The Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary: Volume 2: New Testament. Edited by Kenneth L. Barker and John Kohlenberger III. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994. 1243 pp. Cloth, $32.99.
This one-volume commentary on the NT is an abridgment of the 5 volumes of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary which cover the NT. As its title indicates, it is based on the New International Version of the Bible.
This work is significantly larger than Dallas Seminary’s Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT edition, containing about 250 more pages.
A slight disappointment is that, unlike the unabridged 5-volume version, the text of Scripture is not printed in the commentary. While this saves a lot of space, it makes using the commentary more difficult.
With authors such as Donald Carson (Matthew), James Boice (Galatians), and Homer Kent, Jr. (Philippians), it should be no surprise that much of the exposition has a Lordship Salvation slant. Consider, for example, these sample remarks:
“The determinative factor regarding who enters the kingdom is obedience to the Father’s will (v. 19; cf. 12:50).”
(p. 37, under Matt 7:21-23)
“Paul adds a solemn warning, saying that those who habitually practice such things will never inherit God’s kingdom. This does not mean that if Christians fall into an isolated lapse into sin through getting drunk or some such thing, they thereby lose their salvation. Rather, Paul is referring to a habitual continuation in sins of the sinful nature, and his point is that those who continually practice such sins give evidence of having never received God’s Spirit. When he says that he warned the Galatians of this previously (presumably when he was among them), he reveals that his preaching was never what one might call mere evangelism but that it always contained a strong dose of the standard of morality expected from Christians.”
(p. 740, under Gal 5:21)
“Regeneration initiates believers into a life with obligations, one of which is to obey Jesus our Lord. Hence, working out salvation does not mean ‘working for’ salvation, but making salvation operational. Justification must be followed by sanctification, by which the new life in Christ is consciously appropriated and demonstrated.”
(p. 799, under Phil 2:12)
“Faith that saves requires faith that proves itself in the deeds it produces… Faith that does not issue in regenerate actions is superficial and spurious.”
(p. 1027, under James 2:14)
“A person enrolled in the book of life by faith remains in it by faithfulness and can be erased only by disloyalty.”
(p. 1149, under Rev 3:5)
I don’t mean to imply that the exposition is solely from a Lordship Salvation perspective. Consider, for example, these comments:
“Appearance before Christ’s tribunal is the privilege of Christians. His judgment is concerned with the assessment of works and, indirectly, of character, not with the determination of one’s eternal destiny. Judgment on the basis of works is not opposed to justification on the basis of faith. Delivered from ‘observing the law’ (Rom 3:28), Christians are presently committed to ‘work produced by faith’ (1 Thess 1:3). Not all verdicts on the Judgment Day, however, will be comforting (see comment on 1 Cor 3:15).”
(p. 677, under 2 Cor 5:9-10)
“Since future salvation has been so fully provided by Christ’s finished work, it cannot be cancelled by lack of readiness. Moral preparedness or unpreparedness does not affect the issue one way or the other; believers are secure in their salvation.”
(p. 867, under 1 Thess 5:10)
“The future for Christians who diligently pursue holiness is very bright. They will ‘receive a rich welcome.’ They will not barely make it into the kingdom or ‘be saved…only as one escaping through the flames’ (1 Cor 3:15); but each one will receive the Lord’s ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’ (Matt 25:21).”
(p. 1066, under 2 Pet 1:11)
Overall I would rate this commentary as a helpful addition to the library of the discerning reader looking for a one-volume NT commentary.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society