Reader Appeal: Pastors, Bible teachers Genre: Commentary FBSN Rating: B+ It seems strange that asking a theologian to write a Bible commentary would be considered, well, strange. But in the “academic silo” world we live in, the fact is that theologians don’t typically write commentaries. Professors of biblical studies write commentaries, while theologians write, […]
Reader Appeal: Pastors, Small Group Leaders
Genre: Bible Commentary / Sermons
FBSN Rating: B+
When S. Lewis Johnson was a college man in the 1930s, he had little interest in God, let alone in preaching the Bible. All he cared about was golf. He competed in many amateur tournaments and entertained notions of going pro. Still, he was in college and so had to take a foreign language class—but the German courses offered interfered with his golfing tee time. He signed up for the one language class that would accommodate his golf ambitions: Classical Greek.
Well, Johnson became a Christian in the 1940s, went to seminary, became a pastor and a seminary professor himself. And, thanks to his golf game, he was fluent in Greek. He found he could read and study the New Testament in its original language. Using a Greek New Testament as his text, over the years Dr. Johnson taught verse by verse through the book of Romans some 40 times. He passed away in 2004.
Fast-forward to 2011. Dr. Mike Abendroth, a pastor and adjunct professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was riding his bicycle, listening to one of Dr. Johnson’s sermons on Romans 5. He was reminded that Dr. Johnson had published only one book in his lifetime. Abendroth decided to collect and edit S. Lewis Johnson’s work on Romans into a book. Thus was born the recently-published commentary/sermon collection, Discovering Romans.
All that to say…this is a pretty darn good exposition of the book of Romans. It reads like a series of sermons because, well, that’s what it is, but the verse-by-verse nature of each sermon lends itself to commentary purposes. Johnson and Abendroth bring to bear a wide variety of sources in expositing the Scripture, including Biblical history, Christian history, language studies, and more.
Discovering Romans lends itself best to thoughtful, sustained reading that starts at the beginning and progresses to the end. Still, if your prefer (or are just busy) the functional organization of the sermons means this book can also be used like a traditional commentary, skimming to the passage you are studying and gleaning insights from that section alone.
In all, I was pleasantly surprised by Discovering Romans. I’d never heard of S. Lewis Johnson before, let alone read the one book he published in his lifetime. After seeing this one, I’ll certainly be looking for more of Johnson’s work to come out of Dr. Abendroth’s study in the years to come.
Discovering Romans by S. Lewis Johnson Jr., adapted by Mike Abendroth
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