Earlier this year my church did a series on the book of Acts. Here is what I think are the best commentaries on ActsAjith Fernando Acts (The NIV Application Commentary) – I have found the NIV Application commentary series fairly hit and miss. But this commentary is a massive hit! The exegesis is fresh and lively and the application is a brilliant and deep. A very stimulating commentary. This is a must buy!Darrell Bock Acts (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) – I was expecting a lot from this commentary because I loved Bock’s Luke commentary. Well this commentary doesn’t disappoint! Chock full of great textual insights and exegesis and yet extremely clear. If you buy one technical commentary on Acts this should be it!David Peterson The Acts of the Apostles (Pillar New Testament Commentary) – Peterson’s commentary is not as technical as Bock’s but it does give you a bit more insight into the narrative of Acts. This commentary comes from a distinctly Calvinist perspective which as a Calvinist I found helpfulJohn Stott The Message of Acts (Bible Speaks Today) – I have a rule: if Stott has written a commentary on book of the Bible buy it! His commentaries are always simple and clear without being simplistic and dull. This commentary is no different! Some parts of this commentary were breathtakingly brilliant. Another must buy!FF Bruce The Book of the Acts (New International Commentary on the New Testament) – This commentary is a bit dated now but still has great insights. It is a commentary which was the industry standard on the book if Acts for a while. Not as technical as Bock or Peterson but still a very soild commentary.I.H Marshall Acts (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries)– the Tyndale commentary series is designed for laymen but still is a very good series despite being brief. Marshall’s commentary is probably the best one that I have read from the series. It is a bit more detailed than the other commentaries in the series. This commentary is written from a Arminian perspectiveActs is well serviced by commentaries these days. The above mentioned ones will profit you greatly but the picks of the bunch are the volumes by Bock, Fernando and Stott.What are your favourite commentaries on Acts?You may also like:
We kicked off Resolved in 2009 with a sermon on Colossians 1:15-20 and then we preached through the whole book of Luke in almost a year and a half. Yes, you read that right, a year and a half. But in fact it worked. I never had a sermon prep day where I thought “Oh no Luke again!” and nor did I ever hear one complaint about us going through the book of Luke at such a slow clip. But since 2009 we have preached through Galatians, Exodus, Job and Ecclesiastes as well as doing topical series’ on, suffering, defeater beliefs and sex. One of the things I have noticed is that it is very easy for a series to get dry very quickly this is especially so if you are preaching a book like Galatians or Ecclesiastes which seems to be making the same point week after week.
Add to this dilemma I have two convictions about my preaching:
- I want all my sermons to be expository in nature
- I want to preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27)
There has been much written on the first point but what does it mean to preach the whole counsel of God? Especially when you have different models, you have the Driscoll/Piper/Macarthur method which seems to take books and preach on every verse over a long period and then there are other guys who preach books in a far more rapid pace tackling entire chapters where other brother may just preach on a few verses. Which method is right?
I think I have come to realise that preaching the whole counsel of God is not expositing every verse in the pulpit but preaching the word of God in such a way that it is faithful to the text, the canon of scripture and the Gospel. This does mean I am going to work hard at exegeting the text but this will also mean that I free myself up to preach bigger chunks and to tackle books of the Bible at a faster clip then if I thought I had to exposit every verse. I am thankful to brothers who can preach slowly through books of the Bible I think I have come to realise that is not me. But I am still going to be an expository preacher who preaches the whole counsel of God!
What do you think “preaching the whole counsel of god” means and what does it look like for you to do it?
In the book of Acts baptism is an initiatory rite closely associated with conversion to Christianity.
The following examples make it clear that believing, repenting and being baptised go together in the book of Acts.
Acts 2:38 Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:12-13 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
Acts 10:43-48 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
I could put Acts 8:35-39, 16:31-34, 18:8, 19:4-5 into the mix because they all show a strong connection between faith and Baptism but you can look them up in your own time. These passages all show a very strong connection between faith and baptism. It is like Acts is saying that if you want to be baptised you have to be a believer. Isn’t this evidence enough to say that only believers baptism is a legitimate baptism?
