ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible
post written by Esther Filbrun
Title: ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible
Major Themes: Study Bibles
Synopsis: A Study Bible with a central focus on the gospel: Not only on how the whole Bible is focused on the topic, but also how it can be practically lived out in our own lives.
Earlier this year, I had the privilege of getting the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible for review. Somehow, I never took the time to write a review for this blog, so I thought I’d take time today to share about it. This book was something quite out of the ordinary for me; I’ve never owned a study Bible of any kind before, and I’ve also almost exclusively used the King James Version in my personal studies. However, I have been quite blessed by the ESV in the past—when I needed a fresh perspective on a passage, for example, or when I needed a shot of quick encouragement while I worked on a project. I know the ESV has given me a lot of new thoughts about passages that feel almost familiar enough to be memorized, and I’m thankful for that.
So when I saw this book available, I knew I wanted to read it. To me, as to many (or all?) other Christians, the gospel is the central focus of my faith. Take away the gospel, and as Christians, we are left with an empty shell with a label attached to the side.
Before I go further, though, I think it’s important to have some definitions in place. When I think of the gospel, I think of the definition in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, especially the “revelation of the grace…” portion:
“GOS’PEL, noun [Latin evangelium, a good or joyful message.]
“The history of the birth, life, actions, death, resurrection, ascension and doctrines of Jesus Christ; or a revelation of the grace of God to fallen man through a mediator, including the character, actions, and doctrines of Christ, with the whole scheme of salvation, as revealed by Christ and his apostles. This gospel is said to have been preached to Abraham, by the promise, ‘in thee shall all nations be blessed.’ Galatians 3:8.”
God’s grace revealed to us, fallen mankind, through a mediator…wow. I could sit and think about that one for a long, long, time!
But how well did this Study Bible measure up to this standard? Did they actually hold true to explaining this revealed grace and mediator’s work throughout the Bible? As the central tenant to the Christian faith, I have to admire the audacity they have in saying that they’ve even attempted to explain this amazing mystery to us!
I do want you to know that I haven’t read through every commentary in this book! I’ve actually only read all of two or three books’ worth, simply because, in my normal Bible time, I generally prefer just reading the text itself and letting that speak to me, instead of relying on someone else’s thoughts on the topic. So if I were to read through all of it—which I eventually expect to do—my opinions might be changed.
Enough preamble. So far, I have been very impressed with what is shared in the study notes here! There is an introduction to each book, with a quick overview of the gospel applications one can find in there and generally a few key notes on what the books are trying to teach us. I’ve become quite distracted just by the introduction before, and ended up conducting my own studies as a result of my interest being piqued about one topic or another! Then, along with each chapter or verse or sets of verses, the authors take time to explain what gospel principles we can extrapolate from the verses, and often there are key thoughts about how the principles can be applied to our lives, too.
I think these are my three most favorite things about this particular Study Bible, though:
- The way the Bible all points to one central figure—Jesus—is emphasized in the notes here. Sometimes, especially when reading portions of the Old Testament, I’ve wondered how this could point, in any way, to Jesus and the gospel. This book has made that a lot clearer for me, and I was quite thankful for that! Oh yeah…Esther’s story does have a lot of similarities to what the people in the book of Acts had to go through!
- I didn’t pick up on a lot of doctrine-pushing in here. (Or maybe I just didn’t notice it!) Some Study Bibles do seem to lean one way or another, but I was impressed in several areas where there could have been a tangent that the main thing was kept as the main thing—how does this show the gospel, and what are we, as Christians, enabled to do as a result?
- This is a book of action. The apostles weren’t able to stick to their own little click for very long—the power of the gospel compelled them to get out and share it, and I don’t believe there’s anyone that could justifiably say that we need to be any different. As such, many of the principles extrapolated from and shared in these study notes contain some sort of action that we should or must do as a result of living a gospel-centered life. I love the encouragement found here, and how practical it is, too!
I feel like there’s so much I could share about ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible, and it’s hard to know what would be most helpful for you to know. Feel free to ask questions! I fully intend to continue reading through this and learning more, and perhaps one day I’ll have a better picture of the amazing way the Lord has designed this Book to tell us a little more of His goodness! If you’re looking for a practical Study Bible that not only refreshes and encourages you, but points you back to the Reason for your hope, gives you something to apply to your own life, and helps you have a clearer view of God’s vision for the world, this might just be the book for you. I’d recommend it to young and old, although I think the older ones would get a lot more out of it. I was greatly blessed by this book, and I believe you would probably be, too.
I requested a free review copy of this book by Crossway Publishers (thank you!), and this is my honest opinion of it.
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults
Links to buy ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Book Depository: Hardcover
Keywords: Study Bibles, Bible Story, Bible Study, Christian Non-fiction, Christian Living, Devotional Helps