R. Kent Hughes was in pastoral ministry for 41 years, the last 27 as senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He earned his B.A. from Whittier College (history), an M.Div. from Talbot Seminary and a D.Min. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Kent is the author of numerous books, among them the best-selling Disciplines of a Godly Man. He is also editor of the projected 50-volume Preaching the Word series to which he has made numerous contributions.
I had a chance to sit down with Dr. Hughes and ask him to share how this series came about and to reflect about the role a commentary can play in a preacher’s study.
Of the 29 volumes of the Preaching The Word Commentary, you wrote 22 volumes.
How did this project start?
I was [the pastor] at College Church in Wheaton which had lots of students and academics. I was very careful about doing all of my work on my sermons and then making them come alive when I preached. Lane Dennis (President of Crossway) and I were at an event and he approached me about publishing my sermons. We came up with the name Preaching the Word, which comes from 2 Timothy 4:2.
As you wrote a particular commentary, what goals did you have in mind?
The commentaries are homiletically arranged with careful attention to history, background, words, structure, and theology and with a focus on clarity in how they are presented. It’s important to also know that the content of each commentary has been preached live before a congregation.
If you were to pick the type of person that The Preaching the Word series is aimed at, who would it be?
It’s aimed at pastors, small group leaders, and Bible study groups. For preachers, it’s not meant to be a substitute for personal study. It’s important that you do your own work first and then come to a commentary like Preaching the Word. If you come right to the commentary without doing your own study and outline first, then you’ll most likely end up preaching the commentary.
If I’m going to preach on a specific book of the Bible, what role should a commentary play in my sermon preparation?
If it were a small book like Philippians, I’d first read it 30-40 times through, mostly in my preferred translation but also in some others. If you’re able to, also read it in the Greek. Then I’d ask, “What is the big theme of the book?” and look at structure, turning points, and applications – just try to get the text inside of me. Then I’d try and think of how to break up the book homiletically – how many sermons, where to break up the passages, and do my best to outline it.
Then, having done that, I’d open up a commentary and modify my sermon where needed. You should use a commentary like Preaching the Word as a part of your sermon-prep process. But if you use a commentary to start your process, you will become a commentary cripple.
When you look back at your own preaching ministry, what are a few things you wish you would have known as a young preacher that you’d exhort other young preachers toward today?
This matter of doing your own work is very, very important. You can borrow from all kinds of people and not really do your own thinking. The hardest thing to do is to sit down with the biblical text and ask God to help you. Do your own work first and then you can use a commentary to help you adjust.
If you’re new to The Bible Study App, you might be asking yourself “where do I start?” Here’s Nine Quick Tips & Refreshers to get you started in The Bible Study App. (Screenshots taken from an iPad. Please note that icon graphics vary somewhat across devices). 1. The “Library” Button: This is where you can find all of the Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries, and other resources you’ve downloaded to your devices. You can choose from All, Recent, or Favorites.
2. “My Stuff” Suitcase Button is the central nervous system of The Bible Study App. Here you can find your notes, bookmarks, highlights, tags, reading plans, and the ever important Sync button at the bottom left. If you haven’t already done so, Click here to create an Olive Tree Account. I can’t go into great detail here, but there are enormous benefits to creating an Olive Tree Account. It’s Free and will only take a minute to set up.
3.“History” Button: Do you ever get three verses into a Bible study and want to refer back to a previous verse? The History Button is the fastest way to refer back to a previous reference. You can view by date or by title.
4. Settings Button is where you can quickly customize the type and size of your font. For a more customized Bible Study App experience, you can then click the “Advanced Settings” for an array of other custom settings (social network, posting, custom iOS gestures, etc) within The Bible Study App.
5. Search Button: Search anything within the resource you are currently studying. In your Bible, you can even limit your search to the Old Testament, New Testament, or create a custom filter or range that you define.
7. The Split Window Button: You don’t have to switch back and forth to view different resources. With the Split Window Button, you can view your Bible and your favorite commentary at the same time. Also, our built in Resource Guide in the split window follows along, looking in your library for any information that is relevant to your reading. As you scroll or change scripture references the Resource Guide will stay in sync looking to all of your study resources making for a powerful and easy to use study tool.
8. The Sync option: I have a terrible memory, but thanks to The Bible Study App, I’m able to overcome it…mostly. I do my daily Bible Reading in the App and Olive Tree’s Automatic Background Sync takes care of it. This allows me to go into my other devices to access and keep up with my Reading Plan. The Bible is able to sink into my daily life and I can refer back to that morning’s reading from wherever I am – on the go with my phone, on laptop at work, at coffee shops on my iPad, or at home on my desktop. Because of the Bible Study App Sync function, all of my custom highlights, tags, and bookmarks are always readily available. With Olive Tree’s Automatic Background Sync, I don’t have worry about whether or not my notes, highlights, bookmarks, and book ribbons are up to date.
