The Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary went on sale at Accordance recently and they gave me a chance to review it for you. How does this series help pastors and Bible students study the word? We’ll let you know and show how to use it inside the Bible study suite.
What is the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary?
Most commentaries come in one of a few categories depending on who will use them. Imagine a spectrum from right to left. Furthest to the left you’d find the most scholarly and technical commentaries that likely make use of original languages and focus a lot on translation, textual critical tools that help scholars at the graduate school or seminary level. You coudl imagine professors and translators using these.
On the far right end you would find what we call a devotional commentary that’s meant to be read alongside the Bible for an average Christian whose reading their devotions and just wants a quick paragraph about a chapter or passage. Study Bibles fit in this spot on the spectrum.
The New American Commentary is one of my favorite sets and I own it in every Bible software package I own. It’s closer to the center or slightly right of center depending on who you ask.
So where does the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary fit? It’s closer to the devotional side than the middle. It doesn’t give users a word-for-word or even a verse-by-verse approach to Bible interpretation. Instead it reads a lot like the notes a preacher would make while preparing for a sermon. What if that preacher then chose to release those notes in book form and you get something like this commentary?
Tony Merida describes the series as looking at the text like one would use a magnifying glass to get up close to a subject or using a wide angle lens to get a wide vista. I would say it seems more wide angel than magnifying glass. But that’s a good thing for teachers and preachers after they’ve spent time with the magnifying glass from other tools.
The commentary series includes 25 volumes from both the Old and New Testament. Here’s the list of current books included and their authors.
- Exodus by Tony Merida (2014)
- Leviticus by Allan Moseley (2015)
- 1 & 2 Samuel by Heath Thomas and J.D. Greear (2016)
- 1 & 2 Kings by Tony Merida (2015)
- Ezra and Nehemiah by James M. Hamilton (2014)
- Proverbs by Daniel L. Akin and Jonathan Akin (2017)
- Ecclesiastes by Daniel L. Akin and Jonathan Akin (2016)
- Song of Songs by Daniel L. Akin (2015)
- Isaiah by Andrew M. Davis (2017)
- Ezekiel by Landon Dowden (2015)
- Daniel by Daniel L. Akin (2017)
- Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habbakuk by Eric Redmond, Bill Curtis, and Ken Fentress (2016)
- Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi by Micah Fries, Stephen Rummage, and Robby Gallaty (2015)
- Matthew by David Platt (2013)
- Mark by Daniel L. Akin (2014)
- Acts by Tony Merida (2017)
- Galatians by David Platt and Tony Merida (2014)
- Ephesians by Tony Merida (2014)
- Philippians by Tony Merida and Francis Chan (2016)
- 1 & 2 Thessalonians by Mark Howell (2015)
- 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus by David Platt, Daniel L. Akin, and Tony Merida (2013)
- Hebrews by R. Albert Mohler, Jr. (2017)
- James by David Platt (2014)
- 1, 2, 3 John by Daniel L. Akin (2014)
- Revelation by Daniel L. Akin (2016)
Buyers can rest assured that the series authors hold a high view of the inerrancy and authority of scripture. They also put a strong emphasis on the role of Christ in every passage of the Bible, as the title suggests.
Editors David Platt, Daniel Akin and Tony Merida come from my denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. Merida and Platt crafted the series with a pastor’s heart while Akin brings a to the series his expertise as the President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC.
Examples of Key Passages
Take the book of Daniel as an example. The commentary starts out with an introduction from this volume’s author, Daniel Akin. The section for Daniel 1 begins with the Main Idea as follows:
Even in times of great trial and opposition, Christians must remain faithful to God and his gospel, imitating Christ’s own steadfastness as he endured persecution and death for our sakes.Daniel Akin, Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary: Daniel (chapter 1 Main Idea).
As I’ve preached through both Ezekiel and Daniel over the last couple of years in my church, I’ve used this series from another software program. I’ve always appreciated that it offers thoughtful interpretation, with a scholarly background that doesn’t hit you in the face. The authors are sure to show us how this passage offers a Gospel message where appropriate. It truly puts Christ at the center of their expository approach.
Readers will not get high-level discussions of grammar, translation or extensive history background. The authors do give the reader enough information about those sorts of details as they help support their interpretation.
Fast foward to Daniel 11:3-4 we get the following entry from Akin.
