Matthew: Expository Thoughts on the Gospels. By J. C. Ryle. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1993. 296 pp. Paper, $12.99.
This commentary, originally published in 1860, is part of the Crossway Classic Commentaries. It was republished, as is noted above, in 1993.
Anglican bishop J. C. Ryle (1816–1900) wrote this book at a popular level, so it is easy to follow. At times, however, it is difficult to find his description of a given verse, since he sometimes discusses a fairly large number of verses together under one heading without noting verse references in the subsections. Unfortunately, a worse problem is the book’s Lordship Salvation message.
Notice part of his treatment of Matt 7:21–23:
“It requires far more than most people seem to think necessary to save a soul. We may be baptized in the name of Christ, and boast confidently of our ecclesiastical privileges; we may possess head knowledge, and be quite satisfied with our own state; we may even be preachers, and teachers of others, and ‘perform many miracles’ in connection with our church, but all this time are we practically doing the will of our Father in heaven? Do we truly repent, truly believe in Christ, and live holy and humble lives? If not, in spite of all our privileges and profession of faith, we shall miss heaven at last, and be forever cast away. We shall hear those awful words, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (verse 23).”
On some occasions Ryle’s exposition seems very grace oriented, only to shift to a Lordship Salvation emphasis. This is particularly evident in his interpretation of the rich young ruler passage (Matt 19:16–30). He begins by showing that the young man lacked a recognition of his sinfulness and lostness (pp. 171–72), but then concludes by suggesting that he remained unsaved because he was unwilling to give up his money (p. 173).
For further clear examples of his Lordship Salvation orientation, see his exposition of Matt 7:13–14 (pp. 51–52) and 16:24–27 (pp. 145–47).
While this commentary is well written and easy to follow, I cannot recommend it since it promotes Lordship Salvation.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society