Book Review – Acts (EP Study Commentaries) (5/4)

The Book of Acts is a book that many christians are familiar with. Yet, not many has preached on the whole book of Acts. While I do see many good commentaries out there on the book of Acts, some of them are far too technical for the layperson, others are far too brief to be helpful for the pastors preaching.

Acts (EP Study Commentaries)EP has now published something that lies in the middle, a commentary that discusses about technical things, but not too overly detailed about it. And it has some nuggets inside that the pastor will be able to use in his preaching.

I have found this commentary to be very readable. I think any layperson will be able to pick it up and use it without any issues at all. Although this might seem to be a very readable book, Waters shows the readers he has done his research by the sources he reference with, and the issues he discusses about.

I have found the application section especially useful within this commentary. Every so often, after exegeting and explaining the bible text, Waters brings up the application of the text. This is akin to what you will find in the NIV Application Commentary, though considerably shorter, yet it helps the pastors to think through how the teachings in Acts can be applied even to christians today.

As a comparison, this commentary is similar to what you can find in the Focus on the Bible Commentary series, or the Mentor Commentary series. I have found it useful and helpful in helping me understand Acts a lot more.

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

Book Review – 1-2 Thessalonians (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) (6/2)

I’ve always like the BECNT commentary series, I find it similar to the Pillar commentary series but slightly more technical. I’ve not covered the whole book yet, but based on what I’ve read, this commentary seems to be able to deliver the goods.

1&2 Thessalonians (BECNT)starts off the commentary with an excellent introduction. First he talks about the context of Thessalonica, the history, the cultural and social context. This sets the context for the readers as they read through Thessalonians, Weima also very helpful points out important aspects of Thessalonica that will be important as one tries to understand Thessalonians in it’s context.

Following which Weima brings the readers to each section of the book. He starts by analysing the literary of the text, then moves on the the exegesis and exposition of the text. I found this order helpful as it helps me see the big-picture and flow of the text first, then moves in to the nitty-gritty details of the text itself. All greek words in the commentary has also been transliterated, which will help those who are rusty with their greek. Lastly, Weima also scatters excursuses around in his commentary appropriately, these deals with specific issues with more depth, but those who no interest in the discussion, they can be skipped without affect their understanding of the commentary. (If you have use commentaries by Colin Kruse, it’s similar to the style he uses for the excursuses).

In short, this is a technical commentary, with some knowledge of greek required. I hope this commentary receives wide readership among those who are studying Thessalonians. Pastors who intend to wrestle with the (greek) text rigorously, ought to consider getting this book for consultation. Those doing scholarly work on Thessalonians would see this as a helpful reference tool in their research.

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

Book Review – 1 Peter (Reformed Expository Commentary) (6/1)

Good preaching will sustain the vitality of the church. That has always been something I deeply believed in. Alas, good preaching is also hard to come by. The good news however is that in this age, it is not hard to find good sermons recorded or written. This is where this commentary/expository sermon comes in.

1 Peter (Reformed Expository Commentary)As christians continue to move on to live in a post-christian society, 1 Peter will slowly become even more relevant to us — to live holy and upright livfes in the midst of being marginalised or even persecuted. I found the sermons in this book to be very clear and wholesome. Daniel Doriani has not written a work that will reach a wide audience, it is not too watered down, or technical for anyone who’s studying the text for the first time or the twenty-first time.

Doriani does not skim on the exegesis and explanation part, taking time to show the readers/listeners how and why derives at points he makes in each sermon. Alongside with theses, Doriani also uses helpful illustrations to showcase his points in a way that all would understand.

This commentary by Doriani serves as an excellent guide for pastors in terms of teaching pastors good exegesis and good preaching. Thought it will not serve as a technical verse-by-verse commentary, I’ve found it helpful to read and meditate on these sermons. I recommend pastors and lay christians who really want to dive in to study 1 Peter to get this commentary.

Rating: 5 / 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

Book Review – Invitation to James (22/11)

The book of James has often been considered the “proverbs” of new testament since it contains many short sayings. However, is there an overarching topic/theme within this book?Invitation to James

Yes, there is, and that is tightly connected to the context of the letter. Sunukjian aims to show that and does a brilliant job at it. In this book, Sunukjian really helps the reader to be in the context that James was written in, he is able to help readers see and feel the times when christians were persecuted, yet he is able to do it without boring the audience.

As with every book in this series, Sunukjian gives the readers a big overview of the whole book, and from it breaks it down into the different chapters. He repeatedly helps the readers see this overview several times within the different chapters so the readers do not miss either the trees or the forest. Next, he begins every sermons with an introduction, make not mistakes, Sunukjian does an excellent job for introductions and would be a good book for preachers to learn how to do excellent introductions to their sermons. Following which he moves on to the main teaching of the passage. This is does very carefully with one eye in the original context, and other eye with modern application.

