Ephesians Commentary Q & A with Author S.M. Baugh

7 Questions on Ephesians in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary Series

ephesians commentary book coverS.M. Baugh (Ph.D., University of California, Irvine) has taught Greek at Westminster Seminary California since 1983 and New Testament and Greek since 1991. He is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Dr. Baugh wrote the two main textbooks used for Greek I–III: New Testament Greek for Interpreters (third edition) and A First John Reader.

Other than his Ephesians commentary in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary series, his other recent book is The Majesty on High: Introduction to the Kingdom of God in the New Testament. His other writings include a commentary on the Pastoral Epistles and Philemon in the award-winning Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, study notes on Ephesians in The ESV Study Bible, and many scholarly articles for academic journals and book collections of essays.

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

I did my doctorate in ancient history studying the Apostle Paul and the city of Ephesus relating to Acts 19, soon after that I started a study guide teaching Greek from Ephesians (it’s still in my file cabinet somewhere because I eventually used First John), and I wrote the notes on Ephesians for the ESV Study Bible. This last project was so edifying to me personally that I thought it would be great to get into more depth with a commentary on this wonderful book, so I jumped at the opportunity.

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

I always write for seminary students and pastors. As a seminary professor all my adult life, these are the folk I serve. I’ve been surprised that some lay Christians are also reading this commentary, which is great, but a little unexpected! I think the appeal is obviously Ephesians itself which is such a wonderful New Testament book.

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

I had three areas to contribute to the study of Ephesians: Greek literary composition and grammar; historical background on Ephesus and the Greco-Roman world at large as it illumines the text; and, textually driven exegesis. These are all areas I’ve done lots of work on over the years in classics, ancient history, Greek grammar, theology, etc. In addition, you will notice that the first sentence introducing each section is a “thesis sentence” summarizing the passage. Commentaries tend to fragment the text into little pieces, so I was trying to always interpret the details while keeping track of the message of the larger whole.

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

I would have to say Eph 2:1-10 is most memorable just because it is such a powerful text. Paul really pulled out the stops here when reflecting on the wonders of the Gospel and of God’s lavish mercy and grace toward us in Christ. It’s an incredibly rich passage that draws one back again and again.

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

The fatherly grace of God in Christ lavished upon us through the Holy Spirit. In short, Ephesians is just soaked in the Gospel. There are times when working on this book I would have to stop and thank the Lord for the privilege of handling this rich word of grace.

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

I think Charles Hodge’s commentary on Ephesians is among my favorites on the book. He was a very sensitive, careful commentator. He’s known for his systematics, but he began his career as a biblical scholar. Secondly, Clinton Arnold has several books on the ancient spiritual climate that relates to Ephesians and other New Testament books that are very perceptive about the real nature of paganism.

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

I am laying the groundwork now for a commentary on Hebrews which will undoubtedly take me many years to complete. I’ve been teaching and studying this book for 30 years already and it still fascinates me.

To follow me there is a link on our seminary’s web page:

https://wscal.edu/academics/faculty/s.-m.-baugh

And Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003UIQ3V4


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Hebrews Commentary Q & A with Author Steven Charles

7 Questions on Hebrews in the 21st Century Commentary Series

hebrews commentary book cover

Steven Charles Ger (ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary) grew up in a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York and Aberdeen, New Jersey, where he was educated in both church and synagogue due to his distinctive heritage as a Jewish Christian. He is the founder and director of Sojourner Ministries, an organization dedicated to Exploring the Jewish Heart of Christianity. The name of the ministry is derived from the Hebrew meaning of Mr. Ger’s surname. In Hebrew, the word “ger” means sojourner or wanderer. This particular “wandering” Jew’s faith journey has led him to the conviction that Jesus is the Messiah who was foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Steven’s first book, the commentary The Book of Acts: Witnesses to the World was released in 2005. This was followed by The Popular Bible Prophecy Commentary (co-author 2007, re-released in 2011 as Exploring Bible Prophesy from Genesis to Revelation). His latest release is the audiobook, From the Ten Commandments to Gods and Kings: The Biblical Moses that Hollywood Forgot (2015). He also a contributing author to the books The Gathering Storm (2005), The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy (2006), and Zondervan King James Version Commentary: Old Testament (2010).

Mr. Ger has led 16 tours to Israel with extensions to Egypt, Greece, Jordan, Turkey and Germany. He is an adjunct professor of Jewish Studies at Criswell College, and has lectured at Dallas Theological Seminary and taught at Tyndale Seminary. He served for seven years as Director of Worship and Christian Education within the local church and another seven years as Worship Leader at Messianic congregation Adat Shalom. Steven currently serves as Senior Pastor at Messianic congregation Beth Sar Shalom in Plano, Texas.

