GTBWhen it comes to lesson plans, sermon prep or personal study, a good study Bible can be invaluable to a busy pastor. Though many study Bibles (SB) fail in many areas, some stand out as very helpful tools. A couple of months back I read about the Gospel Transformation Bible (GTB) and I was pretty excited to get my pastoral fingers on it. For several reasons…

  1. I enjoy the ESV translation.
  2. Bryan Chapell & Dane Ortlund are the editors.
  3. It has a redemptive & Christocentric approach to all of the text.
  4. The Contributers (Four women! YES! in bold below)

Old Testament

Genesis: Willem VanGemeren
Exodus: Sean Lucas
Leviticus: Jay Sklar
Numbers: Michael Morales
Deuteronomy: Mark Futato
Joshua: Mike Horton
Judges: Brian Aucker
Ruth: Mary Beth McGreevy; “Speaker and Author”
1–2 Samuel: Phil Long
1–2 Kings: Miles Van Pelt
1–2 Chronicles: Miles Van Pelt
Ezra: Kathleen Nielson; “Director of Women’s Initiatives for The Gospel Coalition
Nehemiah: Kathleen Nielson
Esther: Elyse Fitzpatrick; “Speaker and Author”
Job: Paul Zahl
Psalms: George Robertson
Bruce Ware
Proverbs: Ray Ortlund
Ecclesiastes: Doug O’Donnell
Song of Solomon: Doug O’Donnell
Isaiah: Kelly Kapic
Jeremiah: Graeme Goldsworthy
Lamentations: Graeme Goldsworthy
Ezekiel: Greg Gilbert
Daniel: Bryan Chapell
Hosea: Jim Hamilton
Joel: Tim Witmer
Amos: David Helm
Obadiah: Michael Glodo
Jonah: Colin Smith
Micah: Nancy Guthrie; “*Bible Teacher* (I love it!) and Author”
Nahum: Michael Glodo
Habakkuk: Julius Kim
Zephaniah: Darrin Patrick
Haggai: Iain Duguid
Zechariah: Iain Duguid
Malachi: Iain Duguid

New Testament

Matthew: Frank Thielman
Mark: Hans Bayer
Luke: Jonathan Pennington
John: Scotty Smith
Acts: Justin Holcomb
Romans: Bob Yarbrough
1 Corinthians: Jimmy Agan
2 Corinthians: Stephen Um
Galatians: Ian Smith
Ephesians: Kevin DeYoung
Philippians: Jon Dennis
Colossians: Julius Kim
1–2 Thessalonians: Burk Parsons
1–2 Timothy: Kent Hughes
Titus J. D. Greear
Philemon: Julius Kim
Hebrews: Robert Peterson
James: Dan Doriani
1–2 Peter: Jared Wilson
1–3 John: Mike Bullmore
Jude: Jared Wilson
Revelation: Jim Hamilton

When I first found out about the GTB I could not wait for a copy for the above mentioned reasons. I sent an email to Crossway requesting a copy for review and they were kind enough to send me one. So I want to thank them for that! I believe it’s a SB that every busy pastor should own. It’s a solid, concise reference tool for study and sermon prep. Here are the three reasons I think the GTB is somewhat unique and NOT just another SB.

1. Aim.
Right in the introduction it says this “The goal of the Gospel Transformation Bible is twofold: (1) to enable readers to understand that the whole Bible is a unified message of the gospel of God’s grace culminating in Christ Jesus, and (2) to help believers apply this good news to their everyday lives in a heart-transforming way.”

Finding the Creation – Fall – Redemption – Consummation narrative of a Biblical Theology is not always the easiest thing to do and it helps to have a commentary on the text to act as a kind of catalyst for a busy pastor like me. The GTSB is helpful for my desire to read the text through a redemptive-historical lens.

Here is an example from the notes on Exodus 20:1-2: Notice that the gracious relationship that God had established with his people was prior to the holy requirements that God gave. God identified himself in royal and personal terms—“I am the Lord your God.” He speaks of what he has done in redemption—“who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” He speaks of whom his people belonged to in the past (slaves to Pharaoh) and speaks of whose they are now (by implication, belonging to God). God’s grace, then, grounds his law. Yet it is also true that his law leads us back to God and his grace. Shortly after Israel hears these words from God’s own voice, they fall into idolatry and sensuality, violating nearly the entire moral law (32:1–6). Israel’s failure represents the need we all have for gracious forgiveness (pictured in Israel through the sacrificial system) and also for God to write his law on our hearts (Jer. 31:31–34). This is what God through Christ by his Spirit does in the new covenant—Christ’s sacrificial death secures God’s gracious forgiveness once-for-all, and Christ’s Spirit accomplishes in the hearts of God’s people all that Jeremiah had prophesied (Heb. 7:11–9:28). Christians have God’s law written on our hearts and God’s Spirit dwelling within us, offering a greater possibility of obedience grounded in our gracious relationship with God established through Jesus. And so it is that grace grounds law, and law leads us back to grace.”

2. Accessibility.
Everything this bible has to offer is online. Being able to access a purchased book in digital format is a must for a busy pastor. When you buy the bible it comes with an unlock code that you can use to access the GTSB online here…

3. Introductions.
I absolutely love the concise book introductions that a good study bible can offer. The GTSB offers some wonderful unique redemptive historical centered introductions.

Here are some samples from the Psalms intro…

“The Gospel in the Psalms: The risen Jesus said to his disciples that “everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms [i.e., the Old Testament Poetical Books] must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). Jesus considered the book of Psalms to be ultimately about him. To read the Psalms in a non-gospel way, therefore, is to fail to read them the way Jesus himself told us to.”

“Reading the Psalms mindful of Jesus is not a clever way to read this book of the Bible, nor is it one way to do so among others. It is the way. A gospel-lens to reading the Psalms is how Jesus himself teaches us to read them. As you read this portion of God’s Word, make these prayers to God your own, and consider the ways these Psalms are good news to us—expressing the full range of our emotions, and ultimately bringing our minds to rest on the finished work of Christ on behalf of sinners.”

So if you are interested in a SB that highlights the melodic line of the Creation – Fall – Redemption – Consummation themes in Scripture this is a must have resource. I think that Crossway has delivered a wonderful resource for those interested in solid pastoral, evangelical and biblical exegesis. Though I would have liked to see some female theologians and a female presence in the N.T. this SB delivers exactly what I was hoping for. If you already have the ESV Study Bible you will find the GTB to be a wonderful compliment. So go out and get one and tell me what you think!

My Rating: I enjoy books that are (1) theologically astute (AMEN!), (2) pastorally useful (Amen!) as well as (3) referenceable (Amen!). I want to be able to come back to it again and again. As a small church solo pastor I have no use for books that will waste my time and my money. When I request a book from a publisher to review I have the busy small church pastor in mind. The Gospel Transformation Bible is worthy of my three fold amen! It is theologically astute, pastorally useful and referenceable.