by Greg Harris
To become a seasoned expositor of God’s Word requires a method, or a series of specific steps. Equally important, however, is one’s starting point, which is, sadly, quite often lacking. One’s starting point is important not only for learning how to become a better expositor, but also as a means of attaining reverence for God, another aspect of biblical exposition that is often overlooked. In short, we start—and stay—with God.
I have had the high privilege and calling of teaching Bible Exposition classes for more than thirty years. Very often, when I finish a class on a book such as Isaiah or Hebrews, students will sigh and say, “Oh, if we could only go back to the beginning of the Bible and do what we are doing now, it would be so tremendously rewarding!” I agree—such is the richness of God’s Word. However, I remind them that if we were to do that, they would be in seminary for twenty or more years and never leave our campus or go to minister to churches or institutions. Yet it is in response to this desire, and through God’s sovereignty, that the current volume, The Expositor’s Handbook: Old Testament Edition, has come into existence.
What most intrigued me about writing this series was the vision of B&H Academic to make the Bible the primary text. It is not that Bible research and commentaries are unimportant; there are wonderful resources available with which God has blessed His church throughout the centuries. But unfortunately too often, the more students progress in theological training, the less they use their Bibles. As my current and former students know, I do not permit computers in my classes. This is not punishment; it is intended as part of the process of hiding God’s Word in their hearts—not their hard drives. And there are no quick solutions for accomplishing this.
We all learn throughout our entire lives. I tell students to bring a Bible they can mark as we follow some of God’s biblical trails. I hope that it will be a Bible they can take into the hospital room of someone facing death, use to comfort people in mourning or grief, or pull out as they witness to someone in the seat next to them on a bus or plane. What’s more, I fear a time will come when around the world, even in America, the Bible may be the only resource available to God’s people. Yet even then, owning a Bible could prove to be dangerous.
Of course, no single biblical resource could cover everything needed to be an expositor of God’s Word or deal with every theological issue or current hotly debated topic. And such is not my intent. The purpose of this book is to establish some biblical boundaries based upon several divine, and immovable, truths for understanding and expositing God’s Word. There are times, most would agree, when assistance is needed from a more seasoned believer in helping others better understand biblical truths. Acts 18:24–26 shows such an example, in Priscilla and Aquila:
Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
My desire is that The Bible Expositor’s Handbook will be used in the same way. And while no book can cover every issue, it will be shown that there are some issues you must be aware of if you are going to understand God’s Word.