Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ (2nd Ed.) by Thomas Schreiner

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To label a book “important” or “influential” is probably too often done, but it would be hard to deny that this book has held that reputation for 20 years. Now, Thomas Schreiner takes the time to update his work in this second edition. When we are discussing Paul’s theology, no one book holds the field. In fact, I can’t think of a scholarly subject that has more pages written about it, particularly over the last 30 years or so. In that light, holding an important place in that crowd is quite an accomplishment.

Another reason that some of us might like this book is that several of the other most popular books on the subject are not nearly as conservative or orthodox. Many are mesmerized by the so-called “New Perspective on Paul”. To be clear, this book is not just a book against that perspective, but it will sufficiently address it for a thinking person and put it out to pasture as it belongs. Another feature to help you ascertain its value, is that it follows more of a reformed position in many cases and, perhaps, is most influenced by John Piper whom he mentions in the preface. If you like me are not as reformed as him, as many are not, you will still find incredible value in this book.

He says he does not want to make the book so boring as to interact with every scholar out there. While he may be selective, he is effective. I think it’s fair to say that he does not dodge any relevant issue in Paul’s theology.

Permit me to oversimplify his approach. He takes the position that Paul’s is championing God’s glory in Christ. In other words, Paul is the writer in scripture who most addresses the doctrine of salvation. In that light, he takes what Paul teaches us on a round-robin circuit of systematic theology. Again, he really doesn’t hide from any issue whether it is controversial or not. Some things he addresses are missed by others as well. Don’t miss his chapter on suffering. Still, he holds as the organizing principle that Paul is upholding God’s glory in Christ.

The value of this book is not it’s final conclusions, but it’s help for you to reach yours. In that way, let’s keep those labels of “important” and “influential”.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Holy Spirit by Gregg Allison and Andreas Kostenberger

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This inaugural volume in a series entitled “Theology for the People of God” is so ideal that it makes one excited for the whole series. At the same time, this book sets the bar high for those who will write the following titles. Scholars Gregg Allison and Andreas Kostenberger, prolific scholars to be sure, took the time to produce a book we need. As you can guess, the work has a conservative and baptistic bent, but is fair in all the issues and one that everyone should use.

This work is divided into two parts: biblical theology on the Holy Spirit working its way chronologically through scripture followed by systematic theology that digs deep into the doctrine itself and places it in the context of all doctrinal thinking. I found the second half more interesting, but that is not to disparage the first half. It was more a matter of taste and enjoyment of subject. To be sure, it is critically important to explore how doctrines are developed throughout scripture.

The second half on systematic theology began with an outstanding look at the Holy Spirit as part of the Trinity. The chapter on the deity and personhood of the Holy Spirit was just as exceptional. In all, four chapters explore the Holy Spirit both as an Individual and Collective Member of the Trinity. From there, the Holy Spirit’s role in Creation and Providence, the role in scripture, relation to angelic beings, relation to human beings, relation to Jesus Christ, the role in salvation, relation to the church, and the future. As you can see, nothing was left out in systematic theology and all the content presented was level headed, interesting, and enlightening.

As with any work that touches on systematic theology, of course, you will disagree on some points. I did, but none of the major points. My only criticism of the work, and it is a slight one, is I felt that the development of being filled with the Spirit, or being full of the Spirit, and distinguishing it from the baptism of the Spirit, perhaps, fell a little short.

This is an outstanding book that every Bible student and pastor ought to have. I have at least 20 pages in this book especially notated for something I want to remember. For me, that’s a sign of a great book. I say, bring on the rest of those volumes in this series soon!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

1, 2, and 3 John (Revised) [WBC] by Stephen Smalley

book 1 2 3 jn wbc

This commentary was originally published in 1983 and was overdue for updating. It appears that revision took place in 2008 and yet we have another new edition coming out at this time with a superior binding. Years ago the WBC series printed nice hardbacks with dust jackets and a few years ago changed to a more case-bound style with some of the earlier reprinted volumes having what would best could be called a shabby cover that simply would not last. I’m happy to see this binding that appears will hold up much better.

At this point, most Bible students are familiar with the WBC format. You either love it or you hate it and it falls on the more scholarly end of the spectrum. It is known, additionally, for its depth of exegesis. That is clearly true in this volume. The most scholarly comments that might not be interesting to pastors or students is in a note section. A section on form, structure, and setting has some interesting help, but the actual commentary is the best section in the book. There is some Greek, but the English is nearby and with just a little effort any serious student can use this book.

The introduction has real depth, though I can’t really follow his description of the Johannine Community. That was something of a fad for a few years and he probably explains it as well as anyone if you would like to understand it. Nevertheless, he digs in on many issues making this an important contribution.

This commentary falls more on the critical side of the scale. For example, this publisher, Zondervan, has a book in its ZECNT series that is much more conservative. On the other hand, Smalley has more evangelical beliefs than many of his fellow critical counterparts. This commentary is by no means the most critical commentary in this series. I would go so far to say that this would be the commentary I would recommend if you preferred conservative commentaries and yet wanted to have one quality more critical commentary just to cover your bases. Smalley reads well even if your own sensibilities run another direction.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Letters of John (Pillar)[Second Ed.] by Colin Kruse

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Without a doubt, Colin Kruse’s work on the Letters of John in the Pillar (PNTC) series has been one of the most highly regarded since it was first published 20 years ago. In fact, the whole Pillar series maintains a sterling reputation. In the intervening years, a few series have contributed serious rivals like the BECNT, and just recently the EEC, to Kruse’s work. In any event, it was a wise decision to allow this volume to be updated for a second edition. I judge it a success that will likely extend its usage another 20 years.

From what I can tell this edition is more of a tweaking or a finessing than a serious rewriting. It seems the author has not swayed in his approach to these letters, but does take the opportunity to interact with more recent scholarship. The commentaries listed in his bibliography include almost as many titles released since his original volume as before.

The introduction is solid and arrives at consistently conservative conclusions. His description of the Johannine community makes much more sense than some of the bizarre descriptions in more radical works. He doesn’t just state that John is the author of these letters, but lays out an excellent case surveying both internal and external evidence. His section on structure is overly brief, but most scholars have issues figuring out the structure of these letters anyway. I have read previous criticism of the brevity of his discussion of 2 & 3 John, and it does not appear to be too much longer. I do think, however, it will satisfy most students. His theological approach is fully in line with what users of this series expect. I don’t agree with every conclusion he makes, but see this volume as important and an asset to any student’s library.

This volume is more directed at pastors and serious students, but is scholarly perceptive while not getting stuck in the morass of more scholarly esoteric subjects. If I were going to get two or three important modern commentaries on these letters, I would for sure choose this book as one of them!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.