Friday, December 31, 2010

Already Misunderstood

Luke 2:50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.

50 καὶ αὐτοὶ οὐ συνῆκαν τὸ ῥῆμα ὃ ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς.

This is the end of one of the more perplexing stories in the gospels.  If I had been Joseph I can guarantee that Jesus would have received a spanking for what he did.  At the very least, I can tell you that when we got to "what do you want to tell God you're sorry for today?" I would have prompted him to mention staying behind from the rest of the caravan to hang out in the temple.  This is perplexing because we know that Jesus never sinned; therefore, this was not as sinful as it seems.

Like Joseph, I would not have really understood what He was doing and why.  Here we see that they did not συνῆκαν, which is an aorist active third-person plural.  There is nothing really special about the aorist mood here, in my opinion.  We just see that Mary and Joseph were confused.

Of course, we see this later on in Jesus' ministry.  We don't see any mention of Joseph, but we do see that Mary and His brothers tried to get Him to stop with all His crazy preaching.  They just didn't get it.  They knew that He was somehow special, but they didn't really fully grasp it.

I'm not sure how to apply this other than to exhort all of us to study Jesus.  Read the gospels.  Read what Paul had to say about Him.  Look at His life.  Read the stories in the context of what He came to do.  His job was to inaugurate the Kingdom.  He turned the Jewish world upside-down.  He turns out world upside-down too.  Jesus changes everything.

Personally, I am convicted by the fact that there are some parts of my life that don't seem to be too greatly affected by knowing Him.  At least they are not radically different from the way people who don't know Him live.  That is not to say I must become an Anabaptist, but I also want to give myself completely to Him.  He gave it all.  What else can I do?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Loosening the Tongue

Luke 1:64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.

64 ἀνεῴχθη δὲ τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ παραχρῆμα καὶ ἡ γλῶσσα αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐλάλει εὐλογῶν τὸν θεόν.

Something struck me about this verse today.  I normally read over this pretty quickly.  After all, I'm familiar with the story.  This is one of those times when having to slow down by reading in Greek really helped me.  I got to think about the phrase καὶ ἐλάλει εὐλογῶν τὸν θεόν.

This is a man who was mute for upwards of 9 months after he saw the vision in the temple.  It occurs to me that Elizabeth probably didn't mind having a mute husband while she was pregnant as he couldn't say anything stupid to her.  But that's not my point today.

I am struck by his reaction to regaining his speech.  What is the first thing that he did after he could speak?  He εὐλογῶν τὸν θεόν.  That is a present active participle in the nominative case.  Put it all together and he was "one praising God."  Keep in mind that this is the same God who took away his speech in the first place because of his unbelief.  And yet this is how he reacts.  He doesn't shake his fist at the heavens.  He doesn't say anything banal.  Instead, he uses his regained voice to bless God.

I think that this is also a great image of what happens to someone upon salvation.  We go from being unable to bless God to being able to bless God.  And if we are truly saved and we truly understand what it means to go from bearing righteous condemnation to gracious freedom we cannot help but bless God.

This gives me pause in how I live my life.  I go through the motions very well.  I am disciplined and by most external measures doing pretty well in my walk.  But how much does my heart really bless God?  I am thankful for reminders like this that convict me and remind me of how I was saved from God's righteous wrath.  How else can I react but to bless Him?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Today was a big day for me because I memorized Colossians 4:18.  That puts me at the end of the book.  It's always great to reach the end, but now comes the long slog through the next 100 days of review.  Given the troubles I've had with Galatians I realize that I need to stay buttoned-up on this.

I know that I don't post personal stuff on this blog much anymore, but since this project is the reason I've been slacking here I thought I should mention it.  In a few weeks I should be able to recite all of Colossians from memory without helps and then be able to do it while stretching for a run, in the shower, etc.  That will free up more time for this blog.

If you're interested in trying this, you can check out this system.  And unlike the system that many are discussing now, you don't need a moleskine!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Big Stone

Mark 16:3 And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back--it was very large.

3 καὶ ἔλεγον πρὸς ἑαυτάς· τίς ἀποκυλίσει ἡμῖν τὸν λίθον ἐκ τῆς θύρας τοῦ μνημείου; 4  καὶ ἀναβλέψασαι θεωροῦσιν ὅτι ἀποκεκύλισται ὁ λίθος· ἦν γὰρ μέγας σφόδρα.

