Review: Acts (EP Study Commentary)

Waters, Guy Prentiss. “Acts: EP Study Commentary,” Evangelical Press, Watchmead, UK: 2014. 614 pp. $44.99

Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews, I’ve had the opportunity to review another book. This time around, to my delight, it is a commentary. I own a few commentaries on Acts, so I was curious to see what this one might offer. The EPSC is a solid series that boasts a handful of renowned scholars and theologians, and it seems that it just keeps getting better. Guy Prentiss Waters’ volume on Acts is a welcome addition.

                                                                               The author dedicates this book to Richard Gaffin (author of “Perspectives on Pentecost”) and relies heavily on commentators such as F.F. Bruce and John Stott, which are good indicators as to where he is coming from. Waters is a confessional Presbyterian (a teaching elder in the PCA) and Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, which are appealing credentials.

The commentary begins with a useful outline and introduction that includes information about the author, date, title, genre, and purpose. Waters breaks the commentary up into 18 chapters, focusing on “a geographical progression—Jerusalem; Judea and Samaria; the end of the earth,” including a supporting role of Jewish and Gentile missions as documented by the respective ministries of the apostles Peter and Paul (pp. 22–23). This is helpful for the reader because it orients the narrative in salvation history—which is crucial for proper interpretation of the book of Acts.

One of things I appreciate the most about this commentary is the “Application”  at the end of each chapter. Waters uses these sections to drive home the practical aspect of the narrative. This is where we catch a glimpse of the authors’ pastoral heart. Though it is clear he has done the heavy exegetical work for the reader, he doesn’t bog the audience down with the intricacies of his scholarship. What we do see is the fruit of a masterful expositor rightly dividing the word of truth.

I would happily recommend this commentary to anyone who has the task of teaching the word of God, or even the lay person who just wants to dig deeper. A commentary on Acts written from a confessionally Reformed perspective is a great benefit to the Church, and Guy Waters’ volume in the EPSC holds a respectful position in the ever-increasing archive of biblical commentaries.

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Effective December 1, 2009, Federal Trade Commission guidelines state that bloggers receiving any kind of compensation should disclose that information clearly on their blog when posting a review of the product… that being said: I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK.

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“Afflictions are light when compared with what we really deserve. They are light when compared with the sufferings of the Lord Jesus. But perhaps their real lightness is best seen by comparing them with the weight of glory which is awaiting us.” (A.W. Pink)

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Westminster Wednesday

THE WESTMINSTER LARGER CATECHISM

What Man Ought to Believe Concerning God…

Question 7:

Q. What is God?

A. God is a Spirit (John 4:24), in and of himself infinite in being (Ex. 3:14; Job 11:7–9), glory (Acts 7:2), blessedness (1 Tim. 6:15), and perfection (Matt. 5:48); all-sufficient (Gen. 17:1), eternal (Ps. 90:2), unchangeable (Mal. 3:6), incomprehensible (1 Kings 8:27), every where present (Ps. 139:1–13), almighty (Rev. 4:8), knowing all things (Heb. 4:13; Ps. 147:5), most wise (Rom. 16:27), most holy (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 15:4), most just (Deut. 34:2), most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth (Ex. 34:6).

 

QUESTION 6

 

THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH

Chapter I: Of the Holy Scripture

VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

 

ARTICLE 6

 

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Westminster Wednesday

THE WESTMINSTER LARGER CATECHISM

What Man Ought to Believe Concerning God…

Question 6:

Q. What do the Scriptures make known of God?

A. The Scriptures make known what God is (Heb. 11:6), the persons in the Godhead (1 John 5:17), His decrees (Acts 15:14–15, 18), and the execution of His decrees (Acts 4:27–28).

 

Question 5

 

THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH

Chapter I: Of the Holy Scripture

VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

 

ARTICLE 5

 

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God’s Zeal for His Own Glory

GOD’S ZEAL FOR HIS OWN GLORY

God chose his people for His glory (Eph. 1:4–6, 12, 14)

God created us for His glory (Isa. 43:6–7)

God called Israel for His glory (Isa. 49:3; Jer. 13:11)

God rescued Israel from Egypt for His glory (Ps. 106:7–8)

God raised Pharaoh up to show His power and glorify His name (Rom. 9:17)

God defeated Pharaoh at the Red Sea to show His glory (Ex. 14:4, 17, 18)

God spared Israel in the wilderness for the glory of His name (Ezek. 20:14)

God gave Israel victory in Canaan for the glory of His name (2 Sam. 7:23)

God did not cast away His people for the glory of His name (1 Sam. 12:20, 22)

God saved Jerusalem from attack for the glory of His name (2 Kings 19:34; 20:6)

God restored Israel from exile for the glory of His name (Ezek. 36:22–23, 32)

Jesus sought the glory of His Father in all He did (John 7:18)

Jesus told us to do good works so that God gets glory (Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:12)

Jesus warned that not seeking God’s glory makes faith impossible (John 5:44)

Jesus said that He answers prayer that God would be glorified (John 14:13)

Jesus endured His final hours of suffering for God’s glory (John 12:27–28; 13:31–32; 17:1)

God gave his Son to vindicate the glory of His righteousness (Rom. 3:25–26)

God forgives our sins for His own sake (Isa. 43:25; Ps. 25:11)

Jesus receives us into His fellowship for the glory of God (Rom. 15:7)

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Son of God (John 16:14)

God instructs us to do everything for His glory (1 Cor. 6:20; 10:31)

