Application commentary

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Blair Laird | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Dec 17 2011 7:00 AM

I am currently in the book of Galations, and was looking for a good application commentary. I read one review on amazon about the Niv application commentary, that made me shy away from the set. Any ideas, what helps you guys with your applications?

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Sacrifice | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 17 2011 7:13 AM

As far as Galatians I use these (favorites):

However, none of them are what I would call being 'application' commentaries like McKnights.

Yours In Christ

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John Fidel | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 17 2011 8:29 AM

The screenshot below shows my Homiletical Commentaries for Gal 1.1. They are more application oriented. Of these I think Wiersbe's Bible Exposition or the Life Application might meet your needs best. Preaching the Word series is really good in this area, but does not have a volume on Galatians yet.


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DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 17 2011 8:34 AM

I recommend Holman NT Commentary, Bob Utley's "Commentary" on Galatians, Charles Simeon on Galatians, Pulpit, Lange's and Wiersbe's outlines and Bible Exposition Commentary.  I wish I had more application commentaries, but the ones I just mentioned can get your wheels turning and usually you may end up coming up with your own better application.  That's the way I do it, try to think of my own after I've read some of the ones others have written.  Plus, you have to consider the needs of your particular audience.  What do you know about them? Is there something that could apply to some of them? Is there a word of encouragement that could come out of the text for them? etc. Applications seem easy at times, but it's kind of hard to come up with some and keep it relevant.  Anyway, I hope this helps!



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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 17 2011 8:37 AM

Blair Laird:

I am currently in the book of Galations, and was looking for a good application commentary. I read one review on amazon about the Niv application commentary, that made me shy away from the set. Any ideas, what helps you guys with your applications?

I don't know what the reviewers on Amazon said, nor what their credentials are, but I find the NIVAC to be often quite helpful. Like any set, there are a few that aren't as good as others. Other commentaries I have tagged as application commentaries are Matthew Henry, Wiersbe's "Be" series, the "Opening Up" series, The People's NT and The Teacher's Bible Commentary (those are all subjective choices as application commentaries, of course).

In addition homiletical commentaries often have significant application portions to their treatment of passages, you just have to look for it a bit.

The NIVAC typically divides its chapters into 3 sections: Original Meaning (examining the text in its original context); Bridging Context (looking for intersections between the text and the modern world) and Contemporary Significance(this is the actual 'application' part of the application commentary). Below, for your evaluation, is the "Contemporary Signifcance" section of the chapter on 1:1-9 of Galatians.

HAVING BRIEFLY STUDIED the text in its ancient context and also having mentioned some of the steps taken when a reader moves the ancient text to our modern world, we need now to arouse the reader’s attention by highlighting some potential applications. Sometimes the material presented in this section might be useful for those who are involved in teaching or preaching the gospel, but our design is to make each application useful for the life of all Christians.
First, our response to Paul’s letter is an indication of our attitude toward Christ. Jesus said: “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me” (Matt. 10:40). If it is true that an apostle is a personal agent of Jesus Christ, and if it is true that an agent is a personal representative, then it follows that Paul’s message is a message from Jesus Christ. Acknowledging this implies that every Christian must accept apostolic letters as authoritative, for their message is a message from Jesus Christ. Of course, this works out in various ways. For instance, we may be inclined to add to the gospel ourselves; encountering Galatians will challenge us to drop any such additions. We may be charmed by radical pluralism today with its attractive suggestion that all will eventually be saved. But if we accept the earliest definitions of an apostle, then we must also accept the message of Paul that states that additions to the gospel bring the wrath, not the acceptance, of God.
Submission to the apostolic message because it is a message from Christ is why believers today are concerned with studying the Bible and anchoring their views in the Bible. Whether we read about “Home Bible Studies” in South America, Europe, Romania, or the United States, we are reading about a central affirmation necessary for the Christian: submission to the Bible. A quick glance at almost every published picture of Billy Graham’s preaching shows Billy holding the Bible and preaching from the Bible. Church architecture confirms the authority that the Bible plays in the church: in most churches there is a podium (lectern, etc.) in the front, either in the middle or to the side, and this placement of the pulpit symbolizes the front place the Bible has for the church’s ministry.
Yet another example of this may be taken from the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who, as part of the Confessing Church, was the sole teacher of an underground seminary (in Finkenwalde). Students here were taught the authority of the Word of God and the fundamental importance of meditating and praying over it. It has even been said that Bonhoeffer did not permit his students to critique other sermons because the proclaimed Word was to be heard and heeded, not evaluated and debated. John Stott says it well:

