Philippians and Philemon

“Philippians and Philemon” authored by Drs. James Thompson and Bruce Longenecker is an extraordinary commentary on two of Paul’s frequently read letters. Whether it be a discussion on the “mind of Christ” or slavery in the first century, this commentary shies away from nothing and discusses (within reason) what it can.

What I appreciate most about this commentary is how the “commentary” on the text is presented. Foremost is the introduction to each of the letters from Paul. Discussed here are the perennial issue(s) for each text. For Philippians, it is the origin of the church at Philippi and the literary and rhetorical composition of the letter (e.g., the “Christ-hymn” is often the target of this question). For Philemon, the issue of slavery primary issue. I appreciate Dr. Longenecker’s introduction to Philemon because many Christians (pastors included) do not understand the role of slavery in the first century because our tendency is to read history backward (e.g., our slavery is their version of slavery).

After the introduction, the commentary on both texts follows the same outline. First, for each section text, the reader receives introductory thoughts. These thoughts look physically at how the letter is composed or the semantics of the text. True “commentary” (although all of it is commentary in the broadest sense) comes in the second part labeled tracing the train of thought. Here the author discusses the text itself (commentates, if you will). Finally, each section concludes with the theological importance of the text. Every passage of the Bible has theological significance and sometimes that is easily noticed, but other times it is not. Drs. Thompson and Longenecker help readers tremendously by providing this section not only for the book but also for each portion in its individual setting.

I highly recommend this book to you for your commentary collection. There are various commentaries (Lectionary-based, exegetically based, theologically-based, etc.), but this particular commentary is both exegetical and theological.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Academic through the Baker Academic Blogger Review Program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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