As a pastor, I get the privilege of regularly reading through commentaries on books of the Bible. My goal is to read four for each sermon series that I do since they take different approaches to the text. Some commentaries are more technical, focusing on language and grammar and other important issues for exposition. On the other end of the spectrum are those that are more devotional, seeking to help the reader understand and apply particular passages to their life. Of course, all commentaries try to do a little bit of both, but usually they gravitate towards one side of the spectrum or the other. Although a person might be willing to read one on the devotional side, normally folks don’t read through commentaries, and I get that.
But every now and then, I read one that I feel should be read by all (I usually recommend them to my Church when that happens). There are just some commentaries that handle the text so faithfully and communicate the truth so well that I wish everyone could read them. The series they come from will vary, the authors will vary, but the blessing of reading them is constant.
One such commentary is Philip Graham Ryken’s two volume set on the book of Luke in the Reformed Expository Commentary series. I know, two volumes, around 1,400 pages, who in the world is going to read that besides pastors and professors? How about you? What if your plan for Bible reading in 2016 was simply to study slowly through the Gospel of Luke, using Ryken’s commentary as a guide? Why would you do that? Let me give you a few reasons:
- We are getting great teaching on a great book: The volumes are broken up into sermons that Ryken preached at the Church he pastors over particular sections of the Gospel. Reading his explanations of the text and how he applies them is incredibly helpful. He avoids being too technical while showing that he has done his homework, as the saying goes. He helps you see the message that Luke was communicating (good exposition) and then shows you how it impacts your own life (good application). This may sound simple, but it is not always easy to do. Ryken does it well.
- The book is well written: Not sure that I would ever categorize a commentary a ‘page-turner’, but I looked forward each week to reading Ryken’s work. I was so often moved to praise Jesus and to want to follow Him more faithfully. I even laughed and cried some (I know, a little goofy). Instead of trudging through it and dreading your study of the Word, I think Ryken’s commentary will encourage your meditation on the text.
- Why not spend a year in Luke: Again, working through 1,400 pages is a bit overwhelming. And spending a year on only one book of the Bible might seem strange (especially to those who like to read through the Bible in a year). But, giving the book of Luke your full attention for 2016 will be a great way to study the Bible. And using a good resource like Ryken’s commentary will only aid you in that. Why not slow down and dig deep for a year?
So give it some thought. You will probably not be reading commentaries all of the time, but it would not hurt to read a really good one every now and again (maybe I could post a list of other good ones at some point). You could start with Ryken’s on Luke, my favorite so far.