The author of this book, John Brown of Edinburgh, needs no introduction as some of his other works, including his commentary on Hebrews in the Geneva series and his three-volume Discourses and Sayings of our Lord have already been published by the Banner of Truth Trust. The volume reviewed here was first published in 1853 and is a distillation of sermons preached to his congregation at Broughton Place Secession Church, Edinburgh, and of lectures to his students at his denomination’s Theological College, where he was appointed Professor of Exegetical Theology in 1834.
This commentary is not a verse-by-verse commentary. The writer divides the Epistle to the Galatians into seven parts and deals with each part at some length. The titles he gives to each part of the commentary point us to his thinking: Introduction to the Epistle, the Apostle’s Historical Defence of Himself and His Office, The Apostle’s Defence of His Doctrine, The Apostle’s Expostulations with and Warning to the Galatians, Practical Injunctions and Postscript. The chapter, Practical Instructions, in which he covers Galatians 5:13 to 6:10, is full of useful teachings which are as applicable to today’s readers as they were to the Apostle’s readers in Galatia and to Dr Brown’s readers in his own day. This chapter alone contains valuable personal teaching. (Readers may be aware that Brown adopted a more-or-less Amyraldian view of the extent of the atonement but I have not found any evidence of it in this volume.)
This is a scholarly work though not overbearingly so, but Dr Brown’s frequent use of Latin and Greek quotations will not be helpful to the average reader. As this is not a new book, reliable reviewers have, for over 100 years, read and commented on it. C H Spurgeon wrote, “Dr Brown is a modern Puritan. All his expositions are of the utmost value.” A recent reviewer remarks, “This is a full commentary greatly superior to modern exegetical commentaries”. This is an opinion from which we would not demur. It is recorded that his father advised Dr Brown at the beginning of his ministry to acquaint himself with “evangelical and practical divinity such as that of Ebenezer Erskine, John Owen and Robert Traill”. And it is said by those who know these writers well that they did have their influence on Dr Brown’s writings.
(Rev) D J MacDonald