Thomas R. Schreiner Holman Reference 2003-09-01

A 512-page book on nine chapters of the Bible points to the fact that this is a remarkably thorough commentary. Schreiner, professor of New Testament and associate dean for Scripture and interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written an exhaustive commentary on three important though often neglected Bible books. He interacts extensively with various interpretive views on numerous verses, he discusses the significance of many Greek words, and he includes copious footnotes. This is a quality commentary worthy of serious study.

A few areas of concern may be pointed out. Schreiner seems not to distinguish carefully between Israel and the church, for he says that Peter’s readers “have become part of Israel by believing in Jesus Christ” (p. 46), “God’s elect nation … embraces the church of Jesus Christ” (p. 114), and “believers in Jesus Christ [are] part of Israel” (p. 202).

Schreiner argues extensively for the view that the angels who disobeyed God (1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6) were the “sons of God” of Genesis 6, who had sexual intercourse with the daughters of men.

Several times throughout the book Schreiner advocates his view that eternal life will be obtained only by those who persevere. “Eternal life is conditional upon such perseverance” (p. 188). “Only those who continue to live a life of godliness will receive the reward of eternal life” (p. 363). “Believers must persevere to the end to be saved” (p. 365). Yet one is hard pressed to know how to reconcile these statements with the author’s statement that “believers have eternal life even now” (p. 292). This view that perseverance is a condition for eternal life was advocated in the book The Race Before Us, by Schreiner and Ardel B. Caneday (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001), which this reviewer critiqued in “A Review of The Race Before Us,” Bibliotheca Sacra 160 (April–June 2003): 241–43. Schreiner suggests the unusual view that 2 Peter 2:20–21 uses phenomenological language, that is, he spoke of false teachers as “Christians” “because they gave every appearance of being Christians” (p. 364), by having been baptized and joining the church, though they were not genuine believers.

After discussing numerous views on 1 Peter 3:19 Schreiner suggests that “the spirits in prison” were imprisoned demons to whom Christ went and proclaimed His victory over them after His resurrection (pp. 184–90). This is a viable position, with fewer weaknesses than other views.

Schreiner suggests that Silvanus, not Peter’s amanuensis, was the carrier of 1 Peter (p. 248), and that Babylon in 5:13 refers to Rome. Schreiner’s extensive defense of the authenticity of 2 Peter is well argued (pp. 260–70). And he holds to the chronological priority of Jude over 2 Peter. 

This commentary merits careful study on nine of the New Testament’s most challenging and fascinating chapters.

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