Archives For TEDS

Writing Commentaries as a Ministry

Greg Strand – September 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Douglas J. Moo, Kenneth T. Wessner Professor of New Testament, Wheaton, and former professor of New Testament at TEDS, has written about twelve commentaries. The most recent being his commentary on Galatians (BECNT) due out this November. Moo has used this gift to serve both the academy and the church.

Recently Moo wrote a brief article on “Commentaries as a MinistryTabletalk 37/6 (June 2013). Though he loves writing commentaries and considers it a great privilege that this task is one of the responsibilities of his job/ministry, there is a much more significant reason why he gives himself to this discipline:

I write them because I am convinced that, as flawed as they are, they help God’s people understand God’s Word and teach and preach it faithfully. The Christian faith, while centered on the Living Word, Jesus Christ, is defined by the written Word, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. God addresses His people through these writings. When we read or hear Scripture, we read or hear God speaking to us. His words, however, come to us in the form of human words. Scripture is the product of what theologians call “concurrence”: God and human beings together producing the words of life. Good commentaries help people grapple with God’s Word as this fully divine yet fully human product.

Moo reminds readers that commentaries illuminate the human element of the Scriptures. Those human writers God used to record His divine word wrote in their own unique style, from within their own context. Different than translations which use a single word or short phrase, commentaries can explain words or phrases in a paragraph or page. However, good commentaries are not content with only the human element. There is, importantly, a divine element to God’s Word as well, which encompasses not only the specific details but also the big picture of the whole Bible. Moo highlights this truth:

Ultimately, however, a commentary that fails fully to engage both the divine and the human side of Scripture cannot do justice to Scripture—simply because it is, indeed, a divine-human product. The best commentaries, therefore, move from explanation of the linguistic and historical dimensions of the text to engagement with its theological message. We must understand the ancient context in which the Bible was written to appreciate fully its meaning. But we also have to hear the Bible as a Word from God addressed to His people today. Good commentators, therefore, not only explain the ancient situation of the text but the meaning of the text today. To do this well, the commentator must especially be keen to set any particular text in the context of all of Scripture. We call the Scriptures “the Bible” (singular) because the church sees these sixty-six books as ultimately a single book with God as its author. Commentaries usually explain how a particular verse or paragraph fits within the message of the Bible as a whole.

Commentaries, notes Moo, are important for the church, not only the academy. For those of us who use commentaries Moo concludes by giving four responses to the question, “which commentaries should we use?”

First, use more than one. The very best commentator who has ever written made all kinds of mistakes. Comparing commentaries reveals these errors.

Second, use commentaries from different times and cultures. John Chrysostom in the ancient church and John Calvin at the time of the Reformation still have a lot to teach us. And we are blessed to live in a time when more and more commentaries are being written by scholars from different parts of the world. Reading commentaries distant from us in time or culture can help reveal our own biases.

Third, read commentaries from different theological traditions. We may not agree with everything such commentators say, but they help us think better about the text and why we believe what we do about it.

Finally, use different levels of commentaries. Commentaries vary from massive scholarly tomes that require a lot of dedication to plow through to brief, often superficial reflections on the text. Our tendency is to be content to read the easy ones. But it is good to challenge ourselves sometimes with more detailed commentaries. It pays rich dividends in getting us to think more deeply about Scripture.

What Moo has helpfully and rightly written reminds me of how John Stott described the appropriate manner in which we ought to approach the Word of God. Because it is a word written by men, we approach it with all of our faculties, seeking to determine the historical, cultural, literary and theological setting and significance. But because it is a word of/from God, we approach it humbly on our knees. This approach includes both head and heart, faith seeking understanding.

We are thankful that God has gifted Douglas Moo to serve pastors, professors, the church and the academy through the writing of commentaries.


This year marks the centennial of the birth of Carl F. H. Henry. Henry was an evangelical giant of last century. He served as an architect of modern day evangelicalism in the United States, was involved in the inception of Fuller Seminary, Christianity Today, and the Evangelical Theological Society. Henry was also a professor, friend, and supporter of TEDS. While at TEDS, I was privileged to have Dr. Henry as my Systematic Theology professor, one of the last classes he taught.

