Matthew Bible Commentary: Interview with Daniel Doriani

Dr. Daniel M. Doriani (MDiv, PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary; STM, Yale Divinity School) has been the Vice President of Strategic Academic Projects and Professor of Theology at Covenant Seminary since 2013. Prior to this appointment, he was the senior pastor of Central Presbyterian church in Clayton, Missouri.

Dr. Doriani previously served in various roles at the Seminary from 1991 to 2003, including professor of New Testament, dean of faculty, and vice president of academics. While pastoring at Central, he continued teaching as adjunct professor of systematic theology. He has extensive teaching and pastoral experience as an interim, assistant, associate, and solo pastor, and has been involved in several planning and study committees at the presbytery level in both the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). He was chair of the PCA’s Theological Examining Committee from 1999 to 2000.

Among his many books are Getting the Message: A Plan for Interpreting and Applying the Bible (P&R, 1996); Putting the Truth to Work: The Theory and Practice of Biblical Application (P&R, 2001); The Life of a God-Made Man (Crossway, 2001); and commentaries on Matthew, James, and 1 Peter in P&R’s Reformed Expository Commentaries series. He is also a contributing blogger for The Gospel Coalition.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Matthew?

I taught a seminary course in the Gospels for many years and chose to use Matthew as the focal point of the study. I also preached through the book of Matthew at my church over a span of almost two years.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

This commentary is primarily for pastors and campus ministers rather than a technical work. While the text appeals to Greek, the reader does not need to know Greek. Lay readers and Bible study leaders also read this commentary.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Matthew?

This falls into the category of an expository commentary, which means a commentary that has roots in preaching and serves the art of preaching. Therefore, it has various features that make it useful to preachers: An outline of the passage that could be the structure for a sermon, explicit applications, theology, and connections to the history of redemption, as well as the occasional illustration.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

I love the gospels, so it’s all grand, but I especially enjoyed working through the narratives because I believe we underestimate the contributions that NT narratives can make to Christian theology and life/ethics.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

Paul Kooistra was the president of Covenant Seminary when I arrived and he had several great principles. He wanted to present a “warm and winsome Calvinism,” he wanted to hire a faculty of “pastor-scholars” and he wanted students to “love Jesus more” when they graduated than when they came. That seemed exactly right and what better way to love Jesus than to study the gospels to discover his power and grace, and to know who he is than by observing his actions and hearing his words.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Matthew?

I am fond of a number of standard commentaries: by [D.A.] Carson, [Craig] Keener, [Leon] Morris and others. I also like Jonathan Pennington’s work on the gospels, including How to Read the Gospels Wisely.

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I recently started a commentary on Romans in the same series and recently finished another commentary. I am finishing an ethic of work and starting a theology of the physical body. I also write blogs for both The Gospel Coalition and The Alliance for Confessing Evangelicals.

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Ecclesiastes Bible Commentary: Interview with Richard Belcher

Dr. Richard P. Belcher, Jr. is the John D. and Frances M. Gwin Professor of Old Testament and the Academic Dean at both RTS Charlotte and RTS Atlanta. He is an ordained minister in the PCA and pastored an urban nondenominational church in Rochester, NY for ten years before pursuing the Ph. D. This pastoral experience in an unusual and challenging setting gives him great insight into the practical, modern issues that will be faced by future pastors studying with him at RTS.

He graduated from Covenant College and received his M. Div from Covenant Seminary. He also received an S.T.M. from Concordia Theological Seminary, and his Ph. D. is from Westminster Theological Seminary. He has served as stated supply for numerous churches in the area since coming to RTS Charlotte in 1995.

His books include: Job: The Mystery of Suffering and God’s Sovereignty (Christian Focus, 2017); Genesis and The Beginning of God’s Plan of Salvation (Christian Focus, 2012).

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Ecclesiastes?

I did my dissertation on the failure of the deed-consequence relationship in Ecclesiastes. There are about 10 passages in the book that lament the fact that the wicked are rewarded in this life and the righteous experience suffering. I examined how those passages impacted the message of the book. I have also taught Ecclesiastes for over 20 years.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

The commentary is primarily for pastors and students, although I think educated lay Christians could benefit from it. The focus of the commentary is on the message of each passage with discussion on how to preach and teach it.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Ecclesiastes?

