Book Review – The Gospel Transformation Bible (ESV)

With the multiplicity of study Bibles available on the market, is there a need for another? The short answer is yes. There is always need for additional refinement in making God’s Word clear, but in updating the language of the actual text, and in the notes that correspond to that text. And while I was a huge fan of the ESV Study Bible, the new Gospel Transformation Bible, is my new go-to recommendation for new and seasoned Christians.

One of my biggest concerns in our churches is the rather piecemeal way that most Christians understand the Bible. They understand it in books and chapters, and struggle to put it together in one overarching thematic whole, especially as it relates to God’s progress of redemption and the centrality of Christ in all of God’s Word. The flourishing of the current revival of Biblical Theology,* in our churches has really improved on this area, but most Christians still struggle to put all of God’s Word together. Here’s a way for students of God’s Word, to follow the overall message of how God is bringing a people together for Himself by the redemptive work of Christ. The Gospel Transformation Bible does just that.

With helpful introductions as to details about each book, and good details throughout, you will find how God’s Word all ties together. For instance, in a book I recently taught through on Wednesday nights, Obadiah, it’s difficult to see how it fits within God’s larger purposes. Yet, the introduction identifies areas where the Gospel is found in Obadiah:

  1. Obadiah’s mentions of hope and salvation may be an extension of Amos 9:11-12, immediately preceding Obadiah in our Bibles. The restoration of the Davidic kingdom through the Messiah would restore Judah’s fortunes but would also include a remnant of Edom. This remnant will worshi pthe Lord at his consummation.
  2. The Judah-Edom relationship must be read in light of the Jacob-Esau relationship. They strove against each other, but God sovereignly picked one. This is a reflection of his electing grace even here in Obadiah, of Judah over Edom.
  3. Any blessings in the Judah-Edom relationship (perhaps a remnant of Edom) are due to God’s grace, because neither Jacob nor Esau lived according to God’s plans for them in his covenant.

Connecting this to the NT the writer of the notes helps us to see how this Jacob-Esau dynamic relates to us in the Gospel.

This is the kind of interconnectedness that we need in the church today. When our understanding of God, His plans, and His Word are so piecemeal, a resource like the Gospel Transformation Bible, is of vital need in our churches. My plans are to put one in the hands of every new member of our church!

*For a number of good recommendations in this area consider Chris Bruno’s, The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses, Jim Hamilton’s, What is Biblical Theology?, Michael Lawrence’s, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church, and anything by Graeme Goldworthy.

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