Guy Prentiss Waters
Reviewed by: Michael J. Matossian
Date posted: 05/07/2017
Acts (EP Study Commentary), by Guy Prentiss Waters. Evangelical Press, 2015. Paperback, 614 pages, list price $44.99. Reviewed by OP pastor Michael J. Matossian.
Guy Waters has written an accessible, intermediate-level commentary that should appeal not only to pastors and theological students, but also to anyone seeking a deeper, clearer understanding of Acts. As Waters himself puts it, he has sought to provide “exegesis in the service of exposition.” He illuminates and accentuates details of the text that lend themselves to grasping the key points of the passage and avoids getting bogged down in the minutiae of scholarly debate. His target audience is, as he explains, anyone who wants to understand the text better and be able to explain it to others. Nevertheless, he makes generous use of footnotes for those who want to look more closely into differing interpretations.
In addition to his commitment to exegesis in the service of exposition, Waters seeks to implement Calvin’s principles of clarity and brevity. Although it’s hard to call a book of over six hundred pages brief, Waters repeatedly gives concise, clear explanations of the text that provide a definite aid to understanding it. For example, in comments on Acts 17, he draws together portions of the chapter by succinctly explaining the beliefs of the Epicureans and Stoics, the function of the Areopagus (a council of sorts), and the ongoing marketplace of ideas of an Athens no longer in its philosophical glory days. Then he shows how Paul accounts for the viewpoints of the philosophers and addresses them in his speech with truth about God and mankind. Amazingly, Waters pulls this all together in the space of only a page or two, leaving the reader thinking, “Wow. How did he make so much clear in so little space?”
Waters writes his commentary with a Reformed orientation. He seeks to follow in the biblical-theological, redemptive-historical line of Geerhardus Vos, Herman Ridderbos, and Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. By doing so, he seeks to avoid the trap of seeing the church in Acts as “church in the good old days,” as he puts it. At the same time, Waters wants to avoid the danger of thinking that Acts has no contemporary relevance. Rather, he argues, “it is when we appreciate the redemptive-historical lines of Luke’s teaching in Acts that we are best poised to make rich and full application of Acts to our Christian lives.” Waters succeeds not only in maintaining his Reformed commitment, but in elucidating ways in which Acts provides insight into Christian life today.
All who read this commentary will benefit from the application section Waters includes at the end of each distinct segment of Acts. In these sections, Waters crystallizes the central thoughts of the passage and provides a catalyst for further application in the reader’s own context.
I wholeheartedly commend this commentary as a blessing to the church.