Colossians and Philemon. By R. Kent Hughes. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1989. 185 pp. Cloth, $10.95.
This volume is the first of a new series entitled “Preaching the Word.” Crossway Books has commissioned Dr. R. Kent Hughes, the Senior Pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, to author this entire series, which when completed at the anticipated rate of one or two books per year will cover all of the twenty-seven NT books. If this first commentary is any indication of those to come, evangelical pastors and Bible teachers will welcome the entire series. As this work is expressly designed to aid those who will preach through Colossians, the first chapter is preceded by “A Word to Those Who Preach the Word.” Here Dr. Hughes encourages preachers to actively allow the truths of Colossians that they will proclaim to their congregations to touch and change their own lives as well.
This work is not a technical exegetical treatment of Colossians but rather a warm expositional commentary. The chapters are sermonic in tone, with each one covering a preaching portion of the biblical text. In his exposition of the Epistle the author includes a remarkable collection of extremely helpful quotations and illustrations. This illustrative material includes references to a wide range of individuals from Billy Graham and Howard Hendricks to Lee Harvey Oswald and George Bernard Shaw!
Theologically the commentary runs both hot and cold. On the “hot” side, Hughes does a nice job in treating the meaning of “firstborn” in Col 1:15–18. On the “cold” side, the author directly espouses a Lordship Salvation approach to the Gospel (p. 60), while strangely seeming to contradict himself theologically when he discusses faith (p. 16) and faithlessness in some Christians (p. 59). Because of his lack of clarity on grace and the Gospel, the author’s book must be used with cautious discernment. However, despite this glaring weakness the book is one which this reviewer would not want to be without the next time he teaches through Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians, because it offers outstanding illustrative material and practical insights.
The treatment of Philemon is extremely superficial and appears to be almost an afterthought. Only six short pages are devoted to dealing with this Epistle.
The body of the commentary is followed by endnotes in which the author gives credit to his sources and occasionally includes some technical asides. Here Dr. Hughes demonstrates his acquaintance with the standard literature on Colossians and Philemon. Also the book includes a Scripture Index and a General Index, which further enhance the usefulness of the book to expositors.
Tanglewood Bible Fellowship