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

Originally, someone else was slated to contribute the Hebrews commentary in the series. However, that entry ran into some trouble and I was asked, at first, to do a rewrite. After we realized how much effort that would have entailed, it was decided that I would start from scratch with an original commentary. The commentary I did a few years earlier on Acts was what led to this assignment. My strengths in Jewish cultural, sociological, and religious backgrounds are what put me on their radar for Hebrews. As to preparation, make no mistake – nothing can fully prepare a commentator to wrestle with the complex text of Hebrews! Nonetheless, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be immersed in this particular book.

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

I wrote this to be a “go anywhere” commentary. It is intended to have value to a wide level of audiences, as it addresses many Jewish cultural background issues that are reflected in the text and that are not always addressed in other commentaries. One of my frustrations when I began my studies in preparation for the commentary was the absence of a Jewish perspective from other authors. My commentary is intended to supplement grammatical and technical commentaries without replacing them. What makes it useful is that it does discuss the Greek but not to the extent that it would alienate the educated layman. My Acts commentary is currently used by a few colleges and universities as a textbook, and feedback is strong. I try to write on a level that will engage pastors preparing their weekly sermons, students writing papers, Sunday school teachers preparing lessons, Bible Study groups making their way through Hebrews, and everyone in between. I have made my best effort to turn people on to the Word of God and to provide value to someone’s study.

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

Hebrews is an odd duck in the world of New Testament books, in that most other books have lent themselves to clear theological interpretive positions, which generally fall along denominational lines. In other words, there is a dispensational take, a Presbyterian take, a Methodist take, etc. With Hebrews, denominational lines blur and after two thousand years, we have all these different interpretations even within denominational perspectives. No one can agree on how to interpret this book, even within a single theological camp. This led me to inquire as to why that might be. What I determined is that all the theological diversity out there after all this time stems from refusing to commit to recognizing that the book we call “Hebrews” was actually written to a group of first century Christian Jewish believers. Once I committed to that framework and perspective, I was able to answer all the famously difficult passages that most people are afraid to authoritatively address. I cannot sufficiently underscore how important reading Hebrews from a Jewish perspective is in unlocking the book’s mysteries.

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

Oddly, the area that took the most of my time was the introduction. Wrapping my head around what I had for all my life considered to be the most intimidating book of the New Testament was a challenge. Yet once I discovered the book of Hebrews “Rosetta stone” (an all out presuppositional commitment to a full Jewish theological, sociological, historical and cultural perspective), I went from having nothing to say to not being able to shut the fount. The original manuscript’s introduction was three times its final published size. One day I will have to release the introduction’s “director’s cut,” which was designed to answer every question about Hebrews that had ever been asked.

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

Hebrews is the NT book with the highest, most elevated Christology. As a Jewish believer myself, I was repeatedly struck with the presentation of Messiah as deity. The author of Hebrews (whomever he was and – spoilers – I don’t answer that question in the commentary) is exceptionally forthright about who Jesus is and His relationship to the Father. The first 3 verses alone veritably slap you across the face with the “God-ness” of Jesus. Additionally, without Hebrews, we would not see as clearly that our Messiah is also our High Priest and replacement in full for the Levitical system. Other books may emphasize the sacrificial component of the Messiah, but it is only the author of Hebrews who draws a complete picture of the relationship between our Messiah, the priesthood, the sacrifices and Temple worship, not to mention the very clear emphasis on, the new covenant and its impact on the Mosaic covenant. Reading the book of Hebrews is akin to navigating the terrain of a cookie bursting with chocolate chunks, with each chunk being a quotation, reference or allusion to the Hebrew Bible and Jewish theological concepts.. I find Hebrews to be one of the most indispensable books in the canon.

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

I love the one by David L Allen for the New American series. Sadly, our commentaries were both published around the same time, so I lacked access to his work (and my commentary is the poorer for it). Who knows how my commentary would read if I could have consulted David’s scholarship? I also think that the little book edited by Herb Bateman on Four Views on the Warning Passages does a tremendous job fairly presenting four different perspectives on what may just be the most difficult passages in the NT. I particularly appreciate the contribution of Randall Gleason to that book and his perspective. [Editor’s note: please see Best Bible Commentaries’ Q & A with David Allen on Hebrews in the NAC seres.] 

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

I recently self-published an audio-only commentary of the autobiographical passages of Moses in the Torah called, “The Biblical Moses that Hollywood Forgot.” Due for publication in 2020 is a commentary on the Gospel of John. As with my other works, this will be written from a Messianic Jewish perspective and lean very heavily on Jewish backgrounds.


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Judges Commentary Q & A with Author George Schwab

7 Question on Judges in the Gospel According to the Old Testament Commentary Series

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George M. Schwab (MDiv, PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is associate professor of Old Testament at Erskine Seminary.

Dr. Schwab worked as an engineer before pursuing theological studies and has served as a counselor as well as a scholar. His “real world” experience, approachableness, and creativity shape his teaching. He is the author of several books on Old Testament topics.

