The introduction gets right to the main points of what the book is about. It compels you to read the book again. There is no need to entertain theories where there is a very small minority, like whether or not Paul wrote the letter.
“This commentary examines Paul’s teachings and biographical notes always with an eye to the church today–the men and women who desire a deeper relationship with God, a stronger foundation for their walk, and a clearer vision for God’s working in the world beyond their immediate circle.” This commentary series goes beyond exegesis and to what it means for today. Since the book is only 262 pages long, it doesn’t dwell on any one subject for very long, but deals with subjects and passages in a complete and satisfying way.
Other reviewers have written about the three sections for each passage of the book. Listen to the Story has the Bible text using the NIV 2011. I like it when the translator comes up with their own translation. But since there is minimal discussion of the Greek, an existing one works fine. When she does mention Greek, it’s always something helpful, usually regarding grammar, and like a good preacher, sometimes doesn’t even need to mention the specific words, as if to show off her knowledge. Adjustments are made when the commentator likes a different word better, like ‘slave’ instead of ‘servant’ (which I strongly agree with) in Philippians 1:1. There are cross references, and a synopsis of the passage that will be exposited in Explain the Story, which I would say is more exposition that exegesis, of every 1-4 verses. Live the Story is where plenty of space is used to go into what it means for today–usually picking out a single idea from the passage and writing about that throughout. This is somewhat limiting, but at the same time, thoroughly goes into the main subject matter of a passage–something that most commentaries don’t do any of, being mainly exegesis. This makes the series good for preachers and lay people who would like to connect the original meaning with how we can understand how it may relate to contemporary living. While I believe this is largely the work of the Holy Spirit related to an individual’s circumstances, the Holy Spirit also uses gifted teachers to point things out can help us learn to make these connections. She also writes about contemporary issues within the Explain the Text portion and isn’t afraid to bring up problems in the modern church similar to those that Paul addressed, and sometimes using modern analogies to explain something. So this commentary is thorough, yet not a more technical exegesis-only type of commentary either.
She has a way of coming at the Scripture with an open mind. At the risk of sounding like she’s wishy washy, she’ll say if she thinks that Paul may be intentionally ambiguous, like the well-known “faith in Christ” or “faith of Christ” passage. She doesn’t see everything in black or white, or either or.
As far as where she comes from theologically, it’s hard to pin down, which I see as a good thing. I’m Reformed, but didn’t find anything real objectionable. There are minor things I disagreed with, but I’ll let other reviewers who are more qualified to comment on those things.
While this commentary won’t answer all of your questions satisfactorily, it’s a very good exposition for preachers and lay people to understand what Philippians is about, as opposed to a detailed exegesis of every verse. I would recommend it for those who are looking for that type of book.
This book was provided by the publisher through the Amazon Vine review program for an unbiased review.
Hardcover: 304 pages, also in Kindle format
Publisher: Zondervan (October 30, 2013)
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