Rhetoric & Homiletics: Topoi – Progression

I have repeatedly attempted to lay out the nature of “topoi,” as well as give biblical and/or sermonic examples.

It is one of the most useful classical rhetorical concepts which is often unaddressed when discussing “preaching helps.”  Here are most of the links to previous posts.

Topoi:  Becoming An Idea Generator
Topoi: The Topoi of “Place”
Topoi: In It Alone
Topoi: A Critical  Concept Part #1
Topoi: A Critical Concept Part #2
Topoi: Topoi of Process
Topoi: Topoi of Responsibility
Topoi: Vertical & Horizontal
Topoi: Another Topoi: The Missing Link
Topoi: Another Topoi: Contributed or Caused
Topoi: Another Topoi
Topoi: Another Topoi: Definition
Topoi: Here But Not There
Topoi: The Extremes
Topoi: Reality
Topoi:  AnotherUseful Topoi
Topoi: Critical To Options
Topoi: The Motive
Topoi: Intentional or Accidental
Topoi: Degrees
Topoi: Where
Topoi: What
Topoi: Unless

Topoi are what help generate thoughts for . . . .

developing a biblical truth or principle
creating an introduction
clarifying a point
designing a conclusion
explaining a concept
illustrating a point
expanding on an idea

Topoi are mind generators and especially useful for the pastor who is in it alone!

Let’s add another “Topos” to your list of mind generating possibilities.

Progressions: The Bible contains examples of such progressions because there are steps which mark various actions, activities, and/or thinking patterns.

Eve: Saw – Took – Ate
Saul: Praise – Jealousy – Hatred
Achan: Saw – Took – Hide
David: Looked  – inquired – took
David: Sinned – covered – killed
Saul: Feared – disobeyed – blamed
Jacob: Feared – schemed – manipulated
Lot: Pitched tent towards – In Sodom – In the city gates

So most preachers-teachers are already familiar with the broad concept of “progressions.”

Have you heard the statement . . .

Sin will take you farther than you want to go.
Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay.
Sin will cost you far more than you want to pay.

That is nowhere found in the Bible, but it clearly states a biblical truth.  The progression is “go” – “stay” – “pay.”


How about this one . . . .

The Laws Of Sowing:
We reap what we sow.
We reap more than we sow.
We reap later than we sow.

The progression is “what” – and then “more” – and finally “later.”


The topoi relies on the truth that sin doesn’t just “pop” into the life of a believer — or non-believer.  There are steps which lead to a particular “end” — or the last step.

As you deal with a passage of Scripture, think about whether there is a reasonable progression seen within the passage (or which has a biblical basis) and accounts for what has happened.

i.e. “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world”
Godly influence – Love of world – Loss of godly companions

i.e. “And immediately the cock crew”
Unfounded confidence – Unexpected events – Resultant confusion – New fears – Unexpected denial

i.e. “So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.”
Correction – Sorrow – Unforgiveness – Swallowed up



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