Dr. Schwab serves as a minister in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

He has written numerous articles in Old Testament studies and is a contributor to the Expositor Bible Commentary series. Other than Right in Their Own Eyes, his other book in the Gospel According to the Old Testament series is Hope in the Midst of a Hostile World: The Gospel According to Daniel.

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

I developed a course on Judges (and Ruth) and taught it several times. It was only natural to turn it into a book, since I had already done so with Daniel in the same series.

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

Pastors and informed lay people. There are also a few discoveries that would be of interest to scholars as well, although they are not the target audience. The book includes practical application questions that are intended for study groups.

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

I guess you will have to read it. I try to uphold the trustworthiness of the Bible while at the same time not shying away from critical issues. I want it to be practical and entertaining, while informative and an authentic reading of Judges.

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

There are a number of fun parts. These include the Samson narratives and Ehud.

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

One dimension of meaning I discovered in each part was in how it advanced the gospel of Jesus. It was thrilling to see how easily and almost effortlessly this was in most cases.

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

Because the book is basically made up of my lectures, I don’t assign it to my class. I assign them [Daniel] Block’s New American commentary.

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

I am currently working on a book on Joshua, but have yet to find a publisher for it.


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Ezekiel Commentary Q & A with Author Brad E. Kelle

7 Questions on Ezekiel in the New Beacon Bible Commentary Series

ezekiel commentary book cover

Brad E. Kelle (Phd, Emory University) is the Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Point Loma Nazarene University. Dr. Kelle has served as the chair of the SBL’s Warfare in Ancient Israel Consultation (2004-06) and Section (2007-12) at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. He is also the past president and current member at large (executive board) of the Society of Biblical Literature Pacific Coast Region.

Dr. Kelle is the Old Testament editor for Currents in Biblical Research and has written or edited a variety of works on the Old Testament and ancient Israel. His research and writing focus on Old Testament prophetic books and ancient Israelite and Judean history.

Dr. Kelle is also an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene and spent eight years as an associate pastor, for youth and worship, at a Church of the Nazarene in the Atlanta area.

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

I began to have a special interest in the Old Testament prophets during the time of my Ph.D. studies. Prior to this project, however, most of my attention had been on the so-called Minor Prophets (my first book was Hosea 2: Metaphor and Rhetoric in Historical Perspective, 2005. As this interest continued to develop over the years, I found myself also working on issues related to warfare in ancient Israel and the Old Testament (see my Ancient Israel at War 853-586 B.C., 2007. These issues included the significance of trauma within warfare and the use of insights from trauma theory for reading war-related biblical texts. The invitation from the series editors to write a new theological commentary on Ezekiel provided an exciting opportunity to see these areas of interest come together. Indeed, several previous works had used trauma as a lens for engaging Ezekiel but few, if any, full length-commentaries had attempted a sustained reading of the book as a whole from this perspective. I felt sure that these insights would provide new ways to understand the difficult parts of Ezekiel (especially some of the problematic violent depictions), as well as the overall theology at work in the book.

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

I wrote the commentary specifically for the benefit of pastors, ministers, and students who seek a theological engagement with Ezekiel that also takes account of the book’s historical context and literary dimensions. The intended audience is especially those from the Wesleyan theological tradition, and the commentary seeks to engage Wesleyan theology at various points. But I have also attended to mainline critical biblical scholarship in such a way that I hope the book is useful to students and scholars from a wide variety of perspectives. I have tried to write in such a way that it will be accessible to Christian lay readers and others just beginning with critical biblical studies.

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

My commentary has two unique elements. First is the attempt to engage the book of Ezekiel with particular attention to dialogue with elements of Wesleyan theology. For Ezekiel, the richest point of contact proved to be the Wesleyan emphasis on holiness (of God and God’s people), since this is also a key element within the book’s theology. The second unique element is the sustained use of trauma study as a lens for understanding Ezekiel. I employ insights from trauma theory first as a means of understanding the experiences of Ezekiel and his audience in the destruction of Jerusalem and subsequent exile, as well as how those experiences explain some of what we see in the book. I also use trauma study as a lens for understanding how the book’s theology works, especially how Ezekiel uses the understanding of holiness in the Old Testament priestly tradition as a means to articulate the meaning of destruction and exile and the possible future for God’s people.

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

Within my discussion of the historical background of Ezekiel, the section discussing the events and experiences of the exile (and accompanying Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem) was memorable because of the insights provided by trauma study. A trend within modern scholarship had largely relegated the exile to a historical-political event and emphasized that the experience was not that bad for those involved (i.e., the exiles were not enslaved, tortured, etc.). Insights from trauma theory suggest, however, that interpreters have overlooked the traumatic nature of these events, especially the ways that they were physically, emotionally, psychologically, and even spirituality destabilizing for the prophet and his community. When we begin to explore the nature of traumatic experiences and the effects on those who suffer them, we can gain a clearer picture of why Ezekiel says and does certain things reported in the book and what theological aims were at work in the messages.