God tells us to serve in a way that will glorify Him (1 Pet. 4:11)

Jesus will fill us with fruits of righteousness for God’s glory (Phil. 1:9, 11)

All are under judgment for dishonoring God’s glory (Rom. 1:22, 23; 3:23)

Herod is struck dead because he did not give glory to God (Acts 12:23)

Jesus is coming again for the glory of God (2 Thess. 1:9–10)

Jesus’ ultimate aim for us is that we see and enjoy His glory (John 17:24)

Even in wrath God’s aim is to make known the wealth of His glory (Rom. 9:22–23)

God’s plan is to fill the earth with the knowledge of His glory (Hab. 2:14)

Everything that happens will redound to God’s glory (Rom. 11:36)

In the New Jerusalem the glory of God replaces the sun (Rom. 21:23)

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Westminster Wednesday

THE WESTMINSTER LARGER CATECHISM

Question 4:

Q. How does it appear that the Scriptures are the Word of God?

A. The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty (Hos. 8:12; 1 Cor. 2:6–7, 13; Ps. 119:18, 129) and purity (Ps. 12:6; 119:140); by the consent of all the parts (Acts 10:43; 26:22); and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God (Rom. 3:19, 27); by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation (Acts 18:28; Heb. 4:12; Jam. 1:18; Ps. 19:7–9; Rom. 15:4; Acts 20:32): but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very word of God (John 16:13–14; 1 John 2:20, 27; John 20:31).

QUESTION 3

 

THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH

Chapter I: Of Holy Scripture

IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

ARTICLE 3

 

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When Life is Reduced to a Choice

ABORTION AND THE BIBLE

“Ever since the Supreme Court decided against the unborn, abortion as a medical practice has been widely accepted in American society. But does the legalization of abortion in the eyes of the government make it right in the sight of God? To answer this question, one must begin by determining God’s view of the human fetus. Does He consider the fetus a person or mere protoplasm? If the Bible fails to grant personhood to the unborn fetus, then perhaps the premature extermination of such life is morally inconsequential. But, if God’s Word demonstrates that the unborn fetus is indeed a person, then abortion is nothing less than murder (Gen. 9:6; Ex. 20:13).

A number of Bible passages make it clear that God regards conception as the moment at which personhood begins. Job 10:8–12 and 31:13–15, for example, attribute divine value and human qualities. Psalm 139:13–16 similarly exalts God for His creative work in the fashioning of the unborn baby. Isaiah 49:1–5, Jeremiah 1:4–5, and Galatians 1:15–16 all note that God can work in the lives of His chosen servants even before they are born. Furthermore, Luke 1:41–45 documents the emotional joy of the unborn John the Baptist when Mary visited Elizabeth. And Psalm 51:5 points to conception as the beginning of a person’s sinful nature. None of these things would be possible if personhood did not come until after birth.

In some passages, the Bible speaks of an unborn child in the same way that it does of those who have been born—thereby showing that God views them both the same way. For example, in Exodus 21:4 and 21:22 the same Hebrew word translated ‘child’ or ‘children’ is used, despite the fact that verse 4 refers to a postnatal child while verse 21 refers to an unborn life. The New Testament also uses the same Greek word for life before birth (Luke 1:41, 44) as it does for life outside the womb (Acts 7:19). It is not surprising, therefore, to learn that the unborn are often described in the same ways as those who are born (Gen. 25:22–23; Job 31:15; Isa.44:2; Hos. 12:3). For that matter, the prophet Jeremiah notes that had his death been prenatal, the womb would have been his grave (Jer. 20:17); and the prebirth death of one of God’s prophets cannot be equated with the death of a nonperson.

Scripture further espouses the fact that all human persons are the offspring of other human persons. After all, Genesis 1:24–25 decisively mandates that each ‘kind’ within creation is to reproduce solely after its own ‘kind.’ The procreation of existing human persons, therefore, is limited solely to the generation of new human persons. In other words, via the reproductive process, it is impossible for existing persons to even produce a nonperson.

God’s image in man (see Gen. 1:26; James 3:9) is particularly attacked by abortion. After all, abortion not only destroys the image of God in the fetus by killing the baby, but also disregards God’s command to multiply His image in future generations by terminating the reproductive process. In the end, because the fetus results from two persons, each made in the image of God, Scripture indicates that he or she is also a person found in God’s image.

The Bible overwhelmingly argues for the personhood of the prenatal fetus, while simultaneously denouncing the horrible murder of unborn humans (cf. Ex. 21:22–23). When all the facts are in, abortion may have been legalized by the Supreme Court, but it cannot be viewed as anything less than a direct assault on the moral law of God.” (Bill Shannon)

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Westminster Wednesday

THE WESTMINSTER LARGER CATECHISM

Question 2:

Q: How does it appear that there is a God?

A: The very light of nature in man, and the works of God, declare plainly that there is a God (Rom. 1:19–20; Ps. 19:1–3; Acts 17:28); but His word and Spirit only do sufficiently and effectually reveal Him unto men for their salvation (1 Cor. 2:9–10; 2 Tim. 3:15–17; Isa. 59:21).

Question 1

THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH

Chapter I: Of Holy Scripture

II. Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testament, which are these:

Of the Old Testament:

  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  • 2 Kings
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Esther
  • Job
  • Psalms
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Solomon
  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi

Of the New Testament:

  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • John
  • Acts
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation

All which are given by inspiration of God to be the rule of faith and life.

Article 1

 

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