Devotions on the Greek New Testament: 52 Reflections to Inspire & Instruct. Edited by J. Scott Duvall and Verlyn D. Verbrugge. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012. 154 pp. Paper, $16.99.
Thirty-one different authors present fifty-two different devotions based on the Greek text of the NT. The articles are arranged in canonical order. There are ten articles based on passages in the Synoptic Gospels, five from John’s Gospel, three from Acts, twenty-four from Paul’s epistles, two from Hebrews, one from James, two from Peter’s epistles, one from 1 John, one from Jude, and three from Revelation.
The exegesis in this book is remarkably free from doctrinal dogmatism. Rarely did I find the author of a devotion basing his interpretation on what his tradition tells us must be true. Instead, authors cite evidence from the text itself for their views.
Seven of the articles stood out to me as especially helpful.
The article on Luke 2:4-5 concerns Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem for the census. The author, Verbrugge (who is also the co-editor), points out that not only was the woman not required to go, “engaged people in the ancient world were never seen together without their parents” (p. 33). One of the two options he considered is that Joseph took Mary with him because she was pregnant and he knew that Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem (p. 34). Verbrugge prefers a second option. He believes that Joseph took her with him, although she was pregnant, because she “was no longer welcome to live with her parents” (p. 34). Either way, he sees the point that God ensured that Joseph took Mary so that the Messiah would indeed be born in Bethlehem.
Deppe discusses John 1:50-51 and the difference between you, singular, and you, plural (pp. 43-45). He also comments on John 3:7 in this regard.
There is a good discussion of Rom 5:1 (pp. 61-63), 1 Cor 3:17 (pp. 67-69), and 1 Tim 6:17-19 (pp. 109-111).
I found the exegesis of 2 Cor 5:16-17 (pp. 75-76) by Linda Belleview and of 2 Tim 3:16 (pp. 114-16) by C. Marvin Pate to be outstanding.
What I liked about Belleview’s article is that even though I disagreed with her translation of 2 Cor 5:17, she was clear that the context in v 16 must not be neglected in our consideration of v 17. Rather than seeing the issue in v 17 being some test of whether someone is truly born again or not, she explains that “a better way of looking at things ‘has come’ (gegonen)…Someone in Christ is now to be assessed in a completely new light. New creation in Christ is the ultimate leveler…” (p. 76).
Pate suggests that Paul had in mind the importance of teaching all of God’s Word and not merely some of it: “This spiritual principle will deliver us both from obsessing over one biblical author or over one biblical topic (such as eschatology or divine election), and will enable us to cover systematically every major portion of the Bible, even in an expository fashion. In so doing we will build up God’s people in holiness and in maturity” (p. 116).
I found no clear Free Grace statements. Nor did I find any clear Lordship Salvation statements. The editors evidently desired to make this a work that anyone of a conservative theological bent could use.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who has had at least one year of Greek, including Bible college and seminary students, pastors, missionaries, and parachurch workers. The book shows the practical value of knowing Koine Greek and it should serve to motivate readers to keep up (or improve) their proficiency in Greek since it can indeed be very helpful in exegesis and in teaching and preaching.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society