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How Long Should You Preach from One Bible Book?

Taking care to proclaim the full counsel of God

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How many weeks, months, or years should you devote to preaching through Hebrews? How long should you take to preach through John's gospel? What about Isaiah? According to some preachers, the longer the better. If you need five years to preach through Romans, take it! If expounding 1 Corinthians requires three years, then so be it! However, I would argue that whatever gains we make by spending so much time in one book might be offset by some big losses.

Several years ago, I took to heart a challenge D. A. Carson issued to preachers at a pastor's conference. Carson challenged us to preach larger blocks of Scripture rather than expound for 45 minutes on one verse. He warned: "Some of you won't get through a tenth of the Bible in 40 years of ministry. What's the matter? Don't you believe in preaching the whole counsel of God?" Then he observed: "If you expound 45 minutes on half a verse, you may not teach people how to read their Bibles."

A few months later, I discovered another problem preaching ...

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Larry Armstrong

July 31, 2007  3:35pm

It's refreshing to find someone who understands "the whole counsel of God" from a preaching viewpoint. We who are called to expound God's Word need to deliver both depth and breadth when we preach, but we must also trust God to work in his people's minds and hearts. If our preaching is rooted in scripture and substantive in its expression, people will be inspired to read the rest of Hebrews--or whatever Bible book we're preaching on.

Craig Boettcher

July 31, 2007  12:07am

I Absolutely agree! I've been preaching what you have been saying for 10 years now. I'm happy that other people are too, teaching and preaching this way not only in the USA but "Down Under" in Australia too. I believe preachers and teachers can learn a lot from us Aussie's too. Iron sharpens iron.

John Presko

July 30, 2007  10:56am

This is what I am hearing taught from other experienced pastors around the country. Just another confirmation of the need to preach and teach through the Bible every 4 to 6 years, depending on your congregation and community.

Bill Fikes

July 30, 2007  9:48am

This article was a bit of a relief. It seems that there is an idol of "how thoroughly did you cover Hebrews?" In seminary we were taught that you need to know when your sermon is over. It seems the same principle would apply to series.


July 30, 2007  12:00am

I chuckled as I reviewed this article with keen interest, you see I'm beginning an expositional survey of "Paul's" epistle to the Hebrews. We anticipate that it will take no less than one year, given a few seasonal and topical departures! The article seems to assume the only time to study the Bible is a Sunday morning service? We utilize and evening service to interact on those portions and truths in Scripture covered Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings are devoted to a well attended & interesting, interactive study incorporating video clips from the Visual Bible™ usually covering entire chapter themes of a specific book of the Bible. Finally, "believe it or not" our folks requested & enjoy Friday night study that covers the entire Bible! For that study we found the excellent resources developed through the New Tribes Mission, now available from entitled, The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, an 11-hour video series that explains the entire Bible

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