"Read! Read! Read!" (3)

“The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” (2 Timothy 4:13)

Spurgeon had little patience with preachers who despise commentaries and good study books. He addressed the following statement to his Bible School students:

“Of course, you are not such wiseacres as to think or say that you can expound Scripture without assistance from the works of divines and learned men who have laboured before you in the field of exposition. If you are of that opinion, pray remain so, for you are not worth the trouble of conversion, and like a little coterie who think with you, would resent the attempt as an insult to your infallibility. It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others. My chat this afternoon is not for these great originals, but for you who are content to learn of holy men, taught of God, and mighty in the Scriptures. It has been the fashion of late years to speak against the use of commentaries. If there were any fear that the expositions of Matthew Henry, Gill, Scott, and others, would be exalted into Christian Targums, we would join the chorus of objectors, but the existence or approach of such a danger we do not suspect. The temptations of our times lie rather in empty pretensions to novelty of sentiment, than in a slavish following of accepted guides. A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might have saved many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences. Usually, we have found the despisers of commentaries to be men who have no sort of acquaintance with them; in their case, it is the opposite of familiarity which has bred contempt” (Spurgeon, Two Lectures Addressed to the Students of the Pastor’s College, Metropolitan Tabernacle).

Spurgeon advised his Bible students to read the entire multi-volume Matthew Henry commentary set in the twelve months after they graduated from Pastor’s College. He said that the revivalist preacher George Whitefield read Matthew Henry through four times during his life. And this is a man who preached an estimated 18,000 sermons in his lifetime, an average of 500 a year or ten a week.


We would recommend reading treasures like the "Synopsis of the books of the Bible" by John Nelson Darby, "The Bible Treasury“ from William Kelly, „The Pentateuch“ by Charles H. Mackintosh, „The Numerical Bible“ by F. W. Grant, the works of J. T. Mawson, F. B. Hole and many others as well.

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