In a recent article for, John Piper writes: “What tone should you aim at in preaching? My answer is: Pursue the tone of the text. Let it be informed, not muted, by the tonal balance of Jesus and the apostles and by the gospel of grace.” Piper then lists 10 explanatory notes; here are the first four:

1. “Texts have meaning, and texts have tone. Consider the tonal difference between ‘Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden…’ and ‘Woe to you, blind guides…You blind fools!’ The preacher should embody, not mute, these tones.

2. “Nevertheless, just as the meanings of texts are enlarged, completed and given a new twist by larger biblical themes and by the gospel of grace, so also the tones of texts are enlarged, completed and given a new twist by these realities. A totally dark jigsaw puzzle piece may, in the big picture, be a part of the pupil of a bright and shining eye.

3. “The grace of God in the gospel turns everything into hope for those who believe. ‘Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that…we might have hope’ (Romans 15:4). ‘He who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things’ (Romans 8:32). Therefore, all the various tones of texts (let them resound!) resolve into the infinitely varied tones of hope, for those who believe in Jesus.

4. “If there is a danger of not hearing the tone of gospel hope, emerging from the thunder and lightning of Scripture, there is also a danger of being so fixed on what we think hope sounds like that we mute the emotional symphony of a thousand texts. Don’t do it. Let the tone grip you. Let it carry you. Embody the tone of the text and the gospel dénouement.”

Share This On: