Homiletics 2 File 16 Professor Carl Fickenscher II Question by: David >> DAVID: Obviously, we can't take our passage out of context. We have to look at the verses before and after it. But that other stuff, the background of the book, the isagogics, that's interesting enough, but does it really matter for preaching? Most of our people aren't all that interested in an ancient history lesson. >> PROF. FICKENSCHER: That's, of course, a great point. And it's a very good question along with it. As we go through each of these steps, let's try to see how each step really can impact our preaching in a significant way. You're right. It's true. Our people don't really care to, in many cases and certainly don't need to know all of those details about life in the ancient Near East, and that really isn't the point. Instead, though, we are looking to try to get a sense, as accurately as we possibly can, of what the Holy Spirit was intending to communicate, and to do that, it really is essential to understand who was communicating to whom. The Holy Spirit really did not inspire the scriptures to be set in our day in isolation from their original setting. He really intended to speak real people to real people at a particular time, particular place, which then enables us in the most effective way to speak in our time, in our place, to our people. Our task as preachers is never to preach just whatever the text makes us think of, but always to preach what the text was actually saying and doing. Now, that, frankly, is the only way we can stand in the pulpit and say, "Thus saith the Lord." To really grasp what the Holy Spirit was intending, it is often very helpful and sometimes necessary to know the particular audience, and the setting in which the original text was written and so on. For example, was it a Jewish audience, primarily, or a Gentile audience primarily? Was it earlier in the New Testament history or later? It's also very helpful, very enriching. It's exciting. It enlivens our preaching. For example, the better we know Paul and the city of Corinth and the Christian congregation there, the more lively can be our conversation with Paul, the more we can speak as if we really are there, as if we really are hearing from him directly and speaking back to him, also, directly. This is also where the real applications intended from the text can arise. If we really understand who it is that is reading the text originally, then we can begin to guess how our people are like the original hearers and how they're different from them. We can infer what Paul intended his readers to understand in application, and then we can make the applications that truly are parallel for our own people. Again, rather than just preaching our own ideas or even just what the text kind of makes us think.