God’s Word is transformative. It is this conviction which gives the Transformative Word series its name and its unique character. Series Editors Craig G. Bartholomew and David J. H. Beldman have worked alongside authors from around the world to identify a key theme in each book of the Bible, and each volume provides careful biblical exegesis centered on that gripping theme. This 19-volume collection brings together volumes spanning the Old and New Testaments and covers all the major genres of biblical literature.
These thematic studies set the stage for reading, teaching, and preaching through Scripture. Application isn’t just limited to individual passages but is also focused on the overarching themes of each biblical book. The result is an engaging, accessible thematic exploration of Scripture, poised to offer you new and refreshing insights. The Transformative Word volumes were designed to pair with your favorite commentary, to enrich your study with a thematic as well as exegetical perspective.
Genesis 1-11 is a parade of stories of humanity intertwined with the most intriguing subjects we still wrestle with today: the beginning of the cosmos, the nature of humanity, family, sex, deceit, death, murder, mass murder, ecology, agriculture, urbanization, and more. In The Universal Story, Dru Johnson shows how Genesis 1–11 is written in a way that informs the rest of biblical history—including the exodus, the kings of Israel, the exile, the Gospels, and early church. Genesis 1–11 presents a story of humanity that seeks to explain the background of every human endeavor.
Johnson's short exploration of Genesis 1-11 is at once biblical, illuminating, provocative, and insightful. Readers will encounter the biblical text of Genesis and the ways it drives us to consider what it means to be human and living in God’s world today. With relevant explorations on sex, technology, power, sin, death, and life, this is a book to which I shall return regularly. Highly recommended!
–Dr. Heath A. Thomas, dean, Herschel H. Hobbs College of Theology; professor of Old Testament, Oklahoma Baptist University
In the book of Exodus, God frees Israel from slavery to Egypt. But they are not left as orphans. Rather, the redeemed are made into a new family—God’s family. In Freed to be God’s Family, Mark R. Glanville argues that the central motif of Exodus is community. God wants a healthy, dynamic relationship with the redeemed. As family members, Israel is called to learn God’s ways and reflect God’s character to the world.
Mark Glanville brings together everything you want in a biblical interpreter: he is scholarly, passionate, churchly, justice-hungry, wise and kind, at home equally in the classroom, the pulpit, and the streets. This book made Exodus sing for me again.
–Jason Byassee, Butler Chair in Homiletics and Biblical Interpretation, Vancouver School of Theology
Deuteronomy is a long and ancient book full of speeches and laws for a wandering people on the cusp of entering a land filled with hostile nations. What could Deuteronomy have to say for modern readers who face vastly different issues? Invited to Know God shows that Deuteronomy is simply about knowing God. The book is a divine portal, drawing people into the ancient presence of God. To understand God better, we need to understand Deuteronomy better.
In Deserting the King, David Beldman guides readers through the book of Judges, tracing the acceptance and rejection, the tragedy and heroism of Israel’s relationship with God and the Israelite monarchy. Along the way, he shows readers how this book—though full of bloodshed, intrigue, and conflict—can help us see God at work in our world.
Christians tend to shun the book of Judges when looking for ethical instruction and spiritual uplift. But David Beldman shows, with the aid of modern hermeneutics, that this is to miss some of the most relevant messages of Scripture. Reading these apparently unpromising texts with Beldman, you will be instructed and challenged. In short, this is a most worthwhile study of a valuable part of the Bible.
—Gordon J. Wenham, tutor in Old Testament, Trinity College (Bristol, England); author, Exploring the Old Testament
In Finding God in the Margins, Carolyn Custis James reveals how the book of Ruth is about God, the questions that surface when life falls apart, and how he reaches into the margins and chooses two totally marginalized women who in the eyes of the patriarchal culture are zeros. Against the backdrop of disturbing issues we are facing today, this bracing narrative puts on display a radical gospel way of living together as human beings that shouts the Kingdom of God, foreshadows Jesus’ gospel, and raises the bar for women and for men then and now.
Those with keen eyes to see into the Bible's many richnesses are able to discover the depths of our humanity surrounded by the deep wells of God's grace. Finding God in the Margins is not for the faint of heart: this book will sideswipe you with admonishment when you least expect it and then turn a word of grace into redemption.
—Scot McKnight, Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary
Even when it feels like he is absent, God is always at work behind the scenes. Although the book of Esther contains no direct references to God, his fingerprints are found all over it. The book traces the unseen hand of God, working through the lives of his people to deliver them from destruction. In God Behind the Scenes, Wayne K. Barkhuizen examines the strange yet gripping story of Esther, pointing out how it’s still relevant today. He shows how divine Providence was active in preserving the people through whom the Messiah, Jesus Christ, would one day come.