The commentary takes an “under the sun” approach that highlights the author’s struggle to find meaning in life. The exegetical basis for this approach is laid out in the Introduction. The commentary argues that Solomon is the author and that he wrote the book during the period of his life described in 1 Kings 11. The book is a warning against speculative wisdom.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

Many of the negative passages of the book are quite remarkable. Qohelet (translated Teacher or Preacher by many English translations) did not start with the premise that wisdom would give all the answers to the problems of life. He sought to search out wisdom but he also wanted to see where madness and folly would lead. Where there are both positive and negative statements, the negative statements always get the last word. It was memorable wrestling through many of the issues that Qohelet raised as he deconstructs everything in which we find security.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

Although many parts of the book wrestle with the meaning of life or with how various things in life do not fulfill our expectations, Christ does fulfill our expectations. The senseless nature of the world that Qohelet describes is the same world subjected to futility because of the bondage of corruption (Romans 8). Christ, however, sets us free from this bondage and will one day set creation free.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Ecclesiastes?

The answer to this question is very subjective because there so many different approaches to the book of Ecclesiastes. I would mention the commentaries by [Tremper] Longman [NICNT], [Roland] Murphy, [WBC] and [Craig] Bartholomew [BCOT].

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I am almost finished with a book on the theology of wisdom literature that will cover Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes. A list of my publications can be found at the Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) website, the Charlotte campus. RTS also has a free mobile app that has seminary lectures on it. Many of the OT lectures are ones I have given.

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Interview with Josh Moody on John (For You Commentary)

Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton. He is a pastor, author, conference speaker (Moody Founders Week, Basics Conference), and college campus speaker (Yale University, University of Illinois, Durham University, Cambridge University, Oxford University, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Southern Theological Seminary, Moody Bible Institute, Gordon Conwell Seminary, Union University, Criswell University).

He is the president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries. His books include 7 Days to Change Your Life (Abingdon Press 2017), How Church Can Change Your Life (Christian Focus 2015), Preaching to the Affections (Christian Focus 2014), Journey to Joy (Crossway 2013), Jonathan Edwards and Justification (Crossway 2012), No Other Gospel (Crossway 2011), and The God-Centered Life (Regent 2007; IVP UK 2006).

He was an associate fellow of Jonathan Edwards College, Yale University (2007-2011), and his Cambridge University doctorate in Theology was published in 2005.

Pastor Josh grew up south of London in England, became a follower of Jesus in the Church of England, was an undergraduate at Cambridge University where he was president of the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union. He is married to Rochelle and they have four children.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to
write this commentary on John?

I wanted to do a new sermon series on the whole book of John for our church. To help prepare for that I needed to spend significant time understanding the book of John in its entirety, grasping its connections, and being ready to make good judgment calls about the appropriate preaching sections and tactics for each sermon. When the invitation to write a commentary on John came my way, it gave me a framework from which to do all that research. And the first Sunday in the new sermon series I was able to point people to a recently published commentary on John!

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

All of the above

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of John?

The John For You commentary is in the “God’s Word For You” series from The Good Book Company. The series focuses on the practical and accessible, without dumbing down or not addressing the intellectual.

John the Evangelist
John the Evangelist

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

With still another volume to come, I will reserve judgment on that. But so far, it is the extraordinary clarity and depth of John as a book. The structure of John is disarmingly simple. And the content is astonishingly deep.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

The emphasis in John on “life to the full”: that in Christ we are offered fullness of life.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on John?

On John: Andreas Köstenberger, D. A. Carson

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I have to complete volume 2 of John For You. Also due this summer: How the Bible Can Change Your Life.

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Interview with Gary Shogren on 1 and 2 Thessalonians (ZECNT Commentary)

Gary Shogren (Ph.D., Kings College, Aberdeen University) was raised in small-town New England, in a family that had roots back to the founding of Rhode Island in the 1600s and to the Puritan movement in England. He grew up in the Baptist church and came to believe in Christ at the age of 6. When he was a teenager, a series of experiences led him to a deeper walk with God and a sense that God was calling him into ministry. He served as a pastor and then for 25 years as a professor of New Testament.

