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The Geeky Calvinist
4 Stars Out Of 5
A Good Expositional Commentary on Mark
January 26, 2017
The Geeky Calvinist
Mark: He Taught Them As One Who Had Authority, written by R.C. Sproul and published by Reformation Trust Publishing, is part of the St. Andrews Expositional Commentary Series. This is the fifth volume in the series, all brilliantly written by Dr. Sproul. There are many different kinds of commentaries written in different ways and to a variety of different contexts, some are written with the laymen in mind, some with the Bible Student, some with the Pastor. This commentary seeks to bridge the audience gap between Pastor and laymen.
Unlike many commentaries Mark is not highly technical; it is an adaptation of a series of sermons Dr. Sproul taught to his congregation. Yet despite not addressing highly technical issues, Mark does address issues in the text if they would be applicable to a pastor preaching to a congregation, or to anyone reading through the Gospel of Mark. For example, in the treatment of Mark 16:9-18, Dr. Sproul, who holds to a long ending of Mark, magnificently addresses this textual issue without getting into a long discussion on its usage and reliability while keeping the reader transfixed on the inerrancy and infallibility of scripture. He concludes his three paragraph treatment of this potential issue by writing In any case, the doctrines that are found in this passage are consistent with what is taught throughout the New Testament. Thus, we can read and study it with confidence and profit. Dr. Sproul is highly skilled at taking scholarly issues and making them assessable to anyone. This is what Mark is so easily readable.
Since the audience that Mark is intended for is laymen as well as the Pastor; it can be used for devotional reading and as a aid to pastors looking for practical application on the text. This dual approach makes Mark one of only a handful of expositional commentaries, which are unabashedly reformed in theology yet have extremely insightful application without getting bogged down in technical discussions of exegesis about the Greek text.
If one was looking for a weakness of this commentary is in its breadth, if you are a Bible student looking for a resource to write a treatment of the text they will want to use another resource. Also if you are a pastor looking for a resource to preach from the Gospel of Mark this treatment of said Gospel will need to be paired with a commentary which deals with a few more of the technical details of the text. But if you are a Sunday school teacher, small group leader, etc., or intended to use this commentary for personal devotions, Mark is the prefect resource for your needs.
With all of that said Mark by R.C. Sproul is a wonderful commentary on the Gospel of Mark if one wants to use this commentary as it was meant to be used, which is a wonderful expositional treatment of the text intended to give the reader understanding and insight into Gospel while teaching them how to live a life for Christ that they have been called to.
This book was provided to me free of charge from Reformation Trust Publishing in exchange for an unbiased, honest review.
Dr. R.C. Sproul's Commentary on Mark is a 430 Page devotional style commentary that seeks to expound each section of the Gospel of Mark. The commentary doesn't go through and discuss each verse individually but rather comments on chunks or sections of the text.
Dr. Sproul has a style of teaching and preaching that at times can be scholarly and technical and at other times easy to understand and accessible for the layman. His commentary on Mark: Saint Andrews Expositional Commentary is not a technical commentary bogged down with lots of theological jargon, text critical notes, or discussions of theological debates but instead is written in a clear and easy to understand style with lots of illustrations that anyone can read and understand.
The style of the commentary is due to the fact that it's based on his sermons that he preached at St. Andrew's.
"What you hold in your hand, then, is a written record of my preaching
labors amid my beloved Sanford congregation. The dear saints who sit
under my preaching encouraged me to give my sermons a broader hearing.
To that end, the chapters that follow were adapted from a sermon series I
preached at St. Andrew's."(Taken from the series Preface)
Dr. Sproul is a Reformed theologian and so some of his interpretations and conclusions are focused in that direction so you may find times in the commentary where you disagree with his theology as I did but on the whole this is a great devotional commentary that has wonderful insights.
If you are the type of person who enjoys reading technical commentaries only this one isn't for you. I should also mention that just because it's easy and not overly technical to read doesn't mean Dr. Sproul makes wild assertions or that this is simply a commentary full of fluff and no substance. Quite the opposite is true.
I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a simple devotional commentary on the Gospel of Mark.
Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from Reformed Trust Publishing's book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's CFR Title 16, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."