Spurgeon Commentary: Galatians
Elliot Ritzema, Editor
Lexham Press, 2013
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the renowned 19th Century British Baptist pastor was a man of the Bible. Whether preaching, lecturing, writing, or in casual conversation, Biblical words, phrases and themes were rarely absent. Though he produced only two commentaries – a six-volume treatment of the Psalms (Treasury of David), and one volume on Matthew (The Gospel of the Kingdom), he was a prolific writer.
Alongside numerous books and articles related to pastoral ministry, Spurgeon’s published sermons fill 63 volumes. These are a goldmine of topical and expositional Bible preaching. Spurgeon’s published works are a treasure trove of biblical material, available both in print and online, but accessing Spurgeon’s comments on particular texts of Scripture is a huge time commitment – one that many busy pastors just cannot afford.
For example, I have several print volumes of The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. When I am preparing a sermon and want to know what Spurgeon might have said about that text, I have to take out each volume and search through the individual sermon listings, chapter titles, or the Scripture Index to see if my text if referenced. This is both time-consuming and incomplete, and to top it off, I have only a small sampling of Spurgeon’s writings. But things are looking up.
The Logos-produced Spurgeon Commentary Series promises to breathe new life into the ongoing influence of Charles Spurgeon. The first volume, covering Spurgeon’s teaching on the book of Galatians, is now available. Nine more volumes are in development and, at the time of this writing, still on pre-order status at considerable savings.
Ritzema describes the project in his Introduction to this first volume:
The idea behind this series is simple: take material from Spurgeon’s sermons and writings and organize it into commentary format. The series includes several features that I believe will be helpful for both the devotional reader and the preacher preparing for a sermon.
Each section of the commentary includes three kinds of comments from Spurgeon: exposition, illustration, and application. The expositions do not simply deal with a block of biblical text as a whole; they are organized by verse as well as by words within that verse. This means that you can easily find what Spurgeon says about a particular verse or phrase. The individual phrases that Spurgeon comments on within a verse are set in bold text. Some verses have long paragraphs of exposition, while others have a little or none at all. This reflects how much Spurgeon wrote on each verse. I have tried to include as much content as possible in places where Spurgeon wrote a lot, but unfortunately I have had to be selective at times.
Ritzema has updated some language for greater readability: “thee” and “thou” become “you” and archaic terms unfamiliar to contemporary readers have been replaced with modern equivalents. This commentary uses the modern Lexham English Bible (LEB) in place of the King James Version (KJV), though where Spurgeon emphasized a particular word of phrase, the original KJV phrasing has been retained.
By organizing the expositional comments phrase-by-phrase, and drawing commentary from multiple sources, what might have become a choppy, disjointed text is really quite smooth and readable in its own right. Ritzema has done an excellent job of editing.
Some of Spurgeon’s best illustrations are interspersed throughout the expositional comments. And with the illustrations being tagged with preaching themes, they are searchable through the Sermon Starter Guide in Logos 5.
All preaching calls for response, and Spurgeon excelled in applying the text to his audience. Not only do the applications provided in this resource call contemporary listeners to action, they serve as a teaching tool for today’s preachers, helping us learn how to effectively apply the teaching of Scripture to our own circumstances.
At the end of each section of Scripture commented upon, Ritzema lists the sources for Spurgeon’s comments, illustrations and applications – all available in Logos – enabling those who own these resources to immediately seen the comment in its original context. The only drawback to this, as far as I can see, is that I am now tempted to add the 149-volume Charles Spurgeon Collection to my already extensive Logos library!
If you are among the thousands who appreciate Spurgeon’s teaching, this resource promises to dramatically decrease research and preparation time – good news for time-starved Bible preachers and teachers.
[Other than a publisher-provided copy of this resource, no remuneration was received for this review which expresses the independent opinion of the reviewer.]