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

As I entered the world of Ezekiel and imagined myself journeying into exile with the prophet and wrestling with questions of how to understand these events and what they mean for God and God’s people, I realized the continued relevance of theology in the midst of crisis. Ezekiel offers God’s people today resources for thinking theologically about who God is and who God’s people are in the midst of crises like destruction and exile. How does one experience and even proclaim the holiness of God in the midst of events that seem to dismantle all to which we have clung for our sense of identity and life?

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

There are numerous, full-length, comprehensive, critical commentaries on Ezekiel that are useful for detailed study. For two works that offer a theological engagement with Ezekiel through dialogue with insights from trauma theory and in ways that are accessible to Christian audiences of pastors, ministers, and students, I recommend the following:

Nancy R. Bowen, Ezekiel (Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries; Nashville: Abingdon, 2010).

Daniel L. Smith-Christopher, A Biblical Theology of Exile (Overtures to Biblical Theology; Augsburg: Fortress, 2002).

I also recommend an older but classic theological treatment that places Ezekiel alongside Isaiah 40—55 and Jeremiah, examining each one’s theological responses to the experiences of and issues raised by the destruction of Jerusalem and Babylonian exile: Walter Brueggemann, Hopeful Imagination: Prophetic Voices in Exile (Ausgburg: Fortress, 1986).

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

My most recent book came out in the fall of 2017: Brad E. Kelle, Telling the Old Testament Story: God’s Mission and God’s People (Nashville: Abingdon, 2017). The book provides an overall reading of the Old Testament (in the Protestant canon) as a whole from the perspective of missional interpretation. It is a companion to a more traditional introduction to the Old Testament textbook and reads the Old Testament as the story of God’s mission to restore creation to the right-relationships for which it was intended and the calling of God’s people to participate as the instrument within that divine redemptive mission.

I am currently writing two books. The first deals with the field of moral injury (related to the study of trauma within warfare) and the reading of biblical texts: The Bible and Moral Injury: Reading Scripture alongside War’s Unseen Wounds (Abingdon Press). The second is a full-length commentary on Hosea to be a part of the Old Testament Library series: Hosea: A Commentary (Westminster John Knox).


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Minor Prophets Commentary Q & A with Author Michael Shepherd

7 Questions on The Minor Prophets in the KEL Commentary Series

prophets commentary book coverMichael Shepherd (Ph.D. in Old Testament Studies, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Cedarville University.

Dr. Shepherd previously taught Old Testament and Hebrew at Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana, for nine years (2006-2015). He has published seven academic monographs and more than a dozen peer-reviewed journal articles, essays, and book chapters in his field. He is currently working on a commentary on the book of Jeremiah for the Kregel Exegetical Library series.

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

My interest in the composition of the Book of the Twelve began about fifteen years ago. I published the earliest expression of my understanding of this composition in a 2008 ZAW article entitled, “Compositional Analysis of the Twelve.” This led to my 2011 book, The Twelve Prophets in the New Testament (Peter Lang), in which I tried to articulate the way in which reading in the context of the Twelve as a whole influenced the manner of citation from the Twelve in the NT documents. More recently, I contributed an essay entitled, “The New Exodus in the Composition of the Twelve,” to a Festschrift in honor of John Sailhamer (Text and Canon: Essays in Honor of John H. Sailhamer [Pickwick]).

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

The intended audience is anyone who is interested in studying the Book of the Twelve seriously and for its own sake. It is designed to make an original contribution to scholarship, but I believe that it is also accessible to pastors and students who have invested in exegesis in the original languages. There is also something for the local church member who does not mind putting in the hard work that the Scriptures require. The commentary is formatted to be read linearly, so there is no confusion about where to find what within multiple sections on the same passage.

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

This is the first ever single-volume commentary on the Book of the Twelve that argues for a single compositional stratum produced by a single prophetic composer/author. Much work has been done in journal articles and scholarly monographs over the last thirty years that has taken into account the transmission of the Twelve in antiquity as a single work as well as the internal clues to the composition of this work, but this has not found its way into many of the commentaries, in part because these commentaries are generally on sections of the Twelve rather than the whole. This commentary will enable readers to see how the final composer has brought the parts together to function with ongoing relevance as a unified, messianic, and eschatological document.

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

The most memorable part of this project will always be the compositional seams that tie together the individual books of the Twelve. The commentary follows three criteria for identification of this compositional activity: (1) distinctive material at the end of one book that connects to similarly distinctive material at the beginning of the next; (2) development of the program of the Twelve set forth in Hosea 3:4–5; and (3) citation from the book of Jeremiah. It is this seam work that provides a superstructure within which to read lower levels of the text.