Although this will not be a commentary that readers will want to reference for exegetical purpose, it is a good series to read as sermons on the various passages. The sermons handles the passage well and is a model for preachers to be clear in their preaching.

Recommended for preachers, or lay christians who want to read fine preaching on the book of James. You will not be disappointed.

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.

Book Review – Invitation to Philippians (22/11)

Philippians have often been called the letter of rejoices, Paul in this letter uses the word rejoices several times. But do you know what circumstances Paul was in as he pen this letter? Well, he was in prison, and might have died at any moment after meeting the Caesar.Invitation to Philippians

Sunukjian in this book helps the readers to see and feel how Paul might have felt as he felt this letter to the Philippians. Sunukjian begins by giving the readers a general overview of the whole epistle of Philippians which he will always refer to as he preaches through Philippians. This is very helpful as he allows the reader to see how every single piece “fits” together in the big picture.

In every sermon, Sunukjian will always begin with an introduction. This is one of the strength of the book, he uses good and extended introductions, for preachers who are poor in this area, this is one of the books that might help your preaching. Next, he will move on to the main teaching of the passage. This is another strength of the book, Sunukjian explains the passages with much clarity, allowing young (whether in age or in christian age) readers to be able to grasp the meaning of the bible text.

However, Sunukjian does not explains the “whats” and “hows” of his sermons, and thus the reader has to do the (hard)work himself to find it out, though Sunukjian is so clear that it would easy for anyone to find them out through reading them.

This will be a good book for preachers, or for christians who wants to understand the book of Philippians in it’s context, yet in an easy to read and understand format.

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.

Book Review – James the Just (26/10)

The book of James has often been called the ‘Proverbs’ of the New Testament. This is because of James contains many short sayings similar to the book of Proverbs. Yet too many a times, we read the New Testament totally separated — without any sense of the continuity it brings from the Old Testament.

James the JustIn this book, David Friedman and B. D. Friedman aims just to show the readers how to read the book of James with an eye on the Old Testament, especially on the book on Leviticus. And this is the clear strength of the book, it helps the reader see the link between the old and new testaments.

The authors start very wisely by giving the readers an overview of what the book will cover, a short introduction to the book of James and the purpose of the book of James. Chapter 1& 2 forms the apologetics and defence of this thesis. The authors propose that the book of James is a ‘yalqut ’, “a compilation, collection or compendium of Jewish religious writings.” (p. 10), whilst chapter 2 purposes to the readers that James is actually drawing his materials from Leviticus, and it’s actually a ‘yalqut’ of Leviticus. Within this section, the authors quotes multiple sections where similar ideas are raised both in James and Leviticus to show the connection between the two books.

Chapter 3 introduces the author of James, James the brother of Jesus and talks about how James was a rabbi (teacher) during the earliest church time. And in chapter 4, the authors shows  more evidences of how James actually uses the Torah in his letters. Lastly in the last chapter, the authors tackled the issue between faith and works. In it the authors showed that there was actually no such dichotomy in proper Jewish thoughts since even the Torah supported the idea that real faith is never alive without works, which James is simply reiterating it to the readers once more, that true disciples are not without works.

Having read this book, I must say this book can only be fully appreciated if you are familiar with both Greek and Hebrews (or with their transliteration) since the authors used both quite regularly. Secondly, this book would be far too thin as a real help for any exegetical work although it is under the “Messianic Commentary” series. The book at best serves as an excellent introduction to the book of James. But there is one flaw with the strength of this book. Although the book is great in showing the continuity of how the new testament is with the old, it does not do so well showing the dis-continuity of the old to new. This is one area that is sorely missing.

Overall, I can only recommend pastors to read this, if they want to see things from the “Messianic Jewish” perspective, if not, i would recommend that readers seek out other more substantial commentaries that is widely available.

Rating: 3 / 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.

Book Review – John (Reformed Expository Commentary) (19/9)

Note: This review is based only on the first chapter of each volume.

John (REC)Richard Phillips has finally published an expository preaching commentary on John. After reading his book, Jesus the Evangelist, I was looking forward to see how he will expound on the whole gospel of John, and now it has come.

As with every commentaries within the Reformed Expository Commentary Series, this is no exception. Phillips handles the text carefully, each verse is explained and expounded, and he does not skim over the text, unlike many preachers today who are pretty fond of doing this. He patiently explains difficult and hard verses unhurriedly, allowing the readers to join in the conversation, and think along with him.

Richards shows the readers how he does his exegesis by explaining his how he derives his point from the verse. It is truly expository preaching, with at least one or two applications for each sermon. I anticipate that this commentary would certainly be of help for preachers who wishes to preach through the whole of the gospel of John, and also for readers who wishes to have a devotional reading of the bible passage in a systematic way.

