The Relationship of the Testaments: Common Mistakes in Preaching

As the conclusion to this series, I would like to close our discussion with three common mistakes. These are observations that show the importance of coming to terms with these issues.

Failure to give enough attention to the OT context.
Too many times, preachers simply fail to wrestle with the OT text until there is comprehensive understanding of its meaning. If one does in fact give credence to that context, one may discover that the NT is actually interpreting the passage correctly, i.e., according to the author’s intent. Moreover, this mistake is compounded by our failure to see the NT writers as good readers. In other words, within the context of inspiration, they are not developing their arguments in a vacuum, but in accordance with the OT Scriptures.

Assuming that the OT is a “second-class” document.
I’m sure very few would actually state this to their congregation, but it perhaps is an unintentional product of our training, which tends to focus more on NT Greek and NT theology. Sometimes we are trained to defend the historical accuracy of the OT (which is vitally important) without a deep understanding of its own theological themes. However, without the profound respect for the theological foundation set in place by the First Testament, our preaching will tend to be focused solely on the NT. The danger here is twofold: (1) we may miss the point of a passage (e.g. understanding how Christ’s quotation of Deut during his temptation have greater ramifications than simply enduring the present temptation) and (2) our congregations will remain uneducated in the depth of the OT.

Misunderstanding the effect that canon has on OT theology.
This is not necessarily advocating all aspects of canon criticism but is bringing up the fact that the whole has an effect on the parts. Many times New Testament authors were reading and expounding upon OT passages in their immediate context. However, there is also the possibility that they are pulling together a comprehensive understanding of the whole. In this manner, they are not simply good systematicians, they are paying particular attention to textual signs left by the authors. [I refer you back to the discussion of Samuel as well as to the growing understanding of the way that the context of the Psalter influences its messianic focus.]

I’m sure my co-bloggers have some more ideas, and I would appreciate some feedback with additional observations that you guys have made/experienced. Blessings…

[Editor’s Note: There will be three more posts in this series  which we have listed below]

  • The Relationship of the Testaments: Walt Kaiser on 1 Peter 1:10-12
  • The Relationship of the Testaments: Paul’s Use of Hosea in Romans 9:25-26
  • The Relationship of the Testaments: Concluding Thoughts
  • 3 responses to this post.

    1. […] McKinion ( posts on some common mistakes in preaching with regard to the relationship between the […]

    2. […] * Expository Thoughts discusses some “common mistakes” in preaching the OT. * Hercules Collins on how to prepare a sermon. *Dan Philips, over at […]

    3. […] Common Mistakes in Preaching […]

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