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

I agree with Psalm 1 that the blessed person is the one who “murmurs” (i.e., reads aloud quietly to oneself) in the text of Scripture at all times (Ps. 1:2). In my opinion, the oldest and best way to communicate exegesis of Scripture in its original languages and on its own terms is the translation and commentary format. It allows the Scripture to dictate the agenda. The exegetical process has allowed me to enter a textual world that has a grand vision of Christ and his kingdom, and I will continue to live in that world.

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

James Nogalski’s many publications on the Twelve have been helpful to me from the very beginning. I would also like to recommend Rolf Rendtorff’s The Canonical Hebrew Bible: A Theology of the Old Testament (Deo), Christopher Seitz’s Prophecy and Hermeneutics: Toward a New Introduction to the Prophets (Baker), and O. H. Steck’s The Prophetic Books and Their Theological Witness (Chalice).

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

I have recently agreed to do the Jeremiah volume in the KEL series, so I will be working on that for the next few years. I am very grateful to the folks at Kregel. I have nothing but good things to say about them.


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Micah Commentary Q & A with Author Stephen Dempster

7 Questions on Micah in the Two Horizons Commentary Series

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Stephen Dempster (Phd. Univeristy of Toronto) is the Professor of Religious Studies at Crandall University. He has taught numerous courses on Old Testament books and biblical theology, include the Book of Micah. Dr. Dempster’s professional appointments include serving as the Chair of the Biblical Theology Section for Evangelical Theological Society 2011 to 2016 as well as serving on the Editorial Board for Zondervan’s Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament series from 2010 to 2017.

Dr. Dempster wrote Dominion and Dynasty: A Theology of the Hebrew Bible in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series (IVP Academic), which D.A. Carson described as, “fresh, provocative, helpful–and doubtless will prove to be the stuff of many sermons and lectures.”

His other writing contributions include: “The Canon of Scripture,” in A Manifesto of Theological Interpretation, ed. in C. Bartholomew and H. Thomas, (Baker, 2016), 131-148; “The Old Testament Canon, Josephus and Cognitive Environment,” in The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures, ed. D. A. Carson, (Zondervan, 2016), 321-361; “A Wandering Moabite: Ruth—A Book in Search of a Canonical Home,” in The Shape of the Ketuvim: History, Contoured Intertextuality, and Canon, ed. J. Steinberg and Tim Stone (Eisenbrauns, 2016 ), 87-118; and “From Slight Peg to Corner Stone to Capstone: The Resurrection of Christ on the Third Day According to the Scriptures,” Westminster Theological Journal 76 (2014): 371-410.

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

I have been a Professor of Religious Studies for 3 decades at Crandall University, mainly teaching undergraduates. I have long been interested in Hebrew linguistic structure and exegesis and received training at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia and the University of Toronto. Major academic mentors were Raymond Dillard, Palmer Robertson, John Revell, Paul Dion and John Wevers. Major spiritual mentors were my parents, the Reverend Sam Dempster and Mary Dempster. They taught me the old, old story at a young age and led me to faith. Another major mentor has been my wife Judy, who often reminds me of Lady Wisdom in Proverbs with her gracious and timely advice and practical down-to-earthness. And what can I say about our children (Jessica, Joanna, Nathan, Michael, Holly and Tori) who have blessed me and taught me so many life lessons! Not to mention countless students whom I have had the privilege of teaching and from whom I have learned so much, and faculty members with whom I have interacted and taught over the years.

I have also seen the importance of studying the Scriptures as canon and not just as a historical artifact. Brevard Childs has been an important influence on me in this regard. In fact Rolf Rendtorff begins his Magnum Opus on Old Testament Theology straight to the point: The Old Testament is a theological book! If this is the case, then it behooves interpreters to apply the text to their lives. Thus I am convinced that the Scriptures need to be applied to the church and the culture at large. Micah with his stress on justice cries out for application!

And what can I say about the most important influence? My raison d’être—the Lord Himself, who created me before I was born in my mother’s womb, and who has given me health and breath, and saved me to become his servant, and to walk in his hesed with Him, and to teach theology which is really about coming to understand one’s place in the world before Him. Jean Calvin once said that in the end theology teaches us that we all have to do with God. And Paul spoke about God revealed in Christ as a vast ocean of wisdom, knowledge and grace that we can swim in forever! And that all of us live and move and have our being in Him. O come let us adore Him!

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

It is intended for the church but I think it would most benefit pastors, students and lay Christians. Professors might be stimulated by it but its goal is to connect what communicators describe as the two horizons: the context then in Micah’s time and our context now.

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

I think part of what makes the commentary unique is that it has a smaller introduction than a lot of commentaries, and in the exegetical section there is an attempt not only to deal with the text in its historical context, but in its wider biblical context, even taking into account the New Testament. Moreover, the last ¼ of the commentary is devoted to exploring themes of Micah in the context of the Bible. Thus there are themes on justice, the land, true and false prophecy, and Micah’s doctrine of God. At the end of the book there is a section on Micah and modern ministry and some of the themes which might be helpful for modern communicators of the word: cheap grace, the relationship between idolatry-covetousness and injustice, etc.