I was thinking about writing on the longer ending of Mark, but I see that I already did that in my first pass through this book.  These two verses jumped out at me because they speak to something that is sometimes overlooked when we read the gospel accounts.  Gospel is a specific genre of literature because it is basically narrative, but is different than the book of 1 Samuel, for example.  The three synoptics combine to create what is sometimes called the "synoptic problem," in that details don't seem to quite match up.  There are ways to deal with that and still maintain inerrancy, but I don't want to get into that here.

My point is that the gospels are still heavy on the narrative.  Little details like this emphasize the reality of the accounts.  We don't really need to read this dialog between the women.  They could have just gone to the tomb and seen that the Lord had been raised.  Instead, Mark gives us this little insight into the reality of the situation.  These two women worried about how they were going to roll away the stone.  This was certainly a legitimate concern for them.

This is similar to how we read in John that John outran Peter.  This is not a necessary detail, but it shows us that the writer was chronicling real events.  If it was just an objective historical account of what happened we likely would not have these things.  But the little things give us a sense that we are reading eyewitness accounts of what happened or, as in the case of Luke, reading the compilation of eyewitness accounts.

In short, you can trust the gospels.  Just be careful about those passages that appear in [[ ]] in your Bibles.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas

Mark 15:24 And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take.

24 Καὶ σταυροῦσιν αὐτὸν καὶ διαμερίζονται τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ, βάλλοντες κλῆρον ἐπ᾽ αὐτὰ τίς τί ἄρῃ.

Here we are on the day after Christmas and I find myself in Mark 15.  This seems a bit macabre given all the sugar we have been consuming to remind us of the sweetness of our Savior.  We exchanged gifts to remind us that Jesus gave us the best gift we could possibly ever receive.  We sing songs like "O Holy Night" and "Silent Night" as we contemplate that first Christmas.

I have always loved Christmas, but now that I am a parent of two small children I love the giving more than the receiving.  I never really understood that until the past few years.  I would still have trouble sleeping on Christmas Eve because of the anticipation.  Now I look forward to seeing how my children react to their gifts.  They rarely disappoint.

But here we see that, in contrast to the sweetness of Christmas, σταυροῦσιν αὐτὸν.  There's nothing fancy about this verb.  It is simply a present active 3rd person indicative.  It means what it looks like it means.  They crucified Him.

My point is that there was a shadow of a cross hanging over the manger where He was laid.  He was born to die as a ransom for mankind.  So while we think about the wonder of Christmas let us be even more amazed as we consider that His death loomed over His whole life.  I don't think that His parents quite understood that, based on how they reacted to His ministry.  As a baby He didn't understand it either.  But as we look back at the gospel accounts we can see how He was born to die as a payment for sin.  What a Savior!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Stay Awake

Mark 13:37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake."

37 ὃ δὲ ὑμῖν λέγω πᾶσιν λέγω, γρηγορεῖτε.

This is the end of the parable about the doorkeeper who must stay awake because he does not know when his master will return.  Jesus is giving a very serious command to His disciples and, I believe, to us.  We are to γρηγορεῖτε.  This is a present active imperative.  Another way of thinking of it is that we are to "remain watchful."

What does this mean?  Well, at a certain level all the parables are an indictment against the Jews.  They did not remain watchful because if they had they would have connected the dots between the Old Testament prophecies and the coming of the Messiah in Jesus.

I think that it also applies to us.  How will you be found when Jesus returns?  Are you active and vigilant in your Christian life?  Or are you napping?  To make a sports comparison, the best players are the ones who never take an at-bat off.  They never take a down off.  They never stop playing defense every time the ball does down the court.  If they are in the game they are playing their hardest.

What about you?  Are you remaining watchful?  Or have you decided to take a nap with grace as your spiritual snuggie?  As with all of the parables, this convicts me because I realize just how much more vigilant I must be.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Prophet Has Come

Mark 9:13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him."

13 ἀλλὰ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι καὶ Ἠλίας ἐλήλυθεν, καὶ ἐποίησαν αὐτῷ ὅσα ἤθελον, καθὼς γέγραπται ἐπ᾽ αὐτόν.