Wayne Barkhuizen has done the Church of Christ worldwide a great favor with his book God Behind the Scenes. Here is an excellent presentation of the message of the book of Esther. Written simply and very engagingly, Wayne puts Esther in historical perspective and also succeeds in putting flesh and blood on all the characters in the story. This book is a great reminder of the providence and sovereignty of God over all of life and his special care for his own people. This is an altogether helpful book that will not only be a great help to individual Christians but also helpful for those who meet in group studies. I highly recommend it.
—Rt. Rev. Frank Retief, former presiding bishop of REACH-SA
Experience the book of Job through a different set of eyes. In When You Want to Yell at God, Craig G. Bartholomew asks us to let go of the Job we think we know so we can get to know the real man. Job’s story refutes the idea that what goes around comes around. Suffering is not always the result of wrong behavior, and right behavior does not always guarantee blessing. But God is always faithful. Looking at Job as the height of biblical poetry, Bartholomew helps us see just how beautiful and touching this man’s struggle with God really is.
In Walking with God’s Wisdom, Benjamin T. Quinn calls us to hear and obey God’s wisdom found in Proverbs. These ancient words reveal a way of life exemplified in Jesus Christ. Quinn shows how even the most ordinary aspects of life are packed with importance for wise living before God.
For those interested in pursuing godly wisdom, be sure to read Benjamin Quinn’s Walking in God's Wisdom with a highlighter and a pen. In a clear and understandable way, he explains how the Bible’s most practical book points to Jesus.
–Sarah Zylstra, senior writer, The Gospel Coalition
Wars, conflicts, global catastrophes, and senseless human suffering—all these have the potential to shake our faith. The message of the book of Daniel is that God desires to reveal himself in his people’s difficult situations, whether in the Babylonian exile of Daniel’s day or the crises of our own. In Glimpsing the Mystery, Barbara M. Leung Lai unpacks the stories of the first half of Daniel and the visions of the second half, showing through how God provides glimpses into his mysterious sovereignty. While sometimes all we get are hints, we can come away with the assurance that even when life is hard, God wants to pull back the curtain and show us that he still holds us in his hand.
Barbara M. Leung Lai brings her considerable knowledge and clear insight into her concise yet substantial presentation of the book. I recommend Glimpsing the Mystery to all who not only want to understand the book of Daniel better, but also have it transform their lives and faith.
—Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College
During Habakkuk’s time, God’s people turned against him. Strife and violence surrounded the prophet. And yet, God called him to be faithful. In Faith Amid the Ruins, Heath Thomas brings the story of Habakkuk to life—reminding us that although it’s a small book about a lesser known prophet, its themes and importance are anything but minor. When we face hardship and opposition, it’s easy to seek security and stability instead of God’s will. Habakkuk teaches us both about the faithfulness of God and what it looks like to live faithfully before God when life turns upside down.
Faith Amid the Ruins is an extraordinary little book. In it, Heath Thomas reveals the theological center of Habakkuk: God calls us to be faithful even in the midst of the most difficult social and political circumstances, and makes our fidelity possible through his own faithfulness toward us. I can’t imagine a more timely message for global Christians today.
—Bruce Ashford, author of Every Square Inch and One Nation Under God
Although prayer was a central aspect of Jesus’ life throughout all four gospels, it is often overlooked. See Luke’s Gospel anew—through the lense of prayer. As Christians, we are called to pray to our Father. This practice is often a hidden affair, between us and God, and can be easily neglected. Why do we settle for less when God wants to give us so much more? In Revealing the Heart of Prayer, Craig G. Bartholomew helps us see how to live and participate effectively in God’s mission—by looking to Jesus as an example for how we should pray.
First-century Christians asked many of the same questions we ask today: Where does the church of Jesus Christ stand in the world? Where does the church fit in such a religiously diverse society? How should Christians respond to marginalization, ridicule, and insult? In Together for the World, Michael Wagenman reminds us that the book of Acts is about more than just the beginning of church history. It’s a story that reveals the ongoing means by which God is still transforming people to be his witnesses in the world.
Wagenman successfully displays the unique role of Acts within the Bible, rescues us from a tired reading of Scripture, and helps us to hear its message with fresh ears. Though [Acts is] a well-worn narrative in many churches, Together for the World brings [the book] to life in its ancient and modern contexts, helping the reader to behold Luke's magisterial aims—literally and literarily.
—Dru Johnson, professor of biblical and theological studies, The King's College
In Transformed in Christ: 1 Corinthians, Ron Elsdon and William Olhausen show us how Paul uses the cross to define the distinctive patterns of life and behavior to which Christians are called. The transformation that comes from cross-shaped wisdom is not a singular moment in a believer’s life, but a continual process of refinement and spiritual growth. The result is a living, countercultural faith marked by discernment, wisdom, and love.
A superbly rich and thoughtfully applied distillation of the major themes in 1 Corinthians.