This centennial provides a wonderful opportunity to remember Carl Henry, the man and his ministry, and to rejoice in the God he loved and worshiped. It also provides an occasion to reflect on Henry’s work and to rekindle the enduring significance of his theological vision for the present and future of evangelical scholarship, continuing the spirit of philosophical, theological and social engagement that Henry lived and envisioned.

Trinity International University will be hosting one of these opportunities through a one-day Conference, sponsored by the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding: “Remembering Carl Henry: Evangelicalism Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.”

The Conference will be held on Friday, October 11, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM.  There will be six excellent lectures addressing different aspects of Carl Henry’s life and theology and the important things we can learn from him that will enable us to understand evangelicalism of yesterday and to strengthen it today.

Michael D. White, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Carl F. H. Henry’s Christ-Centered Biblical Interpretation”

Jason Stanghelle, “God, History, and Authority? History and Revelation in the Thought of Carl F. H. Henry”

Keith Yandell, “On Not Confusing Incomprehensibility with Ineffability: Carl F. H. Henry On Literal Propositional Revelation”

Timothy Padgett, “Carl F. H. Henry, the Principled Patriot?”

Owen Strachan, “The Great University Crusade: Carl F. H. Henry’s Vision for Crusade University”

Gregory Thornbury, “Carl F. H. Henry and Cultural Change: Is ‘Transformatinalism’ Dead?”

The lectures will be followed by a banquet beginning at 6:00 PM: “Global Vision: Carl Henry, Evangelicalism, and Trinity’s Enduring Significance.” Guest speakers will be D.A. Carson and Gregory Thornbury.  This will prove a wonderful evening for the Trinity community and all interested persons to recall Carl Henry’s vision, celebrate his life and legacy, and rekindle his relationship to Trinity.

If you are interested in reading more of this, please see the Conference website.  If you are able to attend, you can register here.

I will be attending. I trust many of you will be able to be present as well!

Scott Manetsch serves Professor of Church History at TEDS. Manetsch recently published an excellent book that addresses much more thoroughly the topic of his lecture series: Calvin’s Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609 (New York: Oxford, 2013).

We have the privilege of receiving the fruit of his extensive research and insightful reflections in this workshop, “The Reformation of the Pastoral Office.” In these three lectures given as part of our EFCA One Conference, Manetsch considers ways in which the Protestant Reformers departed from medieval Catholic understandings of priesthood, and fashioned a vision of ministry focused on preaching, pastoral care/discipline, and visitation/education. You will note that what happened here was foundational to how we understand and carry out pastoral ministry today.

We have included recordings and notes of the three sessions. Not only was the content excellent, but Manetsch also interacted extensively with participants, which added immensely to the sessions. You will be encouraged and challenged as you (re)consider pastoral ministry and the ministry of the Word as you serve God’s people in the context of the local church.

Lecture One: “Pastors and their Vocation

Lecture Two: “Pastors and the Ministry of the Word

Lecture Three: “Pastors and the Ministry of the Pastoral Care


The Reformation of the Pastoral Office – Scott Manetsch EFCA One 2013 handout

Drs. Dennis Magary and Greg Scharf co-taught the Forum on Expository Preaching at our EFCA One Conference, “Preaching Laments and Imprecatory Psalms.” Magary serves as Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages and Chair of the Old Testament and Semitic Languages Department; Scharf serves as Professor of Pastoral Theology and Chair of the Pastoral Theology Department. With these two TEDS professors we have a teacher who preaches and a preacher who teaches, modeling for us what we aspire to be, pastor-theologians.

The new format for the Forum consists of teaching and preaching. Magary taught about biblical laments and how to understand them with references to numerous texts of Scripture, while Scharf addressed issues of the sermon and how to frame, structure and organize the text to preach biblical laments faithfully to God’s people. This was then applied as Magary actually preached a sermon on Psalm 22. The session ended with a time for questions and answers.

The Forum was excellent! I like the new format we have established, consisting of teaching, preaching and a time for Q & A. It was evident that the questions came from those on the front-lines of ministry, those who are studying the Word faithfully, preaching regularly and providing pastoral care to God’s people.

