Galatians Commentary – David McWilliams Interview

galatians bible commentary mcwilliamsDavid McWilliams is the author of the Galatians volume in the Mentor commentary series. Dr. McWilliams is the Senior Minister at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Lakeland and has served there for over 30 years. He is married to Vicky and they have a son Evan who is a pastor in England.

Dr. McWilliams’ passions are the study of Scriptures, Reformed and Puritan theology, Christ-centered preaching, and shepherding people. He is a graduate of Mercer University (B.A.), of Westminster Theological Seminary (M.A.R., M.Div.) and of the University of Wales (Ph.D.) Formerly, Dr. McWilliams served as Associate Professor of Systematic Theology on the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary in Dallas.

Dr. McWilliams has authored numerous articles published in the Westminster Theological Journal, Modern Reformation, and others. Besides Galatians: A Mentor Commentary, he wrote the Hebrews in the Lectio Continua Commentary Series. Dr. McWilliams also serves on the Board at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Greenville, SC.

7 Questions on Galatians in the Mentor Commentary Series

Recently, Dr. McWilliams graciously answered my questions about his Galatians commentary. Readers will learn how this commentary came to be, what is unique about it among Galatians commentaries, and how the project edified him personally.

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

The first book that I taught through as a young Bible teacher was Galatians and I have dearly loved it ever since. Early on I learned to read it by sight in my Greek New Testament and have studied commentaries and articles (good and bad) for years. My concerns over defection in the church from the essential and foundational truth of justification by grace through faith in Christ alone also motivated the writing of this commentary.

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

I hope that any serious believer can benefit from my Galatians commentary, but I wrote it especially with the busy pastor in mind. I hope that the commentary can model for the minister of the Word the serious work in which those of us who are pastors should be engaged. The writing of commentaries and other quality theological work should not be left to “professionals” in academic settings, no matter how valuable those contributions may be. Rather, the Minister of the Word is called to be a pastor-theologian. I have always thought that the minister had a real advantage in understanding something of the pastoral heart and circumstances of Paul. Moreover, in the Reformed heritage the very best Reformed comment and theology has been written often in the pastoral setting. This commentary was, at least, an attempt to honor that tradition and those Reformed, pastoral commitments.

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

Allow me to point out one contribution. When Dr. Glen Clary reviewed my commentary, having ‘field tested it’ as he preached to his own congregation, he saw that I had pushed consistently through the commentary an emphasis on the Pauline eschatology (in the Vos – Ridderbos sense of the expression) and was relentless in bringing it to the fore – because it is really there.

Perhaps I should add that I have attempted to open up what Paul said and the text really means with what Calvin called “lucid brevity.”

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

Working on Galatians 3:6-14, “When Curse Turns to Blessing,” was most memorable. Here Paul moves from the plight of sinners to our redemption through Christ’s substitutionary work. Christ became a curse, huper, ‘instead of’ us.

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

In a time in the history of the church in which the ‘standing or falling doctrine of the church’ is denied or radically reinterpreted out of existence, my soul has been thrilled to find, once more, the doctrine of justification by faith clearly taught on the pages of Holy Scripture and particularly in Galatians. In Galatians Paul preached to my heart by the Spirit’s application and Christ was placarded before my very eyes as crucified (3:1-5). I owe everything to Jesus Christ my penal substitute.

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

[J.B.] Lightfoot, John Brown, [F.F.] Bruce, [Leon] Morris and [Herman] Ridderbos to name a few of the best commentaries. Betz must be consulted at every turn.

The insights of J. Gresham Machen in The Origin of Paul’s Religion are helpful, wonderfully so, in understanding the true Paul. The same is true in understanding the inner logic of Paul’s thought when one pursues Vos’ The Pauline Eschatology. The work of Seyoon Kim is remarkable.

The work of Sir William Ramsay was stimulating and is too neglected or forgotten today.

Articles of Lategan, Verseput and a number by C. E. B. Cranfield are helpful.

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

I recently completed an article on the free offer of the Gospel (Puritan Reformed Journal) and I am working on some small writing projects including an article on an aspect of the thought of Cornelius Van Til. I also have notes for two additional volumes of NT exposition if the Lord is pleased to bring this to fruition.

I much regret that there are a number of editorial mistakes that were not corrected prior to publication. I hope that these can be corrected in the future and but sincerely hope that these will not hinder the reader who pursues the Galatians commentary.

Own David McWilliams’ Galatians commentary

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