John Kitchen – Philippians Commentary – Q & A

philippians bible commentary kitchen coverJohn Kitchen is the author of Philippians for Pastors in the Kress Biblical Commentary series. Dr. Kitchen (Doctor of Ministry, Trinity International University) has been the senior pastor at Stow Alliance Fellowship in Stow, Ohio, since 2001. Prior to that, he pastored the Plymouth Alliance Church in Plymouth, Wisconsin from 1987-2001.

In addition to his Doctor of Ministry degree, Dr. Kitchen earned a B.A. from Crown College and Master’s of Divinity from Columbia International University.

Dr. Kitchen has published several Bible commentaries. Besides Philippians for Pastors, he has written Colossians and Philemon for Pastors, The Pastoral Epistles for Pastors, and Proverbs in the Mentor Commentary series. Please see Dr. Kitchen’s Amazon page for his other books.

7 Questions on Philippians in the Kress Biblical Commentary Series

Recently, Dr. Kitchen kindly answered my questions about his Philippians commentary. Readers will learn how this commentary came to be, what is unique about it among Philippians 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 Philippians

Philippians for Pastors is the third volume in my “… for Pastors” New Testament commentary series (along with The Pastoral Epistles for Pastors and Colossians and Philemon for Pastors) with Kress Biblical Resources (Kress Biblical). I have also written the volume on Proverbs in the Mentor Commentary series with Christian Focus Publications. The work on these was a big part of my ongoing desire to produce quality Bible commentaries that specifically aid serious students of the Bible who have a ministry bent. Philippians, specifically, was a passion because I am profoundly moved by the history-changing events set in motion when Paul and his band crossed the narrow neck of water that separated Asia Minor from what would come to be known as the European landmass. When they entered the city of Philippi my own salvation-story as well as the history of western civilization was involved. The story of the advance of the Gospel into Philippi is a part of my story.

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

As the title indicates this entire series of commentaries are written “. . . for Pastors,” but I often quickly add, “They aren’t just for pastors!” The target audience is all serious students of the Bible who have a heart of ministry. Sadly, it seems not all students of the Bible have a disposition toward ministry and not all who have a ministry bent are serious students of the Bible. It is my hope to engage the former through serious study of the text of Scripture and then to direct their minds toward application in the context of ministry and to urge the latter to ground their commitment to ministry in the text of Scripture itself.

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

This volume, like the others in the series, contains several unique features. I’ve designed each volume in the series to serve as a commentary, counselor, and coach.

As a commentary Philippians for Pastors provides a wealth of exegetical information regarding the text of this NT epistle. I suggest readers engage the commentary with a Greek (or Interlinear Greek/English) New Testament open to the passage and follow the development of the passage. This, I trust, will aid in personally understanding God’s Word, in preaching and teaching these texts, and in explaining the meaning of these Scriptures to the people to whom we minister.

In the midst of commentary on every verse of Philippians is included a call out box called a “Ministry Maxim.” They are designed to counsel the reader in further application of the truth found in that particular verse. These are pithy, pointedly stated principles of ministry which arise from or are suggested by the verse where they are found. Each is stated in such a way as to distill the wisdom of the given Scripture into a pointed—and sometimes provocative—statement of principle which applies in ministry contexts of all cultures and at all times. They are stated in thought-provoking ways in order to stimulate one’s mind and rouse one to interaction with the truth.

This volume serves also as a ministry coach in that it never allows you to leave a section of Scripture without stopping to ponder how its truth applies to your life and ministry. It provides bridges of application from the truths found in the text of Scripture to the work of ministry. You will find these “Digging Deeper” questions dispersed throughout the text of the commentary. My hope is that these stimulate reflection on how the truths of Philippians apply to life and local church ministry.

In addition I have provided several appendices that I believe are helpful to faithful students of Scripture devoted to ministry. One appendix provides a detailed exegetical outline as well as examples of preaching outlines for preaching Philippians in one sermon, in a shorter series of nine sermons, and in a longer series of eighteen sermons.

Other appendices include a topical guide to all the Ministry Maxims, another includes several charts that may prove helpful as teaching aids, and another provides an extensive annotated bibliography of over 85 commentaries on Philippians.

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

The entire letter to the Philippians is so rich, but I would have to say that the study of 3:7-14 was particularly enriching for me. Paul’s example of utter abandonment to knowing Christ and the passion with which he shares it is a powerful call to us all in our pursuit of Christ. The determination to lose all else if only he may know Christ, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings reminds me of the core of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

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

I was most edified by the daily-ness of the careful study of the Greek text of Philippians over an extended period of time. Every day immersing myself in Paul’s words brought the light of truth to shine upon my own life. For me, writing a commentary is first about my own encounter with Christ in His Word and secondarily about producing a written document for the benefit of others. Others can only be helped by my writing if I have first met Christ in the process of the study and production of the commentary. I write because it is a key way in which God makes my soul to thrive. By that I mean simply that God uses all of the study and careful preparation of the books as a primary means of ministering to my own heart. I wrote like this before there was any thought that someone might publish the commentaries. Study of God’s Word and writing about what God shows me there is a primary way in which I express and grow my love for Christ.

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

I provide an appendix in the back of the book which contains my annotations regarding over 85 commentaries on the book of Philippians. There I note that as I prepare to preach a book of the New Testament I seek several commentaries that work closely and carefully with the Greek text, engage in technical discussions and provide in depth insights into the original text. I then look for two or three commentaries that are more exegetical or theological in nature. Finally, I want one or two that are more expositional or homiletical in character. After my own exegetical work, I work through the commentaries in that order. Those in the first category help me with analysis (taking the pieces apart). Those in the second category assist in the transition from analysis to synthesis (putting the pieces back together). Those in the last category help me move from text to message.

To that end, after reviewing them all, I recommend (in addition to my own volume!):

Technical Commentaries:

Joseph H. Hellerman: Philippians (EGGNT)

Gerald F. Hawthorne and Ralph P. Martin: Philippians (WBC)

Theological/exegetical Commentaries:

Matthew Harmon: Philippians: A Mentor Commentary

Gordon D. Fee: Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (NIC)

Walter G. Hansen: The Letter to the Philippians (Pillar NT Commentary)

Expositional Commentaries:

Tony Merida and Francis Chan: Exalting God in Philippians (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary)

A.T. Robertson: Paul’s Joy in Christ

R. Kent Hughes: Philippians: The Fellowship of the Gospel (Preaching the Word)

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

I am several years into writing a commentary on 1 & 2 Peter and Jude. I also have two books set for release in 2019: He is Able is to be published by JourneyForth Press and Chosen People, my first foray into fiction, is to be published by Cruciform Press.

I would delight to have people follow my writing ministry by going to my website (www.jkitchen.org) and by liking my Facebook Author Page (John Kitchen Author).

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