Well, I’ve broken a reviewing record now. One thing I have never done before is request a review copy of a Bible. But, when the chance came up recently, I was intrigued by the idea: A study Bible with its sole focus on the gospel, and how all of scripture proclaims the gospel? Being the central focus of our faith, I was more than a little excited when I found out I had been accepted as a reviewer!
NOTE: Links in this post may be affiliate links. Your purchase through these links helps support the blog at no extra cost to you. Thank you! Also, I did receive a complimentary review copy of this book from Crossway Publishers. This is my honest opinion of it.
The ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible is designed to help readers see Christ in all of Scripture, and grace for all of life.
It features book introductions, gospel-centered study notes, and a series of all-new articles―written by a team of over 50 pastors and scholars. This content explains passage-by-passage how God’s redemptive purposes culminate in the gospel and apply to the lives of believers today.
Readers will be challenged to see how the message of the gospel transforms sinners from the inside out.
- Over 375,000 words of gospel-centered study notes
- Introduction that outlines specific uses for the Bible
- Updated design and typesetting based on the original ESV Gospel Transformation Bible released in 2013
- Includes 5 new articles on topics such as the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, the gospel in the Old Testament, the covenants, and more
- Book introductions
- 80,000 cross-references
- Ribbon marker
- Smyth-sewn binding
- Size: 6.125″ x 9.125″
- 9-point Bible text; 8-point study notes
- 2,096 pages
- Single-column, paragraph format
This was definitely one of the harder reviews I’ve ever written! How do you contain the power of the Bible in a few paragraphs?—impossible! And even something written about the Bible is difficult!
For years, as I’ve read through the Bible, I’ve tried to correlate the Old Testament with the New. Finding the foreshadowing and types and figures, and then seeing how the Lord Jesus fulfilled each one. And while I know Jesus is spoken of often in the Old Testament when it comes to prophecy, how can things like the Book of Esther show elements of the Gospel? And what about the New Testament? Obviously, without the gospel of the Lord Jesus itself, there would be no New Testament! But how can we apply some of the things spoken of in 1 Corinthians, for example, or James? How do they share the gospel, and how do the words there reflect and reinforce gospel principles?
This “Gospel Transformation Study Bible” is a great way to flesh out the stories from the Bible that we know so well. Having grown up in a Christian family, hearing Bible stories my whole life, I have to remember to focus more on the words, asking the Lord to teach me what He is saying, because otherwise I’ll only see what I’ve known for years in there. And reading the Bible with a pre-supposition for what it’s going to say isn’t necessarily all that inspiring! So seeing how gospel principles were played out in Esther’s case, for example, was a real blessing. I’ve known and enjoyed the story for years, but considering the great price it could have easily cost Esther and Mordecai, and how it cost Jesus so much was quite fascinating.
It’s hard to sum up such a big work in a few words. I definitely did not read all of the commentary before writing this review, as that would have been a massive undertaking! I did, however, read everything in several books—some of Job, Esther, and Romans—when I was going through them in my normal Bible time. I was impressed by the focus maintained on the gospel, and I feel like the perspectives offered here—while they could possibly become a crutch for some people—are an excellent way to gain a new understanding of how the Lord has worked in ages past. I say it could possibly become a crutch, but only to the extent that we may rely on other extra-Biblical resources (commentaries, devotionals, etc.) for interpreting Biblical text for us. I believe firmly in going to the Word of God and asking the Lord to illuminate it for us, and teach us what He would have us know and believe. And there is such richness in the Word of God already! I feel like this Study Bible has enhanced my understanding, though, and helped me see a bit more of God’s plan for His people throughout the ages—and that’s what I really was hoping for from this.
In summary, I feel like this study Bible would be helpful to a great range of people—from those newly coming to the Bible, wanting to see Jesus in the Old Testament as well as the new. It would be an excellent way to get to know the Word of God as a cohesive whole. I also feel like those who have loved and studied the Word for years would also find this useful, because no matter how many times we may go over the text, there’s always something new to gain. It also could be helpful in figuring out how to show others how the gospel is central to the entire Bible.
And just for all honesty’s sake, I don’t know if I would have just gone out and bought this book had I had the chance—partly because it’s not the translation I normally read from, and partly because I’m not sure I would have thought it was necessary to have a commentary like this on hand. However, at this point, I think it would actually be worth buying. Even with the limited time (twoish months) I’ve had to study it, I’ve gleaned a lot of good things from it! And I know I’ll definitely be picking it up to read frequently in the future, too!
So…if you’re looking for a new Bible, or would like some study notes that could help flesh out passages for you if they’re feeling rather dry or disconnected from the Gospel, I would recommend checking this one out! I feel like I could never have too much of a gospel-centered focus in my life, and this is one more way I can learn more about the depth of the Word of God. There are also practical applications that naturally come from the discussion, and I appreciated that, too!
(Also, a note on doctrines—I was impressed by several places where hot doctrinal issues could have been brought up. I felt like they were treated pretty fairly, and the gospel principles were still brought out well without one particular agenda being pushed.)
Let’s discuss: What kinds of study Bibles have you used in the past or are currently using? Dad really enjoys his life application Bible!