This is something Jesus tells Peter and James after they witnessed His transfiguration.  They didn't know what to make of Elijah and Moses on the mountain with Jesus and they start asking Him questions.  They were trying to understand why it was written that Elijah must come first.  This is how Jesus responded to them.  He tells them that Elijah ἐλήλυθεν, which is in the perfect active indicative.  The most generic understanding of the aspect of the perfect is that it refers to a completed action with present effect.

Why do I quote this verse on a day when I am emerging from a blogging slumber?  I guess I'm in an academic mood, but it makes me think of hermeneutics, which is one of my favorite subjects.  It seems to me that Jesus could be referring to the fact that Elijah was with them at the transfiguration.  Or as is often supposed, it means that Jesus is referring to John the Baptizer.  For what it's worth, the ESV cross-reference points to Mark 6 which recounts why John was beheaded by Herod.

If Jesus does indeed refer to John the Baptizer here then this is something of a hermeneutical oddity for us.  It tells us that there is some sort of non-literal language being used here.  If we take this passage literally we are confused or perhaps we look for Elijah to come before the Messiah as the Jews do.  After all, if we take this passage literally then they are right.  But if we read this with an understanding to the symbolic language we see that not all is as it seems.  In fact, Jesus is explaining this with symbolic rather than literal language.

My point is that we need to be careful about being too literal.  The key is to figure out what should be taken literally and what should be taken symbolically.  It sure helps when the New Testament interprets it clearly for us, doesn't it?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Faith to be Healed

Mark 5:29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.

29 καὶ εὐθὺς ἐξηράνθη ἡ πηγὴ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτῆς καὶ ἔγνω τῷ σώματι ὅτι ἴαται ἀπὸ τῆς μάστιγος.

This is one of the stories that we cannot really grasp in our 21st century Gentile context.  Here was a woman who had some kind of discharge of blood.  Nobody is exactly sure what it was, but many think that it was menstrual.  This would cause both spiritual and physical problems for this woman.  Obviously it is not good if you bleed continually for years and years.  The spiritual problem is that the book of Leviticus makes it very clear that this woman was unclean.  The time of menstruation made a woman ceremonially unclean.  Therefore, she was constantly unclean.

She pressed through the crowd so that she could just touch Jesus' robe.  She did and as we see here the flow dried up εὐθὺς.  She instantly knew that she was better.  I cannot even begin to relate to how elated she must have felt at that time.

This story amazes me on a couple of levels.  First, it makes me wonder a little bit about relics.  Why was it that she had to touch Jesus' robe?  Was there any special power to it?  I don't think so.  I think that it demonstrates a practical outworking of her faith.  She knew that she needed Jesus and this was how she had to express it.  In other words, if we could somehow find that same robe I don't think we could take it to Duke and clear out the pediatric oncology ward.

The other amazing thing is that she could touch Jesus and He would not become unclean.  Anyone else would have become unclean, but not God.  The same goes for when He touches a leper to make him well.  The only time the stain of sin touched Jesus was on the cross.  We'll of course get to that in a week or two, but for now consider this.  Read through Leviticus if you have a few minutes and look at how exacting the laws for purification were.  Then consider that Jesus did not have to go through all those machinations.

We truly worship an amazing Savior.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Unbelievable Mercy

Mark 5:13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the pigs, and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea.

13 καὶ ἐπέτρεψεν αὐτοῖς. καὶ ἐξελθόντα τὰ πνεύματα τὰ ἀκάθαρτα εἰσῆλθον εἰς τοὺς χοίρους, καὶ ὥρμησεν ἡ ἀγέλη κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν, ὡς δισχίλιοι, καὶ ἐπνίγοντο ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ.

This may be my favorite story in all of Mark.  Jesus is dealing with a man possessed with many demons.  He has been relegated to living in a tomb and is not in his right mind.  The demons recognized Jesus immediately upon His arrival and they begged Him not to torment them.  What was the result? ἐπέτρεψεν αὐτοῖς.  There is nothing fancy about the Greek here.  Basically, Jesus permitted the demons to have their request.

I think about my attitude toward those who have harmed me.  If someone were to hurt anyone in my family I would have a hard time showing mercy.  I would want to see that person suffer.  It would be difficult for me to be content with them merely receiving justice.  I would also want revenge.

Jesus certainly had it in His power to make these demons suffer.  In fact, that's what they were worried that He would do.  Instead, He cast the unclean spirits into unclean animals.  We don't really know what happened to the unclean spirits other than that they were not bothering their original host anymore.  I have not given much thought to the doctrine of demonology so I don't really understand everything that happened here.

