30 Quotes from Graeme Goldsworthy’s Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture

One of our recommended books on biblical theology is Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture by Graeme Goldsworthy (read our review). In what he describes as a ‘handbook’, Goldsworthy helpfully explains many facets of biblical theology’s intersection with expository preaching and shares his methods applied to eight different genres of Scripture. Below we share quotes from the book to give you a taste of its richness.


“We believe that preaching is not some peripheral item in the program of the local church, but that it lies at the very heart of what it is to be the people of God.” (1)

“There is, first, the correct assumption that the Old Testament is Christian scripture and that, despite the difficulties in doing so, it must be appropriated for Christian people.” (2)

“The Resurrection is portrayed as the event that encapsulates and fulfills all the theological themes of the Old Testament.” (6)

“Biblical theology is nothing more nor less than allowing the Bible to speak as a whole: as the one word of the one God about the one way of salvation.” (7)

“As evangelical preachers, we will need to work very hard to ensure that the nature of our preaching is truly biblical. Using Bible texts, focusing on biblical characters, or using well-worn clichés that are asserted as biblical are not in themselves a guarantee that our preaching is essentially biblical.” (12)

“We must also recognize that the unity of the Bible has suffered by default in the evangelical camp. This is nowhere more clearly evident than in the way the Bible is preached by many evangelicals. Texts are taken out of context; and applications are made without due concern for what the biblical author, which is ultimately the Holy Spirit, is seeking to convey by the text. Problem-centered and topical preaching became the norm and character studies treat the heroes and heroines of the Bible as isolated examples of how to live. The old adage about a text without its context being a pretext needs re-examination.” (15-16)

“I will seek to show that a biblical theology consistent with evangelical presuppositions has great explanatory power and preserves the sense of the unity of scripture while also recognizing the great diversity that is there.” (16)

“I can think of no more challenging question for the preachers self-evaluation and to ask whether the sermon was a faithful exposition of the way the text testifies to Christ.” (21)

“Geerhardus Vos defines biblical theology as ‘that branch of exegetical theology which deals with the process of the self-revelation of God deposited in the Bible.'” (22)

“If we allow at the Bible to tell its own story, we find a coherent and meaningful whole. To understand this meaningful whole we have to allow the Bible to stand as it is: a remarkable complexity yet a brilliant unity, which tells the story of the creation and the saving plan of God. Preaching, to be true to God’s plan and purpose, should constantly call people back to this perspective.” (22)

“I know it will not always be a simple matter to show how every text in the Bible speaks of the Christ, but that does not alter the fact that he says it does.” (21)

“Biblical theology helps to deliver the preacher from the doldrums of not knowing what to preach about. It is the fitting helper to expository preaching, that’s strangely neglected in the literature dealing with that subject.” (30)

“When done properly, preaching Christ from every part of the Bible need never degenerate into predictable platitudes about Jesus. The riches in Christ are inexhaustible, and biblical theology is the way to uncover them.” (30)

“Jesus didn’t invent biblical theology. He showed himself to be the real subject of the biblical theology that had been developing ever since human beings first received revelation from God.” (52)

“The idea that evangelical pastors can be sent to have ministerial oversight of congregations without first having a solid grounding in biblical theology is one of the scandals of our time. Show me a church without a good appreciation of the Old Testament and biblical theology and I’ll show you a church with a weak understanding of the gospel.” (52)

“Probably one of the most useful things we can do in this manner [that is, making the Bible’s storyline clear] is to help our congregation to engage biblical history without fear.” (69)

“Salvation was not an afterthought brought on by the unforeseen catastrophe of the fall. This Christocentric perspective is vital to understanding the Bible, and the preacher should constantly remind the congregation of it.” (79)

“Proper interpretation of any part of the Bible requires us to relate it to the person and work of Jesus.” (84)

“The essence of the kingdom is God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule.” (87)

“World history, written from God’s point of view and without the debilitating effects of human sinfulness and human ignorance, is ultimately the history of the gospel.” (89)

“It is thus quite acceptable to say that the Old Testament saints were saved through faith in Christ, for he is the ultimate substance of all the promises of God in which these people trusted (2 Cor 1:20).” (108)

“The central thesis of this book: all texts in the whole Bible bear a discernable relationship to Christ and are primarily intended as a testimony to Christ.” (113)

“Any attempts to relate a text directly to us for our contemporary hearers without inquiring into its primary relationship to Christ is fraught with danger.” (113)

“Since there are inexhaustible riches in Christ, and the implication of these for our Christian experience are endless, I doubt very much that there is any need for a preacher to be boring and repetitive.” (115)

“Why would you even want to try to preach a Christian sermon without mentioning Jesus? Is there anywhere else we can look in order to seek God? To see true humanity? To see the meaning of anything in creation?” (115)

“If we would seek God, he is most clearly revealed in Jesus Christ. If we would see what God intends for our humanity, it is most clearly revealed in Jesus Christ. If we would see what God intends for the created order, we discover that it is bound up with our humanity and, therefore, revealed in Christ.” (116)

“Expository preaching is essentially the practice of explaining the meaning of a passage of scripture.” (120)

“Any sermon, then, that aims to apply the biblical texts to the congregation and does so without making it crystal clear that it is in Christ alone and through Christ alone that the application is realized, is not a Christian sermon. It is at best an exercise in wishful and pietistic thinking. It is at worst demonic and its Christ-denying legalism.” (124)

“If we are not going to proclaim some aspect of the riches of Christ and every sermon, we shouldn’t be in the pulpit.” (126)

“In preparing a sermon we should pray that the Spirit of God will be active to reveal to us the riches of that word. Yet the Spirit’s ministry is not an automatic and mystical thing. He works through our minds and our efforts to responsibly explain the biblical text.” (127)

“A neglect of biblical theology means putting ourselves and our hearers in danger of losing the way so that an unbiblical application is substituted for the biblical one. Biblical theology is, I submit, a matter of giving free reign to the great Protestant principle that was enunciated at the Reformation: scripture interprets itself.” (128)

“Being able to label the genre is not as important as understanding the nuances of each literary expression and what the author wants to achieve by it.” (137)

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Kevin Halloran

Servant of the Word. Husband. Blogs weekly at Anchored in Christ. Content Strategist/Trainer in Latin America with Leadership Resources International.

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