In 1998 he and his family moved to Costa Rica to learn Spanish, so that he could teach at ESEPA Bible College and Seminary in San José, Costa Rica (http://esepa.org). He has written a number of articles and several books, including articles in the Anchor Bible Dictionary, Novum Testamentum, and Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels; a Greek grammar textbook by Stylus Publishing; Running in Circles, a guide for people who suffer from addiction (available from his blog); a commentary on 1-2 Thessalonians (Zondervan); a commentary on 1 Corinthians that will be published in Spanish (CLIE) and English (Logos Software, also available on his English blog). He is married to Karen and has four grown children.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians?

I wrote my doctoral thesis on the kingdom of God in Pauline theology, and this was very relevant for a study of 1-2 Thessalonians. I also have a long-standing interest in eschatology, in particular what I see as Paul’s teaching of a post-tribulational rapture.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

Zondervan asked me to write this for pastors, and for that reason this volume and all the books in the series are strongly oriented toward how to move from text to sermon.

Thessaloniki Roman Forum
Thessaloniki Roman Forum

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of 1 and 2 Thessalonians?

It is written from my perspective as a Christian worker in Latin America and so I deal with missionary issues. Very few commentaries are written by career missionaries.

4. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on 1 and 2 Thessalonians?

Malherbe in the Anchor Bible; Wanamaker in the NIGNT series; Béda Rigaux in French is still a standard after many years. Gene Green’s commentary in the PNTC series has excellent insights, especially in the Introduction. Also Malherbe, Paul and the Thessalonians: The Philosophic Tradition of Pastoral Care; Eckhard J. Schnabel, Paul the Missionary: Realities, Strategies and Methods.

5. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I am working on a devotional study called Collisions, on what happens when God’s workers face disappointments in their ministries.

Readers can keep up with me on openoureyeslord.com, or in Spanish on razondelaesperanza.com.

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Interview with Tom Schreiner on Hebrews (BTCP Commentary)

Thomas R. Schreiner is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Professor of Biblical Theology (1997), and Associate Dean of the School of Theology. Schreiner joined the Southern faculty in 1997 after serving 11 years on the faculty at Bethel Theological Seminary. He also taught New Testament at Azusa Pacific University.

Schreiner, a Pauline scholar, is the author or editor of several books including, Romans, in the Baker Exegetical Commentary Series on the New Testament; Interpreting the Pauline Epistles; The Law and Its Fulfillment: A Pauline Theology of Law; The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance; Still Sovereign: Contemporary Perspectives of Election, Foreknowledge, and Grace, co-edited with Bruce A. Ware; Women in the Church: A Fresh Analysis of I Timothy 2:9-15; Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Hebrews in the Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation series?

​I have an intense interest in biblical theology​ ​and in how the whole Bible fits together. I have written a Pauline theology, a theology of the New Testament, and a theology of the entire Bible. Hebrews is certainly one of the most important books in the NT for biblical theology since it unpacks in such detail how the NT relats to the OT. I jumped at the chance to study Hebrews more intensely.​

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

​The commentary is not a technical commentary intended for other scholars, but it written for laypeople, students, and pastors. I think it is quite accessible to the ordinary person.

The Greek in the commentary is explained for those who don’t know the languages.​

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Hebrews?

​What sets this volume apart and this series apart is the focus on the biblical theology of the letter. Most commentaries explore what Hebrews means verse by verse, and I do this as well. But at the same time I try to show how Hebrews relates to the rest of the Bible, and thus we see the distinctive contribution Hebrews makes to the canon of scripture.​

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

​I suppose it was the section on biblical theology, and it was particularly fascinating because I was trying to unpack Hebrews in light of the whole storyline of scripture.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

hebrews text

​In studying Hebrews I was reminded of the absolute sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. He is our Melchizedekian priest who has offered atonement once for all for our sins. How comforting to know that we can enter boldly into God’s presence through Jesus’s blood, and that my conscience has been completed cleansed through his sacrifice.​

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Hebrews?

Gareth Cockerill’s commentary in the NICNT series is excellent. He is Arminian, but his reading of the book is challenging and his exegesis is outstanding. ​ ​If you are looking for a Greek commentary William Lane’s two volumes in the Word series are excellent.​

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

​I have a second edition of Romans coming out from Baker. I also just finished a smaller commentary on 1 Corinthians in the Tyndale series. I have also written a handbook on Acts and the Pauline letters which should come out sometime in 2018.

