sermons that teach the text itself. (This objection will be further developed in the following section.)

His entire approach to the preparation and delivery of a sermon is built upon the notion of a central idea or concept. Once the preacher secures a text to preach from, they are to discover the central concept of the text through study. Robinson teaches the major components of the text in terms of subject-complement. A subject is, “the complete, definite answer to the question, ‘What am I talking about?’” (41). The complement, “completes the subject by answering the question, ‘What am I saying about what I am talking about?’” (41). This construction presents a complete idea, and each supporting point provides a sub-point for the preacher’s outline.

With an outline in place, Robinson recommends that preachers either prepare a thorough manuscript for each sermon, or in the least write out the introduction, conclusion, and transitions between major sermon points. Robinson is emphatic, however, that preachers should not read these manuscripts. The purpose of manuscripting is to force the preacher to think through these pivotal moments in the sermon, searching for the ideal turn of phrase, rather than preaching disjointedly from an outline (185-186).

As noted at the onset, Robinson’s application of the doctrine of inspiration leaves much to be desired by those who value the words of Scripture. Robinson, himself, appears to waffle throughout the book, attesting to the authority of the Scriptures, then denying the importance of the very words breathed-out by the Holy Spirit. He goes so far as to state, “While an orthodox doctrine of inspiration may be a necessary plank in the evangelical platform on biblical authority, this sometimes gets in the way of expository preaching” (23). One can only pray that the casual manner in which Robinson treats the Scripture in his approach to preaching should be avoided by his students and readers.

Another point of concern arose in the preface to the second addition, where he writes, “I’ve also changed my language to reflect my theology. God doesn’t distribute his gifts by gender” (10). While his statement is true enough on the surface, the context in which he makes it can only mean that he has abandoned the conservative, Biblical teaching that preaching is the responsibility of qualified men as taught in 1 Timothy 2-3. However, this actually follows his earlier reasoning, for he clearly believes preachers should be qualified, but abandons the words of the text in search for the specific qualifications themselves.

Finally, one must note the audience that Robinson envisions for his students as they preach. For Robinson’s purposes, they are dull, uneducated, and disinterested in God’s Words or actions on behalf of fallen humanity. Therefore, the preacher must avoid using examples from Scripture to illustrate a biblical concept for fear that it they would not be understood by the congregation (155), and to always preach in such a way as to “secure some moral action,” (107) rather than declare to them what God has done on their behalf. The reader is left to ponder how different this book may have been written were Robinson to anticipate his students’ congregations to actually be regenerate.

Robinson’s book on expository preaching, titled, Biblical Preaching, fails to deliver on either point. Upon further examination, it teaches preaching that is neither biblical, nor expository.
Show Less
LibraryThing member EnriquetheBaptist
This is a book that I used for Bethany Divinity College and seminary. It has 10 chapters with the titles as follows: the case for expository preaching, what's the big idea, tools of the trade, the road from text to sermon, the power of purpose, the shapes sermons take, making dry bones live, start
Show More
with a bank and quit all over, the dress of thought, and the last chapter, chapter 10 is titled "how to preach so people will listen."
Show Less
LibraryThing member deusvitae
An analysis of the work of lesson formation and preaching.

This is a newly revised edition of a standard text on preaching. The author is a fan of what he deems "expository preaching," and yet his definition seems expansive enough for both true exposition and for thematic preaching. He is concerned
Show More
about the preacher imposing his ideas on the text as opposed to the preacher's ideas being informed by the text, and the concern is right and good. Nevertheless not a few "expository" lessons can suffer from the same problem; the challenge is in disposition, not inherently in structure.

The author proceeds to detail the process for sermon preparation (selecting a text, getting the big idea of the text, establishing the interpretation of the text, determining the form of the sermon, giving life to the sermon with illustrations, etc., how to introduce and conclude, how to proceed with thoughts and transitions) with a final chapter on delivery. The author also provides a sample sermon and evaluation along with student exercises for those interested.

In general the author's advice is sound. Those who have just begun preaching or are intermediate preachers will gain much from it; more experienced preachers may find it useful as a refersher.

I was a bit surprised when the author discounted the value of Biblical illustrations which the audience may not really understand in favor of more up-to-date, modern illustrations which would be more comprehensible. In a world where Biblical literacy is already terrible such is not good advice; furthermore, with such a generational gap in cultural understanding between the oldest and youngest audience members, how many modern illustrations can be found that would be equally applicable/comprehensible to all? Far better, in my estimation, to use Biblical examples, even if they must be explained; they come with more authority anyway. Perhaps the speaker might also use modern illustrations as well, and even then may have to select more than one so as to be comprehensible to elder and younger alike.

In general a good resource on the mechanics of sermon authorship and proclamation.

**--book received as part of early review program
Show Less
LibraryThing member gwhittick
Very good basic guide to preaching. Would be great for the beginner, and did have a number of helpful points and ideas, but didn't add a huge amount to improve my practice after twenty years of preaching. Nonetheless, it was a good refresher and reminder of some of the things that I do that are
Show More
Show Less
Page: 0.3319 seconds