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The Message of Acts (Bible Speaks Today)
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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2009
John R. W. Stott, The Message of Acts: The Spirit, the Church & the World. Leicester, England, and Downers Grove, Illinois, 1994 (originally published in 1990, my edition is the 13th printing 2005), 428 pages (including Study Guide), ISBN 0-8308-1236-9.

I have been a great admirer of John Stott, and in particular of his books, for many years; I have even translated some of them into German. Stott's explanations and commentaries on Scripture are lucid, full of enlightening remarks and overflowing with quotes not only from other Bible books or from the latest theological expositions, but also from the great thinkers and churchmen of the patristic, reformation and, occasionally, Puritan and evangelical periods. On the whole, Stott's book on Acts lives up to this statement pretty well, and his treatment of Paul's missionary journeys and his enforced trip to Rome are masterly, with Stott cleverly combining a re-telling of Luke's text with other historical information normally not so easily available. All during the second half of the book I found myself more or less glued to its pages, always happy to read more than I had originally planned. However, I still want to reduce my evaluation to four stars instead of five because of one point which rather disturbed me. For all his attempts at fairness and balance, Stott here seems to me to miss the mark when it comes to Luke's treatment of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit among the first Christians. Stott is so determined to see everywhere his theory of a "single Christian initiation" that he gets himself caught up in obvious logical problems, as well as missing the exegetical point in a number of passages and glossing over facts which don't seem to suit him in others. It would take too long here to argue this through, so one example will have to suffice. Stott's insistence on a single Christian initiation (something that, in fact, probably no born-again Christian will deny) seems to include water-baptism. And yet (and Stott is an Anglican paedo-baptist!) it would be very unlikely and, today at any rate, unusual for someone to be converted and baptized all at the same time. So what is the problem with a baptism in the Holy Spirit which takes place at a slightly different time from conversion? I found myself disagreeing with Stott's conclusions at all the places where such a work of the Holy Spirit is mentioned in Acts. Stott tries to argue against Pentecostals and Charismatics, but he tends to erect a "man of straw", denying statements that surely only the most unguarded of (neo-)Pentecostals would make. Personally having studied these texts in detail, I must say that I find the broad Pentecostal-charismatic way of expounding these passages to be much more natural and intellectually satisfying than Stott's way of arguing around them (each new case of Spirit-infilling being explained away as the beginning of a new phase of church evangelism among new people-groups, something that doesn't really ring true in Acts 8, is theoretically possible in Acts 10, but which goes against the whole thrust of Luke's text in Acts 19). So, generally, I would say any Bible-loving Christian will gain a lot from this book but should examine the whole Holy Spirit issue with a more open mind than Stott was able to bring to this matter.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2000
John Stott provides masterful exposition and commentary on the Acts. The Acts is an important book to master for any serious Bible reader; Stott's book may be the best one available for the lay student. Easy to read, non-technical, full of practical and insightful commentary. See my review of Stott's Romans commentary also. Complete the Study Guide at the back of the book and you will come away with a deep practical knowledge of Acts.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
John Stott is a thought-provoking writer with dozens of helpful titles in print, from books about his travels [People My Teachers: around the world in 80 years], books about his life-long habit of bird-watching [The Birds Our Teachers] to the many helpful books about Christian teaching, guides to the Bible and commentaries on specific books of the Bible.
His exposition of Acts has been a great help to us in our bible study group, as we are ploughing through Acts. He gives you several interpretations of controversial issues, but also lets you know his own thoughts. If you want a conservative, evangelical treatment of Luke's book about the Early Church, you will appreciate this book.
The study guide is helpful, but bear in mind that it is intended to be a guide to Stott's book, not to Acts itself. As we were not studying Stott's book, but Acts, we adapted the questions to suit ourselves, and did not find this too difficult to do.
Highly recommended. I am also finding Howard Marshall's Tyndale Commentary useful, as I prepare the studies for our group.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2013
I have been preaching through Acts for several months. Throughout this time, Stott's commentary on Acts has been one the commentaries that I have consulted regularly. There is much to like here. Stott was both a New Testament scholar and a pastor. His books are a wonderful blend of the best insights from academia, combined with a pastor's sensibilities and the need to apply the text to life. The man was simply incapable of writing a boring sentence.

One of the great strengths of this commentary is its emphasis on world missions. Stott was one of the movers of the Lasaunne Congress on World Evangelization, and his passion for missions shines throughout the book. All of Stott's commentaries are worth consulting; this one is a "must have" for Acts.

I highly recommend this commentary. It cannot be the only one that a preacher uses--you also need to consult a couple of exegetical commentaries like Schnabel or Bock. But this one is highly suggestive for the preaching and teaching pastor.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 1999
I couldn't bring myself to study Acts because it seemed so long, dry and boring. Boy, how Stott brings Acts to life! What an adventure. What a treasure of great thought. Dynamic principles and deep truths. Stott deftly handles the difficult passages with grace and integrity. This book will change the way you think and live!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
John Stott's commentary on Acts is one of the better straightforward works available. It is great for the pastor, Bible teacher, or serious laymen. But it offers standard fare, yet in a concise, clear manner.

Stott does not present any new or ground-breaking information, but rather does a good job of interpreting the text and providing the reader with a basic, generally solid interpretation.

Stott recognizes God's Sovereign Grace (I agree with him here), but he does not embrace the literal fulfillment of God's plans for the physical descendents of Israel (I disagree with him here). He takes the view that Paul's participating in Jewish rituals and sacrifices (Acts 21) was strictly for relational issues (so he rejects the idea that Jewish believers continued to practice Judaism, another point with which I disagree). I don't want to go hard on Stott here, because few teach otherwise.

Overall, this is a solid volume worth getting and using.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2009
I purchased this commentary because it was highly recommended by two of my seminary professors. I have used it numerous times for devotion and lesson preparation. I have since purchased other commentaries on the book of Acts, but this one is still one of my favorites. I enthusiastically recommend it for devtional reading and sermon preparation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Even though John Stott doesn't consider this book and its companions as commentaries, they do the trick for laypersons. There are great explanations of scripture from a conservative theological point of view meaning the Bible is considered the inerrant word of God. He brings competing interpretations into the mix and then tells you his choice and why. Great for small group Bible study leaders for students studying on their own. Best if used with his Bible Study Guides. You can't go wrong with any of his studies or "commentaries."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2013
Looking ahead to teaching Acts to an adult Sunday School class, I purchased commentaries by the following three authors: I. Howard Marshall, F. F. Bruce, and John Stott. I would not trade, sell, or otherwise willingly get rid of any of these since all three are very helpful. If I could keep only one, it would be the one by Stott. I also have J. A. Alexander and G. Campbell Morgan and these, too, are helpful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2008
Stott does a good job of recognizing the larger themes in Acts. Many commentators focus too tightly on one or two verses and miss the larger context. Stott usually avoids this mistake. It is not too techincal, although it is not fluffy either. An overall good effort.
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