No I hear many of you say because of Acts 10 where Cornelius’s whole household is baptised (10:46). The argument here and in the baptisms of other households (i.e. Lydia in Acts 16 and Crispus in Acts 18) is that they baptised the whole household therefore the person who baptised them would have baptised any infants in the household. Two things could be said about this point. Firstly, Luke is frustrating in the scant amount of detail he clothes these narratives with. Cornelius might have been a young man with a young family or an old man with no children at home. He and his wife could have been barren, we just do not know. So in response to the scant detail we must not press the text into saying something it is not. We are left saying that he baptised the whole household and we do not know who comprised that household. Therefore, to use this text as a proof text for infant baptism is pressing the text further than it can be pressed. Secondly, we need to see that the people who were baptised in 10:48 are described as hearing the word (10:44) and speaking in tongues (10:48) these are signs of belief in the books of Acts. Therefore, it is exegetically safe to say that Cornelius’s household was baptised because they believed not because the early church baptised infants. Therefore even though Acts 10 is used by proponents of infant baptism it is actually a text, when exegeted closely, that comes out in favour of believers baptism.
In conclusion, the book of Acts links baptism with belief and repentance. Therefore those who must be baptised must be able to have faith in the lordship and saving work of Jesus.
I get asked all the time “Why aren’t you an Anglican?” The questions could be posed as “Why aren’t you insert denomination of your choice here?” Because Resolved is an independent church. But the reason I get asked why I am not an Anglican is because I grew up in an Anglican church, I have been a member of five Anglican churches and I went to an Anglican theological college. So it is a good and right question to ask.
But before I get to the reasons why I am not an Anglican I want to say I am so thankful for my heritage. I am thankful I went to the churches I went to as I learnt a lot from each one of them. I am thankful that I went to Moore College. I wouldn’t change the experiences I have had in Anglicanism for the world. They have shaped me in a profound ways.
But that being said, like a good sermon, I have three points as to why I am not an Anglican.
- Evangelical Anglicans are compromised because of their affiliations
- Infant Baptism
- Church government
Evangelical Anglicans are compromised because of their affiliations
Yes it is a very provocative statement. But if we have a look around the Anglican communion you have people that are flat out denying crucial aspects of Christianity. The Resurrection is denied, penal substitution is attacked, people argue against the reliability of the scriptures. These people aren’t on the outer wings of Anglicanism they are the leaders of various branches of the church. Now the main argument for staying an Anglican is that that evangelical Anglicans are changing Anglicanism from the inside. But is this true? In 1966 Martin Lloyd Jones at the National Assembly of Evangelicals organised by the Evangelical Alliance issued a call for evangelicals to come out from within denominations that had both Liberal and Evangelical congregations. John Sotto used his position as the chairman to publicly rebuke Lloyd Jones and say Anglicans were staying in effect to make a concerted effort to turn the ship of Anglicanism around. But has this happened? Is the Anglican ship turning around? Have we made any progress in the last 40 years? I think the answer is no, therefore, I think we need to be very careful at being in the same communion with people who are obviously not Christians. I do not want to be in communion with people who are arguing against the gospel therefore I am not going to be Anglican.
I came into college believing in baptising children. But I studied the scriptures and other arguments and I have not found a convincing biblical or theological argument for infant baptism. If I was an Anglican I would have baptise infants which I think is unbiblical therefore I not going to be Anglican.
When I look at the Bible I think church government is clear. There are elders who are pastors of the church and who lovingly lead the church (Acts 20:17,28-31, 1 Timothy 3, Titus 2 etc. ). There is not just one elder but a clear plurality of elders. So when I see Anglicans with a parish council/ warden/ Priest system of church government I see this as denying what I the plain teaching of the Bible and therefore I am not going to be an Anglican.
These are the three main reasons I am not an Anglican I hope you can see that they are biblical/theological in nature. But I want to say very strongly that I consider Anglicans who are evangelicals as brothers in Christ who do preach the gospel ad for that I am very thankful. I will also work with my Anglican brothers and sisters in the gospel because we have unity in the gospel.
What do you think? Are my reasons legit?