The Topic Google Missed

google-485611_1920Why is it that I can google the anatomy of a seagull and find 1700 diagrams in .00002 seconds but cannot get a single quality article about some biblical passage I’d like to study deeper? I mean, when a few taps on the computer can pull up twelve videos on how to break into my neighbor’s house, why on earth is decent commentary of the Bible lacking?

The other day I came to a particularly mischievous verse in Revelation and tried to look up background information for more insight. To my amazement all that came up were fluffy, cotton candy articles about how God is good (which, while true, doesn’t justify skirting around the topic) or doomsday posts in red ink and dozens of exclamation points to emphasize how the world, if not by this evening, would most certainly be ending by the election.

Where are the theologians? Where are the scholars who know a thing or two about author, date of writing, background into the culture of the Ancient Near East, language, interpretations throughout church history? Why aren’t they so benevolently sharing these insights that enrich our study of Scripture via the world wide web?

Alas, I suppose until that time comes, I’ll just have to rely on the printed page: the commentary.

And, just in case you either haven’t found a good commentary or are wondering about the real value of one, here are a few suggestions.

First, you might want one of these little treasures if you ever find yourself reading the Bible—like 1 Timothy 2:15—and your thoughts fall down this similar trail:

“Um, it just said women are saved through childbearing… Are women just mules? Does God think that of women? Or maybe Paul was a little bit off here? A bit persuaded by the culture of the day? …  If he was though, does that mean the whole Bible is susceptible to error?  And there is no God? And this was all made up?! Okay, calm down, just turn the page and pretend you didn’t see it.”

The three commentaries below are neither written by scholars who believe Jesus was a myth, existing only in our minds to encourage naughty little humanity to behave, nor by those who want to spend thirty pages talking about the meaning of the word “the” in verse one. They are quality commentaries written by educated Christians dedicating their lives to sharing the profound.

*These are examples for Romans, though each commentary has other books of the Bible available*

 

moo

 

 

1. The New International Commentary on the New Testament

Is this book big? Yes. Could you use it to hold up the wheel of a car? Possibly. But it is one of my personal favorites, particularly given the insights of Dr. Moo. If you are looking for something more academic, more ambitious (after all, why is the word “the” there in verse one?), but also with heart, this is a great choice.

 

 

 

 

wright

 

2. The New Testament for Everyone

NT Wright people… former Bishop of Durham and one of the world’s leading Bible scholars. A man with a pastoral tongue and incredibly intelligent mind. This is a great series in everyday language. Note that this series does not include the Old Testament.

 

 

 

application bible

 

3. The NIV Application Commentary

This commentary focuses less on technical language and more on application to our Christian life. It’s good for Bible studies and wading in to deeper studies without diving all the way and fearing you’ll get drowned in all the academic talk.

 

 

 

 

So, here’s to learning and living out the walk each day!

Melissa Ferguson

Einsteinmas Day

 

capitol hill christmas treeWhat’s wrong with this picture?

A postman drives his little white truck down the country road. A teenage girl in her 1992 red mustang laughs to herself as she reads the text from her best friend. Her glossy pink nails begin tapping a reply, just as she hears the squeals of tires grinding on pavement. She drops her phone as she swerves the wheel and cries, “Abraham Lincoln!”

A CIA agent grips the chair as he stands before the suited men. Flurries fly by outside the window. “There’s no time,” he says. “He demands the money by 12:01 Einsteinmas Day.”

An archaeologist kicks the shovel deeper into the ground as dust fills the air. She coughs and lifts the scarf to her nose. Sweat rolls off her nose and splatters to the ground. Her breath reeks of coffee; after all, she hasn’t slept in two days. But she’s so close she can feel it. Just moments, mere moments from an artifact that has been trying to be found since 206 BC—Before Candy.

Jesus has rocked the world. No matter who we are, and what we believe, His name and message has infiltrated our existence. Whether I’m reading something from 600 BC (Before Christ), opening presents beneath the tree of America’s favorite holiday, or hearing someone swear by His name, we cannot escape Jesus.

Recently, as I was reading through some books for a class I’m preparing, I was stopped by these words:

This Galilean, who in his lifetime spoke to fewer people than would fill just one of the many stadia Graham has filled, changed the world more than any other person. He introduced a new force field into history, and now holds the allegiance of a third of all people on earth.1

A third.

If I were God (bad idea—let that be clear), my plan would be to circuit Jesus around the world. Maybe I’d make Him into clones so there were thousands of Him. Or I’d stop time and give hundreds of years to chit chat to every person He sees. But what happened instead? Jesus toured around a few miniscule miles in his teeny tiny dot area of Earth for a ministry span of a measly three years. Then, poof! He’s gone and now a projected 2.92 billion people (31.4%) are estimated to follow Jesus. Really? From a plan like that? As a Christian myself, it makes me think, “If God changes the world with that plan, what might He also be wanting to do in my life? With someone so insignificant as me?”

Or yours?

Who knows, with a willing heart He may do immeasurably more than we could ever ask for or imagine.

 

Daily Meditation: Ephesians 3

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 41-42; 1 Thessalonians 1

 

 

  1. Check it out! Phillip Yancey. The Jesus I Never Knew. ISBN: 0-310-38570-9