Book Review – 1-2 Thessalonians (Reformed Expository Commentary) (12/1)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve often heard preachers comment that the Thessalonians are a ‘model’ church but strangely I seldom hear preachers preach on Thessalonians. This is why I’m glad I was given the opportunity to review this book.

1 & 2 Thessalonians (Reformed Expository Commentary)Richard D. Phillips pens another great commentary in the Reformed Expository Commentary Series. As with every commentary in this series, it seeks to present expository sermons on the passages to the readers. Each of the sermons reads excellently and will help budding preacher see how preaching can be exegetical and applicational.

Do note that Phillips prefers to preach on smaller sets of verses. For example, Phillips preaches 5 sermons on the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians, which consists of 10 verses. There are also situations when Phillips preaches a larger set of sermon (e.g. 1 Thess 4:13-18), and then proceed to break the verses down into 3 sermons (4:13-14; 4:14-17; 4:16-18). Although I prefer exposition that takes a bigger chunk of verses, this commentary is still helpful as it allows me to slow down and examine the verses in smaller segments.

I especially like the chapter on the rapture, where Phillips goes against the popular teachings of the ‘secret rapture’. He shows the error in such teaching and then aims to give a correct and biblical understanding of the rapture. As with every commentary in this series. Each chapter seeks to be exegetical, expositional and applicational. Preachers who needs help or guidance in these areas ought to consult these and perhaps use these as their devotional/evening reading everyday as they prepare their preaching series.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).
Or alternatively, you could also get 1 & 2 Thessalonians: The Hope of Salvation (Preaching the Word) both are excellent choice for expository preaching on 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. As announced in this blogpost by Richard D. Phillips, I’m looking forward to the upcoming commentaries on Song of Songs (Duguid), Ezra-Nehemiah (Thomas), Revelation (Phillips), Zephaniah-Haggai-Malachi (Duguid), and 2 Samuel (Phillips).

Book Review – Parables: The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told (7/1)

The teachings of Jesus that people remember most often are either the sermon on the mount or the parables that he has taught. Parables leaves a lasting impressions on those who listens to them, especially when they are used to shock the listeners.

Parables: The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus ToldIn this book, John Macarthur wants to help christians understand the parables of Jesus correctly. He starts the book by explaining why Jesus teaches using the parable. He debunks some of the wrong teachings that other have proposed and he brings readers to consider what the bible have to say about why Jesus taught using parables.

Having done that, Macarthur then moves on to explain 10 parables to the readers. Macarthur is careful to interpret the understanding of the parable within the context of the passage. This is one clear strength of the book. Macarthur leads readers not just to the parable itself, but also to the parables that precede and proceed from the parable. Because Macarthur tries to be faithful to the understand the parable from the text, the meaning of the parable flows naturally. It does not sounds weird or abrupt  when linked with the passages that comes before or after it.

One clear strength of the book is how Macarthur is able to explain the parables in a way that is easily understandable. He does not use any technical terms and ensures that his explanation actually helps readers gain a clearer understanding. Readers will be able to learn much from Macarthur and will find this book helpful in understanding parables.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. For those who wants a more exhaustive recommendation, try Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus, get it here and here (free international shipping).

Book Review – What the New Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Their Writings (4/1)

Seminary classes often do not have time to cover each and every chapter and verse of the bible in class and usually what seminaries gives students an overview or survey of the various testaments. The pros of such an arrangement is that students are given a cliffsnotes edition to what each book of the bible is about. The cons however only equips students with the bare essentials of what the text is about. One can seem knowledgeable, but not really knowing their material well.

What the New Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Their WritingsThis books seems to want to fill this gap. Rather than dealing time dealing with the authors, dating and purpose. This book mainly deals with the purpose and flow of each book in the New Testament. What is unique about this book is how the chapters are grouped. They are divided into authors then books. As such, Luke-Acts comes before John, and John is followed by the Letters of John and Revelation. Although I appreciate how the editors have arranged the chapters. It was not clear how grouping the books by the author made significant contribution to the overall content. Each chapter could still be read alone, and there was not much interaction between the books written by the same biblical author (or maybe for Luke & John).

