Summary: A biographical message seeks to explore the character, reputation, background, contributions, relationships, temperament, and spiritual life of person in the scriptures.
IV. Biographical Exposition
DEFINITION - A biographical message seeks to explore the character, reputation, background, contributions, relationships, temperament, and spiritual life of person in the scriptures.
Examples of Biographical Sermon Titles (From Sermons For the Nigerian Pastor)
1). Gideon - How Can the Presence of God Transform a Yielded Person Into Christ’s Likeness? (Jud,6:1-24)
2). Gideon - How Can Someone Experience So Many Triumphs Yet End His Life in Defeat? (Jud.8:22-35)
3). Jephthah - How To Avoid Spiritual Ignorance? (Jud.11:29-40)
4). Samson - How To Avoid Wasting Your Resources (Jud. 14:1-20)
5). Samson - How Not To Avoid Temptations (Jud.16:1-22)
6). Samson - How Can God Restore Us to Usefulness? (Jud.16:21-31)
7). Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar - How To Be a Person God Uses (Jud.3:7-31)
1. Select a Person of Relevant to Your Audiences’ Needs - Select someone or some aspect of a person’s life that is small enough for you to do an adequate study on. The person you speak on should be someone who your audience can identify with. Try to show how the person struggled with similar temptations faced by your congregation.
2. Make a list of the references on the person. Try to use a good concordance for this reference search. Search extra-Biblical sources to supplement your study. Many books have been written describing both the fictional and factual aspects of men and women in the Bible.
3. Ask yourself the following questions about the person:
A. Reputation or Credibility
a). What was the person’s reputation b). Who wrote about the person? Why? c). What did people say about the person? d). What did his friends/enemies say about the person? e). What did the person’s family think or say about the person? f). What did God say about the person g). Why do you think God allowed this person to be mentioned in the scriptures? h). What valuable contribution did this person make? (Warren, p. 235, 1981)
For example, Jacob had a reputation as a deceiver. In fact his name means trickster, heel catcher or supplanter. With his craftiness, Jacob tricked Isaac into giving him the covenant blessing. Jacob developed a reputation quite the opposite of his brother Esau who was a hunter. Instead, Jacob was a quiet, meditative, settled, and well integrated man, who lived in tents. Jacob was always the favorite of his mother, Rebekah.
B. Personal Strengths & Weaknesses
a). What kind of character did this person have? b). What were his aims and motives? c). What was he like at home? d). How did he respond to adversity? e). How did he handle criticism? f). How did he respond to success? g). Did he get discouraged easily? h). How did he respond to the trivial and mundane things of life? i). How quickly did he praise God for the hardships and victories in his life? j). How quickly did he obey God? k). How quickly did he submit to God’s authority figures? l). What was he like when he was alone with God? m). Did he give God the praise and glory for his accomplishments? n). Was this man faithful in the little things? o). How did he treat his wife and children? p). Why did he succeed? q). What were his strengths and weaknesses? For a brief example, Jacob was a man who was willing to try all means to wrestle the blessing away from Isaac and his brother Esau. Even though God had already promised that the older would serve the younger (Gen 25:23), Jacob wanted to trust in his own insights rather than relying on God. Jacob used shrewd foresight to take advantage of Esau at a time of weakness. In Gen. 25:33 we see how Jacob traded a bowl of soup for his brother’s birthright. Jacob lived up to his reputation and name. He deceitfully juggled the truth to gain the right of precedence which his order of birth did not give. But Jacob sowed seeds of family hostility that would plague him for years to come.