Book Reviews

A Study Commentary on 1 and 2 Timothy

William Bayless Barcley Webster, NY 2005-05-01

Barcley is associate professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, and pastor of Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Learned, Mississippi. He takes a conservative view on the major issues in 1 and 2 Timothy, and offers intuitive insights into controversial passages such as 1 Timothy 2:8–15 on worship, 3:1–7 on elders’ qualifications, and 5:9–16 on the care of widows.

This commentary addresses many key issues of concern to church leaders. For instance, what is at the center of the ministry of the church? How should women participate in the church? How important is the preaching ministry of the church in contemporary services? Is the church moving away from the centrality of teaching and preaching in worship? How much diversity should the church allow in the teaching and preaching ministry of the church? What is the church’s responsibility to the poor? What type of leadership should the church have? Who should occupy positions of leadership? According to Barcley, these and other questions differ little from the questions the church wrestled with in the middle of the first century. Though Paul did not treat these issues as exhaustively as leaders today would prefer, his two epistles to his friend and coworker Timothy give guidance in wrestling with many of the problems with which the modern-day church struggles.

Barcley’s approach is a refreshing, easy to read, and edifying work. The commentary is not a critically oriented work; instead it is pastorally oriented. The footnotes cite many helpful sources for further study and comparison. Applications at the end of each section are extremely useful. For example in his discussion of 1 Timothy 4:1–16 on false teachers he comments, “Theological error is often attractive because it has the appearance of truth and godliness. Especially attractive are those sects and religions that espouse strict asceticism and detailed rules and regulations that govern behaviour” (p. 133). He then takes three points from Genesis 1–3 to counteract such claims. “First, Genesis 1 teaches us that God created everything and that creation is good. . . .Yet, secondly, Genesis 1–3 teaches us that sin has marred God’s good creation. . . .Thirdly, the creation account does indeed tell us of God’s redemption” (pp. 133–34). He then expands each of these points and shows their relevance. Of special interest are his comments on the application of 2 Timothy 2:2 (p. 245).

Because this is a practical commentary, the introductory material is necessarily brief. Unfortunately the book has no index, but this volume is very readable and useful for ministers, students, and teachers.

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