–Maurice Elliott, director, Church of Ireland Theological Institute
The story behind 2 Corinthians is one of pain and heartache. The Apostle Paul is wrestling to maintain his relationship with the young church in Corinth that he established. Paul writes this deeply personal letter to pick up the pieces of a broken relationship. We all have painful stories and relationships that are on the rocks. In Cutting Ties with Darkness, John D. Barry explores how we deal with these scars in light of Jesus’ example. How do we discern when to reconcile and when to walk away? In these relationships, our own judgment can become clouded. Paul tells us that we must cut ties with the darkness—both within ourselves and in others—before we’re able to rebuild our lives on the redemption of Jesus.
In beautiful prose, John Barry offers a plethora of practical insights for our lives, relationships and ministries from 2 Corinthians. He shows how the letter as a whole fits together, and his heart for the world shines through as he provides illustrations from a range of cultures as well as what he has witnessed personally.
—Craig S. Keener, professor at Asbury Theological Seminary and author of commentaries on Acts, Matthew, John, Romans, 1–2 Corinthians, and Revelation
Philippians is a letter full of good examples. Paul, Epaphroditus, and Timothy are all portrayed as exemplars. But none is more important than Jesus himself. In Self-Giving Love, Dean Flemming shows how Jesus and the story of his self-emptying love are the very heart of Philippians. This ultimate example provides a lens for clearly seeing the rest of the letter. By emulating Jesus’ radical love, we will become mature, foster unity, and find joy.
Flemming constantly points us to what in Philippians supports his conclusions, and he writes with a distinguished missionary career behind him that absolutely brims with integrity, service and self-sacrifice for others. If you let it, this book can change your life.
–Craig L. Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary
In his letter to Titus, the Apostle Paul implores the reader to take truth seriously and to ensure that the good news of gospel is being passed on in its full force. Solid Christian doctrine and a passion for godly Christian life are twin themes weave their way throughout this short epistle. In Living Doctrine, Danny Akin unpacks this powerful message and shows how these themes are still vital for Christians today. Accessibly written but informed by deep scholarship, this book will benefit readers from all walks of life.
Big things indeed come in little packages, and this short commentary on the small but powerful epistle of Titus packs a big punch. Daniel Akin's masterful treatment of the true life changing power of grace in the cornerstone passage of 2:11-15 is worth the price of the book and lays to rest any concept of "easy believism" or cheap grace. This is a must addition to the bookshelf of every pastor and Bible teacher.
—James Merritt, pastor, Cross Pointe Church, Duluth, GA
Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God. The letter to the Hebrews asks questions aimed at the heart of what it looks like for Christians to walk in Christ’s footsteps. These questions continue to be fiercely debated by Christians. The ancient letter to the Hebrews answers all by focusing on Christ’s magnificent love and greatness. In Christ Above All, Adrio König puts readers in the shoes of the original audience of Hebrews and shows how, in a world full of competing claims to power and authority, Christ—in all his glory and humanity—really does surpass all others.
In Living in God’s True Story: 2 Peter, Donald L. Morcom shows that remembering the truth is the core theme of Peter’s second letter. In the midst of false alternatives, he encourages believers to live faithful lives that demonstrate love and wisdom. Though it may be short, 2 Peter is an impactful letter that explains how we can order our lives in accordance with God’s true story.
A terrific exposition of a much-neglected book of the New Testament. This is an informative, readable, and practical exposition of 2 Peter that is ideal for pastors, preachers, and study groups.
–Michael F. Bird, academic dean, lecturer in theology, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia
In Between the Cross and the Throne, Matthew Emerson brings one of the least-understood books in the Bible to life for the modern Christian. Revelation was written to a community facing a period of trial and persecution. John wanted to remind his readers that God, not Satan, is ultimately sovereign and victorious. In conversational tone, Emerson takes us through the book of Revelation, explaining the deep themes often missed within the book’s complex imagery. He reminds us: We live between the time of Christ’s coming and Christ’s return—and in this tension, we can have hope.
Crisp, clear, and engaging, Between the Cross and the Throne briefly and competently examines the frequently misunderstood and often avoided book of Revelation. Readers will enjoy it and find themselves understanding much about Revelation's content, genres, imagery, narrative, theology, and message.
—Christopher W. Morgan, dean and professor of theology, School of Christian Ministries, California Baptist University
Craig G. Bartholomew was born in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa, and he currently lives in Canada as a UK citizen. He is the Director of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, Cambridge, UK. He is the author of Ecclesiastes in the Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms series, an associate editor of the Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, and the coauthor with Michael W. Goheen of The Drama of Scripture. He has a PhD from the University of Bristol.
David J. H. Beldman is an associate professor of religion and theology at Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada, where he loves opening up the riches of Scripture with undergraduate students. He is also on faculty at the Missional Training Center in Phoenix, Arizona, where he teaches in the area of Old Testament.
Daniel M. Villa