Rating: 4 / 5

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

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

Book Review – From Jesus to the Church (9/9)

I’m personally not a great fan of history. I find that having a deluge of dates, names and places rather intimating, and don’t usually find myself reading any books on history. However, I was quite intrigued by the title of this book, plus it didn’t seem to be a super thick book and thus attempted to read this book. I must say, this book has been very insightful and perceptive, I came away with a deeper appreciation of the early church history.

From Jesus to the ChurchWithin this book you will find many helpful background info which you normally do not find elsewhere, for example there were many revolutionaries that had tried to revolt against the Rome governance. These revolutionaries, like Jesus, were often executed in the bid to stump the revolt, or are being intimated by the Rome governance. And these ‘solutions’ were often very effective in solving these problems.

Craig Evans first attempts to answer the question about the link between the temple (Jewish) and the Church (Christians), specifically, he wants to show the readers that the forecast of the destruction of the temple was one of the key prediction of Jesus judgement on the corrupt Jewish leaders and shows that Jesus does have the church in mind, but not in the same way as what we might often think. Evans handles this question very carefully, being careful to examine how the new testament authors used the words ‘synagoge’ or ‘ekklesia’ in their writings. Admittingly, I felt the first 2 chapters the most difficult to comprehend, but this is not due to any fault of the author!

Next, Evans examine how Jesus himself proclaims the kingdom of God, what he means by it. And how the Old Testament should shape our understanding of the concept of the kingdom of God. What is clear is that, this kingdom already has in mind the inclusion of the Gentiles even within the Old Testament. Therefore the inclusion of Gentiles into Christianity is not something novel, rather it is a outworking of what the Old Testament passages were writing about.

The third chapter talks about how James, rather than Peter was early church leader was exceptionally well written. In it, he interacts with Acts very well, and attempts to show that James was indeed the leader at that time. This was my first time hearing this, and I would have hope to see how Evans would have had attempt to explain John 1:42, where Peter is called the rock. Within this chapter, Evans also explains about the apparent ‘differences’ between James and Paul with regards the faith and work, and this was very well handled. This was the best chapter within the book and would be well-worth the price of the book.

Lastly, Evans ends by explaining why the church moved from a Jewish majority in the beginning to a Gentile majority thereafter, essentially the ‘stumbling blocks’ for the Jews to believe in the Risen Christ.

This book is exceptionally well-written and would be insightful for many. It has certainly helped me in my exegesis of the New Testament, being more careful to ask myself how would the first readers have understood this text. I do encourage pastors or motivated laypeople to read this book, and reap from the knowledge you would be able to gain from it.

Rating: 4 / 5

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

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

Book Review – How will the world end? (Questions Christians Ask) (26/8)

Judging by the number of movies that have been released based on world ending events, we are a people who are thoroughly fascinated about how the world will end!  Furthermore, If as a faithful christian you have ever tried to read through the notes on the ESV study bible on the book of revelation, you often go away puzzled. Now you can begin to understand why so many faithful sincere christians can differ so much on this one single book in the New Testament!How will the world end?

So it was with delight to see this book being published. Jeramie Rinne has given us a very easy to read and understand book on an extremely important topic — the return of Jesus! — the day that all christians have been looking forward to. However this topic is often filled with jargons and technicalities that discourages the simple christian from attempting to understand it deeply.

First, Rinne analyses the scene of the common responses people have towards revelation, next Rinne goes through briefly and succinctly about the various issues with regards to the return of Christ, such as,

What will the end of world look like, according to the bible?

What will the world look like when Christ is returning?

How will the return of Christ be like?

Next, Rinne then gives a very short but extremely helpful explanation about the various millennials and also the 4 or 5 main school of thoughts for understanding the book of revelation. I felt that this chapter is exceptionally well written, and worth the price of the book. It is able to doe what many books are unable to do, to explain them simply, but not being simplistic.

In the last 2 chapters, Rinne first very aptly talks about what will happen after Jesus returns — the judgement and the new heavens and new earth that awaits us. Following which, Rinne follows up with a chapter on how we should live now. This chapter is often missing or not seen in the books that tries to explain about the book of revelation. It equips the readers not just to be filled with head knowledge, but also with practical application points of how to live while we wait for Jesus to return.  Included in the book are also very common questions that people often asked such as ‘Why is the return of Christ taking so long? Who is the Anti-christ? Will there be a secret rapture?’ and many more.

I hope this book receives as wide a readership as it deserves. Simply a well written, insightful and sublime book. I’ll be recommending this book for anyone who wants to begin to understand the book of revelation.

Rating: 4.75 /5

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

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