Rhetoric & Homiletics: A 2’fer– A Lesson In Analogical Illustrations & Topoi

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Stephen Davey is a great-to-outstanding preacher.  Theologically, practically, and rhetorically — he gets it!

Here is an excellent example of the “topos” of “greater to lesser,” along with a great example of an “analogical illustration.”


Notice what the Lord says further in verse 25b; Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

What the Lord is doing is building a case against worry by going from a greater to lesser argument.

He’s effectively saying, “Look, life is greater than food and clothing. And if God is able to give you life – the greater challenge – don’t you think He can take care of sustaining life – which is a lesser challenge.

Let me illustrate it this way. I took my daughter’s Volkswagon Bug over to the Dealership to get a bulb replaced in her front headlight. You know, in most cars or pickup trucks, you just loosen a screw or two, pop off the plastic cover and put in a new light. Not in a Volkswagon Bug. You have to take off the roof – take out the engine . . . roll down the windows, take off the tires and then you they can replace the bulb.

And they charge you for all that labor.

Next door to the Volkswagon dealership is a Mercedes dealership. That’s where people go who can’t afford a Chevy Pickup . . . they have to settle.

Can you imagine me going into that showroom – and they’re showing for a limited time the 1937 Von Krieger Roadster on the showroom floor – it’s up for public sale and expected to sell for somewhere around 10 million dollars . . . and I whip out my checkbook and write out a check for 11.2 million dollars (which is what it sold for recently) and the media goes wild and the flash bulbs are snapping away, but just before I hand that salesman my check I stop and say, “Now wait, what’s the gas mileage on this Roadster . . . I mean, gas is over 3 bucks a gallon . . . can it get 25 miles to the gallon in the city? If it can’t, I’m going to have problems affording this car.”

People who spend 11 million dollars on a car aren’t thinking about gas mileage . . . in fact, they’re not thinking!

You see, this is the distorting process of worry. If God can create life . . . do you think He can provide a meal for that life?


Stephen Davey drives the argument further with the same “topos” (greater to the lesser) in yet another way . . . .


Don’t be tempted to think that these people in Jesus’ day had it so much easier than we do today. I mean, we’ve got reasons to worry, right?

Well, if you travel back to the days of Christ, you discover people living hand to mouth. Water was scarce; food was often a problem; the average worker was paid every day rather than weekly or monthly, because they needed the money to take care of the food they would need for the next day.

They didn’t store food and there were no refrigerators to keep milk or eggs fresh; Jesus would teach them and us to pray for our daily bread . . . they knew nothing of bread for a week or month.

Their government gave them no such thing as social security or retirement and their jobs offered no pensions; the average worker paid as much as 40% of their income to taxes.

And Jesus Christ said to them – Stop worrying . . . don’t be strangled by your worries . . . if God has the power to create your life – He has the power to take care of your life.


After laying out how different their life was compared to ours — but more than just different, far more difficult —  Davey DRIVES the point with the words “to them” – which is “the greater” . . . .

“And Jesus said to them — Stop worrying.”

Those who have it far more difficult, those who should have found those words even more difficult to hear and follow — were told by Jesus — “Stop worrying!”




1.  Breaking Up Stony Ground – Selected Scriptures — audio link



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