Having said that, this book will help anyone wants to see the structure and the flow of each of the book in the New Testament. Since the book does not dwell much on the technical stuff, I have found that this book can be marketed for any layperson who wants to grow in their grasp of the New Testament. Furthermore, I have found that the book contains plenty of pictures/charts/maps that will be refreshing for anyone who’s reading it. In the review copy I was given, I did noticed that one of the the picture was repeated with different captions (A scribe’s tools, pg 25; Qumran, Cave 4, pg 30). I’m not too sure if this error is present in the copies for sale. If so, future reprints should take note and rectify this error.

For seminary students, this may be the first book they read for their NT survey, but this book alone will not suffice and would need to be supplemented with other books that discuss more on the technical stuff. Pastors who have good knowledge of the New Testament might not need this book, but might be able to refer this book to their congregation for something that is more structured than a study bible, but leaves out on almost all of the technical stuff.

Rating: 3.75 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. As an supplement, you might want to consider An Introduction to the New Testament,  get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Book Review – Tough Questions About God and His Actions in the Old Testament (12/12)

Is the Old Testament God a different God from the New Testament God? As a conservative christian, we are quick to say that God is unchanging and has been the same throughout the Old and New Testament, yet many a times we find it hard to explain the differences portrayed in the bible. Furthermore, most the these difficulties surfaces in the Old Testament where christians are often not well verse in.

Tough Questions About God and His Actions in the Old TestamentWalter Kaiser Jr. wants to help rectify this problem in the evangelical world. In this book, Kaiser gives a careful and well-thought through answers to christians. Although the title of the book seems to be apologetics in nature, I have found that the book speaks primarily to bible believing christians, or at least to non-christians who are open to listen what the bible has to say about such issues.

Kaiser tackles some of the most debated questions within this book. For example, he attempts to answer in the first chapter if God is a wrathful God or a merciful God. Or in the following chapter where he answers if God is one that is peaceful, or one that is guilty of ethnical cleaning.

Kaiser answers these questions by engaging the readers to look at what the Old Testament actually has to say about such things. As an Old Testament scholar, Kaiser helps readers interpret and understand the Old Testament passages correctly. What Kaiser really does in this book is he engages the readers with the Old Testament itself, Kaiser rarely veers off from this path. As such, this book is good for those who would like to honestly engage with what the Bible really says.

This book is therefore aimed primarily for those who are keen to seek answers about such questions from the Old Testament itself. College students will find this book helpful to ground their faith on the Word of God, and for those who are interested in what the bible has to say about these questions, this book will be very helpful. Pastor might be able to find this book as a good primer for these questions, and this book should be able to help you answer such questions. However, more in-depth questions might require pastors to seek more materials on specific topics.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. The God I Don’t Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith might be another helpful book for you to read on this topic, get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Book Review – 1-3 John (Reformed Expository Commentary) (19/11)

Preaching the word of God is a tremendously important task. Make sure you have good mentors who can show you an example of what good preaching is, is essential to that end. What I’ve always tried to do when teaching on any particular books of the bible is to find expository commentaries that preaches on the book and learn from them.

1-3 John (Reformed Expository Commentary)For those look for help in preaching the Epistles of John, they can consult this commentary. Within this commentary, Douglas Sean O’Donnell shows readers how he preached the epistles of John. He allows readers to understand how he interprets the passages, and why he makes the point that he makes. I have to say that O’Donnell has certainly been very exegetical within this commentary. He examines the passages phrase by phrase, looking into the meaning of each of them. Explaining them in the context of the passage and giving helpful illustrations along the way.

Although I did not find this commentary to be as sermon-like as his previously commentary on Ecclesiastes was (which was excellent). I do see a clear strength in his exegesis. I think for preachers who struggles with understanding what is good exegesis, or the difference between eisegesis and exegesis, this will be a good commentary to consult. O’Donnell will bring you through step by step his exegesis for the passage.

One sad ‘regret’ is how short this commentary is. However given how the epistles of John consist mostly of 7 chapters. It is understandable why this commentary is much thinner that the others within the same series.


Are you preaching on the epistles of John any time soon? Or perhaps aiming to study the epistles of John? Then do get this book and read it both devotionally and also gain some  exegetical knowledge on how to understand the passages.