What I do know is that Jesus even showed mercy to demons.  This was sheer grace because they did not deserve any mercy.  How much more mercy does He show us when He saves us from our sins?  And as we live our lives and seek to be Christlike, how much mercy do we show others?  How much grace do we extend?

My inclination is to be vindictive.  Christ's is to show mercy.  Let's seek the better path, amen?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

We Are Family

Mark 3:34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother."

34 καὶ περιβλεψάμενος τοὺς περὶ αὐτὸν κύκλῳ καθημένους λέγει· ἴδε ἡ μήτηρ μου καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί μου. 35  ὃς [γὰρ] ἂν ποιήσῃ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, οὗτος ἀδελφός μου καὶ ἀδελφὴ καὶ μήτηρ ἐστίν.

This is Jesus' response to the statement that His mother and brothers were outside and looking for Him.  One would think that a good son would simply go out and see His mother and His family, even if they were trying to have Him committed.  Instead He does something surprising.  He asks a rhetorical question in verse 33 wondering who are His mother and brothers.  Then He answers it here.

This is one of those Greek constructs that does not translate perfectly.  Jesus tells them ὃς [γὰρ] ἂν ποιήσῃ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ.  It would read terribly, but very woodenly this would be, "If there is a person who does the will of God."  The verb ποιήσῃ is in the aorist subjunctive.  The aorist tense gives it an undefined aspect.  Basically, Jesus is saying something to the effect of, "Find me someone who does the will of God and I will call that person family."

This has two applications I can think of right away.  The first is doctrinal.  This passage and its parallels in the synoptics tell us that Jesus' mother and family held no special sway over Him, despite what Roman Catholics teach.  He takes care of His mother at the end of John's gospel and He does obey her in John 2, but otherwise she seems to have no special place in His ministry.  I don't think that having her ear gains us any special favor with Jesus.

The other is that doing God's will is something that we really should be doing.  We do not do God's will to earn favor with the Lord.  Rather, we do God's will as a result of our salvation.  This helps me in the area of assurance.  My salvation is not contingent on doing God's will, but if I am doing God's will I have a deeper sense of assurance.

How do we know God's will?  We read His Word and apply it.  This really is not very complicated.  It's easier to write about at 6:30 in the morning than it will be to live at 2:30 this afternoon, but this is the heart of the matter.  How am I living?  Do I act like part of Jesus' family or don't I?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Devotional Time

Mark 1:35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

35 Καὶ πρωῒ ἔννυχα λίαν ἀναστὰς ἐξῆλθεν καὶ ἀπῆλθεν εἰς ἔρημον τόπον κἀκεῖ προσηύχετο.

This is a verse that I have had in my email signature because I think that it underscores something that is vital to Christian living.  Today is the first time that I really looked deeply at the Greek.  I think that is because last time I read this I went through it pretty quickly since it is such a familiar verse.

The phrase πρωῒ ἔννυχα λίαν ἀναστὰς does not translate literally into English very well.  The word πρωῒ means "morning," but the word ἔννυχα means "night."  However, it also can be used as a modifier.  The word λίαν means "greatly," so this adds force to a modifier.  The word ἀναστὰς  is an aorist active participle in the nominative case.  The ESV captures the overall sense of this very well.  Basically, what we get is Jesus getting up at what they call "oh-dark-thirty" in the military.  He was awake to see the sky turn from black to deep purple to deep blue to blue.  He heard the first birds chirping.  You get the idea.

This verse starts with Καὶ, so we need to ask what this is tied to.  The previous verse describes His healing and exorcism ministry.  He was extremely busy healing people and casting out demons.  This was His response.  He got up very early in the morning to pray.  He didn't feel like He owed Himself a good lie-in.  He did take some time to Himself, but not to play video games, watch TV, surf porn, or drink Himself into oblivion.  Rather, He sacrificed sleep to spend time with the Father before the pressures of the day started up.

How do we deal with the pressures of life?  Obviously I was making an illustrative point in contrasting Jesus' way with the way that I and so many others have dealt with stress.  He spent time with the Father.  He found that to be refreshing.

