Author Archive

Outlining Ephesians 4:1-6

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by Dr. David L. Allen
Dean of the School of Theology
Professor of Preaching
Director of the Center for Expository Preaching
George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

These six verses clearly form a paragraph unit. The paragraph in English is composed of two sentences (1-3 and 4-6). The paragraph in most Greek New Testaments is likewise subdivided right in the middle. However, most Greek New Testaments don’t place a period at the end of verse 3, but rather place a colon marker (raised period) to indicate a partial stop, but not the end of a sentence. Thus, the Greek New Testament editors view Ephesians 1-6 as a single sentence.

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Outlining Hebrews 10.19-25, Dr. David L. Allen

DavidAllen2

by Dr. David L. Allen
Dean of the School of Theology
Professor of Preaching
Director of the Center for Expository Preaching
George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

One of my favorite texts to preach is Hebrews 10:19-25. Its importance in the overall structure of Hebrews is difficult to overestimate. It is the opening paragraph of the third and final major section of the epistle: 1:1-4:13; 4:14-10:18; 10:19-13:25. On first blush, it appears to be somewhat involved in structure. But on further investigation, it turns out to be surprisingly simple and clear.

Hebrews 10:19-25 consists of two subparagraphs: verses 19-21 and verses 22-25. Verses 19-21 function as a summary introduction to verses 22-25 and also serve as a summary back reference of what the author has taught concerning the superiority of Christ as our High Priest. Two primary propositions are stated in 19-21: 1) We have boldness to enter the Holy Place by the blood of Jesus; 2) We have a Great Priest (Jesus) over the house of God. These two truths function as the grounds for the three commands that are given in 10:22-25.

Verses 22-25 comprise the second half of the paragraph and contain three parallel command forms (hortatory subjunctives in Greek): Draw near (22); Hold fast (23); Consider one another how we may stir up to love and good deeds (24). Each of these main verbs is modified by a number of other clauses.

Consider v. 22. We are exhorted to draw near and this verb is modified by four clauses in groups of two: 1) with a sincere heart; 2) with full confidence of faith; 3) having had our hearts cleansed; 4) having had our bodies washed. Though unstated, the one to whom we are to draw near is God. The primary focus is on corporate worship, but personal worship is not excluded. This “drawing near” has a subjective aspect and an objective aspect to it. Subjectively, the first two clauses indicate the attitude we as believers are to possess as we “draw near.” Objectively, the final two clauses indicate what God has already done for us to enable us to draw near (note the tense and voice in Greek): having had our hearts cleansed and having had our bodies washed with water (an OT metaphor of priestly cleansing and not a reference here to water baptism). On the basis of the objective truths we are able to draw near and should do so with the attitudes of sincerity and confidence.

In verse 23, we are exhorted to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.” This proposition is further modified by the statement “for he who promised is faithful.”

In verse 24, we are exhorted to “consider one another how we may stir up to love and good deeds.” This is further modified by two participial clauses, one negative and one positive, in verse 25: 1) “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together; 2) encouraging one another. This final clause is followed by the final proposition in the paragraph: we are to do these things (probably a reference to all three commands) “all the more as we see the day drawing near (probably a reference to the return of Christ and the judgment it brings on unbelievers along with the accountability it brings to believers).

From this analysis we may lay out the outline structure of the passage as follows:

Introduction (19-21)

I. Draw Near (22)

            A. with sincerity

            B. with confidence

            C. having had our heart cleansed

            D. having had our bodies washed

II. Hold Fast (23)

            A. because of the promise of God

III. Consider one another to stir up to love and good deeds

            A. not forsaking assembling together

            B. encouraging one another

            C. do this with an eye toward the return of Christ and our accountability to Him

From this structure, you are now prepared to create a preaching outline which may or may not make use of the actual terminology in the text. The sermon will have three main points because the text has three main points. Point one is modified by four clauses which need to be reflected somehow in the outline and sermon. Point two is modified by one clause, and point three is modified by a pair of clauses expressing negative and positive means to accomplish the imperative. The entire passage concludes with a statement concerning the return of Christ which motivates us to a serious attempt to obey these three commands.

From this structural outline, relate how you would state the three main points in the text in your preaching outline!

Outlining 1 John 2:15-17 – Part 2

DavidAllen2

by Dr. David L. Allen
Dean of the School of Theology
Professor of Preaching
Director of the Center for Expository Preaching
George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Text-Driven Preaching: God’s Word at the Heart of Every Sermon. Buy it HERE.

If you missed Part 1, click HERE

For a detailed analysis of 1 John 2:15-17, see resource below. [1]

We are considering how to outline 1 John 2:15-17. The previous post examined the structural outline of the passage, carefully examining the sentence and clausal structure. Now we shall examine the semantic relationships between the clauses and sentences themselves in order to understand the overall structure of the passage. From this, we will be able to determine the exegetical outline of the passage which will furnish the foundation for a preaching outline.

