Commentaries and Opinions
For the last couple weeks, we have been studying some basic rules for any Bible student, teacher or preacher to follow. One of these rules is to trust God’s Word rather than commentaries. For many people, the idea of Bible study is reading a commentary. Last week when we discussed this rule I brought in eight commentaries, and we did a test. I looked up the same verse in all eight commentaries to see how each writer explained the verse. I picked a verse that is very clear to someone that rightly divides the Bible but hard to understand for the average Christian. Acts 1:6 says this: “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” If you’re not familiar with this verse, Jesus has just taught the disciples for 40 days after his resurrection, and they ask him this question. The kingdom they are asking about is the only kingdom they knew about and the only kingdom Jesus taught about which is the EARTHLY, DAVIDIC, LITERAL kingdom where Jesus would rule and reign ON EARTH. This is what the OT clearly teaches, and this is what Jesus taught; unfortunately, this is probably not what you are taught at church. You are wrongly taught that the prophets and disciples were wrong and that God really meant it was a “spiritual” kingdom with Jesus ruling and reigning in our hearts. People that teach this are accusing Jesus himself of being so bad of a teacher that even after 3 years walking with him during his earthly ministry and 40 days of teaching that the disciples were still confused! The confusion is caused by the stack of commentaries I just mentioned because most Christians trust commentaries over the Bible itself. I started with Matthew Henry’s commentary. He berates the disciples for asking the question of Acts 1:6 and then goes on to call them childish, prideful, confused, and a whole lot more. Commentary after commentary followed suit accusing the disciples of not understanding what Jesus really meant. I would ask all those who spiritualize your Bibles and explain away the promises to Israel; wouldn’t this be the perfect time for Jesus to stop them in their tracks and tell them all that the earthly kingdom talk was wrong? Does Jesus take this perfect opportunity to do this? No! He just tells them it’s not for them to know the timing of things. Jesus knows Israel will reject the offer of the kingdom after his resurrection and the stoning of Stephen. Jesus knows he will soon call Paul and offer salvation to Jew and Gentile alike based on belief alone apart from the law. Jesus does not berate them like the commentators do, but Jesus simply tells them it’s not for them to know the timing of things. I was happy to read in J. Vernon McGee’s commentary that he had some understanding of the earthly plans God had for Israel. Most of the others fall in line with their Covenant theology friends and most of Christianity as a whole and explain away everything the Bible so clearly explains for us. It’s not fashionable anymore to believe the Bible AS WRITTEN, and Bible believers are few and far between these days. The Bible works effectually in “those that believe.” (1 Tim 4:10) This explains the state of Christianity today clearly. Christianity believes the commentators over scripture. I very well realize you have been taught your whole life to read yourself into the kingdom Jesus was speaking of but I would remind you that the words themselves in scripture ALONE do not teach this.
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Steve Schoenberger is a student of the Bible and the teacher at Abundant Grace Bible Fellowship, A Mid-Acts Dispensational Bible church teaching the Bible rightly divided according the revelation of the mystery delivered to the Apostle Paul