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

There were a number. I was blown away by the transcendent image of God at the beginning of Micah when all of created reality melts before him as he makes his entrance into the created order; and also at the end of the book when his transcendence is not understood as omnipotence and holiness but mercy and grace, or perhaps even better, when omnipotence and holiness are used at the service of mercy and grace.There is also a close relationship between the temple at the end of history where the nations ascend and are taught by Yahweh and from that teaching turn their instruments of destruction (sword and spear) into instruments of construction (shovels and rakes). The call goes out to Israel as they worship to not be concerned about one off performances of outlandish sacrifices but to hear Yahweh’s word to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with Him. When the nations see Yahweh’s word embodied in His people, they will respond likewise! This sounds very much like Jesus saying to the church: In this way all will see that you are my disciples, by your love for one another!

When thinking about the power of forgiveness and the potential of it to not only change lives but to change history I was struck by the example of Adolf Hitler, who, because he did not experience forgiveness, became more and more bitter and ended up becoming the person that was responsible for so much carnage. If he had experienced forgiveness, history would have been very different.

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

The realization that God has done so much for me as Creator and Redeemer and calls me to a relationship with Him (literally walk with Him), where he wants His values and character to rub off on me. Not only that I would seek justice but I would rather also love mercy. In fact it was this Hebrew word hesed which had such an impact on me. It’s a word that cannot be really translated. We use the word mercy or fidelity or covenant love or loyalty for understanding it in English. But it is all these things and more. But its essence is this. It is when a person with power sees a powerless person and responds with help when called upon. It often occurs in the context of the covenant, but it need not. Help is needed and the response of the person who can help is help! This is a quality that supremely describes Yahweh. He is a God of Hesed. In the great Israelite credo which describes the attributes of Yahweh, Exodus 34:6-7, it is the only characteristic that appears twice. And it is an incredible fact that not only does hesed characterize Yahweh, he loves doing hesed! In fact as I write in my commentary on Micah 7:18-20: “It is not just that God practises hesed or shows it, but that he delights in it. It is what gets him excited! Calvin aptly remarks, ‘for the only prop or support that can raise us up to God, when we desire to be reconciled to him is this, –that he loves mercy.’” And the ultimate expression of hesed is the Cross!

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

There are many number of commentaries. May I single out a few. Bruce Waltke’s is excellent for studying the text of Micah and the various versions, the LXX, the Vulgate etc. He is a very astute exegete as well with a clear interest in applying the text. Two German commentaries were very helpful with theology and exegesis, Wilhelm Rudolph and Hans Walter Wolff. Rudolph’s has not been translated but Wolff’s has. An extremely insightful francophone commentator is Bernard Renaud. His commentary contains a wealth of interpretive gems. At the same time all three commentators would argue that most of the book of Micah comes from a time later than Micah. A very practical, popular commentary for lay people is that by Ralph Davis. But two more comprehensive works have also been very helpful: Abraham Heschel’s The Prophets and Gerhard Von Rad’s Old Testament Theology: Vol 2. Both scholars have a deep appreciation for the driving force of the Prophets, the Word of God.

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

I am currently working on a number of projects: 1) a commentary on Genesis using Hebrew discourse structure as a guide to exegesis 2) a monograph on Kingship and Kingdom in the Bible 3) a biblical theological commentary on Jeremiah and Lamentations 4) numerous essays.

I don’t know how people can follow my work and ministry other than read my few books (Dominion and Dynasty, and Micah: A Theological Commentary) and essays which are published in various journals and collections of essays. I teach at Crandall University, with two colleagues in my department, who are real heavyweights in the field of scholarship: John Stackhouse and Keith Bodner. I also have been blessed to teach in an adjunct role at Westminster Theological Centre in the United Kingdom under the expert leadership of theologian Lucy Peppiatt and Old Testament scholar Matt Lynch, and also in an adjunct role at Toronto Baptist Seminary under the competent guidance of Principal Kirk Wellum.


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1-2 Peter Commentary Q & A with Author Duane Watson

7 Questions on 1-2 Peter in the Paideia Commentary Series

peter commentary book coverDuane F. Watson (Phd. Duke University, M.Div. Princeton Theological Seminary) is the Professor of New Testament Studies at Malone University where he has taught since 1989.

Other than authoring 1 and 2 Peter in the Paideia commentary series, Dr. Watson recent writing projects include serving as the Editor of Miracle Discourse in the New Testament. Society of Biblical Literature, 2012; Editor (with Robert L. Webb) of Reading Second Peter Through New Eyes: Methodological Reassessments of the Letter of Second Peter. Library of New Testament Studies, T. & T. Clark, 2010; and Editor (with Alan J. Hauser) of The History of Biblical Interpretation,Volume II: The Medieval through the Reformation Periods. Eerdmans, 2009. He has also been published in numerous journals, dictionaries, and encyclopedias.

