Acts

The Acts of the ApostlesBRIEF OVERVIEW:

This is a substantial (1.25″ thick), mid-sized, well produced paperback of ~600 pages in 18 chapters, each of which follow the author’s outline of Acts. The author, Dr. Waters, is a professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS. His stated goal is to provide, with clarity and brevity, the thoughtful reader with a solid, clear exegesis of the text in the service of exposition / expositors to aid in sound, believing growth in understanding, truth, and love.

His underlying principles of interpretation are taken from such scholarly theological giants as G. Vos, H. Ridderbos, and R. Gaffin Jr. He attempts to avoid the two extremes of viewing Acts as “the church in the good old days” or as having nothing to say to us today, the false choice between “an application-less redemptive-historical reading, and an application-oriented reading that sees little meaningful difference between the apostolic and post-apostolic church.”

Each section has an overall introduction / summary, followed by Scripture with an exposition, then an application section. It is easily readable and highly accessible for all levels of believers and church officers. On the downside, it lacks indexes of Scriptures, bibliographies, or other important helps.

 

INTERACTION & REFLECTION:

Waters takes a reverent, careful, believing approach to introductory matters and exegesis of the text, building on quality scholarship of the last 50 years (which in turn builds on their predecessors). He helpfully clarifies that “Acts of the Apostles” is not an inspired title and that the main actor is not just any person but the ascended, exalted, and reigning God-man, Jesus of Nazareth Who has sent the Holy Spirit in power to infallibly, inexorably establish and build His Church. Perhaps a better, but much longer, title would be “Foundational Acts of the Risen and Exalted Christ Via the Promised Holy Spirit: Establishing His Church Through the Spirit Empowered Labors of the Apostles”.

Also helpful was the idea that Acts is a continuation of Luke in a different literary genre, intended to show the continuation of the ministry of the risen Christ via the Holy Spirit through the apostles as a non-repeatable foundation of ministry and revelatory truth upon which He is building the church throughout all following centuries prior to His return in glory and judgment as King. As with the ministry of Christ, the signs (miracles) are confirmatory of the church planting activities and teachings of the apostles, particularly in the acts of Peter and Paul. Throughout the book there are numerous other helpful insights into the meaning of the text as well as generally sound theological implications arising faithfully from the text.

 

CONCLUSION:

Among strengths of this commentary are its clear, careful exposition of the text along with its natural theological implications. Each Scripture section has three parts: an introductory summary, commentary with exegesis and explanation, and application.

Some weaknesses are a lack of indexes, bibliography, and other helps. Also, those looking for extensive textual analysis or deep engagement with the most influential of believing and unbelieving scholars should look elsewhere, perhaps Peterson in the Pillar series or others.

I found this book to be very well written, engaging, easy to read, insightful, and quite helpful for its chosen purpose. It should be quite useful and is well recommended (4.8 stars) for its audience: expositors and lay people seeking for a clear, uncluttered, easy to read commentary on Acts. At $43, the price may be a bit high. But years of study, teaching, and research have gone into the making of this book, its content is very solid but not plodding, and it is a substantial work. This book was provided gratis by the publisher and Cross-Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest, balanced, fair review.

 

EXCERPTS &/OR RESOURCES:

See also Dr. Waters book How Jesus Runs the Church, which I also recommend.

“As is so often the case in redemptive, history, God’s redemptive word authoritatively interprets his redemptive deeds.”

“Pentecost is the public proof of the Messianic enthronement of the risen Jesus.” p. 85

“The exercise of faith is evidence of the prior saving call of God to the elect, a call that transpires in conjunction with the outward call of the gospel to all people.” p. 90.

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