Is there a difference between an exegetical lecture and a sermon?
The short answer is... YES. Which begs the question: What is the difference between an exegetical lecture (for our purpose an exegetical lecture is an address that offers critical interpretation of a Scripture passages) and a sermon? Both an exegetical lecture and a sermon must display the proper implementation of interpretational principles (hermeneutics) in order to convey the truthfulness of God’s word. That being said, a sermon is much more than an exegetical lecture, therefore the differences between the two are vast. The application of hermeneutics is critical in the construction of a sermon, but it is only the launching pad for a biblical exposition. To some extent, an exegetical lecture is part of a sermon, but a sermon is not an exegetical lecture. The following paragraphs will convey the differences of an exegetical lecture and a biblical exposition or sermon.
The Exegetical Lecture
Exegesis is the application of hermeneutics to a text or portion of Scripture. Ideally, exegesis occurs in the original language of a given text, it carefully examines the text(s) at hand, and it incorporates the various backgrounds and contexts of a text. All of these steps lead to an immense amount of specific data about a given text, which could be communicated in lecture form. An exegetical lecture is a “data dump” of the findings extracted from the process of exegeting a passage. These types of lectures can be extremely informative and insightful, yet it is altogether different than a sermon.
A sermon will include one’s findings during exegesis, though it will not be exhaustive. A sermon must display not only what the passage means, but also what the listener must do as a result of knowing what the passages means. While a lecture is namely informational, a sermon must be information coupled with exhortation. In an exegetical lecture one dispenses discoveries ascertained through applying hermeneutics, a biblical expositor will impart verdicts based on the exegesis of a text combined with theology, church history, apologetics, and more. The preacher is keenly aware of the need of the Spirit’s power while writing and delivering the sermon. When a man preacher’s a sermon he is speaking on behalf of God to God’s people for God’s glory. The preacher expectantly waits to see how God will use His word to glorify Himself. Both the lecturer and the preacher need God’s Spirit to rightly exegete a passage of Scripture. The lecturer may hand out cold hard facts in regard to lexical, syntactical, or contextual analyses, but the preacher does that and more; he exclaims God’s Word in the power of God’s Spirit to God’s people all the while hoping and trusting that God would illumine the minds of his audience, hasten the hearts of his hearers, and quicken the wills of his congregation. A sermon is distinctly geared toward its audience. A lecturer should be aware of his listeners, but a preacher must be aware of his observers. Based upon the audience of a preacher he may or may not say certain things, he may say the same thing in a variety of ways to assure that the totality of his congregation comprehends what is communicated, he may extemporaneously elaborate upon a point when he becomes aware of what his audiences needs to hear. The preacher should have a great desire that his sermon is heard and applied by all that have ears to hear. Lastly, the preacher must lavishly pray for his sermon and those who will hear it. The lecturer may prayer for God’s guidance in exegesis, but the preacher acutely knows that his preparation and delivery must be in the power of the Spirit or else his sermon will drastically fail.
The Main Difference Between an Exegetical Lecture and a Sermon
The overall difference between an exegetical lecture and a sermon is that a sermon calls God’s people to action. A man in his own strength has no authority to call anyone to action, but a man of God, empowered by the Spirit, and ordained and gifted by God to preach the Word, is sent by God Himself and enlisted to speak on behalf of God. To lecture on the Bible is a high, sobering, and terrifying calling, but to preach the Bible is a higher, more sobering, and more terrifying task. A true preacher must be gifted, called, and enabled by God to effectively preach a sermon.