Topoi: Vertical & Horizontal . . . .

vertical horizontal  Known — But Maybe Not Consciously Exploited

Stephen Davey says what many others have said, and even you yourself may have preached.  Nevertheless, what is worth noting is that it is a Christian topos.  It is a Christian topos in that it is something which is understood in a Christian context, among believers.

If a preacher-teacher were to say something as . . . .

“In essence, this is actually a vertical issue.  That is where it starts, and that is what explains why God’s people . . . . .”

. . . . the typical Christian audience understands the argument being made.


  • The Vertical:  Our Relationship With God
  • The Horizontal:  Out Relationship With Men


  • First Four Commandments:  Vertical
  • Last Six Commandments:  Horizontal


  • Love God With All Your Mind, Heart, and Soul:  Vertical
  • Love Your Neighbor As Yourself: Horizontal



Davey makes a point about Paul’s thanks TO God (Vertical) for the believers at Philippi (Horizontal).


(Audio Clip — Stephen Davey 0n Philippians – Joy)

Ultimately this thank you letter was first and foremost the giving of thanks to God.


I thank my God


You see, Paul’s vertical relationship with God




and even defined

his horizontal perspective in the happenings of his circumstances.


You start there –  I thank my God

and you are on your way to mixing up a serving of joy.


Now what is he choosing to thank God for . . . I thank my God in all my remembrance

of you!      


Paul is writing in the present tense – you could render this . . . .

I am always thanking my God for — you.




A preacher-teacher can develop, clarify, explain, and/or apply a biblical point using this well-known biblical concept.  Even though Davey used the construct in preaching from Philippians 1:3-7, it can be put to use other ways and with other passages.

Nevertheless, it requires “consciously calling-up” this construct.  That is often the point when it comes to “memoria.”  When working on a message or a speech, there are “topoi,” or mental constructs, or ways of clarifying biblical truths which can be and should be considered.  This biblical construct is one such example.

In preaching or teaching from many and varied Bible passages, the speaker can call this “topos” up . . . .


Rhetorical Templates: Here are some examples which reflect the application of this topos using different biblical passages.

“There is a vertical aspect which fuels this horizontal admonition.”

“This passage is addressing the vertical side of our lives — our relationship to God.  Because it is the vertical which will have and has horizontal consequences.”

This passage is addressing the horizontal — our relationship with men — lost or saved.  Nevertheless, we all understand that the vertical is assumed.  This is not natural — It is supernatural — it comes from the Spirit of God working in us.

Galatians 5:22 — Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance — Whatever these are — it is not what you see exemplified among those who know not Christ.  There may be those who seem to have great patience, or are very loving, or are marked by a sense of peace midst storms — However, these traits have a vertical source – They are fruit of the Spirit.

David is the anointed King and now again has the opportunity to kill Saul in the very camp where all the army of Israel is sleeping.  David refuses because there is more happening.  David has a real, effective, and meaningful relationship with the Lord God and it is that relationship which stops him from doing what seems so right to his servant.  It will be that relationship with God which stops God’s people from doing wrong to men — lost and saved.”

Ephesians 4:20-32 — When God’s put on the Lord Jesus — which has a vertical origin — it will have a horizontal impact.  Men will see and experience these spiritual outcomes as they relate to us in life and living.


A passage may or may not teach this truth — such as, What is the greatest commandment” — Matthew 22:36-39 — followed by the answer that it is both vertical and horizontal.  This passage actually teaches this truth or principle.

However, you are not “arguing” for this truth, you are “arguing” from the truth.  This truth is taught in the Scriptures, and you are going to explain, apply, develop, or clarify a point as you USE this truth and “argue from it!”  You are going to use that truth with passages which do not necessarily teach that truth within the passage you are working with, teaching, or preaching.


The vertical relationship with God




and even defines

his horizontal!


Add It To Your Repository Of Rhetorical Techniques — Consciously Intentionally Purposefully, Pointedly, and Profitably . . . .


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