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Outlining 1 John 2:15-17 – Part 1

DavidAllen2

by Dr. David L. Allen
Dean of the School of Theology
Professor of Preaching
Director of the Center for Expository Preaching
George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

How would you determine your sermon outline for 1 John 2:15-17? In a two-part post, I will attempt to answer this question.

Linguists now point out the fact that meaning is structured beyond the sentence level. When the preacher restricts his focus to the sentence level and to clauses and phrases in verses, there is much that is missed in the paragraph or larger discourse that contributes to the overall meaning and interpretation. The paragraph unit is best used as the basic unit of meaning in expounding the text of Scripture. Expositional preaching of the New Testament letters should, at minimum, deal with a paragraph.

For this post, it will be helpful for you to have a Bible in front of you. First John 2:15-17 is the seventh paragraph unit in John’s epistle (based on the Greek text) and the passage is clearly demarcated as a paragraph unit both structurally and thematically. Notice there is one imperatival verb in the paragraph and it occurs at the very beginning. This turns out to be of some significance for the meaning and structure of the paragraph, and thus for our outline. Linguistically, an imperative outweighs other indicative verbs on the prominence scale. When an imperative occurs in a paragraph, it is almost always diagnostic of hortatory genre – that is, a text which is issuing a command to do something or to refrain from doing something. Usually, such an imperatival clause will function as conveying the most prominent information in the paragraph from a semantic standpoint.

How many sentences are there in the Greek text of 1 John 2:15-17? According to the UBS fourth edition Greek New Testament, there are three: sentence one is verse 15a, sentence two is vv. 15b-16 and sentence three is v. 17. If you are working from an English translation, most have four sentences: sentence one is v. 15a, sentence two is v. 15b, sentence three is v. 16 and sentence four is v. 17.

The key goal in exegesis for sermon prep is to determine the structure of the passage. The key procedure in this process is to identify the independent (main) clauses and the dependent (subordinate) clauses and analyze their relationship grammatically and semantically to one another. Sentence one (v. 15a) is clearly an independent clause composed of a present imperative followed by a compound direct object.

Sentence two (vv. 15b-16) is introduced by a conditional clause “If anyone loves the world . . . .” Verse 16 continues sentence two since it is introduced with the conjunction gar in Greek which is usually translated “for” and which always introduces a clause, sentence or even paragraph that is subordinate to the previous clause, sentence or paragraph.

Verse 17 constitutes sentence three and is introduced by the coordinating conjunction kai in Greek which is normally translated “and,” although it can be left untranslated in certain circumstances when it begins a new sentence or paragraph. Note that this sentence is a compound sentence joining two clauses with the adversative conjunction de in Greek translated “but.”  “The world is passing away” conjoins “the one who does the will of God abides forever” with the adversative conjunction “but” expressing semantically the notion of contrast. The first clause in this sentence has a compound subject: “the world and everything in it” which is “passing away.” The second clause in the sentence has an articular participial clause “The one who does” followed by the direct object “the will of God.” This entire clause “The one who does the will of God” functions as the subject of the verb “remains.”

Sentence one (v. 15a) contains a single compound independent clause: “Love not the world neither the things in the world.” Sentence two (vv. 15b-16) contains a dependent conditional clause “if anyone loves the world” followed by a contrasting independent clause “the love of the father is not in him.” This is followed by a third dependent clause introduced in Greek by hoti, “because.” This third clause is rather lengthy, however a little reflection will bring out the syntax clearly. The subject of this clause is “All that is in the world.” This subject is followed by what is called an “appositive” phrase in grammar: “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.” This triple compound phrase further defines the meaning of “all that is in the world” and functions as an equivalent phrase, which is the meaning of “appositive” in grammar. Sentence three (v. 17) contains two independent clauses conjoined by “but.”

In order to develop a text-driven sermon outline, we need to answer three questions:

1. How are these three sentences related to each other syntactically and semantically?

2. Which of the three sentences contains the most prominent information?

3. What is the main theme expressed in the paragraph?

Part two of this post will begin with these questions and move to developing a text-driven outline for 1 John 2:15-17.

Developing Sermon Outlines — Dr. David L. Allen

DavidAllen2

Thank you, Dr. David L. Allen
SBCToday is delighted and appreciative regarding Dr. David L. Allen’s signal contributions to this blog in the past, and is even more deeply pleased to announce his commitment to post articles here every other week on Thursdays. Dr. Allen has distinguished himself in a variety of ways as a Southern Baptist statesman, as his biograph below reveals. SBCToday expresses heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Allen, and looks forward to many more salient, encouraging posts from his prolific pen.

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