People can follow me on twitter @DrTomSchreiner​

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Interview with Juan Sanchez on 1 Peter (For You Commentary)

Juan Sanchez has served as senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas since 2005. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and holds an MDiv, a ThM, and a PhD in Systematic Theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition, Dr. Sanchez serves as a council member of The Gospel Coalition, co-founder and president of Coalición, assistant professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on 1 Peter?

When The Good Book Company approached me about contributing to the “For You” series I thought about what I had preached before. There were several options that came to mind, but I settled on 1 Peter. As I reworked 1 Peter I became more and more convinced of the importance of this letter for the church today. While we are more aware of persecution today because of news reports and The Voice of the Martyrs and other sources, in the West, we don’t experience persecution in the same ways our brothers and sisters do in the East, both Middle- and Far-East.

Peter writes to Christians whose persecution is more like what we are facing in the West today – denial of rights by governing authorities, discrimination from employers, mocking by co-workers, social ostracism. In this context, Peter reminds his readers of the great salvation the Triune God has secured for us, reminding us that even as we face suffering now, we have a living hope and an eternal reward that cannot be taken away.

But at the heart of the letter is an exhortation for the church to display the glory and wisdom of God in a hostile world by being a royal priesthood and holy nation – pointing those who mistreat us to our king and His kingdom. Peter’s first letter is a glorious exhortation to persevere by following Jesus’ footsteps into suffering, death, resurrection, vindication, and glory.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

I wrote 1 Peter for You with the church in mind, but I believe it benefits pastors who are seeking to shepherd their churches through the difficult waters of contemporary anti-Christians culture. This book is not written to be used by seminary professors in master-level classes, but it is meant to encourage all Christians from all walks of life and all vocations to consider Christ and follow in His steps.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of 1 Peter?

What is unique about this commentary and the whole “For You” series by The Good Book Company is that it seeks to wrestle with the text, explaining it clearly and concisely, while providing a devotional tone for personal edification. I did not set to contribute any new insights to the studies of 1 Peter; I merely wanted to encourage the church by presenting the truths of 1 Peter in a fresh, understandable, and applicable manner.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

Apostle Peter
Apostle Peter

1 Peter has some particularly tough passages. For example, 1 Peter 3:18-22 has lent itself to various interpretations. However, this is a particularly joy-filled reminder of our union with Christ and the resulting blessings. I enjoyed working through this section and being reminded that we can ascertain the things we know and work from there.

In particular, 3:18-22 is a path – Jesus suffered once for sins…, being put to death…but made alive in the spirit (resurrection) (3:18) and is now exalted to “the right hand of God,” having received all authority in heaven and on earth (3:22). The whole point is that “it is better to suffer for doing good…than for doing evil” (3:17) because just as Jesus suffered and died for doing good, not evil, and was raised, vindicated, and glorified, so too will we who are united with him by faith.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

Again, it was the reminder that no matter what we face in this world, we are only following in the footsteps of Jesus, our King and Lord. I face nothing in this world that Jesus has not already faced and conquered. Armed with this way of thinking, I can live in this world as a stranger, pointing unbelievers to Christ and His kingdom by proclaiming the good news and by living out life together as Christ’s ambassadors with a local body of believers.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on 1 Peter?

The two that come to mind are Thomas Schreiner’s [NAC] and Karen Jobe’s commentaries on 1 Peter [BECNT]. Schreiner is a humble, careful, thoughtful New Testament scholar. I gained much from his explanation of the biblical text. Karen Jobes was extremely helpful in understanding the historical background of the original audience of 1 Peter.

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I’ve just completed a book on Revelation 2-3 titled, Seven Dangers Facing Your Church (The Good Book Company, March 2018). I enjoyed writing this book because in many ways it addresses the same themes as 1 Peter. In it, I argue that in the seven messages to the churches in Revelation, Jesus is exposing a particular danger each church faces. These seven dangers are meant to be taken seriously by all churches in all times.

Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/manorjuan
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/manorjuan
Website: http://www.highpointeaustin.org

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Interview with Mark Boda on Zechariah (NICOT Commentary)

mark boda zechariahMark J. Boda (PhD, University of Cambridge) is Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at McMaster Divinity College. He has authored 12 books, edited 19 volumes of collected essays, and written over 100 articles on various topics related to the Old Testament and Christian Theology. Key areas of interest include Old Testament Theology, prayer and penitence in Old Testament and Christian Theology, Babylonian and Persian Period Hebrew Books and History (Jeremiah, Lamentations, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi), the Book of the Twelve (Minor Prophets) and Judges.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Zechariah?

Zechariah was the set text for a Prophets course I took with Raymond Dillard nearly 30 years ago. I was preaching in a church at that time and did not have time to prepare new material for my sermons, so took advantage of my study in that course to preach through Zechariah. My doctoral dissertation at Cambridge was on Ezra-Nehemiah (now Praying the Tradition: The Origin and Use of Tradition in Nehemiah 9 [BZAW 277; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1999]), and my conclusion was that the prayer in Neh 9 most likely arose originally in the period represented by Zech 1-8. In my post-doctoral phase I remained focused on the early Persian period, but shifted over to prophetic literature, investigating Haggai and Zechariah. This is now my second commentary on Zechariah, the earlier being my NIVAC on Haggai, Zechariah (Zondervan, 2003). During the writing of both of these commentaries I tested my material extensively in churches as well as the academic guild, writing articles in various volumes and journals and presenting papers at conferences.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

This commentary provides extensive notes on the translation of Zechariah and its interpretation. Its focus is on the original context of this text, showing how this prophet spoke into the midst of a particular community in the history of redemption. It would benefit pastors, professors, students and those in the church who want to pursue the original meaning of the text as a foundation for application into contemporary contexts. The details that are often glossed over in more expositional commentaries will be found here.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Zechariah?

I hope the fresh translations have explained and even resolved some of the challenges in the interpretation of Zechariah. I provide extensive explanations of the meaning of the words and phrases within their context in Zechariah. There is a general introduction to Zechariah as a whole, and then smaller introductions to the main sections of the book covering issues specific to those sections (1:1-6, 1:7–6:15, 7:1-8:23, chs. 9–14). At the beginning of each pericope I provide a translation (with notes) and an overview of the structure and theme of the passage before going into detail on each verse. I also focus considerable attention on the intertextual character of Zechariah, as it cites and alludes to other biblical materials. This commentary will help people see how the message of Zechariah spoke into the midst of a community emerging from exile, which is often missed in contemporary preaching as preachers jump from the text to our modern context without reflection on how the prophets spoke to their own world. Modern and postmodern readers today who are interested in Zechariah as an authoritative text will find this message to an exilic/post-exilic audience as helpful in the present post-Christian world in the west.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

Zechariah 9-14 is clearly memorable because it was such a difficult section of the book with so much disagreement over its meaning and historical context. Paul Redditt’s work on Zechariah really helped me crack the literary code of this section of Zechariah. His work helped me to see the overall flow and integrity of these chapters and the presence of a progression in the message as Zechariah and the movement associated with him increasingly became disenchanted with the restoration that had spawned his prophetic career.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

Zechariah
Zechariah

The opening prophetic words of Zechariah captured my imagination immediately, probably because of my deep interest in repentance and penitential prayer over the past 25 years. I liked them so much I used them as the title of my recent monograph: “Return to Me”: A Biblical Theology of Repentance (NSBT; Leicester: Apollos, 2015). Before Zechariah ever gets to repentance as change of behavior in Zech 1:4, he calls out to the people: “Return to me,” declaration of Yahweh of hosts, “that I may return to you.” While not ignoring the importance of changed behavior, Zechariah places the priority on relationship between God and people. This same message becomes so foundational for the Christian message, declared by John the Baptist, then Jesus, and finally the early church.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Zechariah?

