This weekend I happily read through a good deal of John Byron’s new 1-2 Thessalonians commentary for the Zondervan series called the “The Story of God” (ed. Scot McKnight). In some ways, this is the NIV Application Commentary series for a post-modern generation, and a new era of scholarship that is especially interested in narratives and worldview-story theology in Scripture.
Three things really impressed me with John’s commentary and are, hopefully, a hallmark of the series.
(1) Well-informed exegetical decisions – You can tell John did the hard work of hashing through complicated interpretive issues, but you barely see the debates in the text. But I found that John seems to be very current with Thessalonian-Correspondence scholarship. This kind of background heavy-lifting is often missing in popular commentaries.
(2) Excellent modern illustrations and examples from history. Where John places the emphasis in this commentary, rightly so, is on (for lack of a better word) application. What does this text mean for us today as we read it theologically? I don’t know how he researched all of this (examples from Justin Martyr to Luther to Dietrich Bonhoeffer to Mother Teresa), but I imagine much of it was inspired by course reflections and discussions. Extremely valuable stuff here!
(3) Very personal. John doesn’t stand at a cool distance from the material, but is very frank and transparent about his own struggles in his life and how these texts have spoken to him. In that sense, he models the transparency Paul shows in 1 Thessalonians itself.
Do you need to make space on your shelf for yet another commentary? By my own count I own at least 20 commentaries on 1-2 Thessalonians, but if a student or layperson were to ask me what they might read on 1-2 Thessalonians for personal edification, I will gladly say “Byron” in the same sentence as Holmes, Gaventa, and Calvin (and yet unreleased Jeffrey Weima [BECNT] and Andy Johnson [THNT]; and Chrysostom, of course).
Congrats, John! (Also, I happen to agree with you on the apologetic nature of 1 Thess 2, nepios, and skeuos as “body” (not wife) in 4:4. By the way. So good job getting those “right”!)