Equipped Radio: On the Use of Commentaries in Growing as a Christian


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Chris Brooks was kind to have me on Equipped last week to discuss the use of commentaries in deepening one’s understanding of Scripture. We used my commentary on Judges and Ruth to illustrate and explain some of the ideas.

I think all believers who have access to commentaries should make use of them in their personal times of study. This assumes that we each have a daily or weekly time of studying the Scriptures that goes beyond a light devotional reading. I encourage you to consider reading through the Scriptures in their entirety over the course of each year by reading the Scriptures daily, maybe with a devotional guide like Today in the Word or For the Love of God (paper). Additionally, consider reading ahead on the passage your pastor/preacher will be teaching the upcoming Sunday. Use a study guide to direct your study; the guide could be part of a small group study through a book or section of Scripture. Consult a commentary in conjunction with your study; (consulting a commentary as your read through the Scriptures annually might slow down one’s reading and prevent one from reading the Scriptures in their entirety).

There are other daily liturgical practices that would be good for increasing one’s love for Christ and faithfulness to his word. Liturgical practices are good for we who are Baptist or Congregational too, for we want healthy churches of maturing believers who seek to be obedient to the word of God.

The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge, Guided Journaling Edition 


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I am grateful to Daniel Eng, Doug O’Donnell, and Crossway Publishers for inviting me to contribute to the Guided Journaling Edition of the Tyndale House Greek New Testament. It is available for pre-order. I contributed the introduction to Ephesians. Below is a product description of the work from Amazon:

The Tyndale House Greek New Testament, Now with Space for Annotations and Notes

This reader’s edition combines The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge with wide margins and extra line spacing, allowing readers to translate and annotate as they study the Greek text. Each biblical book features an introduction written by a New Testament scholar that digs deeper into its syntax, language, grammar, and style.

This convenient edition features footnotes that highlight rare vocabulary―eliminating the need for a critical apparatus and making it an ideal single-volume tool for seminary students, Bible scholars, and pastors alike.

  • Introductions by New Testament Scholars: Contributors include Dirk Jongkind, Elizabeth Shively, Nicholas Perrin, Doug O’Donnell, and Daniel K. Eng
  • Additional Study Tools: Book introductions note special vocabulary and include comments on the syntax, language, grammar, and style of the book
  • Serves a Wide Audience: Ideal tool for students of the Greek language, Bible scholars, and pastors
  • Bibliography: Features a curated list of resources for further study

Select All + Delete? Keep Judges and Ruth in Your Bible and Your Life!


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If you believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures, removing a book from the canon is out of the question. Taking away one of the sixty-six books would delete the voice of God speaking to us through the excised book.

Yet there are many books that believers skip or ignore in their annual or perennial reading of the Bible. In effect, repeatedly skipping a book as if it is not in the canon is doing the same thing as taking scissors (or SELECT ALL + DELETE) to a portion of the Scriptures. Practically speaking, skipping a book says either that one does not need that book to live out all that the Lord commands, or maybe even that one questions whether God has spoken his will through that book. Or, positively speaking, we need to read the entirety of the Scriptures, repeatedly (annually, bi-annually, or tri-annually) so that we might hear the Lord speak his will to us on all things. We need the whole counsel of God to shape us into Christ. 

So do not skip Judges or Ruth! Make them part of your regular diet of Scripture reading. There is so much great stuff God has willed for us in these books that record some of Israel’s early experiences in the Promised Land. The Judges-Ruth commentary is written to help you hear God speak through each of the books’ twenty-five chapters. Below I provide a screenshot of the opening page of the commentary of Judges 5 in an effort to entice you to read Judges with the commentary.

Understanding Judges and Ruth for Living a Life of Joy


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Have you ever considered what Deborah’s military leadership, Jephthah’s sacrifice of his daughter, or Samson’s eyes being gouged out teaches us about living a life of joyous obedience before Christ? Or, when Ruth secretly lies down next to Boaz, what does that reveal about Jesus’s redemptive love for us?

My new commentary, Exalting Jesus in Judges and Ruth will be available in a couple of weeks! Like my previous commentary on Jonah in the Christ-Centered Exposition series, this commentary intends to be readable, understandable, and practical for everyone. In writing this commentary, I attempt to be engaging, clear, and relevant without going beyond the boundaries of the author’s subject in a passage. My intent is for readers to be able to understand Judges and Ruth as whole books and to understand each individual chapter within these books. The commentary should help each reader see the importance of these stories to living a life that pleases the Lord.

Each chapter has a simple format:

Main Idea and Outline: Every chapter opens with one complete sentence that expresses the main idea of the Biblical writer. This helps the reader make sense of the passage in question. Then the outline reflects the main idea in the flow of the passage.

Exposition: The exposition is commentary that explains the meaning of the passage and its verses. It includes illustrations or stories to further clarify the explanations. It reads like hearing a readily graspable sermon, with the depth focusing on obedience to the passage. The exposition points the reader to Jesus and his gospel in each passage.