  This, then, is our dilemma. Are we to accept Paul’s account of the origin of his message, supported as it is by solid historical evidence? Or shall we prefer our own theory, although supported by no historical evidence? If Paul was right in asserting that his gospel was not man’s but God’s (cf. Rom. 1:1), then to reject Paul is to reject God.

However, we must also urge that such a submission involves interpretation of the text. While some may say that this is the slippery escape from full submission to the text, I am persuaded that all readings of a text are interpretations and that it is the Christian’s responsibility to interpret a text as accurately as possible. Our stance is submission to whatever the text says, regardless of what that means for our thinking and lifestyle. We are using a slippery escape when we distort the interpretation so that it fits our predispositions; we are not finding a slippery escape when we accept the text as it stands, regardless of its implications for life. Every honest interpreter can give countless examples of finding himself or herself to be simply wrong and in need of God’s grace as a result of reading the Bible with the purpose of hearing God’s word.
Second, a crucial note is sounded by Paul in verse 1: “sent not from men nor by man.” An application from this verse is both simple and penetrating. Put simply, we need to guard our ideas and scope our practices to see if they are constructed in order to please people or if they have been constructed by people. We need to be constantly reforming our theology and our practices by checking each against the revelation of God in Christ and in his written Word. Paul knew that the Galatian heresy of legalism was constructed by a group bent on gaining the approval of others. He also knew that the notion of perfecting Jesus by adding Moses was not from God; rather, it was a human-oriented and human-based system of religion. How we track our interpretation of God’s Word is both difficult and simple: it is difficult because of the complexity of Christian systems today and simple because ultimately we need only to check our ideas and our practices against the biblical revelation and, I believe, against the historically significant creeds and confessions of the church that have withstood the tests of time. Ultimately, however, the final check of all things is the Word of God.
In my own lifetime I have experienced pressure from different groups that I now realize was almost certainly a reflection of a human-oriented message. I have gone through the period when the only permissible translation was the KJV. I once had a youth pastor tell me that while I could read the NASB at home, I was never to bring it to church. I now believe this was social pressure from higher authorities who did not want to see their cherished translation give way to newer (and better) translations. I have heard preachers rant and rave about going to movies, social dancing, television, nuclear warfare, and the like. I am also certain that, while the motivations were usually a desire to be consistently Christian, there was much more social and peer pressure than any of these leaders would ever admit. I have seen the same from other leaders who refuse to associate with Christians of a differing political stripe. On the one side we have those who believe in more government involvement in the moral and economic issues that face us, and on the other those who believe in less government involvement. I have seen Christians on both sides who severely curtail their involvement with those on the other side less they lose face in their own crowd. This, sadly, is too often motivated by a “fear of people” and not a “fear of God.”
Another area for consideration is that our unity as Christians transforms our approach to one another. We can perhaps learn a lesson from Paul’s greetings. While the world around Paul greeted one another with “graces” and “peaces,” Paul greets the churches of Galatia with the grace and peace that come from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Our connection with other Christians transcends our social relationships; our connection owes its origins to God’s gracious work for us in Christ and his workings of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it would be better if Christians of all persuasions learned to greet one another with: “May the peace and grace of the Lord be with you.” This may be uncomfortable for some outside of a liturgical context, but it may also be much more effective and a source of spiritual dynamic in our lives.
Like the situation facing the Galatians, the age of grace can become an age of rescue, but it can also become “a present evil age” if we distort the gospel. According to Paul, God’s grace in the cross of Christ has rescued us from this present evil age. As we will see in chapters 5 and 6, this rescue brings forgiveness, love, and the freedom that come from the Spirit. This is the typical Christian life. However, I argued above that this present evil age in Galatians describes a life under the law after Christ has come to deliver us from that law. And what Paul says is that if we distort the gospel in minimizing the centrality of Christ or the Spirit, we slip back into an age when Christ is not the rescuer and where the Spirit is not the one who brings us a life of freedom and love. Paul urges us to watch our gospel lest it be transformed into a “different gospel” that prevents acceptance with God.
Let us be careful to understand that tampering with the gospel is not Christian experimentation with new ideas. The gospel is a sacred trust that remains, like Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Society and culture change; applications change; Christian lifestyle and even specific doctrinal formulations change; but the gospel of Jesus Christ does not change. We are given every freedom to explore the vast domains of life and reality that are still unknown frontiers to us. We are given every freedom to explore the implications of the gospel for our world today. But we are never given any freedom to alter the original gospel of the grace of God in Christ.
