Romans

C. Marvin Pate

Romans
Romans

Book Details

Book Information

To craft informed sermons, pastors scour commentaries that often deal more with minutia than the main point. Or they turn to devotional commentaries, which may contain exegetical weaknesses. The Teach the Text Commentary Series bridges this gap by utilizing the best of biblical scholarship and providing the information a pastor needs to communicate the text effectively. By keeping the discussion of each carefully selected preaching unit to six pages of focused commentary, the volumes in this series allow pastors to quickly grasp the big idea and key themes of each passage of Scripture. The text and its meaning are made clear, and sections dedicated to effectively teaching and illustrating the text help pastors prepare to preach. Full-color illustrations, maps, and photos are included throughout each volume to illustrate the world and events described in the Bible.

The first two volumes of this series edited by Mark L. Strauss and John H. Walton are Romans and 1 & 2 Samuel.

Pages: 368
Publisher: Baker Books
Published: 2013
ISBN-10: 0801092213
ISBN-13: 9780801092213

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4 out of 5 based on 2 user ratings
S. J. April 29, 2019 3 5
To begin, as soon as I heard about the Teach the Text series, I fell in love. This was exactly what I, as a then Bible college student, now Children’s pastor, has always dreamed of. Some volumes, like those written by Joe Sprinkle and Edward M. Curtis, have proven to exceed all I could have expected. However, as with any commentary series, there are some weaker volumes. For Teach the Teach, C. Marvin Pate’s installment is perhaps the weakest I’ve read yet. The biblical letter to the Romans is one of incredible depth, beauty, and passion. Thankfully, the author not only confirms Paul authorship, he also, in passing, defends the traditional view of Paul’s writing all thirteen on the NT letters attributed to him. As with the rest of the series, the pictures, overall design, and clear layout make for a pleasant sight in the hands and on the shelf. It has a modern feel, and the information is clearly written and displayed. The sidebar discussions never fail to offer additional depth and clarity, and the visuals (graphs, pictures, charts, and paintings) help bring to life the truths that mere text may struggle to convey as effectively. However, all is not quite as utopian once you get past the shiny gloss and colorful pictures. Pate’s “Big Ideas” are, rather than the intended “concise, “ (see series introduction) often lengthy and unnecessarily complex affairs. One notable example is over 56 words long, and some others reach nearly that length. While a few capture the text better than others, even when they do, the focus of his illustrations and other musings doesn’t seem to emphasize the focus of the accompanying “Big Ideas,” leading one to wonder how to emphasize the very basic idea of the text, and why smaller, less significant, or side-issues would be so emphasized to the neglect of the Big Idea. Another major problem comes deeper in the commentary. While in the introduction he states: “Paul and Romans: an unbeatable combination that delivers the knockout punch to any works-oriented righteousness before God…” He later says that “…salvation is first a matter of believing in the heart and then making that profession public through baptism.” (Pages 206; Romans 10:6-21) Again, in his section on 14:13-23 (page 274) he says “…The weak in faith may suffer loss of salvation at the judgement seat if they persist in disobeying their faith, even if their faith is mature.” Which would, then, make their works the determiner of being able to keep their salvation. While I am neither a Calvinist, nor an Arminian, (I’m a Molinist) I do believe in Eternal Security, and to see a commentator contradict himself in his own book is a bit unsettling, as is his seemingly requiring baptism for salvation, when the only mention of “baptism” in the book of Romans is several chapter earlier. (6:4) He then, (Page 195; Romans 9:6-29) playfully ends his discussion of Arminianism and Calvinism by (in not so many words) claiming that both are true, and hand-waves the paradox away by claiming the “ancient Hebrews seemed content to accept such antinomies.” However, he offered no such proof for this baffling statement. Like any “application” type commentary, some illustrations hit, and others…well, don’t. His, however, are often wonderful illustrations of a random truth; one rarely closely tied to his own “Big Idea.” An interview with another author in the series revealed that around half of the illustrations in the other book were from the editor, not the author, it seems that such may be the problem here. Few are connected well, even among the good ones. In his section on 2:17-24, he uses the analogy of loving a marriage license more than the spouse as a way to show that the Jews love for the Bible was outstripping their love for God. However, the Jewish love for the Bible (really, the Torah) was not their problem. God wants his people to love his law. The problem was that they boasted in keeping it, and thought that, by having it, they had a special privilege that would exempt them from God’s judging hand. He splits Romans 5:1-4 and 5:5-11 into different “units” yet the big ideas are the same. The first of the pair has this as the Big Idea “Romans 5:1-11 presents three new-covenant blessings: peace, hope, and love (love will be covered in the next section).” While this may seem to be nothing more than an odd anomaly, it severely affects the illustration sections. Of the second “unit’s” illustrations, 3 of the 4 center around explaining the Trinity, and none go toward showing just how big God’s love was to reach out to his “enemies.” (V.10) Overall, if you can pick it up on discount, it’s worth completing the set, and there’s certainly some good material to be found. However, you cannot hold it to the high standard set by others in the series, and if you have a limited budget, I’d recommend passing by it. It’s a decent book, but nothing more. Quality and focus is sporadic, illustrations are often random, and thoughts seem disconnected. If you have the time and money, it’s a pretty addition to the shelf, but you’d better look elsewhere for your newest favorite book on Romans. Notable Quotables: Theological Insights on Romans 16: "Two simple truths are striking concerning Romans 16:21-23. First, the Gospel was cross-cultural. It encompassed Jew and Gentile, Roman and Greek, barbarian and civilized. [...] Second, the Gospel was countercultural. It unified slaves and free, rich and poor, male and female, powerful and weak."
Abram K-J January 16, 2014 5 5
Claims to be "an essential commentary for pastors." It delivers. [Full Review]

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