Study Questions and Application: Between chapters 9-11 individual study questions and/or personal applications follow the exposition. I have tried to take the guesswork out of the initial application of each passage. I hope very reader will find this commentary to be one of the most practical guides through Scripture you ever have encountered! Purchase a copy for your devotions, personal study, small group, Bible study, Sunday School class, and/or sermon preparation. For more to come on the book, find me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Gracious Woman and Violent Man


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Proverbs 11:16

A gracious woman gets honor,

    And violent men get riches. (ESV)

A generous woman gains honor,
and ruthless men seize wealth. (NASB Updated)

A gracious woman gets honor,
    but she who hates virtue is covered with shame. 
The timid become destitute, 
    but the aggressive gain riches. (NRSV Updated)

γυνὴ εὐχάριστος ἐγείρει ἀνδρὶ δόξαν θρόνος δὲἀτιμίας γυνὴ μισοῦσα δίκαια πλούτου ὀκνηροὶἐνδεεῗς γίνονται οἱ δὲ ἀνδρεῗοι ἐρείδονται πλούτῳ. (LXX)

The Meaning of Prov. 11:16 (following the ESV)

The relative kindness one exercises in accordance with one’s gender determines one’s future wealth.

1. This proverb is not encouraging violence, for that would be against the law of God. It simply is stating what is: In this world, violence is a common path the riches for men, but not for women. Seemingly, women do not have enough individual or collective power to obtain wealth through violence—at least not such that it is measurable as a standard truth or ethos.

2. Gender distinctions matter in the exercise of some wisdom concepts. Violent women are not seen as honorable, neither are gracious men. But men can be gracious in the church and as believers because grace is of the character of Christ. Women should not be violent as a path to wealth because violence is wrong. This proverb also affirms biological gender distinctions as realities.

3. “Riches” narrows the meaning of “honor.” The honor of which the sage speaks is wealth. Graciousness is the path to wealth for women. Again, seemingly, being gracious keeps women out of the realm of competing with violent men on violent men’s terms; that would be a losing battle. One only might read it as an even battle if one allegorizes or spiritualizes “violent” to be something other than a physical approach or attack. Also, the ancient writer does not have in his purview women trained in martial arts or women carrying deadly weapons.

4. The sage has observed many men and women to make his conclusion: Violent men, violent women, gracious women, gracious men. He has had to observe various outcomes, such as the honor that leads to wealth, dishonor and shame, poverty, tragedy (from violence), death, and justice and injustice toward violence.

5. Women should be encouraged by this verse because it is they who have the character of Jesus in this proverb: Jesus was never a violent man. Yet all the riches of the universe shall be his. Violent men will bow to him. Gracious women and men will be exalted by him.

6. It is interesting to read Prov. 11:16 against and in concert with 11:15, 11:17, and 11:15 and 17 together, and in light of the subject of Proverbs 11 related to the outcomes of righteous character vs. the outcomes of wicked character.

7. The LXX has significant additions. The NET Bible’s notes and many commentaries explain the additions. The NRSV reflects the LXX.

The Use of Psalm 68 in Ephesians 4:A Typological Approach Toward a Solution


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Southeastern Theological Review 13.2 has published my essay, “The Use of Psalm 68 in Ephesians 4: A Typological Approach Toward a Solution.” Many thanks go to the journal’s editor, Dr. Ben Merkle, and his team, for making my work available. I hope you will enjoy the article and subscribe to digital alerts for the journal.

Showing Genuine Love after the Overturning of Roe v. Wade: Sermon Quote


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Photo credit to Reuters—https://www.reuters.com/world/us/leaked-us-supreme-court-decision-suggests-majority-set-overturn-roe-v-wade-2022-05-03/. No photographer name listed.

While preaching a few Sundays ago from Rom. 12:9, 13, and 16, shortly after the draft of SCOTUS Roe v. Wade decision had been leaked, I said this:

 [G. L. Hiestand, our pastor] said to us last week… “The Christian life begins with the accepting love of Jesus and then continues with the perfecting love of Jesus,” like a parent moves toward perfecting a child only once the child shows agency. Initially, the parent shows accepting love, and that should continue forever just as Jesus’s accepting love for us is forever. Only once the child shows agency do the parents move toward perfecting the child. 

 Our shepherd went on to say, “If we only have an experience of his [God’s] perfecting love but do not have a robust experience of his accepting love… we will experience robust failure. If we impose perfecting love on our kids to a degree of experience that outstrips their accepting love, the children will experience rebellion….”

