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One of the things I spend most of my time on is developing curriculum to go with NavPress' LifeChange Series. As a part of that work, I've spent a lot of time reading Matthew Henry's biblical commentary.

 

Even though a new edition of his work was published in 1997, his original work is over 300 years old. I fell in love with some of the old classical writings in my doctoral work. I especially enjoyed reading books on teaching that dated in the late 18000s and early 1900s. I loved being able to see the passion of those early teachers and how far we as teachers have come.

 

When I first started reading Henry's older work, I couldn't get past the funny English spelling (seemed like every other word had a "u" in it that had no purpose), the use of "thee" and "thou" and "thy" and the convoluted sentence structures. I mean, he used semi-colons and colons in ways that would never pass an editor these days. The editor is me kept getting hung up on those idiosyncrasies.

 

And then, I started reading the words for themselves, and making my way through those convoluted sentences, and found instead a passion in those words that began to resonate with me. I found myself nodding with affirmation of a uniquely-turned phrase that captured truth for me in a new way, even though the words were penned three centuries ago. Commentaries today are so academic, and so analytical, that there's little room for passion for Christ in the words. Not so with Matthew Henry. The reader can tell that Henry not only knew what he was talking about, he personally knew the One as well.

 

Many years ago, a youth worker wrote that the greatest sin youth teachers could commit was convincing teenagers that the Bible is boring through the way they teach. I can't help but believe she would have loved Matthew Henry's take on the Bible. 

 

Other commentaries give more depth and have the luxury of the work of textural critics and archaeologists to draw upon. But for fun, try Matthew Henry's. 

 

Margie Williamson

Community Manager

 

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Comment by Ann H. LeFevre on March 29, 2011 at 9:04am
I like reading both.  The archaeological background and some of the word studies in newer commentaries is like adding cream to your coffee instead of skim milk.  But "older" commentaries (only in the sense of when they were published) like Henry's or Barclay, have that personal touch that adds warmth to the applicational process.  I'm always emphasizing as I teach that the Bible was written and experienced by REAL people in REAL places in REAL space and time.  That's why it still speaks to us today.  Time may have progressed, but human nature remains the same.
Comment by Jeremy Hatch on March 20, 2011 at 3:21pm

AGREED!  Reading the Bible has been a passion for me since day one.  Reading it is what lead me to Salvation...

A guy I used to work with twenty plus years ago, suggested I read the Bible to find answers I had that many Christians could not answer for me. I was quite the humanist in those days, an avid reader in different areas of interest. History, spirituality, politics, fantasy, humanism, individualism and the like.


This friend, after suggesting I read the Bible for myself told me to start with the Book of John and after the first cursory read of that chapter he told me to read it again. Each time he wanted me to report what I found in my reading. The second time I found I had learned quite a bit, but I found no answers to many of my questions over the years about this God, Jesus Holy Ghost stuff.
Then my friend suggested I read this same book, only this time where there was a personal pronoun, I was to put my name in place of it.

It took a lot of thinking of how to place my name in the chapters, but when I finally got a grasp of what I was reading, WOW!!! What a REVELATION!!

John 3:16 For God so loved Jeremy that He gave His only-begotten Son, that if Jeremy believes in Him Jeremy will not perish but have everlasting life. 

John 3:17 For God did not send His Son to Jeremy to condemn Jeremy, but so that Jeremy might be saved through Him.

I gave my life up before I finished this book a third time.

Ever since, I cannot help myself when I read His Word, passionately is but a glimpse of what and how I read His message...



This Message He wrote to me personally.
This Message he wrote to you personally.
This Message He wrote to us, personally.

He was passionate when He wrote it... why not be like Him and read it with passion.


 

Comment by Lewis Gray on March 16, 2011 at 2:13pm
So true!  Many of us read the Bible just so we can say that we have had our devotion or quiet time - there is no purpose. But when we read it "passionately" we discover the "nuggets of gold" that God wants us to uncover. 
Comment by Margie Williamson on March 14, 2011 at 12:12pm

It took a little bit to get past the language, but it's good stuff.

 

Comment by Julie on March 14, 2011 at 12:11pm
i have this available on my Bible software and you've intrigued me to take another look.  thanks!

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