This of course should make us question our own practices.  Do we even consider time with the Father to be refreshing?  Do we even think it will be worthwhile to sacrifice some sleep to spend time with Him through prayer and the Word?  Or do we think it is more important to leap out of bed and start the day?  I know that I feel off-kilter if I don't have a little time to myself first-thing every morning.  How about you?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Time is Fulfilled

Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

14 Μετὰ δὲ τὸ παραδοθῆναι τὸν Ἰωάννην ἦλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ 15  καὶ λέγων ὅτι πεπλήρωται ὁ καιρὸς καὶ ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ· μετανοεῖτε καὶ πιστεύετε ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ.

One of the great things about the book of Mark is that it is all about action.  It leaps from one story to the next and there is rarely much time for background material.  Here we see a lot of time condensed into two verses.  We learned about the John the Baptizer's ministry and then we see the transition to Jesus.

Jesus says something pretty striking to His listeners.  He tells them that πεπλήρωται ὁ καιρὸς.  The verb πεπλήρωται is a perfect passive, which means that it would most literally be translated something like, "the time has been fulfilled."  What time is that?  Jesus continues with καὶ ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ, which is a perfect active.  Here we see that the kingdom is near.  What does this mean?

It means that everything that the prophets wrote about were coming true in Him.  They predicted His coming and here He was.  They didn't have to keep looking through the prophets and they didn't have to keep watching and waiting.  He arrived to fulfill the prophets.  He emphasized this by explaining that the kingdom of God is near and therefore, they had to repent and believe right then.

What does this mean to us?  I think that it is a key to understanding Old Testament prophecy.  It points forward to Christ.  He is the ultimate fulfillment of prophecy.  This puts our focus on the cross and not anywhere else.  Frankly, I think that is where it should be.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Torn Curtain

Matthew 27:51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.

51 Καὶ ἰδοὺ τὸ καταπέτασμα τοῦ ναοῦ ἐσχίσθη ἀπ᾽ ἄνωθεν ἕως κάτω εἰς δύο καὶ ἡ γῆ ἐσείσθη καὶ αἱ πέτραι ἐσχίσθησαν,

I picked this title because it is also a good Hitchcock movie that is worth seeing, if nothing else because it so perfectly captures how you can get a scientist to give you a secret.  Much more importantly, it represents an incredible truth.  If you have spent any time in the Pentateuch you will know how important the Tabernacle was to the life of the people.  This was then continued with the temple.  It was vitally important to have the curtain to keep the Holy of Holies separate from the people.  Legend has it that when the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies for the annual sacrifice on Yom Kippur they would tie a rope to his ankle in case he made the offering in an unworthy manner and the Lord killed him like He did with Uzzah and the ark or with Nadab and Abihu and their "strange fire."  That's how serious it was.  There was a barrier between the people and God.

But as Christ yielded up His spirit this curtain was torn.  Not only was it torn, but it was torn ἀπ᾽ ἄνωθεν ἕως κάτω.  There was no way that a person could do that.  It had to be God who tore the curtain.  Imagine the violence of the moment.  Anyone who has ever lived through an earthquake knows how unsettling it is.  When rocks start splitting it is extremely serious and terrifying.  All of this happened as Christ yielded up His spirit.

What does this mean for us?  It means that because of Christ's atoning death on the cross we have access to God.  There is no longer a barrier between us and God if we go to the cross.  This would be simply unthinkable to Matthew's Jewish audience, but they could look at the torn curtain for all the proof that they needed.  God gave them a physical illustration of what Christ accomplished on the cross.  I can only imagine the spectacle as Jews went to the temple to get a look at what was in the Holy of Holies.  I know that I would have wanted to see.  That was unimaginable access for them.

And yet we have more than that with God.  What do we do with this?  Do we spend time in earnest prayer enjoying this intimate fellowship?  I don't know about you, but I find that I sadly do not do that as much as I'd like.  Instead, I find myself wasting time on frivolities and trying to entertain myself.  Why do this when we have access to God?  This passage reminds me of the access that we do have.  Let's take advantage of it, amen?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on Matthew

I was thrilled to be deemed worthy of receiving a copy of one of the new exegetical commentaries from Zondervan.  I got the one on Matthew.  My thesis is on the relationship between Matthew 2:15 and Hosea 11:1, so I could use the resource anyway.  Plus, I'm always a sucker for free books.