I have appreciated the recent commentaries by Al Wolters (Leuven, 2014) and Anthony Petterson (Apollos, 2015), which were not available when I wrote my own commentary. Petterson is superb on classic commentary and Biblical Theology, while Wolters provides great coverage of the reception history of Zechariah throughout Jewish and Church history, and offers creative solutions for some of the challenging texts in Zechariah. Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer has been producing superb academic work on Zechariah, as seen in her two recent volumes: Zechariah and His Visions (2015) and Zechariah’s Vision Report and Its Earliest Interpreters (2016, both with Bloomsbury T. & T. Clark). I found helpful three works that cover larger portions of the Minor Prophets/Book of the Twelve: Michael Floyd (Forms of Old Testament Literature, 2000), Marvin Sweeney (Berit Olam, 2000) and recently James Nogalski (Smith & Helwys, 2011). The classic commentaries are still helpful: Carol and Eric Meyers (Anchor Bible, 1987, 1993) and David Petersen (Old Testament Library, 1984, 1995). If people are interested in most of my essays that I wrote over the past two decades on Zechariah as foundation for my commentary work, they can obtain it free online at https://www.sbl-site.org/publications/books_anemonographs.aspx. And if they are interested in more extensive connections for biblical theology and application they should consult my earlier NIVAC commentary (Zondervan, 2003).

7. What’s next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

There is always plenty to do. Besides my annual work on The Committee on Bible Translation (NIV), I am working on an Isaiah commentary in the Story of God series for which I am an Associate Editor (Zondervan) and co-editing a forthcoming series of commentaries on the prophets with Gordon McConville (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Prophetic Books, Baker Academic). Psalms is increasingly a focus for me, returning to the prayer emphasis that captured my imagination back at the beginning of my career: there is plenty there to keep me busy for another lifetime! You can follow my work at https://mcmasterdivinity.ca/faculty/core/mark-j-boda.

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Interview with Ron Ritters on Hebrews and James (RCS Commentary)

Ronald K. Rittgers (PhD, Harvard University) holds the Erich Markel Chair in German Reformation Studies at Valparaiso University, where he also serves as professor of history and theology.

He is the author of The Reformation of Suffering: Pastoral Theology and Lay Piety in Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany and The Reformation of the Keys: Confession, Conscience, and Authority in Sixteenth-Century Germany. He has also served as the president of the American Society of Church History.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to edit this commentary?

After the completion of two scholarly monographs with Harvard Press and Oxford Press, respectively, I wanted to work on a “service project” that be of special use to the church. I wanted to draw on my training in Reformation Studies to serve the church.

Here are my monographs:

The Reformation of Suffering: Pastoral Theology and Lay Piety in Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany. Oxford Studies in Historical Theology (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

The Reformation of the Keys: Confession, Conscience, and Authority in Sixteenth-Century Germany (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004).

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

All of the above.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Hebrews and James?

It provides for the first time a collection of excerpts from Reformation commentaries on Hebrews and James that draws on sources previously inaccessible to most modern readers.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and edit? Why?

James the Apostle
James the Apostle

The sections of Hebrews that seem to suggest that salvation can be lost and the portions of James that stress that centrality of works in the Christian life.

5. What personally edified you in editing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

To see how deeply concerned the Reformers were even in biblical commentaries to console the faithful. Many commentaries wind up being works of consolation.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Hebrews and James?

I am not a NT scholar and so should not be making such recommendations.

7. What’s next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

Grief and Consolation in Early Modern Germany: Johannes Christoph Oelhafen’s “Pious Meditations on the Most Sorrowful Bereavement” (1619), (Fortress Press, 2018)

Protestants and Mysticism in Reformation Europe, edited with Vince Evener (Brill, 2018).

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Interview with Matt Carter on John (CCEC Commentary)

Carter JohnMatt Carter serves as the Pastor of Preaching at the Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, which has grown from a core team of 15 to over 7,000 attending each Sunday since the church began in 2002.

Matt has co-authored multiple books including The Real Win, a book on biblical manhood co-authored by NFL quarterback Colt McCoy, and two group studies, Creation Unraveled and Creation Restored, which traced the gospel message through the book of Genesis.

He holds an M.Div. from Southwestern Seminary and a D.Min. in Expositional Preaching from Southeastern Seminary. He and his wife Jennifer have been married for 20 years, and they have three children, John Daniel, Annie, and Samuel.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on John?

When I planted The Austin Stone Community Church 15 years ago, we began the very first week with John 1:1. We then spent the next 5 years preaching through John, going verse-by-verse.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

The Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series are aimed for every level of ministry, so they’re useful for pastors and small group leaders, but also accessible to lay Christians for personal study or devotions. We had in our mind the believer that’s looking more for a devotional commentary, but also for the pastor who is looking for help in sermon prep.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of John?

