Apr 3, 2015

Review of Acts by Guy Prentiss Waters

Guy Prentiss Waters, Acts, EP Study Commentary (Holywell: EP Books, 2015).  

Students of the Book of Acts have many options related to commentaries. Indeed, one is almost overwhelmed by the plethora of choices and new works continue to be added to the options. One is the volume presently under consideration. It is written by Guy Prentiss Waters, a Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS.

The commentary itself falls in the middle of a spectrum that stretches from the devotional end to the technical end. At 614 pages, it is definitely more than a devotional commentary although there are devotional-type thoughts in the “application” sections. But this is also not a technical commentary since most technical issues are not discussed, but rather, the interested reader is referred to other resources through the copious footnotes. These footnotes provide ample evidence that the author is familiar with the standard commentaries and that his explanations have been informed by them. All this is important to state so that this work can be evaluated for what it is rather than what it is not.

As a mid-range commentary, there is a brief but serviceable introduction that will resonate with most Evangelicals. He holds to Lukan authorship, a date of writing ranging from AD 61–100, and affirms the book’s historical reliability. The outline is simple but I am not sure that it adequately captures the major movements in the book. In the commentary proper, Waters does a nice job in providing a general explanation. His writing is clear and succinct. Greek references are sparse and always transliterated. Waters generally reaches a typically Reformed Evangelical conclusions in regard to some of the debated texts. For example, in Acts 2 he apparently takes a cessationist approach to tongues and rejects baptismal regeneration. Each outline section concludes with an application. This is commendable since many preachers, teachers, and readers need some help in moving from text to life, especially in narrative literature. The “applications” here are generally good but in many cases, the applications are really principles rather than applications. So it might be better to call these sections, “Principles and Applications.” All-in-all there is much to commend in this commentary. However, a bibliography (or at least a work cited) had been included since those who would likely benefit most from this work are also those less likely to be familiar with the broader literature.

In sum, Waters’s commentary meets a need for someone looking for an in-between resource. This volume provides an adequate, conservative, and helpful examination of Acts and its implications for Christians today.

Much thanks to EP Books for providing the copy used in this unbiased review.

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