What is the best way to teach the Bible?

Pentecostal Preacher

Without looking yet at whether our teaching of the Bible should be monologue or dialogue (or something else?) there seem to be two main approaches to teaching the Bible with some choosing to mix and match…

Some prefer to teach the Bible mainly topically. That is the teacher decides what topic they want to teach on perhaps because they think that the people who will be listening need to hear the topic. Topical teaching can take on two main forms. Firstly the teacher talks on a topic and then finds various “proof texts” to back up what they want to say. And secondly the teacher finds a particular passage that teaches on the topic and then teach the topic from there.

Some prefer to teach the Bible mainly expositionally. That is the teacher teaches through books of the Bible. Expositional teaching can take on two forms. Firstly, the teacher just picks out various messages that seem to arise as they teach through a book. And secondly, the teacher unpacks the main point of the particular book, showing how the different parts of the book relate to that main point and to the main point of the whole Bible.

I personally think there is place for topical and expositional teaching but I would suggest that the bias should be towards expositional teaching. The reason I say that is that I believe it can be clearly shown how the Bible was designed by God to teach one main message with each book in the Bible playing a significant and different role in unpacking that central message and each with its own main message… and so when we teach through books of the Bible with particular reference to overall message we are letting the Bible speak for itself (letting God speak for Himself) and not dictating to it (Him) what should be said. I am amazed at how often when simply teaching through a book of the Bible people will say to me that it was so relevant to their lives.

Topical teaching definitely has its place as sometimes we simply just have to address certain issues “on the go”. But in my experience teaching from a single passage relating to the topic while making sure it relates to the main message of the book and section will really drive home the particular topic and also make sure that we are not using texts out of context… which is my experience with most topical preaching which uses the “proof text” method.

I am sure some readers will disagree with this. I would love to hear different views.


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