Charles Ray AMG Publishers 2007-12-28

Ray holds the Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary. He served for several years as professor at Tyndale Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and as editor and writer for the Conservative Theological Society Journal produced by Tyndale Seminary. The editors and authors of this new series have endeavored to represent the timeless truths of God’s Word and to apply biblical truth to specific contexts. The series represents conservative, evangelical, and dispensational scholarship. The individual authors may differ on minor points of interpretation, but all are convinced that the Old and New Testaments teach a dispensational framework for biblical history. They also hold to a pretribulational and premillennial understanding of biblical prophecy.

Ray feels that the Pastoral Epistles provide the most thorough statement of church government in the New Testament. Yet these books are more than official statements of church policy. According to Ray, the key to achieving success is to set reasonable “goals” and then work toward meeting them. Therefore his commentary emphasizes the personal and practical results of setting the goals Paul had in mind and incorporating them into church life. For example in 1 Timothy, Ray discusses the goals of love, worship, character, and discipline. In 2 Timothy he discusses the goals of endurance and diligence. In Titus he discusses the goals of defending and living by sound doctrine. And in Philemon the goal of reconciliation is discussed.

Some examples of how the commentary handles certain texts include 1 Timothy 2:3–4, in which Ray denies universalism and writes that the “Lord woos people to Himself, but He does not make them come against their will” (p. 45). Regarding the issue of “women being saved through the bearing of children” (1 Tim. 2:13–15), Ray admits to the possibility of numerous explanations, but he offers only two he feels are viable: (a) the birth refers to the birth of Christ and salvation as a result of His birth, death, burial, and resurrection, and (b) the woman is saved from a perception of inferiority (“she cannot be in authority in the church, but she will find satisfaction in [her] station as wife and mother if she is loving and faithful . . . not usurping the leadership role of her husband,” pp. 53–54). Ray favors the first explanation and holds that the passage should “not be used to support a particular doctrine” (ibid.). Ray holds that the “husband-of-one-wife” qualification for elders (1 Tim. 3:2) means a “one-woman man.” He does not address the sensitive issues surrounding divorce and remarriage. His commentary on Philemon has a brief but appropriate overview on slavery (pp. 205–6), and it emphasizes “reconciliation” and “forgiveness” as the primary focus of the short letter.

The commentary is easy to read, relatively short, and offers conservative views on the issues addressed in the Pastoral Epistles. The study questions at the end of each section would be helpful to anyone using the commentary in a series of sermons or Bible studies in small groups. The commentary discusses basic introductory issues but does not offer detailed interaction with liberal or unorthodox opinions. If the reader desires a commentary that presents an uncomplicated, conservative exposition of the Pastoral Epistles, this is a good choice.

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