 It is common to put accepting and perfecting love in the wrong order. We want people to be perfect before we accept them—before we fully embrace their authentic selves the way we want people to accept our authentic selves with our warts, scars, failures, weaknesses, fears, and all. But Jesus accepts before he perfects, and he calls us to love as he has loved us. As he said in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Again, in John 15:12 he said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

 The ten or eleven additional “love one another” passages in the NT flow from this command, as do all of the other “one another” directives throughout the letters of the NT. It would be great if we read them each as “Accept one another first, and concern yourselves with perfecting others later, and even when you do start to perfect, don’t reject, but continue to accept.” Just comfort one another; perfect later. Just encourage one another, perfect later. Just serve one another, pray for one another, confess your sins to one another, and forgive one another; perfecting is riding in the slow lane and will catch up much later.

 It is important to get accepting right, for only then can we rightly love as verse 13 says: Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

 To open our homes for hospitality makes us vulnerable to judgment of our status, material wealth, home decorating and upkeep abilities, culinary skills, curb appeal, and parenting skills. Who wants those to be judged? But boasting is the way of the world. Jesus owns one hundred percent of our homes and allows us to put our names on the deeds and leases. When we gave our minds and bodies to him, we gave our houses…. We gave away criticism of others’ homes, parenting and culinary skills, broken concrete in driveways, and need for exterior and interior paint jobs. We go to others’ homes for the people—for one another. 

 The term for “hospitality” also is one you would recognize: Philoxenion (like philia + xena, or xenophilia—love of the stranger). It simply indicates “brotherly-love the stranger” (or welcome the stranger – which I also think is the polar opposite of xenophobia). As Sara Kyoungah White recognized in last week’s Christianity Today article on hospitality for introverts, welcoming the strangerdoes not require a domicile or the opening of one’s home. It simply requires us to be accepting of people who we do not know at all, know well, or know deeply. 

 Xenophobia is what we are facing in our country as refugees come to our shores and hate rhetoric against Asians, Jews, Latinos, and African Americans rises. We need to be people who welcome strangers

 Welcoming does not make or require a political position. If the borders remain closed, we welcome people who are here who are strangers in many forms. If the borders open, we welcome the strangers in our midst. Obeying the exhortation to welcome people unknown, little known, or not deeply known to you would cut through many of the ills we see today. 

 Again, if I thought for one second that I would walk into a body of believers, be completely welcomed into the family as if I was one of the initiated, knowing I would not receive judgment of my lack of moral or religious perfection, and that if I had a need, asking me to justify it would not be in the first series of thoughts of those helping me, [the local church] would be a place crucial to my happiness and wellbeing. You might as well carve my imprint in the pew because I will be here every week….

 We have a unique opportunity to get pursuing strangers right before the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. While we will rightly applaud the rescuing of the lives of the unborn, we need to be prepared to offer brotherly, affectionate, stranger-welcoming, lowering of ourselves, genuine love to many families who will be burdened with the various costs of unwanted pregnancies. 

 Every post-Roe statistic points to Brown, Black, Indigenous, and poor people with unwanted pregnancies – people who will be strangers to most of us – being those who will be furthest from necessary health care helps needed for mom, child, and families the rest of their lives. If we can be creative and sincere in our welcoming—in giving our very selves to make others part of our lives, contributing to their needs, and doing so before the Court makes judgment—our actions will not be perceived as political maneuvering, but could be accepted as the real care and concern that it will be. Welcoming strangers is part of what can help we who are pro-life be pro-living; it allows us to trade in a political position for a moral disposition.

Reference is to Sara Kyoungah White,” The Gospel Doesn’t Always Have to Come with a House Key,” CT, May 18, 2022, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2022/may-web-only/gospel-house-key-rosaria-butterfield-introvert-ministry.html.

Hiding Behind Good Causes

It is very easy to hide behind a good cause in order to avoid dealing with issues that would require one to be loving in one’s actions. For example, fighting for Second Amendment rights is good. But it does not have to be at the expense of leaving assault rifles in the hands of civilians.

As evangelicals, it is easy to do something analogous. It is easy to hide behind our love for God in order to avoid loving our neighbor. For example, we do this so well by holding up “the gospel” as a doctrinal position or statement that boils down to the proclamation of the death and resurrection of Christ apart from any implications that must come with the gospel.  Again, this is evident in how many hide behind being “pro-life” (which is really pro-the-unborn-life-only) as an issue that pleases the Lord without giving practical care and concern for the many children living in poverty, food deserts, zones of gun violence, and very low-performing school districts. (Yes; we must seek to save the lives of the unborn as those made in the image of God.)

It is easy to be theoretical about helping unborn people we never see while ignoring needy people we can see, talk to, give to sacrificially, embrace physically, allow to play with and marry our children, enjoy, hear of their likes and dislikes, and lower ourselves before them, and with whom we can share our power and be patient. You do not have to do this with the unborn; you only have to use words to fight for rights.

Yes, we need to protect the truth of the gospel. But largely, in the West and in this contemporary era, to protect the gospel only involves words. Striving for the righteous actions that should flow from the gospel requires a lowering of self and interaction with people unlike us. You