The outcome of perverting the gospel is God’s wrath, and this truth we need to keep in front of us as we discern our message and the message of others. This is perhaps the most distasteful dimension of the gospel as revealed throughout the pages of the New Testament. Our society is inherently pluralistic and finds its ability to cope with the massive diversity of our world by appealing to pluralism. In the United States, the constitution makes freedom of religion a cardinal virtue. But Christians, while they may believe that freedom of religion is a necessary law for a diverse society to live in peace, cannot at the same time infer that all religions are true just because tolerance is needed in a diverse society. Here our current Christianity has gone astray; here we have succumbed to the forces of our age. While we may defend the rights of others to worship in the manner they choose, we do not at the same time minimize the truth of the gospel by suggesting that these other faiths are also the truth. What Paul teaches—and here again we touch upon his apostolic authority—is that distortions of the gospel, whether they are protected by constitutional rights or not, are contrary to God’s will and subject to God’s final displeasure.
Examples in our culture abound. The following example is, of course, extreme, but its extremity forces the issue upon us. As a college student I was involved in the Billy Graham Crusade in Brussels (Belgium); along with a large number of other American students I had spent the early part of the summer assisting different Greater Europe Mission missionaries. Our routine was a morning worship time—led by such notables as John Stott, Festo Kivengere, and Luis Palau, followed by small group Bible study. In our small group were two young women who were part of what they called “The Children of God.” I had never heard of such a group, but one of the missionaries in Austria pointed out to me that they were a “borderline cult group.” Both appeared to us to be sincere in their attempts to follow the Lord, and both seemed to know the Bible quite well; their prayers were rather typical, and nothing about them gave away that they had more than a few strange ideas. While I did not know much about them at the time, I have since learned much more. Tucker says the Children of God “is a graphic illustration of how a religious movement can move from orthodoxy to aberrant beliefs and practices—beliefs and practices that sometimes defy the imagination.”15 David “Moses” Berg, the founder of this movement, began his evangelistic ministries in Huntington Beach, California, attempting to reach the Hippie generation; but, as is often the case with cultic leaders, he moved more and more on his own until he virtually formed a cult group around himself. Berg himself degenerated into a polygamist and occultist and was eventually chased from the United States; he settled in England in 1972 (and it was in 1975 that we were in Brussels for Eurofest 75). To make a long, and tragic, story short, Berg eventually combined religious prostitution with evangelism in what is called “flirty fishing” and moved on to Tenerife (an island off Africa), changing the name of his group to the Family of Love. While the movement still exists (under various names), Berg’s attraction has declined significantly.
Here is a classic example of a heresy, even to the point of being ludicrous in its final, essential orientation, but a heresy that started as little more than an evangelistic ministry that sought to reach out to a modern generation with methods that would speak to that very generation. Those young women who were part of our Bible study group may or may not have been involved in Berg’s perversity, but they were nonetheless lured into his tent of operations and became part of a tragic cult. Distortions of the gospel, no matter how slight at first, can eventually degenerate into an obnoxious perversion of the gospel.
But how do we talk about such perversions? Do we use the same kind of harsh rhetoric that Paul used? Again, our culture is different from Paul’s. What was seen as an acceptable form of disagreement then may not be seen as acceptable today. In reading ancient literature I have seen this difference. The ancient world simply loved inflammatory language for expressing its differences. I can document a great deal of such language in their literature, but I have not been able to document any who thought such language was personally biased and out of line. The ancients delighted in overstatement, and overstatements were effectively countered with similar overstatements. Today, however, we have become, if anything, over-sensitized to offending special interest groups. So today we have editors who, admirably, reread our texts to see if they will offend racial, religious, and gender-sensitive groups. Ours is not the ancient world. For this reason alone I believe we need to state our decisions more carefully and in a less inflammatory manner than Paul did in Galatians 1.
From Galatians, then, I believe we can learn some things about how to speak about the severe consequences of distorting the gospel. Paul speaks about the damnation of the heretics by clarifying that they were disagreeing not so much with him as with the gospel (v. 8). In other words, Paul made it clear that he was as subject to that gospel as they were and that he was in as much danger as they were if he distorted it. In our own warnings about heresies we should perhaps make it third person (“this is the case for this expression …”) rather than second person (“you will be damned if you distort the gospel”). Furthermore, Paul makes it quite clear what was wrong; he did not simply erupt into a dogmatic tirade against some people. The letter of Galatians is a carefully laid-out argument, both against the distortion of the Judaizers and for the expression of the gospel of grace. What we need today is less tirade, less emotional outburst, and much more carefully constructed arguments that vindicate the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Finally, Paul’s entire letter focuses on the freedom and love that come from the Spirit. If in our preaching, teaching, and apologetics we fail to express ourselves in such a way that obscures the glorious freedom of the gospel or in a manner that hides God’s love for these people, then we fail from the outset to convey what the gospel itself is. Yes, we must be willing to confront; but we need to confront in such a way that is consistent with the gospel itself. Clearly and compassionately the Christian advocates the gospel of Christ, and in doing so in that manner the gospel of Christ is seen.

