Monday, February 23, 2015

Not Just for Scholars

I had been a Christian for years and participated in many Bible studies before I studied one book of the Bible from start to finish. Doing so changed the way I read the Scriptures. Instead of cherry-picking verses and passages, I found myself interested in the author's intent and and message. Later I would wonder how each particular book fit into God's narrative of redemption. But first I had to learn to navigate the murky waters of context and archaic language. Even though a study Bible was a tremendous tool, the brief notes didn't provide as much insight into passages or their application as I wanted. Then I noticed several friends were reading commentaries.

Perhaps you're having the same thought I had when I first heard about commentaries - I'm no Bible scholar. Why do I want a commentary? Granted, many Bible commentaries are written for the academics, far beyond any intellectual capabilities I may have. Some are just plain dry, filled with Greek lexicons and syntax. Would I be bored out of my skull?

The Reformed Expository Commentary Series put my fears to rest. I began with Esther and Ruth. Since then I have added several others, including Philippians and Acts. One of the latest volumes, Ecclesiastes, also adorns my bookshelf. Every one I've read is simple and concise enough for an armchair theologian, yet insightful enough for the most learned pastor.

 From the Series Introduction:
In every generation there is a fresh need for the faithful exposition of God's Word in the church. At the same time, the church must constantly do the work of theology: reflecting the teaching of Scripture, confessing its doctrines of the Christian faith, and applying them to contemporary culture. We believe that these two tasks - the expositional and the theological - are interdependent. Our doctrine must derive from the biblical text, and our understanding of any particular passage of Scripture must arise from the doctrine taught in Scripture as a whole.
 The chapters can be managed as extended devotional reading each day. For instance, all but one chapter in Ecclesiastes are under 15 pages. Douglas Sean O'Donnell's conversational style reads like a thoughtful sermon; he explains the passages and often uses cultural examples to make application of his point.

I've found the Reformed Expository Commentary Series has helped me understand and apply Scripture in my life far more than I ever thought possible.

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