I recently came across this as an option to read as part of the Zondervan Blog Tour. I was exceedingly interested in this book, because I am in fact running through the book of John in my personal quiet times and thought that this would be a good addition to my time and I wasn’t disappointed.
Chuck Swindoll has been known as one of the best Christian authors in the past 30 years. He’s been writing, preaching and teaching for quite some time and has churned out tons of amazing insights from the Scripture that God first gave him and he in turn gave us.
This commentary series I think will be great for the common person and pastor alike. Inside these insights you receive personal journal entries from Chuck; application to the scriptures; verse by verse break downs, pictorial references, exceedingly helpful charts; transparent stories of Chuck on how he dealt personally with these specific scriptures and much more!
As a pastor, one of the hardest things to preach/teach to “the people” (in my case wiggly Middle Schoolers) is the application to their lives that the Scripture offer. That in mind, my favorite portions of this entire book were the applications that Chuck placed after each small section of Scripture. These applications were real, usable and on point, which makes this commentary series one of the easiest to read, understand and actively use!
Here is a snippet of the application that Chuck places within this series (it comes right after Jesus washes the feet of the disciples and challenges them to wash each others feet:
“When Jesus laid aside His outer garment, handled Himself like a slave, and bowed low to wash His disciple’s feet, He taught His men several important lessons about humility. not the least of which is that humility is an action, not simply an attitude. One does not feel humble or think humble thoughts. In fact, a person of genuine humility has no thought of self at all. Humility is a behavior, and in its purest form, involves little emotion, except perhaps affection.
With that in mind, allow me to draw a few principles from Jesus’ lesson on humility.
1. Humility is unannounced
2. Humility is being willing to receive service without embarrassment
3. Humility is not a sign of weakness
4. Humility does not discriminate” (Swindoll, pg. 227)
Of course there is more detail into each one of these principles that Chuck gives, but this is just a quick glimpse as to what these application portions look like. Again, I find these sections the best out of the whole book and they make it extremely easy when putting a talk/sermon together for my Middle School students (as it would be for any age group I’d assume).
The charts that this series offers are also very helpful, they help the reader get the “bigger picture” of a particular section or even of the book as a whole. Finding specific themes and placing them together in an easy to read chart helps in a deeper understanding of what’s going on.
I was disappointed in one portion however (and only disappointed at this one portion): the pictures offered. The pictures themselves throughout were very good, but they were all in black in white which caused me to have a more difficult time seeing the pictures. In an HD world, going back to a black and white view of a picture frustrated me a bit.
I don’t agree with everything that Mr. Swindoll says in this commentary book, but that isn’t unlike any other commentary series I’ve read, nor are my disagreements much of any consequence.
I highly recommend this series for anyone, pastor or parishioner alike because I think it has great value when trying not only to understand the Bible better, but also for applying the Bible!