9. Download The Bible Study App to every device you own. I personally have an iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, Windows Laptop, and Windows desktop. The advantage to having the App on your devices is that with an Olive Tree Account (have you created one yet?) you can access your entire library from wherever you study the Bible. Obviously, I’m a big fan of the form and function of the Olive Tree Bible Study App. What are your top features of The Bible Study App? Where would you advise a new user to start? I would love your feedback.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1894) converted to Christianity at the age of fifteen. By the time he was twenty-two, he was the most popular preacher of his time. He frequently spoke to crowds numbering over 10,000 in the days before sound systems or other electronic amplification.
Well known for his eloquent but familiar style, Charles Haddon Spurgeon won a large following in 19th Century Britain and his popularity among Christians of all denominations continues to this day. After his preaching began at age nineteen he quickly became very well-known throughout England and delivered nearly thirty-six hundred sermons. A prolific writer, many of Spurgeon’s works remain in print to this day.
Sometimes called the “prince of preachers” because of the richness of his utterance in interpreting the word of God, he ministered to thousands in London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle for decades. His popular daily devotional Morning and Evening has been a source of spiritual supply to countless believers. Always taking his subject directly from the Bible and always focusing on Christ’s glory and preeminence, Spurgeon puts himself aside and ushers his readers directly into the Lord’s presence to enjoy the comfort and encouragement only He can provide.
Not everything he said and did was widely accepted. Spurgeon was also ridiculed and criticized by preachers from across the Christian spectrum. But whether dealing with this criticism, suffering from gout, caring for his invalid wife, battling depression, or carrying a burden of personal tragedy, Spurgeon refused to cave to the overwhelming adversity in his life.
To Celebrate Spurgeon’s 180th birthday we have the 37 Volume Olive Tree Charles Haddon Spurgeon Collection discounted this week. This collection includes his Sermons, Autobiography, and several Devotionals and eBooks written by C.H. Spurgeon. We also have the Parallel Commentary on the New Testament (Also by John Wesley and Matthew Henry) and the Parallel Classic Commentary on the Psalms (also by John Calvin and Matthew Henry).
Lastly, there are several more titles discounted to celebrate Charles Spurgeon and John Wesley’s birthdays this week. You can find them here.
John Wesley (June 17, 1703 – March 2, 1791) was a Christian theologian who, with his brother Charles Wesley and fellow cleric George Whitefield, is credited with the foundation of Methodism. He helped to form and organize small Christian groups that developed personal accountability, discipleship and religious instruction. He also appointed itinerant evangelists to travel and preach like he did and to care for the small groups of people. Under Wesley’s direction, Methodists became leaders in many social issues of the day, including prison reform and abolitionism.
Throughout his life, Wesley remained within the established Anglican church, insisting that the Methodist movement lay well within its tradition. He became widely respected, and by the end of his life, had been described as “the best loved man in England”.
Wesley died on Wednesday March 2, 1791, in his eighty-eighth year. As he lay dying, his friends gathered around him, Wesley grasped their hands and said repeatedly, “Farewell, farewell.” At the end, summoning all his remaining strength, he cried out, “The best of all is, God is with us,” lifted his arms and raised his feeble voice again, repeating the words, “The best of all is, God is with us.”
To celebrate John Wesley’s birthday today, we highlight several titles. John Wesley’s Teachings, Complete 4 Volume Set, the Wesley Study Bible Notes, Parallel Commentary on the New Testament (Also by Charles Spurgeon and Matthew Henry), and Renew My Heart.
Thanks to our partners at the Wesley Center, we also have several other John Wesley Writings available for The Bible Study App.
Thanks to the Wesley Center Online and Wikipedia for the content of this post.
Watch this short tutorial about how to use the Resource Guide for Android for The Bible Study App.
For more information about the Resource Guide click HERE.
What is the Resource Guide? As you read along in your Bible in the main window of The Bible Study App, the Resource Guide in the split window follows along, looking in your library for any Bible study information that is relevant to your reading. As you scroll or change scripture references the Resource Guide will stay in sync looking to all of your study resources making for a powerful and easy to use study tool.
Your Very Own Research Assistant Think of the Resource Guide as your own personal research assistant. If you were reading about Paul’s first missionary journey in Acts 13, your research assistant has a map of Paul’s journey, cross references to passages in Paul’s letters written to the churches he founded, charts that give an overview of Paul’s life, and all sorts of other resources. You didn’t have to do anything, in fact, you didn’t even have to ask. All of the work was already done by your personal research assistant, the Resource Guide.
Completely Customizable The configuration of the Resource Guide is also customizable. To access the options for customizing the Resource Guide tap on the double arrow button (double gear for Android) in the upper right corner. You will then see the various options for customizing the different sections in the Resource Guide.
Here’s a short video on the basics of the Resource Guide:
What types of resources work with the Resource Guide? The Resource Guide is ‘verse driven’ which means that the Bible passage that is open in the main window directs what references appear in the Resource Guide. Not every resource is verse driven but some examples of verse driven resources are:
- Articles on people, places, and other topics
- Study Bible notes
- Introductions to books of the Bible
- Cross references