Saturday, June 13, 2020

Book Review of Reformation Commentary on Scripture: New Testament Volume XII 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, and Titus, and Philemon

1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Reformation ...

Reformation Commentary on Scripture: New Testament 
Volume XII
1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, and Titus, and Philemon
ISBN 978-0-8308-2975-0
edited by Lee Gattis and Bradley Green
IVP Academic
Reviewed by Clint Walker

This is a book is that is a part of a larger study called the Reformation Commentary on Scripture. In each of these studies the editors attempt to go back to original source material of the Reformation, and then put different Reformation ministers and theologians side by side in their take on a specific passage of Scripture. 

The Reformation Commentary on Scripture has four goals:

  • Renewing contemporary Biblical interpretation by bringing to light Reformation era interpretation
  • Strengthening contemporary preaching through exposure to biblical insights of Reformation writers
  • Deepening understanding of the Reformation and the breadth of perspectives represented within it
  • Advancing Christian scholarship in the fields of historical, biblical, theological, and pastoral studies (xix-xxi)

The Reformation, although deeply committed to the full witness of Scripture, brings the epistles of Paul to the forefront in understanding the good news of Jesus Christ. So, in their introduction, they spend a considerable amount of time discussing the Pauline corpus of the New Testament as a whole, and then delve deeper into the specific books that they are studying. My favorite quote of the book is in the introduction. As these authors work to put the work that they have done in historical context, they found a "money quote" from B.B. Warfield. It says, "The Reformation, inwardly considered, was just the ultimate triumph of Augustine’s doctrine of grace over Augustine’s doctrine of the Church" (xliv).

This commentary traces how different Reformers approached key passages. For instance, how strictly did they believe the church of Jesus should adhere to the nomenclature and structure for church leadership in the pastoral epistles. How did they deal with these things in light of their experience with the Roman Catholic Church, and their attempts to organize church structures post-Reformation to mitagate against some of the abuses they had seen? Unexpectedly, Reformers put a lot of attention on 2 Thessalonians 2 as well, working through the issues of lawlessness, faithfulness, and authority.

Of this series of commentaries, this may be my favorite so far. The authors are humble yet well read, they bring Reformation issues into conversation with 21st century issues in a unique way, and they bring in voices from the Reformation that others may have ignored, especially in relation to these epistles.

Great job IVP Academic!

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