What’s different about this commentary is that it is written in sermon form, so it’s less academic and more driven devotionally. As stated above, it’s accessible for both personal devotion and sermon prep. Also, this commentary series is Christ-centered in focus, so we take every text and tie it back to the larger story of the gospel.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

I love how John begins his gospel with addressing the deity of Christ, and not simply starting with some event or aspect of Jesus’ life. John starts with Jesus’ character. That sets the stage for everything else that happens in the gospel, all viewed through the lens of his authority and divinity.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

John the Evangelist
John the Evangelist

When writing a commentary, you’re able to go to depths of a text you normally wouldn’t if you’re just studying it. After writing this commentary, I am convinced more than ever that Jesus is exactly who he says he is.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on John?

I would recommend D.A. Carson’s commentary on John in the Pillar New Testament Commentary series, and The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on John. Carson’s will give you academic depth, while MacArthur is great for practical application.

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I just co-authored a novel of historical-fiction called “Steal Away Home,” which released in September. It is a story based on the real-life friendship between the English preacher Charles Spurgeon and former-slave-turned-missionary Thomas Johnson. Otherwise, I’m the pastor of preaching at The Austin Stone Community Church, and in my free time, I coach my son’s high school football team.

You can follow the ministry of Austin Stone at austinstone.org and on Twitter: @TheAustinStone
You can follow me on Twitter: @_Matt_Carter

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Interview with Brian Blount on Revelation (OTL Commentary)

brian blount commentaryBrian K. Blount is a Presbyterian minister, New Testament scholar and current President of Union Presbyterian Seminary. He is a noted preacher and scholar on the Book of Revelation. He holds a B.A. from the College of William and Mary, his M. Div from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Emory University. Dr. Blount is the associate editor of The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible and associate editor of True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary. He also co-authored Struggling with Scripture with Walter Brueggemann and William Placher.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Revelation?

I have enjoyed working on apocalyptic materials, particularly focusing on the presentation of how the force and presence of the future Reign of God has dawned in the present historical circumstance. I did most of my research prior to Revelation in the Gospel of Mark, building the argument that in Jesus’ person and ministry the future had broken into the present. This future inbreaking, represented in Jesus’ ministry, is expected in the narrative of the gospel to be re-presented in the lives of the disciples. It is this focus on the power of apocalyptic to shape the present that has fascinated me across the years. I was interested in seeing how the most visibly apocalyptic work in the New Testament handled this coordination of future expectation and present realization.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

It is my hope that the commentary can be beneficial for all Christians. The primary audience consists of pastors, students, and professors. But I believe that it can also be useful for Christians who are interested in learning more about the Book of Revelation. I have used the research in many church contexts of adult education across the years. The material has been enthusiastically received.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Revelation?

I believe that it gives a narrative discussion of John’s intent in the book, so that the book is understood from the thematic intent that I believe John of Patmos had in writing it. This intent carries through the book and shapes the individual texts. I try to explain the individual texts in light of this thesis, therefore. The book is seen more as a whole in this way, as a study into the overall design the book has for pushing its readers to witness in ways that will be transformational in their world.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

Beatus Escorial
The angel gives John the letter to the churches of Asia, Beatus Escorial, circa 950

Chapter 12. Though I believe the heart of John’s intent is in chapters 2 and 3 where he outlines his concern and reveals his thesis intent for the work, the poetry of chapter 12, along with the conflict narrated, were the most thrilling parts of the study for me. I believe, too, that a key passage for the thesis of the work, 12:11 is also here. It is helpful to see this key ministry message located in the heart of this wonderfully creative and insightful section that uses poetic imagery to convey a provocative narrative.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

The language of witness for the Lordship of Christ in the world and the expectation that we are all called to witness even knowing that the cost for such witness can be devastatingly high.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Revelation?

I have enjoyed directing students to commentaries by Eugene Boring [Interpretation, John Knox Press] and Mitchell Reddish [SHBC].

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

Because I have been an administrator for years, I have not had as much time to do this level of research lately. My last book was an apocalyptic view of resurrection. I continue to be fascinated by apocalyptic materials.

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