Dr. Watson is also the Owner and Operator of Docs Crocks, an antique business specializing in 18th, 19th, and early 20th century American Stoneware. The largest company of its kind in America.

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 Peter?

I was approached by the editors of Baker Book House to write this commentary on 1 Peter based on my previous work on 2 Peter. That included my dissertation from Duke University published as Invention, Arrangement, and Style: Rhetorical Criticism of Jude and 2 Peter (Scholars Press, 1988) and commentaries on Jude and 2 Peter in The New Interpreter’s Bible (Abingdon Press, 1998).

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

The Paideia series is intended to be a mid-range commentary that is accessible to all these groups. The series strives to be clearly written, avoid jargon, summarize debated passages and issues accurately and simply and provide more detailed background information in separate boxes.

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

The main contribution of this commentary is to bring the vast new literature on this book into a readable form.

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

I Peter 3:18-22 is the most challenging in this book. The background of this passage is in Jewish tradition and literature and is difficult to explain to the average reader. Here we find angels who created a race of giant children with humans; children who subsequently corrupted humanity and necessitated the Flood (Genesis 6:1-4). These angels were punished by God by being placed in a prison at the far reaches of creation to await their judgment at the final consummation of all things. On his way to heaven after the resurrection, Jesus proclaimed to the angels his victory over sin and their final judgment. Pretty interesting background!

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

While it was not a focus of this series, I was most edified by trying to write the theological issues section. I was raised in the holiness movement and look for how I can apply what the text says to daily life. As I have grown older, I have tried to refine this practical approach by not being too specific as to how a text can be applied and rather open up the possibilities to people to pursue their own paths. To me, theology without application is not very useful. As Professor Daniel Migliore said in one of my classes at Princeton Theology Seminary a long time ago, theology that does not help people where they live is not good theology.

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

If I had to recommend one commentary on 1 Peter, it would be that of John H. Elliott in the Anchor Bible Commentary Series (New York: Doubleday, 2000). It is encyclopedic and creatively pushes the boundaries of our understanding of 1 Peter. Even if you don’t agree with all of his conclusions, you greatly benefit by his encyclopedic discussion of all the issues.

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

My current project is a commentary on the Johannine Epistles for the New Cambridge Bible Commentary. This commentary will be finished this summer and hopefully will be available next year. The approach in this commentary is a verse by verse exposition of the text with emphasis upon the rhetoric of the text and how the author of these letters is working hard to persuade his audience not to follow his opposition that was teaching that Jesus was not the Christ.


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Hosea Commentary Q & A with Author Michael Barrett

7 Question on Hosea in the Gospel According to the Old Testament Commentary Series

hosea commentary book coverDr. Michael Bar­rett is Vice President for Academic Affairs/Academic Dean and Professor of Old Testament at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He is a minister in the Heritage Reformed Congregations. Formerly, Dr. Bar­rett served as president of Geneva Reformed Seminary. He earned his doctorate in Old Testament Text with a special focus on Semitic languages.

His dissertation was titled “A Method­ol­ogy for Inves­ti­gat­ing the Trans­la­tion Philoso­phies and Tech­niques of the Sep­tu­agint.” For almost thirty years, he was pro­fes­sor of Ancient Lan­guages and Old Tes­ta­ment The­ol­ogy and Inter­pre­ta­tion at Bob Jones Uni­ver­sity. Dr. Bar­rett had an active role in the min­istry of the Free Pres­by­ter­ian Church until his coming to PRTS. He is a mem­ber of the Evan­gel­i­cal The­o­log­i­cal Soci­ety and has pub­lished numer­ous arti­cles in both pro­fes­sional and pop­u­lar jour­nals. He contributed to and served as Old Testament editor for The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible.

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

I have taught the Minor Prophets, both in Hebrew and English, for many years on both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

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

The target audience is primarily lay Christians although pastors and students could benefit as well. My intention is to bridge the gap between the ancient text and setting and the current needs of today. The message of Hosea is old but not outdated.

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

This is not a verse by verse or even chapter by chapter commentary on the text. Rather, it develops the major themes and arguments of the book from a Biblical theological perspective. It is possible to get the major thrust of the message without necessarily dealing with all the interpretational issues or problems–those things that would tend to distract the layman who has no interest or knowledge of the technicalities.

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

I suppose the biggest challenge was defining the nature and timing of God’s instruction to Hosea to marry Gomer. It is one of the difficulties in the book, yet one that is so integral to overall message.