My first impression is that this tome means business as it weighs in at 4.5 pounds.  Of course, Matthew is 28 chapters, so it takes some space to cover all of it.  The binding is outstanding.  I can open the book up to any page and it will stay open to that page.  This may not seem like a big deal until you try to type notes while reading.  It's a little thing that I've grown to appreciate with well-made books.  The paper has a nice thickness to it with very little ghosting.  The serif font used for the majority of the text is very readable, even in the footnotes.

The book begins with an introduction explaining issues of authorship, sources, Matthew's use of the OT, etc.   It also has an exegetical outline of the whole book, which is very handy if you plan on preaching through Matthew.  The rest of the book is broken up into 122 chapters that are subsets of this major outline.  It ends with a section on the theology of Matthew.

Each chapter begins with a paragraph on the literary context of the pericope, though chapters before major passages have an introduction to the whole section.  For example, at the start of Matthew 24 there is an introduction to the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24:1-25:46.  After the literary context there is a chart showing where this passage falls in the major outline with a good use of bold type.  A few sentences describe the "main idea" for the passage, which is of course important if you plan to preach expository sermons.  Each section is translated into English, but what's really nice is how this is done.  The English translation is given in block outline form so you can follow the flow of the passage.  On the right are labels for each clause in each verse.  In a light shadow font are descriptions of each clause such as "Scene #1 setting" or "Objection" and then "Answer."  Naturally, these are all subject to debate, but they really provide a great help in determining how the pericope flows.

Next is a section on the structure and literary form of each passage and this is a paragraph or two.  Following that is an exegetical outline of the passage, which is yet another aid in preaching.  Basically, Osborne has done what my Greek teacher taught me to do.  I would still want to do this myself, but it is nice to have a scholar's work to check mine against.

After all these preliminaries are the meat of each chapter -- the explanation of the text.  The explanation starts with a brief introduction and then goes through each clause.  The clauses are presented with the English translation in bold type followed by the Greek in parenthesis.  The Greek font is extremely readable, which I have learned is not a given in books that print Greek text.  The text describing each clause also includes Greek in parenthesis where appropriate.  For example, the note on Matthew 3:13 begins with, "The 'then' (τότε) here shows that..."  This is very helpful in thinking through the issues in each clause.

The book is heavily footnoted.  It took a little digging for me to find the bibliography at the front of the book rather than the back.  I appreciate that the footnotes are in the full SBL text note style rather than Author-Date citations in the text.  This is superior to the system used in the Baker commentaries where it is more difficult to figure out each source for each citation.

The footnotes are my only real quibble with this resource.  The 1/2 inch margins make the text feel a bit crowded.  I cannot imagine how much the book would weigh with larger margins, so I understand why this had to be done.  As this book becomes a staple in seminary libraries students are going to have a tough time making photocopies of the pages they want because the thickness of the book creates a deep gutter and the small margins give little tolerance for error.  The good news is that text never disappears into the gutter when reading it.

I am not fond of the two-column format for the majority of the text.  Again, given the way this book is designed there would be a lot of line breaks as the author moved from clause to clause.  Nevertheless, the text ends up with too many hyphens for continued words.  A quick glance through the book shows that most pages have a footnote broken between the two columns.  Since this is not a book you're likely to curl up with in front of the fire, I don't think that this is a huge problem, but it is still a bit distracting.

Finally, each chapter ends with a section called "Theology in Application" where the author gives his opinion as to how one can apply what he just read.  Again, this is a great aid in preaching.

I am hardly a Matthean scholar, so I do not feel qualified to offer much criticism of the substance of the work.  I am working on a thesis regarding the connection between Matthew 2:15 and Hosea 11:1, so naturally I went there first.  I found that Osborne presents the majority opinion, but also gives some information about other largely-held views.

Another passage I examined was Matthew 16:18-19.  Osborne presents the various ideas of what "the rock" was to which Jesus referred.  He explains a few views, but lands on the natural reading of Peter as "the rock," and also explains that is the majority view as well.  Again, Osborne lands on the majority view, but has good reasons to do so.

Finally, I took a look at some of his comments around the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24.  He lays out four views of how to interpret it from the classic dispensational view to reading it all as apocalyptic language.  None of his descriptions are exhaustive, but the descriptions and the footnotes combine to give the reader plenty to work on if he wants to do further research.

Overall, I am glad to have this in my library.  I look forward to when this is included with Logos as well.  I suspect that this is a commentary series that I will use quite heavily as I prepare NT sermons.  You will not be sorry if you purchase this.