So what is the first thing YOU do when you get a new Bible?
I almost always read the preface or introduction. Since I've read the preface to the ESV several times--at least--I skipped that this time to focus instead on the "Introduction" and the "Explanation of Features." I know not every reader takes the time to read this front matter, but I like to make the effort.
From the Explanation of Features:
This edition of the ESV Bible features study notes for the entire Bible that show readers, passage by passage, how each particular book carries forward God's redemptive purposes in history, culminating in Christ. These notes enable readers to see how the gospel of grace is the overarching message of the Bible, and how it it transforms the human heart.From the Introduction:
In addition, there is a full index (pages 1755-1785) to help readers see the unity of Scripture and how various themes course through the Bible from beginning to end. By looking up various biblical themes readers can appreciate the way the Bible picks up and develops various motifs in a coherent, unified, and progressive way. (xxii)
The goal of the Gospel Transformation Bible is twofold: 1) to enable readers to understand that the whole Bible is a unified message of the gospel of God's grace culminating in Christ Jesus 2) to help believers apply this good news to their everyday lives in a heart-transforming way. (vii)After reading the front matter and taking a peek at the back matter, to see if there are any special "bells or whistles", I like to start by reading a couple of SHORT books. For example, I like to go straight to Ruth! Ruth is one of those good-and-satisfying books that I never tire of reading!
The first day, I read Ruth and Jude. One short book from each testament.
From the commentary on Ruth 1:6-13
But death of loved ones is ultimately the result of living in a fallen world; it comes to all. Far from being against her, the Lord is working through Naomi's grievous circumstances to bring into the world One who ultimately will redeem her and all his people from death forever. (Col. 2:13-15, 2 Tim. 1:10; Rev. 21:4)From the commentary on Ruth 3:1-9
This same language would be used by the prophet Ezekiel in describing the Lord's covenant love for his bride, Jerusalem (Ezek. 16:8), and it recalls the imagery of Christ and his bride, the church, in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 19:7-9, Rev. 21:2, 9; Luke 13:34). It is under his wings that we are able to find rest and security (Ps. 91:4, Matt. 23:37).From the commentary on Ruth 4:1-6
Boaz is the only one who has the willingness and the ability to redeem Ruth. In this respect he represents the nature of grace ultimately fond in the Lord Jesus Christ who was under no obligation to redeem sinners, and could have left them all to their just condemnation, but willingly took on human flesh and paid the required redemption price: death on a cross (Rom. 6:23; Phil. 2:5-11).From the commentary on Jude 2
Since the gospel is true, this is how we are invited to begin every day: with the multiplication of "mercy, peace, and love." This is what is raining down on us every moment of the day by the grace of God. This is what is most deeply true of us.From the commentary on Jude 24-25
Were it not for God, we would be falling from grace every waking second. It is he who keeps us from stumbling; it is he who qualifies us as blameless. So Jude wants to ascribe to God all that he is due: glory (credit), majesty (beauty), dominion (jurisdiction), and authority (power). Thus, this closing doxology stands in stark contrast to the darkness Jude has spoken of throughout his letter. We see in the end the radiance of glory that stands in stark contrast to the depths of wickedness.... How great the light that casts the shadow! He has illumined our way, and has kept us from falling away, so he gets all the glory. This is indeed grounds for great joy, as we look to Christ.If you'd like to learn more:
- Product description from Crossway
- Link to PDF sampler of the Bible. This includes the first four chapters of Exodus, the book of Ruth, the first four chapters of Proverbs, the first two chapters of Luke, the first two chapters of Acts, the book of James. They were quite generous with their sample, in my opinion!!!
- Link to PDF Chart showing differences between ESV Study Bible and Gospel Transformation Bible
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible