Book Review: Exegetical Guide to The Greek New Testament – Colossians and Philemon by Murray J. Harris

As a senior pastor who has been preaching for twenty years on a weekly basis this series is a welcome contribution for the preacher or teacher of God’s Word.  As I have preached through Colossians verse by verse this past year I have continually been helped and my people have been helped through the exegetical insights of Murray in this excellent commentary. For those who have had a year of more of Greek it will help bring to memory much that has been forgotten.

The Guide assumes the following:

1)    You have completed an introductory New Testament Greek Course

2)    You have learned the meanings of words occurring in the New Testament more than 25 times

3)    You have been introduced to New Testament Textual Criticism

4)    You own or have access to a copy of The Greek New Testament, fourth rev. ed. B. Aland, K. Aland, J. Karavidopoulos, C.M, Martini and B.M. Metzger (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, New York: United Bible Societies, 1993)

The stated purpose of this book (and the commentaries in this series) is “to close that gap between stranded student (or former student) and daunting text and to bridge that gulf between morphological analysis and exegesis.”

I found this commentary to be particularly helpful in helping me understand Paul’s logic, grammar, argumentation, and insights into the author’s original intentions in brining out the “big picture” of Colossians – The Supremacy of Christ Sufficient for All things. Along with a good devotional like Sam Storms, “The Hope of Glory”; a good English and Greek Based Commentary like Douglas Moo’s, or F. F. Bruce; and an application based commentary like David E. Garland’s – you should be set to study and teach Colossians with great effectiveness.

Book Review of Tim Keller’s “The Prodigal God”

Tim Keller (Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan, N.Y.) is a very gifted thinker and communicator. His book “The Prodigal God” is one I have read 3 times in the last year. The book is based on perhaps the most famous story that Jesus told in the New Testament (Luke 15) – often referred to as the the parable of the “prodigal son.”I have been a Christian for 39 years now (24 of those years in the pastorate), and I have never read a better presentation of the gospel than he presents in this book. Dr. Keller helped me to fall in love with the God of the gospel again. He helped me to realize that the gospel isn’t just about forgiveness for what I’ve done in the past, or for the promise of Christ’s return and the hope of Heaven for the future, but that the gospel is essential for living today. God’s grace through a relationship with Christ is what we need to be reminded of every day in order to basque in the pleasure, peace, and presence of a wonderful God – who loves us despite our tendencies to rebel, or revel in our own righteousness – either way – our sins of thinking we are too bad, or too good keep us at a distance from knowing God the Father through His perfect Son – Our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Out of 5 stars – I would give it a 10. The principles in this book are invaluable and I sum up what I learned from this book here:

1) I am a bigger sinner than I thought I was – I have a tendency to be like the “older brother” in Luke 15 – who sees himself as more righteous than he really is.

2) God is more gracious than I thought He was – He provides forgiveness for both the rebel (the younger brother) and the older brother – who is lost because it is his supposed righteousness that keeps him from having a relationship with his father – he is an idolater becasue he loves his father’s “things” more than the father himself.

3) It has helped me to understand the gospel and explain it better. Religions have a tendency to lead to idolatry – we think we are good – because we follow rules, or do “good works,” but these good works are self serving and make us look down on others.

4) Ultimately, I owe my salvation solely and totally to the goodness, patience, mercy, grace, and provision of God through Christ. He sought me while yet a sinner. He gave me His righteousness in exchange for my sin. He forgave me despite my rebellion and pride, and revealed His love for me in that He sent His one and only sin to die for me on the cross – Romans 5:8.

5) The Prodigal God wants me to go after all people with the good news that He has made provision for their salvation – no matter what separates them from Him. What a mighty and wonderful God we serve!