Five Kinds of Expository Preaching (and Why Consecutive Exposition is the Best)


Recently, Dr. Steven Lawson shared five kinds of expository preaching, which serve as “different tracks of biblical exposition of which we can ride.” Below a short summary of his list:

1. Sequential exposition.
Consecutive, verse-by-verse exposition through entire books in the Bible. (Also known as “Consecutive Exposition”, which is what I will use the rest of the post)

2. Sectional exposition.
Taking a section out of a book and preaching it consecutively.
(Example: The Sermon on the Mount or the Upper Room Discourse)

3. Doctrinal (or thematic) expository series.
The preacher takes a doctrine or theme and traces it through much (or all) of the Bible.
(Example: A series on repentance or the Trinity)

4. Biographical exposition.
A preacher preaches through several passages (if available) to give a biblical overview of a person’s life.

5. Representative exposition.
To preach representative sections of larger books of Scripture (such as Isaiah). You might pick high points from the book to give people a quick overview of the book’s message.

Which is the best?

While all of the aforementioned kinds of expositional preaching are valid, our conviction is that consecutive exposition through whole books of the Bible is the best for a few reasons.

  • Consecutive exposition through books of the Bible is the way that most accurately communicates God’s message to us in Scripture. Scripture was written as 66 entire books, not individual passages or collections of verses.
  • It forces preachers to tackle tough topics that they might not choose on their own; and thus deepen their own grasp on doctrine and ground their congregation’s faith firmly on Scripture.
  • It helps the preacher and congregation to see the melodic line (that is, the main idea and intended response) of a book (see page 7 of the Dig and Discover Hermeneutical Principles Booklet).
  • It helps the preacher and readers remember the importance of context in interpreting and applying the Bible.
  • It reminds congregants of the sufficiency and authority of Scripture by coming to Scripture to hear the full message of what God has to say.
  • It also makes it easier to schedule preaching series and get the most out of prep time by not having to retrace steps like the study of the historical context.

Kevin Halloran

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