Friday, September 18, 2020

75. The Ultimate Commentary on Romans

Romans. The Ultimate Commentary on Romans. By Albert Barnes, John Calvin, Adam Clarke, Matthew Henry, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and John Wesley. 2016. 4164 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: This Epistle is placed first among Paul‘s epistles, not because it was the first written, but because of the length and importance of the Epistle itself, as well as the importance of the church in the imperial city. 

I have spent the last four months reading and studying the book of Romans for the Growing for Life Bible Reading project/group. The project started in June and concludes in September. I still have a few more days--about ten--before the project wraps up. I hope to read through the epistle a few more times. But. I have finished this one!!!

What you see is exactly what you get. SEVEN commentaries in one e-book. Every single verse of all sixteen chapters is covered. Though perhaps readers should know not covered seven times. A few of the commentaries skip around a bit and don't cover every verse of every chapter. But at least three or four of the seven do cover EVERYTHING and in great detail.

When I bought the commentary I was most familiar with Charles Spurgeon and Matthew Henry. And to a certain extent John Calvin. (I've read an abridged Institutes; and the first volume of an unabridged Institutes. But this was my first time reading a commentary by Calvin.) 

So this is how I read the book, the facebook group (Growing 4 Life) would have one chapter of Romans to focus on each week. I would read the commentary for that chapter that week from these seven authors. (Again, some authors did not have commentary for all sixteen chapters of Romans. One author, I can't remember who offhand, skipped Romans 9-11, for example!) So over the course of the week, I'd read many commentaries on that one chapter. 

Because I didn't read this book in a traditional sense--all of Barnes, all of Clarke, all of Calvin, all of Henry, etc. I may not have a true sense of which is my most favorite and best commentator. I know who I like least--Wesley. Perhaps because he was placed last. Perhaps because by that point I'd already read anything/everything that I would/could possibly need to be enlightened. Perhaps because he's Arminian. Perhaps because he really didn't have much to say about any verse or chapter. His commentary is definitely the shortest! By the time I got to Wesley it was more so what??? 

Of the seven, Charles Spurgeon and Alexander MacLaren had more of a sermon feel. I think their "commentaries" were more gathered resources of expository sermons. They were excellent--most of the time I truly insightful and worth my time. But more devotional and application. 

A few of the commentaries were definitely more scholarly and were packed with Greek words and interpretations. I'm thinking Clarke and Barnes. I think. Again I didn't read the book traditionally, so it's hard for me to recall with preciseness the uniqueness of each author.

But is it worth your time???? YES. 

  • Either your sins must die, or you must. If they are suffered to live, you will die. If they are put to death, you will be saved. No man can be saved in his sins. ~ Albert Barnes
  • The Christian has joys which the world does not know; but he has also sorrows; he sighs over his corruption; he is in the midst of calamity; he is going to the grave; and he looks forward to that complete deliverance, and to that elevated state, when, in the presence of an assembled universe, he shall be acknowledged as a child of God. This elevated privilege gives to Christianity its high value; and the hope of being acknowledged in the presence of the universe as the child of God - the hope of the poorest and the humblest believer - is of infinitely mere value than the prospect of the most princely inheritance, or of the brightest crown that a monarch ever wore. Our trials are so great that nothing but the prospect of future deliverance would uphold us; and the prospect is sufficient to enable us to bear them with patience. ~ Albert Barnes
  • the whole gospel is included in Christ, so that if any removes one step from Christ, he withdraws himself from the gospel. For since he is the living and express image of the Father, it is no wonder, that he alone is set before us as one to whom our whole faith is to be directed and in whom it is to center. ~ John Calvin
  • Perseverance is not founded on our power and diligence, but on Christ; though at the same time by saying, that we stand, he indicates that the gospel ought to strike deep roots into the hearts of the godly, so that being strengthened by its truth, they may stand firm against all the devices of Satan and of the flesh. And by the word stand, he means, that faith is not a changeable persuasion, only for one day; but that it is immutable, and that it sinks deep into the heart, so that it endures through life. ~ John Calvin
  • if we seek God sincerely, let us follow the way by which alone we can come to him. For it is better, as [Augustine ] says, even to go limping in the right way than to run with all our might out of the way. ~ John Calvin
  • It belongs not indeed to us to imagine a God according to what we may fancy; we ought to possess a right knowledge of him, such as is set forth in his word. And when any one forms an idea of God as good, according to his own understanding, it is not a sure nor a solid faith which he has, but an uncertain and evanescent imagination; it is therefore necessary to have the word, that we may have a right knowledge of God. No other word has he mentioned here but that which is preached, because it is the ordinary mode which the Lord has appointed for conveying his word. ~ John Calvin
  • The unutterable groan is big with meaning, and God understands it, because it contains the language of his own Spirit. Some desires are too mighty to be expressed; there is no language expressive enough to give them proper form and distinct vocal sound: such desires show that they came from God; ~ Adam Clarke
  • Have no hypocritical love; let not your love wear a mask; make no empty professions. Love God and your neighbor; and, by obedience to the one and acts of benevolence to the other, show that your love is sincere. ~ Adam Clarke
  • Hate sin as you would hate that hell to which it leads.  ~ Adam Clarke
  • Be Cemented or Glued to that which is good; so the word literally signifies. Have an unalterable attachment to whatever leads to God, and contributes to the welfare of your fellow creatures. ~ Adam Clarke
  • A life devoted to God is a new life before, self was the chief and highest end, but now God. To live indeed is to live to God, with our eyes ever towards him, making him the centre of all our actions. ~ Matthew Henry
  • While we are in this world, hoping and waiting for what we see not, we must be praying. Hope supposes desire, and that desire offered up to God is prayer we groan. ~ Matthew Henry
  • It is our love to God that makes every providence sweet, and therefore profitable. ~ Matthew Henry
  • It is Christ living in the soul by faith that makes the body a living sacrifice, ~ Matthew Henry
  • God is a merciful God, therefore let us present our bodies to him he will be sure to use them kindly, and knows how to consider the frames of them, for he is of infinite compassion. We receive from him every day the fruits of his mercy, particularly mercy to our bodies: he made them, he maintains them, he bought them, he has put a great dignity upon them. ~ Matthew Henry
  • The eternal happiness we chose for our portion is now nearer to us than it was when we became Christians. Let us mind our way and mend our pace, for we are now nearer our journey's end than we were when we had our first love. The nearer we are to our centre the quicker should our motion be. Is there but a step between us and heaven, and shall we be so very slow and dull in our Christian course, and move so heavily? ~ Matthew Henry
  • Either God is my centre, and that is holiness; or self is my centre, in more or less subtle forms, and that is sin. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • My yielding of myself to Him can only be the echo of His giving of Himself to me. He must be the first to love. You cannot argue a man into loving God, any more than you can hammer a rosebud open. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • There is no faith which does not lead to surrender. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • To preach our doubts, to preach our own opinions, to preach poor platitudes, to talk about politics and morals and taste and literature and the like in the pulpit, is profanation and blasphemy. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • A gospel which says much of Christ, but little of His Cross, or which dilates on the beauty of His life, but stammers when it begins to speak of the sacrifice in His death, is not Paul’s Gospel, and it will have little power to deal with the universal sickness of sin. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • God does not love men because of what they are, therefore He does not cease to love them because of what they are. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • You cannot lean half upon Christ and half upon yourselves. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • There is but one Being who can make a change in our position in regard to God, and there is but one Being who can make the change by which man shall become a ‘new creature.’ The Creative Spirit that shaped the earth must shape its new being in my soul; and the Father against whose law I have offended, whose love I have slighted, from whom I have turned away, must effect the alteration that I can never effect-the alteration in my position to His judgments and justice, and to the whole sweep of His government. No new birth without Christ; no escape from the old standing-place, of being ‘enemies to God by wicked works,’ by anything that we can do: no hope of the inheritance unless the Lord and the Man, the ‘second Adam from heaven,’ have come! He has come, and He has ‘dwelt with us,’ and He has worn this life of ours, and He has walked in the midst of this world, and He knows all about our human condition, and He has effected an actual change in the possible aspect of the divine justice and government to us; and He has carried in the golden urn of His humanity a new spirit and a new life which He has set down in the midst of the race; and the urn was broken on the cross of Calvary, and the water flowed out, and whithersoever that water comes there is life, and whithersoever it comes not there is death! ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • Ceremonies are nothing, notions are nothing, beliefs are nothing, formal participation in worship is nothing. Christ is everything to him that trusts Him. Christ is nothing but a judge and a condemnation to him who trusts Him not. And here is the turning-point, Am I resting upon that Lord for my salvation? If so, you can begin upon that step, the low one on which you can put your foot, the humble act of faith, and with the foot there, can climb up. If faith, then new birth; if new birth, then sonship; if sonship, then an heir of God, and a joint-heir with Christ.’ But if you have not got your foot upon the lowest round of the ladder, you will never come within sight of the blessed face of Him who stands at the top of it, and who looks down to you at this moment, saying to you, ‘My child, wilt thou not cry unto Me “Abba, Father?”‘ ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • We are told that the Biblical view of human nature is too dark. Well, the important question is not whether it is dark, but whether it is true. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • If you and I really believed what we say we believe, that Jesus Christ has died for us, and lives for us, and is ready to pour out upon us the gift of His Divine Spirit, and wills that we should be like Him, and holds out to us the great and wonderful hopes and prospects of an absolutely eternal life of supreme and serene blessedness at His right hand, should we be, could we be, the sort of people that most of us are? ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • Truth professed has no transforming power; truth received and fed upon can revolutionise a man’s whole character. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • Blessed be God! the Christian view of sorrow, while it leaves much unexplained, focuses a steady light on these two points; its origin and its end. ‘He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness,’ is enough to calm all agitation, and to make the faintest heart take fresh courage. The slings and arrows which strike are no more flung blindly by an ‘outrageous fortune,’ but each bears an inscription, like the fabled bolts, which tells what hand drew the bow, and they come with His love. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • We cannot say that sorrow produces hope. It does not, unless we have this connecting link-the experience in sorrow of a God-given courage which falters not in the onward course, nor shrinks from any duty. But if, in the very press and agony, I am able, by God’s grace, to endure nor cease to toil, I have, in myself, a living proof of His power, which entitles me to look forward with the sure confidence that, through all the uproar of the storm, He will bring me to my harbour of rest where there is peace. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • Yesterday’s faith will not bring joy to-day; you cannot live upon past experience, nor feed your souls with the memory of former exercises of Christian faith. It must be like the manna, gathered fresh every day, else it will rot and smell foul. A present faith, and a present faith only, produces a present joy and peace. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • What a God we trust in — a God who quickeneth the dead. We have no faith unless we believe in such a God as this. We shall need such a God in order to bring us safely to his right hand at last. ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • The more trial you have the more spiritual education you receive. You cannot learn the virtue of patience without tribulation, any more than a man can learn to be a sailor if he stops on shore: ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • As you submitted yourselves to sin most cheerfully and voluntarily, and yet were slaves under it, so now come, and be slaves under Christ with most blessed cheerfulness and delight: endeavor now to lose your very wills in his will, for no man’s slavery is so complete as his who even yields his will. Now, yield everything to Christ. You shall never be so free as when you do that, never so blessedly delivered from all bondage as when you absolutely and completely yield yourselves up to the power and supremacy of your Lord. ~ Charles Spurgeon

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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