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Luke: An Expositional Commentary by R C Sproul

Luke: An Expositional Commentary by R C Sproul
Book reveiw by John Watkins

When R.C. Sproul died in December 2017 he left behind a continuing ministry and an extensive body of writing. The Reformation Trust Publishing, part of Ligonier Ministries, continues to make his written work available to a new generation. As part of that legacy they are republishing his series of expositional commentaries. Six titles – Matthew, Mark, John, Romans and I & 2 Peter – became available towards the end of 2019. Now Luke has been added to the range, and was published in November 2020.

This is a large work running to 595 pages but the length should not put off the reader. The commentary is aimed at the ‘average’ person rather than the biblical scholar. It is easy to read and is broken up into 109 short sections. Each section is headed by the text to be covered (from the ESV) and as the passage is expounded the key Bible phrases being commented on appear in bold.

As the title suggests this is an expositional rather than a technical commentary. A knowledge of New Testament Greek is not needed as there is little reference to Greek words or phrases. Nor is there detailed discussion of the meaning or possible interpretations of passages. Dr. Sproul’s intent is to teach from the gospel and to teach the gospel. As each section is commented on and applied, as well as dealing with the passage, the writer draws on his extensive overview of Scripture to bring in other Bible passages from both Old and New Testaments. He is particularly keen on showing how the Epistles of Paul link to the gospel with thirty-two citations of ‘Paul on...’ in the index. There are also stories and anecdotes from Dr. Sproul’s own experience and extensive reading which engage the reader. In the first section ‘An Orderly Account Luke 1:1-4’ he describes his own visit to Rome and the Mamertine Prison where he saw the cell where the Apostle Paul underwent his final imprisonment before execution. He quotes 2 Timothy 4:11 ‘Only Luke is with me’.

While not a technical commentary he is not afraid to tackle head on various heresies and theological controversies, ancient and modern. The Monophysite heresy (P.69), Nestorianism (P.70) and others pop up where appropriate. The relationship between Jesus’ divine and human nature comes up in several places.

As to theology, R.C. Sproul holds firmly to Reformed doctrine as the true understanding of Scripture and this commentary teaches this. In the section on Zechariah and the angel (Luke 1:13-25) he has a sub section on Zechariah’s unbelief, contrasting God’s dealings with Abraham and his unbelief with the punishment of Zechariah. Here he deals with justification by faith and the doctrine of limited atonement. It is also worth noting that denominationally R.C. Sproul was a Presbyterian and held to a paedo-baptist position which comes through in his exposition of Jesus being presented in the temple. Circumcision is equated with the baptism of the children of believers ‘... we think it’s important, not just optional, that the children of believers receive the sign of the new covenant, which is the sign of the promise of salvation to all who believe...’ Not all readers will agree with him at this point.

Dr. Joel Beeke in his recommendation says, ‘I predict that Sproul’s pulpit ministry in written form will do for Christians in the twenty-first century what Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermonic commentaries did for us last century’. With its sermon-like structure this commentary will be particularly useful to preachers looking for help preparing sermons. Narrative passages can be tricky to expound and apply to a congregation so the preacher, teacher or small group leader will find this volume useful. The division into short sections means it is easy to find the comments on a particular passage without having to read long sections. In addition, there is an extensive index of names, biblical and non-biblical, going from Abel to Zwingli.

While not cheap at £33.99 this volume and the others in the series would make a good addition to the library of any Bible student and pastor faithfully guiding in the understanding and expounding of the text. A fitting legacy of Dr. R.C. Sproul.

Other books in the series include:

Matthew

Mark

John

Acts

Romans

1 & 2 Peter

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