Reader Appeal: Pastors, Teachers, Small Group Leaders
Genre: Bible Commentary
FBSN Rating: B
Christ-Centered Exposition – Matthew is somewhat unique as a Bible commentary in a few specific ways.
First, it’s designed with sermon preparation in mind, working on the assumption that pastors will be the primary readers of this book. That’s very helpful for pastoral staff, but not so much for parents, students, discussion group leaders, and others. Still, the intent toward accessibility and real-life application is evident, and that’s to be applauded.
Second, Christ-Centered Exposition – Matthew is not a verse-by-verse commentary, but a section-by-section (or thought-by-thought) exposition of the first gospel in our New Testament. This, by its nature, avoids some of the minutiae you might find in other commentaries—but also forces the author, David Platt, to occasionally exposit Scripture in broad strokes when finer details might be more appropriate.
Still, there’s plenty to admire about this volume in the Christ-Centered Exposition series.
For starters, the thoughtful, disciplined organization of the book is immediately helpful to anyone preparing to preach a series within the book of Matthew. Following the Scripture chronologically as Matthew originally presented it, Platt offers a coherent progression through the life and teachings of Christ, making clear what might otherwise be confusing in continuity of thought. Platt also prefaces each commentary segment with nugget-style summaries to help set the stage for the reader. Each segment begins with a one-sentence “Main Idea” to work from, and includes a short outline of theological and factual information to be highlighted in that section.
The commentary passages themselves are written in first-person, with attempts by the author to connect conversationally with the pastors reading the book. This is a pleasant choice, but also makes moments of straight commentary come off as sometimes stilted. Regardless, the textual insight is typically solid and practical, “ready to preach” as they might say.
The real weakness of Christ-Centered Exposition – Matthew is one that should be its strength. Each commentary section ends with a set of “Reflect and Discuss” questions that I assume are for small group studies. That’s a great idea for a commentary. Unfortunately, for all his skill as an expositor, Mr. Platt is not strong as a discussion leader. His questions tend to be closed-ended and intellectual (i.e. “How did Jesus fulfill Isaiah 7:14?” “List five attributes of Jesus Christ in Matthew 17”) rather than open-ended and practical. Those kinds of questions become obstacles to discussion instead of facilitators of the same. So that was disappointing. But, again, pastors needn’t worry about that kind of thing when preparing a sermon.
Although not ideal for all Bible Study Nerds, if you’re a pastor, you’ll find much to appreciate in Christ-Centered Exposition – Matthew.
Christ-Centered Exposition – Matthew by David Platt
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