What is the Difference Between Hermeneutics and Homiletics?

There are several ways to define and explain hermeneutics and homiletics. The very reason that I have put hermeneutics before homiletics shows which should come first, because only good hermeneutics ends in good homiletics.

Some view each of these as both sciences and arts, and depending on the audience, preachers utilize different approaches as they work on hermeneutics and homiletics. In dealing with a Biblical text however, I suggest that hermeneutics most certainly functions as the science of the interpretation of the text, where homiletics is the art of constructing and organizing a sermon for the purpose of preaching based on well worked hermeneutics.

When studying the biblical text, one should pay attention to details, thus hermeneutics should take precedence:

  1. to extract the author’s original intended meaning for writing the text to his original audience.
  2. to discover the meaning as it was understood by the original audience in its original context.
  3. this should be accomplished by carefully observing the text in its historical, grammatical, linguistic, rhetorical, contextual, and canonical setting.

When constructing a sermon (homiletics) a few questions should guide your process:

  1. Is it adequately and meaningfully communicating the historical meaning, purpose, intent, and significance of the text to your immediate audience?
  2. Is it applicable to your current audience in their immediate context?
  3. Does it addresses the current issues that your audience is dealing with and offers guidance found through hermeneutics.

In sum, hermeneutics is discovering the voice of God from the pages of the Bible through faithful labor in accurate interpretation of the biblical text and homiletics is teaching a biblical text in a manner that our audiences may also hear the voice of God discovered through hermeneutics. Theologically, a sermon should address how a particular text fits into God’s grand story of creation, the fall, redemption, renewal/restoration, and as Christian believers  it is the task of faithful preachers to understand and teach to their congregations how it points to the person and work of Christ and His lordship over all creation and our own immediate context.