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Barrett’s Book Notes: Paul, Machen, Sproul, and the Reformers

Robert L. Plummber & John Mark Terry. Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2012.

Here is a fascinating book by a diverse group of contributors, examining how Paul approached missions. This book builds off of Roland Allen’s work, Missionary Methods: Saint Paul’s or Ours? Among others, here are some chapters of interest:

Paul’s Religious and Historical Milieu, Michael Bird

Paul the Missionary, by Robert Plummer

Paul’s Gospel, Robert Plummer

Paul’s Ecclesiology, Benjamin Merkle

And here are two notable commendations for the book include:

“This book is a fresh reminder of Paul’s theology and practice of church multiplication. Here you will find solid biblical scholarship integrated with grounded reflection on missions.” (Daniel Montgomery, lead pastor, Sojourn Community Church, Louisville, Kentucky)

“Paul said, ‘Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.’ This volume not only examines important issues associated with the apostle’s ministry; it offers readers the requisite vision for pursuing Christ’s mission in the first place.” (Chris Castaldo, director of the Ministry of Gospel Renewal, the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College)

J. Gresham Machen. Letters from the Front: J. Gresham Machen’s Correspondence from World World I. Transcribed and edited by Barry Waugh. Phillipsburgh, NJ: P&R, 2012.

In my opinion, one of the most important figures in the twentieth century was J. Gresham Machen. In this new book, we have never before published letters from Machen’s pen during World War I. Carl Trueman praises the book, saying:

“J. Gresham Machen is a fascinating, complex and controversial figure, well-known for his role in the church conflicts of the 1920s and 30s. What is often forgotten is that he was also a member of the generation of young men whose lives were forever changed by their exposure to the horrors of trench warfare in the First World War. This volume contains the letters which the young Machen wrote home as he served as a YMCA volunteer in the war. As such, they offer both important first-hand accounts of the conflict but also give us insights into some of the darker experiences which shaped the mind of the future church leader. ”
– Carl R. Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

R. C. Sproul. Matthew. St. Andrew’s Expository Commentary Series. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013.

If you are a pastor, preaching through the Scriptures, here is another great opportunity to learn from one of today’s best Reformed theologians. Sproul has devoted his life to preparing future pastors for ministry. And for the past 12 years he has been preaching at St. Andrew’s in Sanford, Florida, utilizing the lectio continua method so common among the Reformers. Sproul’s commentaries are not meant to be exhaustive, but rather an introduction and overview. Enjoy!




Graham Tomlin, ed. Philippians, Colossians. Reformation Commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2013.

The next volume in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture is here! For a commentary on Philippians and Colossians, Tomlin makes a very important point in his Introduction. Tomlin observes that there is a major difference between modern biblical commentaries and Reformation era commentaries. While modern commentaries are consumed with the original context, the Jewish, Greek or Latin literature, the apparatus of historical or literary approaches, and references to other scholars and commentaries, the Reformers, while not ignoring these aspects, believed the primary goal and purpose of Scripture is to “enable Christian life to be lived with love, joy and contentment, without anxiety.” Knowledge, in others words, was not an end in itself, but a means to biblical spirituality, and to living a “proper Christian life.” As important as contemporary commentaries are, for this reason alone I am finding myself drawn more and more to the commentaries of past eras.

Matthew Barrett (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University (OPS), as well as the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine. He is the author of The Grace of Godliness: An Introduction to Doctrine and Piety in the Canons of Dort, Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration, as well as the coeditor of Four Views on the Historical Adam (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology), and Whomever He Wills: A Surprising Display of Sovereign Mercy. He is the author of several other forthcoming books, which you can read about at

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