God Breaks and Divides as He Chooses (11:3–4)
There is a 150–year gap between verses 2 and 3. What happened in that period is not important for the story God wishes to reveal in this vision. Scholars agree that the “warrior king” (ESV, “mighty king”) of verse 3 is the Greek Alexander the Great (336–323 BC). Historians have written volumes about him. God gives him one verse in this chapter! He was a powerful king who conquered the known world of his day and ruled with absolute power. He indeed did whatever he wanted. But he died at age thirty-three. So, as soon as he is established, his kingdom will be broken up and divided to the four winds of heaven, but not to his descendants; it will not be the same kingdom that he ruled, because his kingdom will be uprooted and will go to others besides them. (v. 4)
This is precisely what happened. Alexander’s sons were murdered, and no part of his vast empire went to his descendants. As we mentioned [Dan, p. 140] earlier, following his death, four of his generals divided up his kingdom into four parts:
• Cassander took Macedonia and Greece.
• Lysimachus took Thrace and portions of Asia Minor.
• Ptolemy took Egypt and Israel.
• Seleucus took Syria and Mesopotamia.
However, none of these kingdoms ever came close to matching the power and strength of Alexander’s brief empire. God plucked Alexander’s kingdom up, divided it into four pieces, and gave to others as he saw fit. And with that the great Alexander is finished. He served God’s plan and purposes. Off he goes!Daniel Akin, Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary: Daniel (chapter 11 Main Idea).
Notice Akin brings out the history following the division of the Greek Empire after the death of Alexander the Great.
Jump forward to the book of Matthew and we read about the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. David Platt writes in a way that reads like a sermon.
Platt introduced the section with a story about the great Billy Sunday, a 19th century evangelist. Sunday addressed vices from his day like dancing and playing cards. I bet few of us today would worry about such “vices” as Sunday called them. Platt uses the idea to illustrate that we should be extreme different than the secular world.
There was to be a clear line of demarcation between believers and unbelievers. These were things that marked off the people of God—things that marked out holiness, godliness, and salvation. He had a certain picture of what it looks like to be a believer in Jesus, and anything outside that didn’t fit.David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary: Matthew, Matthew 5-7
Platt then gives background on the sermon and dives into the text. This could easily be heard as a message in Platt’s church. That’s a good thing for preachers or Bible study teachers planning to share the message of the Sermon on the Mount. An ethical teacher or preacher could even use the story citing Platt as their own message introduction.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of the Commentary
When you buy the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary, you’ll download it using Easy Install in Accordance Bible Software. I recommend going into your Accordance Library and move it up the list towards the top. Even if you don’t keep there, put there at first. This reminds you to use it each time you study a passage for a sermon, Bible study or your personal edification.
To promote it towards the top of your commentary list, open the Library from the toolbar button. It looks like an open book and by default sits on the left end of the toolbar.
If you removed the Library button, you can access it using the keyboard shortcut COMMAND+OPTION+1 or CONTROL+ALT+1 on Windows. You can also open it from the Window menu.
Expand your Commentaries section the Library. Look for the two new books added to your Library by Easy Install. They’ll probably show up at the very bottom of the section. If you have the two-volume set with one book for OT and one for NT, then look for Jesus in the NT and Jesus in the OT. If you bought the single volume set, then look for Christ-Centered Exposition. I wish they would have titled them more like the original titles with something like “Christ Centered Exposition” still keeping it short so you don’t have a really long entry in your Library.
When you find them, drag them to the top or near the top. I put them just below New American Commentary, which is my favorite.
Now, if you use the Info Pane or the Amplify menu, the books will show up where you dragged them, in my case just after NAC.
The Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary serves it’s purpose well. God used it to help me better focus my study of the books of Ezekiel and Daniel plus other texts from various books of the Bible over the last several years. I look forward to seeing the missing books of the Bible added. Three volumes that you can get in physical or eBook form still don’t show up in the set available from Accordance. You can see the whole list with more detailed information about each book at the commentary’s website.
Don’t expect in-depth exposition on every detail and word. Do expect a pastor approach to the text.
I used the series after doing my own carful observations, word studies, and reading more scholarly commentaries. But I seldom preached a passage without first reading this work if it had a volume on the book I was preaching. I also, often found the preaching focus useful as I introduced a passage using one of the stories the authors included or driving the main idea home for my audience with concluding illustrations borrowed from the authors.
Learn more about the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series from Accordance. If you think you could use a commentary that more than just a devotional commentary, but also more accessible than more advanced scholarly sets, then hurry over to Accordance to get on sale until October 26. It’s on sale for $99.90 or $50 as a crossgrade if you own it in another Bible program.
For full disclosure I was given a free copy of the set in order to write this review. However, I liked it enough to pay for it in another program when it first came out a few years ago.
Note this version of this article was updated to explain that there’s a 2-volume version and that the publishers have a few more books available net yet showing up in the Accordance version.