Dr. Greidanus’ *Ten Steps from Text to Sermon
(1) Select the preaching text.
Select the preaching text with an eye to congregational needs. The text must be a literary unit and contain a vital theme.
(2) Read the text in its literary context.
Read and reread the text in its context and jot down initial questions.
(3) Outline the structure of the text.
In the Hebrew/Aramaic or Greek text, note the major affirmations, clausal flow, plot line, scenes, or other literary structures. Mark major units with headings and verse references.
(4) Interpret the text in its own historical setting.
a. Literary interpretation
b. Historical interpretation
c. Theocentric interpretation
Review your results with the help of some good commentaries.
(5) Formulate the text’s theme, goal, and need addressed.
a. State the textual theme in a brief sentence that summarizes the message of the text for its original hearers: subject and predicate. What is the text saying?
b. State the goal of the author for his original hearers. What is the text doing? Does the author aim to persuade, to motivate, to urge, to warn, to comfort? Be specific.
c. State the need the author addressed – the question behind the text.
(6) Understand the message in the contexts of canon and redemptive history.
a. Canonical interpretation: interpret the message in the context of the whole canon;
b. Redemptive-historical interpretation: understand the message in the context of God’s redemptive history from creation to new creation;
c. Christocentric interpretation: explore the ways of (1) redemptive-historical progression, (2) promise-fulfillment, (3) typology, (4) analogy, (5) longitudinal themes, (6) New Testament references, and (7) contrast.
(7) Formulate the sermon theme, goal, and need addressed.
a. Ideally, your sermon theme will be the same as your textual theme (Step 5a). If Step 6 forces a change, stay as close as possible to the textual theme. Your theme will guide especially the development of the body of the sermon.
b. Your goal must be in harmony with the author’s goal (Step 5b) and match the sermon theme. Your goal will guide the style of the sermon as well as the content of its conclusion.
c. State the need you are addressing. This need should be similar to the need addressed by the author. The need will inform the content of your introduction.
(8) Select a suitable sermon form.
Select a sermon form that respects the form of the text (didactic or narrative, deductive or inductive) and that achieves the goal of the sermon.
(9) Prepare the sermon outline.
If possible, follow the flow of the text (Step 3) in the body of the sermon. Main points, derived from the text, support the theme. The introduction should expose the need. The conclusion should clinch your goal.
(10) Write the sermon in oral style.
Say it out loud as you write it. Write in oral style, using short sentences, vivid words, strong nouns and verbs, active voice, present tense, images and illustrations.
*Adapted from Appendix One in Sidney Greidanus. Preaching Christ From Daniel (Foundations For Expository Sermons). Grand Rapids, MI. Eerdmans, 2012.
About the Author:
Sidney Greidanus received his B.A. from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, his B.D. from Calvin Theological Seminary, also in Grand Rapids, and his Th.D. from the Free University in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. His dissertation, Sola Scriptura: Problems and Principles in Preaching Historical Texts, was first published in 1970 and reprinted in 1979. Since returning to North America, he served as pastor of two Christian Reformed Churches in Canada, taught at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, The King’s College in Edmonton, AB, Canada, and since 1990 has been professor of preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary.
Besides many articles and sermons, he has published several excellent scholarly and theologically rich books on preaching including:
Preaching Christ from Daniel: Foundations for Expository Sermons. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012.
Preaching Christ from Ecclesiastes: Foundations for Expository Sermons. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010.
Preaching Christ from Genesis: Foundations for Expository Sermons. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.
Sola Scriptura: Problems and Principles in Preaching Historical Texts. Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2001.
Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999. (from which the article above is adapted).
The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text: Interpreting and Preaching Biblical Literature: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 1989. Selected “The 1990 Book of the Year” by the Journal Preaching.