What is the focus of expository preaching?

First, Kathy Mansfield (wife of blogger Rick Mansfield) has a poem at Flirting With NLT:

Today the pastor flirted
With a little NLT.
It made the sermon real;
It spoke so much to me.

But then he shifted back
To old favorite: NIV.
The pastor ended up
Explaining words to me.

Why explain God’s Word
When the explanation’s here–
Waiting to be read
From NLT, the Truth made clear?

Then Wayne at Better Bibles Blog has a response –

So, what’s the point? It’s not really a debate about whether the NLT or NIV is better, or whether the ESV is better than the TNIV or NET. The issue is whether or not someone has to further explain the meaning of a Bible translation to others.


If we view the job of rabbis, pastors, and Bible teachers to be explaining obscure words and non-standard syntax in Bible versions, then we are asking these teachers to waste their valuable time. They should use translations of the Bible which are written in the language of the people they are teaching.

And others are chiming in as well (here).

I think those that have been reading my blog have come to understand my impression of the NLT, but just incase, let me go ahead and state it again. I find the freshness of the NLT rewarding – not to have to explain everything because of antedated words or phrases. Further, unlike the ESV, and other more literal translations, I have found that the NLT has a less ‘committee’ like feel, and instead reads to me as a voice.

Some have a problem with the near dynamic equivalence of it’s translation style, yet we find that Christ, when speaking the Gospel, did the same thing –

He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. (Isaiah 42:4 KJVA)

And in his name shall the Gentiles trust. (Matthew 12:21 KJVA)

Is it wrong to translate the Scripture to a language which is understandable to a wide range of people? If Christ can ‘break it down’, bringing out the truth from Scripture, can’t a translation attempt to do the same? It does not remove, however, the responsiblity of the reader to study further, and to examine the translation.

When ministers attempt an expository sermon, do we really want them wasting time on awkward words and phrases, such as is needed in the KJV? Rather, they should be freed to bring the Scriptures to life – to leave you with a better understanding of God’s word, not how a translation gets it right or wrong.

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8 Replies to “What is the focus of expository preaching?”

  1. It is often just the reading of the Text itself…The Word & Revelation of God, that sets the sinful soul free! “Let God be true but every man a liar..” (Rom.3:4, NKJV) We could mount testimonies…!
    Fr. R.

  2. I think what you meant to say in the next to last paragraph is “*Is it* wrong to translate the Scripture to a language … understandable to a wide range of people?” or “*It’s WRONG(???) to translate…to a wide range of people?!*(note change in punctuation to make it clear you’re shocked)”

    Many bits of language have ambiguities. I appreciate when a pastor takes time to explain possible interpretations of particular phrasings from multiple translations. I.e. I don’t think it’s always a waste of time. But, you’re right … that going back to the KJV isn’t a necessity. Let’s keep meditating on His word.

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