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Galatians (Reformed Expository Commentary) Hardcover – June 3, 2005
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"In an age when scholars write commentaries the size of encyclopedias so that exposition is often drowned in an ocean of background technical details, Dr. Ryken's Galatiansthe first volume in this seriesappears as a welcome sign of springtime and the first fruits of the harvest to come." --Sinclair B. Ferguson
"Phil Ryken is a living refutation of the argument that great expository preaching just can't be found today. He brings to his pulpit a rare combination of biblical insight, theological substance, and pastoral application. In Galatians, Ryken takes us right into the mind of the apostle Paul and into the heart of this great letter. A richly rewarding and faithful commentary." --R. Albert Mohler Jr.
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Here's what I love about it:
This commentary lays out a review of the passage he deals with in a logical and clear fashion that is easy to follow. He gives good bullet points that are easy to follow reviewing even some theological ramifications of the passage at hand. It's practical and deals with issues most readers will want to understand. He does not spend a lot of time on difficult to follow minutia. Yet at the same time he does give a lot of good perspective. For preachers, some of his phrases will preach well.
Some of his illustrations are fresh and innovative. For example, he illustrates the addition of the law/legalism over Christ's work on the cross (Galatians 5) by talking about a baseball that is autographed by Babe Ruth. The owner of the baseball, seeing Babe's signature is faded, decides to take out a marker and write B-A-B-E R-U-T-H on it...right over the original signature. The effect is to make the ball worthless. In the same way, trying to add our works via the law or on our own has that effect to Christ's work on the cross. It obliterates it. So we should trust in Christ's work on the cross, not our own or our efforts through the law of Moses.
Now there is one weakness in this book. I would expect a commentary that says 'Reformed' on the cover to present the reformed view. He does, however, what he fails to do is present CONVINCING arguments for rejecting Arminianism. For example, in Galatians 5, he says that since eternal security cannot be lost, therefore the passage which says 'you are severed from Christ' cannot deal with eternal security. The problem with that approach is that it only works with some Calvinists. Nobody I know wants to be told a certain view cannot be true because of a hotly debated theological vantage point must eliminate ones interpretation. Especially when that is one of the hallmark verses of the whole debate!!! When a Reformed scholar deals with one of the key Arminian texts, I really am a bit disappointed to read 'it must be the Calvinists way because of other passages in the bible...therefore we have to skate away from the text here and add some additional meaning to understand it' (my own paraphrase). Surely Calvinist scholars have better arguments for their position (they do!).
He goes on to say it must mean expelled from the church or community of believers. Even though the text bears nothing that warrants this extension, he claims it must be that way, essentially because Calvinism is the truth.
So for Arminians, this is an exceptionally unconvincing approach. For Calvinists, it may not bother them, unless they are trying to persuade their Arminian friends. In spite of this flaw (what book outside the bible is perfect?), Ryken has done a tremendous job in my opinion.
Overall, this commentary is superior to most of the others for lay leaders/bible teachers, pastors and perhaps undergraduate bible students.
My copy is all marked up and I'm sure if you buy one you will enjoy it. I will continue to use it and because of this commentary will look for other books by this author.
I heartily recommend it for all bible students.