Homiletics – The Basics

Homiletics is for everyone who wants to study & understand God's word.  You don't have to be a Bible scholar, pastor or leader. It is a tool to help you analyze a passage of scripture to more fully understand what God is saying to His people (you!). Homiletics is also an effective tool for helping those who teach, to create a message that relates God's word to an audience.

Here's a short summary of how to do homiletics, as taught in BSF.

Pray! Always start by asking God to guide your study, that you may learn from His word.

Read! Read the passage through. Some people do their BSF lesson first; others do homiletics first. It’s your choice.

Meditate! Think about & dwell upon what God is saying to you thru the passage. This isn’t a race. It’s a conversation between God and you.

Content list! Reduce your reading & meditation down to 12 to 15 summary sentences. Whether looking at one chapter of scripture or four (or more!), the principle is the same. OK, you might compose more than 15 content sentences; that's fine too!

Identify natural divisions! Look for 2 to 4 divisions from your content list. ID the start and ending scriptures. Sometimes they ‘jump out’ at you; other times you may have to ponder for a bit.

Compose division sentences! These summarize the major groupings of content & central ideas from each division.

Compose a subject sentence! Using ten words or less, summarize the content of the entire passage of scripture. This need not be entirely grammatically correct. Nor does it need to be creatively witty.

Identify an aim! Now think about your audience. You are taking aim at a 'target' teaching point. There may be multiple teaching points for your audience from the passage. Pick the one that speaks to what you’ve learned and what you want your audience to learn from.

Identify a principle (or two, or more) for each division! Look back on each division and write out a principle that you find relevant to the division. This is where you apply God's word to life.

Write a question for each division’s principle! What principle would you challenge others with from that division?Compose the question as an open ended question. 

Note: BSF offers a wonderful seminar on doing Homiletics once or twice per year. Come join us in studying God’s word!


  1. My name is Tom Linn. I am an 11 year BSF member in White Bear Lake MN. I stumbled on to your homiletics page. I have been to your Los Gatos BSF men's class many times over the years during my years of travel. I always felt welcomed by your group. Kind regards, Tom Linn tomlinn001@gmail.com

  2. Thank you for this clear explanation. <><

  3. Still not sure if i can differentiate between contents and division.

  4. It's much more challenging to summarize four or five chapters of scriptures into 10-15 summary sentences. e.g. I am trying to do that for Exodus 11-15.

    Is that what you mean when you said "Reduce your reading & meditation down to 12 to 15 summary sentences. Whether looking at one chapter of scripture or four (or more!), the principle is the same. "

  5. Ceci20081, think of "content" as the text of scripture and "divisions" as the headings added to the Bible, such as from Matthew 1, "The Geneology of Jesus" and "The Birth of Jesus Christ."

  6. I just attended the BSF homiletics seminar recently. I was surprised that there is no place for cross references in their version of homiletics. I don't understand how anyone can expect to understand a topic (and teach others) when only using a small portion of the scriptures which deal with the subject.

    1. I don't know that the point of Homiletics is to always teach a topic, but to derive meaning/understanding from a passage of Scripture. (so you wouldn't need other scriptures neccesarily)

      Topical teaching/preaching is having a base Scripture that gives meaning/Biblical principle and then supporting Scripture to show continuity. (basis of teaching is on a topic.)

      Expository preaching is when you take a passage of Scripture derive understanding from that passage and arrive at a Biblical principle for THAT section of Scripture. (The scripture develops the topic?)

      For example, a pastor can preach on the principle of Love. He may use 1 Corinthians 13, the "love chapter", add verses that support Christians love for one another, love/allegiance to Christ vs the world, love for unbelievers, etc. that would be topical preaching.

      Or, he could use expository preaching to extract the meaning and purpose of 1 Corinthians 13...which could be the definition of and instruction in Love.

      I believe that is the purpose behind homiletics. It's a great way to prepare to teach because each time you prepare the content will be the same but God may allow you to see something "new" from the text.

      To further the example, I have almost always heard 1 Corinthians 13 being preached on the topic of LOVE, but recently my pastor used this section to teach on GIFTS and how they should/should not be used, primarily the gift of tongues. Same Bible, same content, different subject and aim!

      I hope all this makes sense. Not trying to sound "smart" here or anything...I have been in BSF for 5 years and have LOVED the way it's helped my mind to STUDY and REMEMBER Scripture. I did homiletics as a group leader 3 or so years ago and am just revisiting it over the summer to prepare for John. I forgot how much I LOVED this method of study/understanding :) I pray you are helped/blessed!! <3