As with every commentary in the Reformed Expository Commentary, this commentary is excellent for any preachers and seminary students who intends to study or preach this passage.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. I recommend as an alternative you can also consult 1-3 John: Fellowship in God’s Family. Get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Book Review – For the Love of God’s Word: An Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (17/10)

Christian are often told to love the Word, but the Word is often a difficult book to read and understand. This book however will be a helpful book for any christian. This book aims to be a substantial introduction for christians teaching them to do basic hermeneutics and exegesis.

For the Love of God's Word: An Introduction to Biblical InterpretationWhat readers should know is that this book is an abridgement of the thicker volume Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature and Theology. This book will help serious christian learnt he nooks and crannies of studying the bible.

First the authors helps readers understand the three perspectives that the authors want readers to understand. These are literature and theology. They showed how each of these topics helps a christian understand the bible better.

The difference between this book and the thicker volume lies is what is being covered in the history section. This book does not elaborate too much on this aspect, however they help readers see how history is important to interpreting the bible.

Next, they move to the literature portion which really helps readers understand the literary aspect of the bible. First they give a rough overview of each of the testament, next they showcase each of the genres found in both testaments, and give pointers on how to read, understand and exegete the different genre.

Lastly, the authors bring in the importance of theology in the pursuit of understanding the bible and shows how our theology should be derived from the Word, and not of anything else.

Having read the thicker volume, seminary students or pastors are certainty recommend to read that volume. However, if you are a lay christian, or someone who is motivated to take up a substantial book, this will be one that you can turn to. The authors are able to explain and distill their knowledge in an easily understandable format, but being a book that is more than 400 pages, you need to be discipline and motivated to make full use of this book. This book is good for those who are new to this topic. For those who are familiar in this area, they are recommended to turn to the larger volume.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. I would also recommend Biblical Exegesis: A Beginner’s Handbook as a companion to this book, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Book Review – The Message of the General Epistles in the History of Redemption (7/10)

The letters of Paul (and perhaps James) can often be found in the preaching of the church. But other letters are sadly mostly “forgotten”. I have found that Brandon D. Crowe has written a helpful book to fill a vital gap.

The Message of the General Epistles in the History of RedemptionWithin this book, Crowe covers the general epistles, the letters of Peter, John, James and Jude. Although these are mostly short letters. Crowe takes time and effort to explain the letters to the readers. I especially appreciated how Crowe allocated one chapter to each letter. This really allows Crowe the space to explain each letter in depth and also allows the readers to have a deeper understanding of each letter.

For each letter, Crowe gives a good introduction for it. Next Crowe brings the readers through guided tour of the letter. He points out the main points of the passages, gives explanation for them and also brings out the relevant application for the readers. I have found the book to be a bridge between introductions to the letters and commentaries. For someone who is interested to study the letters but not keen to explore the technical aspects within a commentary or for those who wishes to work through the passages first before given an exegetical explanation, this will be an excellent choice for you. As I read, I thought that Crow gives a good extended introduction, but as the same time, he does not gives “answers” to the readers. he allows readers to think and examine the text for themselves.

For some time, I have been wanting to study the letters of Peter. This book comes as an excellent help for me and I recommend you to get it too. For pastors, this may be a good you want to recommend to your congregation. It is not as daunting as a commentary, yet it is not a watered down book that does not challenge your members.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you’re interested you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. I have not read this, but Letters to the Church: A Survey of Hebrews and the General Epistles by Karen Armstrong will be a good companion to this book, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Book Review – The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and Theology (1/10)

Many have approach the psalms as individual trees within a forest. Examining the beauty and wonder of each type of tree. Few however has argued that the book of Psalm as a whole has a flow and structure to it. O Palmer Robertson believes int the latter, and wants to convince readers about that too as well.

The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and TheologyRobertson starts by giving a basic introduction to the book of psalms. Given that this book may be read by readers who are new to psalms, Robertson gives an excellent introduction to the nooks and crannies of the different types of psalms. I have found these introduction to be extremely helpful to anyone who intends to study psalms, and I feel that the introduction is worth the price of the book.

Next Robertson introduces to the reader the Redemptive-Historical Framework of Psalms. This is the first time I’ve read anything like it, and have enjoyed the way Robertson has presented this chapter. As someone who has read through various parts of the psalms, and who holds firmly to the redemptive historical framework of the Bible, I have to say, I have never thought of anything like it. Robertson brings up an excellent picture of how Psalms is able to present the redemptive historical picture to its readers.