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

To realize that Hosea’s love for Gomer was unrelenting and undeserved and from a human perspective made little sense, and then to see how that is magnified and intensified when considering Christ’s love for His bride. Humanly speaking it makes no sense, but it is all of grace.

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

I think the 3 volume set on the Minor Prophets edited by Thomas McComiskey (Baker) is one of the best. McComiskey himself did the work on Hosea.

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

My next projects are biblical theological treatments of Exodus and Ecclesiastes. I don’t do social media, but can follow me some on the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary website as well has hearing some of my sermons on Sermonaudio.com.


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1-2 Chronicles Commentary Q & A with Author Richard Pratt

7 Questions on 1-2 Chronicles in the Mentor Commentary Series

chronicles commentary book coverRichard Pratt (Th.D. in Old Testament Studies from Harvard University) is a theologian, author, and founder and President of Third Millennium Ministries. Dr. Pratt taught at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS, and Orlando, FL, for 21 years. He also chaired the Old Testament Department in Orlando and is currently Adjunct Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary.

Pratt is actively involved in all aspects of ministry, including writing, teaching, and global advancement. He has traveled extensively throughout the world to evangelize and lecture, including Australia, China, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Indonesia, Mexico, Mongolia, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Turkey, Ukraine, Cuba, the United Kingdom and throughout the United States. He is best known for his approach to Biblical hermeneutics, which places a heavy emphasis on the Kingdom of God.

Third Millennium was launched in response to the lack of training of Christian leaders around the world. Third Millennium recognizes where the church is growing the fastest, those Christian leaders have the least amount of training. Pratt personally witnessed this in the 1980s as he traveled for missions. Helping the church worldwide has become his passion. He believes that any person that has the desire to learn more about the Bible should be given that opportunity in their own land, in their own language, and at no cost.

His books include: He Gave Us Stories: The Bible Student’s Guide To Interpreting Old Testament Narratives; Holy Bible: New Living Translation; Designed For Dignity: What God Has Made It Possible For You To Be; and the NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (general editor).

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 Chronicles?

I wrote my dissertation on the prayers of kings in the book of Chronicles. I also wrote the study notes on Chronicles in The Reformation Study Bible. These efforts prepared me for writing this commentary.

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

This commentary is intended for church leaders and highly motivated laypeople.

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

This commentary focuses on the major theological themes of the book and how they are communicated in each portion of the book.

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

I found David’s final preparations for the temple (1 Christ 29), God’s response to Solomon’s prayer (2 Chr 7) and Hezekiah’s Passover celebration (2 Chr 30) were eye opening. These passages are easily applied to Christians today.

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

As one of the last Old Testament books to be written, Chronicles is a prelude to the Christian faith. The Chronilcler’s hopes are fulfilled by Christ. His themes readily apply to the Christian life.

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

Roddy Braun 1 Chronicles (WBC)

Raymond Dillard 2 Chronicles (WBC)

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

I devote myself primarily to writing theological lessons that are published by Third Millennium Ministries (thirdmill.org).


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Ephesians Commentary Q & A with Author Richard Coekin

7 Questions on Ephesians in the For You Commentary Series

ephesians commentary book cover

Richard Coekin is a renowned Bible teacher and has been involved in launching numerous churches and other ministries, such as the London Mens’ and Womens’ Conventions, the 9:38 Ministry Training Strategy, the Passion for Life mission, and most recently The Planting Collective. He is also involved in a Bible ministry to Members of Parliament in Westminster.

Richard is the author of several books including Our Father and Gospel DNA.

After studying law at Cambridge, and practicing for four years as a commercial lawyer in London, Richard studied theology at Moore College Sydney and Oxford University. After a training role in Manchester, he moved to become the first senior pastor of Dundonald church in 1995, a congregation of 35 adults that was planted into a school hall.

By God’s grace, God has grown Dundonald church steadily over many years to become a church of 600 adults and 300 children which has planted 9 churches locally and from which the Co-Mission Church Planting Initiative was launched in 2005.

Richard is married to Sian and they have five children.

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

I’ve preached through Ephesians three times for our church over the years to the church that I serve consulting helpful commentaries and in particular Peter O’Brien in the Pillar series.

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

Pastors, small group leaders and thoughtful church members.

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

I hope that there is nothing novel about the doctrines espoused but since this is a pastoral reflection on the practical implications of this great epistle in the life of a local church I pray that “the manifold wisdom of God will be made known to the rulers and authorities int he heavenly realms” as churches unite in proclaiming reconciliation in Christ to all nations.

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

Ephesians 6: 10-18 concerning the armour of God because this is the climax and not a digression from the major themes of the letter.

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

So many things -perhaps supremely the privileges in Christ displayed in Paul’s introduction of being chosen by the father, redeemed by the son and sealed with the holy spirit….to the praise of his glory.

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

Peter O’Brien

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

Jonah – the reluctant evangelist – I’ve just finished a draft. It will be available through the Co-Mission website.


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