It’s time for another book. Why? It’s the Christmas season and you may know Bible and book nerds. So, I’m going to clean up my review stack and push through as many as I can, dealing with the backlog that takes up a large corner of my desk. Nearly every book I review was provided by someone…these aren’t all the books I read but I don’t review everything I read. Who has that kind of time?
Today, let’s take a look at the John volume of the Christ-Centered Exposition series. This commentary set is, generally, about half-way between a commentary and a really deep Bible study. It’s intended for sermon and lesson preparation.
First, as a note on the series, I’m coming to like it more and more. I have several volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition commentaries and while some of the earlier ones seem to be forcing the interpretation into a specific viewpoint, the later ones seem to be much improved. All of them keep the idea of “Exalting Jesus in…(Insert Bible Book),” it’s just that the more recent ones have a more natural feel in the process.
Now, on to the current topic: the John volume. Generally, this volume does not reproduce the Biblical text and relies on the reader owning a Bible. That’s not a bad idea, reader: you should own a Bible. The bulk of the references used are drawn from the newer CSB (Christian Standard Bible) but the ESV, NIV, and others are also used.
The chapters are laid out by pericope rather than specifically by chapter or verse. As such, the comments deal with units instead of being a verse-by-verse commentary. That is one of the strengths here, as the material is easy to digest and utilize for teaching on the whole passage. As a layout, that’s excellent.
One noteworthy move by the authors was to open with John 20 in seeking the purpose of John. Rather than presenting their own thesis of why John wrote, the first section is based on John 20:30-31, using John’s own words to explain why he wrote. I like this approach.
It is also worth being aware that there is none of the typical background and introductory material on John. That’s not a bad thing—if you’ve got a good Study Bible (get a good Study Bible), then you have that information elsewhere.
The chapters, as stated, are based on passages rather than single verses. This furthers the reader understanding the text in larger units, which is better. Each section presents not only some of the textual backgrounds but also deals with suggestions on how to teach it as well as practical applications. It’s a well-rounded commentary.
What it is not is a highly technical commentary. Which is fine, if you are looking for something in the practical category. Just be aware: if you want Greek verbs and parsings, you’re in the wrong place. This is not good or bad—it is simply the purpose of this commentary.
It leans over toward a Bible study book with reflection/discussion questions in each chapter. These are a good reflection on the text and drive the reader to truly consider what is present. They work either as an individual challenge or for group study.
I like it. I’m glad I have this and other parts of the series and intend to build out the whole set. This is actually the only volume I've gotten free for review--I've bought about 8 others--so that's a relevant disclosure.