Philippians: A Mentor Commentary Hardcover – January 20, 2015
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Matt Harmon explains Paul's letter clause by clause, traces Paul's argument, reads Paul's argument in light of the rest of the Bible, and applies the letter to people today.(Andy Naselli)
...deep-rooted, solid, and broadly accessible. This will now be my "go-to" book for teaching or preaching Philippians. I can't commend Matt Harmon's commentary on Philippians highly enough to pastors and students in all areas of church ministry and life.(Dan Phillips)
Matthew Harmon has given us a fresh and faithful reading of Philippians that will be a powerful help to all who preach and teach the Word.(James M. Hamilton Jr.)
... a model of good commentary writing...I commend his work to students, teachers, and preachers who seek better to understand this important letter of Paul.(Douglas Moo)
...insightful theological analysis, and practical pastoral application. Pastors and laypeople alike can benefit from this finely crafted work.(Justin Taylor)
Historically aware, exegetically astute, and theologically sensitive... A new go-to resource for pastors and students!(Lee Gatiss)
Matthew Harmon's commentary on Philippians is an outstanding work. We find careful exegesis and a clear explanation of the text. The commentary is theologically rich, in terms of both biblical and systematic theology, and so there is more than a running commentary. Harmon also applies the text to readers in practical ways. Scholars, students, pastors, and teachers will profit significantly from this work.(Thomas R. Schreiner)
This commentary is a study in clarity and balance. It is simple in expression, yet profound in insight. It is thorough in scope, yet selective enough not to overwhelm. It is informed by recent scholarship, yet avoids fruitless complexities. It draws on knowledge of ancient languages, yet makes its case in plain English. It is classic in its focus on God, Christ, and redemption, yet current in showing how a gospel from long ago is just as true and powerful today. In a word, this is a fine resource for serious students of Philippians in both church and college settings.(Robert W. Yarbrough)
- Hardcover : 512 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1781914281
- ISBN-13 : 978-1781914281
- Item Weight : 1.61 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.2 x 1.18 x 8.52 inches
- Publisher : Mentor; Revised edition (January 20, 2015)
- Language: : English
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The commentary begins with a thorough 46 page introduction, including authorship, historical and social situation, Paul’s circumstances, provenance, integrity, literary structure, purpose, identity of opponents, key theological themes, the use of the OT, and oddly, an excursus on the OT background to Phil 2:5-11 (why not include it in the commentary?). He takes traditional positions on authorship, provenance (Roman imprisonment), and unity of the letter. Though Harmon does not suggest anything unconventional in his introduction, it is thorough and well-reasoned. What’s more, it reflects recent scholarly interests such as the imperial cult, use of the OT, and the influence of Isaiah.
In the commentary proper, each unit of text begins with a basic outline, summary, verse by verse commentary, and suggestions for preaching/teaching. All technical details are placed in the footnotes, and the body text is uncluttered and readable. Commentary includes information on Greek words, social setting, theology, and flow of thought. I did not find my own views of the letter substantially challenged, but freshly invigorated. Particularly useful was Harmon’s literary structure of the letter; the best I’ve encountered so far.
Harmon has skilfully produced an approachable commentary with deep scholarly foundations. Somehow he manages to walk that tightrope and makes it look simple. Having taught through Philippians several times at a Bible college, I knew how useful Silva and especially Fee could be. However, I constantly found myself returning to Harmon because he managed to capture the most useful and pertinent information for my preaching.
Philippians is recommended for pastors and Bible teachers as well as interested laymen. Pastors who want sustained engagement with the Greek would want to supplement this with Fee (NICNT) or Silva (BECNT). This is not to say that Harmon is a slouch in this area; it’s just not the focus of the series. As he says, “my focus [is] on those serving in ministry” (p8). Harmon somehow juggles pastoral sensitivity, exegetical depth, scholarly foundations, practical sermon advice and brevity. If a teacher picked up only one commentary, as much as Fee remains my personal favourite, I would now recommend Harmon’s Philippians as providing a perfect balance for the teacher’s task.
Many thanks to Christian Focus for providing a review copy!
In his Introduction, Harmon covers topics like authorship, information on the city of Philippi and its citizens, Paul’s circumstances, and where he wrote the letter from. He summarizes key themes of the book such as the Day of Christ, Joy, Already/Not-Yet, the Use of the OT, Adam-Christ, the Isaianic Servant, and more. It’s a huge benefit having this summary in the beginning, especially when it’s as well written as it is here.
The rest of the commentary covers Philippians like an ordinary commentary would. Harmon goes through the text until he gets to the end. It basically laid out how you would expect. There are a few tables and charts. One helpful section for pastors is the “Suggestions for Preaching/Teaching and Application” at the end of each chapter. These sections aren’t very long (about a page or so), but any amount from Harmon is helpful.
But this isn’t the only place to find application. It’s scattered all throughout the commentary. When speaking about having always obeyed Paul in his presence and absence (2.12), Harmon says,
"But what is remarkable about Paul’s statement is that the Philippians’ obedience was even more diligent in his absence than in his presence. Human nature would suggest quite the opposite. Children are much more likely to obey their parents when in the same room than when their parents are out of sight. Drivers are far more likely to obey the speed limit when a police car is visible than when there is none in sight. But obedience when no authorities are visible is an excellent evidence of a heart that desires to truly submit to authority out of joy…. Their obedience… is evidence of the work of God’s Spirit transforming them into the image of Jesus Christ, the pre-eminently obedient one" (241).
In each chapter, Harmon gives the verse followed by the commentary on the verse. Instead of quoting words from the verse, Harmon puts them in bold print. This makes it easier to find when he’s speaking on the verse, and you’re eyes aren’t confused by seeing an array of quotation marks.
If you’d like to see some of Harmon’s thoughts on specific verses in Philippians (i.e., 1.17; 2.12; 3.1, 20), you can read about it here:[...]
Harmon follows the argument and is sensitive to the context of the letter, Paul, and the Bible. This is a perfect resource for students, laymen, teachers, Bible studies, pastors, and all in between. Harmon is solid and easy to read. Though I know they can't all be like this, I wish more commentaries were this enjoyable to read.
(Special thanks to Christian Focus for sending me this book for review! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book).
—Andy Naselli, assistant professor of New Testament and theology, Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis; elder, Bethlehem Baptist Church
Top reviews from other countries
I had looked at a couple of other commentaries, but Harmon's commentary found the level I was looking for - detailed (but very readable), clear understanding and verse by verse study of the text, whilst being practical and applicational as well. Particularly appreciated the 'Suggestions for preaching/teaching and application' at the end of each section which helped focus what the message of each section was all about.
Well worth looking at if you're preaching or leading studies on this letter!