Scot McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary: Galatians (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 54-60.

 Help links: WIKI;  Logos 6 FAQ. (Phil. 2:14, NIV)

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Steve Robinson | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 17 2011 10:53 AM

Blair Laird:
Any ideas, what helps you guys with your applications?

When I want assistance in exploring the application of a passage/section of Scripture, I find the following most beneficial (in order):

- The Life Application Commentary
- The Holman NT Commentary
- The John Courson Application Commentary
- The NIV Application Commentary

The Life Application Commentary and the Courson Commentary excel at exploring the application of individual verses while the Holman and NIV Application Commentaries approach application from a chapter and/or section of Scripture that is connected from the writer's thought/intended message perspective.

I would highly recommend that you start with acquiring all three Courson commentaries (2 OT / 1 NT) in the "Jon Courson Essential Bible Study Library" which can be found on the Logos site (and elsewhere since it is marketed in the fully compatable eBible format) at a fraction of the cost of downloading the three commentaries separately. In addition to thought-provoking verse-by-verse comments, Courson also provides a large number of "articles" throughout the commentary that elaborate on a specific verse that both engages and encourages the reader.

Steve R.

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John Graves | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 17 2011 11:17 AM

The Best commentary for application I have found is the Reformed Expository Commentary

Phil Ryken is one of my favorites, I wish Logos could get this set.

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True North | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 17 2011 12:29 PM

John, I agree. Great series of commentaries and Reformed too! Good suggestion.

You should go to the Suggestion forum and suggest Logos to look into these if they haven't already been suggested.

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