I am excited to share with you these excellent sessions through recordings and notes. Thank you to Magary and Scharf for making them available! Though the recordings were not professionally done, their quality is quite good. The recording of the final Q & A is not as clear, in that one person had the microphone, while questions were asked from those in attendance and two individuals responded to the questions.

Session 1: Dennis Magary, “Going Negative: Preaching Biblical Laments

Session 2: Greg Scharf, “Preaching Laments: What To Look For and What To Echo

Session 3: Sermon: Dennis Magary, “A Psalm of Lament: Psalm 22

Session 4: Question and Answer

“The goal of the Forum on Expository Preaching is to encourage and equip expository preachers in the EFCA who are God-centered, Christ-focused and Spirit-empowered, who are biblically faithful, theologically informed and pastorally sensitive, and who have a passion to proclaim God’s Word to God’s people with the goal of glorifying God, nurturing God’s people and building up the church of Jesus Christ.”


Going Negative_ppt [Compatibility Mode]

Preaching Laments 7_1_13_ppt [Compatibility Mode]

One of the important resources provided at the EFCA One Conference is training tracks. Over the past decade plus, I have provided opportunities for those on the front-lines of ministry to be taught, trained and equipped by those who are on the front-lines of research and writing for the purpose of serving the church. For example, in the past we have addressed the Psalms, Revelation, The Johannine Epistles, The New Testament Use of the Old led by those who have written commentaries on these topics. We have also addressed systematic theology, church history and other important issues related to the church. These times of training allow us to be the beneficiaries in three 90 minutes sessions of what scholars have spent years researching and writing.  We are blessed indeed.

This year we will focus on the topic of church history.

“Reformation of the Pastoral Office: Practices of the Reformers, Lessons for Today”
Dr. Scott Manetsch
Professor of Church History, TEDS
EFCA One schedule

In this teaching/training track, I will consider ways in which the Protestant reformers departed from medieval Catholic understandings of priesthood, and fashioned a vision of ministry focused on preaching, pastoral care/discipline, and visitation/education.

We are excited to have Scott Manetsch with us. Scott serves as Professor of Church History at TEDS, and has been teaching at our EFCA seminary since 2000. Scott will be focusing on the fruit of his most recent work, Calvin’s Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609, Oxford Studies in Historical Theology (New York: Oxford, 2013).

In a brief review, Carl Trueman, “In the company of pastors: why you should buy Scott Manetsch’s new book”, gives Scott’s book an exemplary review. Trueman states that this is a book that is both scholarly and pastoral: “a scholarly book which really ought to be read by pastors.” This really breaks the mold of most works: either they are scholarly, or they are popular. There are not many books written today that cross that divide. Scott has done it!

Why will it be useful to pastors?

The Reformation fundamentally changed the nature, tasks and power of the pastoral office, primarily by placing the Word at the centre, theologically and thereby  practically, of church life. Further, this dramatic change itself brought challenges which themselves required furthered changes and refinements in the understanding and practice of pastoral ministry.

In the chapter on the ministry of the Word, the emphasis Calvin placed on clarity of the preached Word is always important to remember:

The pulpit is not the place to shoe off learning; it is the place to use that learning as the hidden foundation for preaching sermons which make the Bible’s message clearer, not more opaque and inaccessible. Oratorical skills are useful but only in so far as necessary for giving the message clarity and power, not for drawing attention to the preacher.

Finally, concludes Trueman,

This is a quite superb book.  It is not only outstanding as a well-written piece of original historical research.  It is also most informative concerning the reasons why Reformed and Presbyterian churches came to think about the ministry in the ways they do.  Buy it — though, if you are a pastor, probably best not to tell your wife how much it cost.

Good news! You will be able to heed Trueman’s advice and buy this book. In conjunction with our Conference and this specific training track with Scott, Oxford is offering a deeply discounted price for this book. Purchase this excellent book, but wait to do so until we can offer it at this discounted price. (Thanks to Scott for asking; thanks to Oxford for granting.)

It would be great if you were able to join us for the excellent training track with Scott Manetsch!