Review: Matthew (SGBC)

34460467The Story of God Bible Commentary is an exciting and practical series that seeks to explain the Bible in light of the grand story of the biblical narrative. The editors and contributors for this series are top-tier scholars and pastors with seasoned insight and experience into the world of biblical interpretation and proclamation—making this series an attractive addition to the pastor’s library.

Matthew by Rodney Reeves is a welcomed and (for many a) highly anticipated addition to the series. Reeves is a brilliant scholar and dedicated to helping others understand the riches of the Scriptures. He is College Dean and Courts Redford Professor of Biblical Studies at Southwest Baptist University. Reeves has done doctoral work in Pauline Studies at Oxford University and a received a Ph.D. in New Testament from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of numerous books and is positioned well for the focus on this series.

Matthew opens with a brief introduction to the First Gospel. In general, this series has not offered much in the arena of introductory material. It’s simply not the focal point of the series. That said, Reeves does much to orient the reader towards Matthew’s Gospel, and, in my opinion, offers one of the best introductions seen thus far in the SGBC series. Reeves is transparent about the lack of known information concerning authorship, but still affirms a traditional position. He also argues for a post AD 70 date of composition, comments at some length about Matthew’s use and adoration of the Old Testament, as well as other important introductory items.

As the commentary proper opens the reader is guided passage-by-passage through three major sections: (1) LISTEN to the Story—includes the NIV translation with additional references to encourage the reader to hear the story within its broader biblical context, (2) EXPLAIN the Story—explores and illuminates each passage within its canonical and historical setting, and (3) LIVE the Story—reflects how each passage can be lived today and includes contemporary stories and illustrations to aid teachers, preachers, and beyond.

Reeves does an excellent service to the reader in his engagement with the First Gospel. Not only is the commentary informative and rich, but Reeves is keen to provide practical application that almost always seems to mirror the meaning of the passage. Reeves is sensitive to the partialities of Matthew (i.e. comparing Jesus and Moses) and does much to uncover the original context of the book. Still, I think it is the bridging of the cultural gap where Reeves shines most—both the Old Testament to the New, and the New Testament to today. I was especially appreciative of Reeves comments on the Sermon on the Mount (though McKnight’s volume on the Sermon in the SGBC series is among the best, in my opinion) and his ability to maneuver controversial passages with a close eye to the emphasis of the series (i.e. Matthew 24).

The Story of God Bible Commentary: Matthew by Rodney Reeves is an exceptional contribution that offers a contextually informed presentation of the First Gospel for contemporary readers. I found Reeves to be well-informed and easy to read, and any lack of distinctive contribution to a mountain of literature on Matthew is made up for in his keen ability to keep sight of the whole amid the details. This is definitely a worthwhile read if you are teaching or preaching through Matthew, and comes highly recommended!

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