The next few chapters then forms the main thesis of the book. Robertson shows how each book within Psalms are connected to each other, and the individual psalms are related within the book. Suffice to say, I’m unable to review all parts of it, you really have to purchase the book to learn from what Robertson has to say.

I have found this book to be very helpful to my own understanding of the Psalms. As Calvin famously said, the book of psalms is ‘the anatomy of all the parts of the soul’. Christians need to be deeply acquainted with the psalms, and this is a great book in aid you in the process. Highly recommended for any christian or pastors who intend to study the book of psalms.

Rating: 5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. I would also recommend Heart Aflame: Daily Readings from Calvin on the Psalms as a companion to this book, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Book Review – 2 Corinthians (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) (24/9)

One of the most difficult new testament text in greek has to be 2nd Corinthians. This is why I’m thankfully that I’m given an opportunity to review this commentary. I have to say, I really only have elementary knowledge of greek, but reading this commentary gives me the confidence that the author deals rigorously with the greek text directly.

2 Corinthians (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) George H. Guthrie starts the commentary by giving the readers a picture of the scene in the Corinthian world, explaining what the world then was like. Next, he moves naturally to the author of 2nd Corinthians. He gives a brief but comprehensive introduction of Paul. Next Guthrie highlights some issues within the Corinthian church that ought to be noted (such as their understanding of leadership). Having raised awareness about these issues, the readers will then easily realised by and how Paul answered to the Corinthians regarding his “style of leadership”.

Next, Guthrie introduces the readers to the history of the church in Corinth. He shows how Paul started the church in his missionary journeys and the link between first and second Corinthians. Next he talks about whether 2 Corinthians is one or two letters. Guthrie argues and shows the readers why he think that 2nd Corinthians is a united letter. After which Guthrie moves to talk about the use of the different “voices” within the letter of 2nd Corinthians. This section definitely requires some knowledge of greek, and will be of great interest to those who have a knowledge of greek.

In the main text of the commentary, Guthrie then show forth the exegesis of passage. He gives his own translation of the passage, then shows the readers what he thinks the passage is talking about. This commentary deals primarily with the greek text, and thus expects readers to have a functional understanding of greek. Those who do not have such knowledge, will still benefit from Guthrie, but they may not be fully utilising the commentary. Those familiar with greek will find this commentary extremely useful. I have found this commentary to be rigorous and deals with the small details within the text. Preachers may find this book slightly heavy, but if you have more time to do your exegetical work, do consider getting it ahead of your preaching series on 2 Corinthians.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. Another alternative commentary I would recommend would be the highly acclaimed commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (The New International Commentary on the New Testament), get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Book Review – 1, 2, and 3 John (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) (5/7)

The letters of John are not difficult books, in fact when I was a young christian, I was told to study the Gospel of John followed by the letters of John. Needless to say, though I understood parts of it, I never really understood the whole letter of John.Yet as I grew in my faith, I can see how important the letters of John are to me, especially as a Reformed Calvinist.

1, 2, and 3 John (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)Karen Jobes has written a helpful commentary that aims to help preachers exegete the letters of John. Jobes deals directly with the greek text and diagrams out the structure of the passages within the Letters of John. At the end, Jobes also adds in a small chapter that shows the readers the theology of John’s Letter. I have found this chapter very helpful as I do not usually see this in other commentaries. With this added resources at the end, it really helps readers to see the key points that John is trying to bring out in his letters.

The introductions on the other hand, was relatively short, consisting of roughly around 30 pages. To be honest, I was expecting more introductory materials given that this was a commentary on the letters of John. But what was valuable in the introduction was how Jobes showed the similarities between the gospel of John and the Letters of John. This helps the readers to see the continuity between the gospel of John and the letters of John.

If you are a pastor, or a seminary student with a working knowledge of Greek, you will be interested in this commentary. It goes directly into the greek text and explains every nook and cranny within the greek text. After exegeting and explaining a section of passage, Jobes also adds in an application section that helps pastors to not only teach the text to his sheep, but also to apply it into their lives also. So if you’re looking for a commentary that goes into the greek text, do consider getting this commentary.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review