[Review] Many Witnesses, One Lord by William Barclay
Author: William Barclay
Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press originally published 1963, this volume 2001
Theme: Survey of the New Testament and its teachings.
Rating: 4 Stars
William Barclay page at Amazon:
Official website: http://william-barclay.com/
Commentaries Online: http://www.dannychesnut.com/Bible/WilliamBarclay.htm
Before beginning the review I want to point out Barclay is considered: a Universalist, liberal, non-believer in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ and trinity, etc. This post will be a review of the book Many Witnesses, One Lord, and not on the before mentioned beliefs.
Just in case you're wondering: no I am not a Universalist, and yes I believe in the virgin birth and the trinity.
My dad bought all of Barclay's New Testament commentaries entitled, The Daily Bible Study beginning in the late 1950s. In addition, eight more of Barclay's books sit on a special spot on my book shelf. If you are wanting to know where to begin in his books, The Master's Men: Character Sketches of the Disciples is a perfect start, as well as New Testament Words.
I've heard some reviewers state Barclay' teachings are old-fashioned, out of date. Someday the Leland Ryken, Michael J. Kruger, and Douglas Moo, books will be outdated and over-taken by new theologians and authors. This does not mean we shouldn't read these "out-dated" authors anymore, they will continue throughout the future to have significant material to read and absorb.
Many Witnesses One Lord is a short essay and summary of the New Testament. Beginning with a brief summary of the synoptic Gospels, as well as introducing us to what the kingdom of God is. Chapter two will explore more of the kingdom of God.
"Into this complex of ideas Jesus came, and he came preaching the kingdom. The word kingdom tends to mean to us an area of land ruled over by a king; in the NT the word rather means the Reign of God. It describes not an area of territory but the universal sovereignty of God." page 5.Barclay explains that in the kingdom of God we are to be people of "obedience" to Him, we are to have a right relationship amongst our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, to have "mercy" for other people, and "the law of the kingdom of God is love" (agape).
"Wherein then is Jesus' place within this Kingdom? First and foremost, Jesus is the Kingdom, Jesus embodied the Kingdom. If the Kingdom is a state and condition of things in which the will of God is perfectly accepted and done, then Jesus is the only person in the universe who perfectly accepted that will. The thread that binds the life of Jesus together is his continual acceptance of the will of God." page 7-8.Further chapters are on the apostles John and Paul; the books of James, first Peter and second Peter, Jude, and Revelation.
I love Barclay's explanation of the Logos, key Greek words, and what the Old Testament law defines for New Testament believers.
The chapter on what "Peter thought of Jesus" is excellent. Page 61-64.
"To trust in God and do the right would be not far from being a summary of Peter's message. And this all the more so because the eyes of the Christian are ever upon the beyond. It is true that the Christian is deeply involved in the world; but nonetheless there is a real sense in which he is in the world as a exile. He is an alien and an exile, a stranger and a pilgrim. The world matters, and it matters for the very reason that it points beyond itself. The Christian is a once the gladiator of time and the pilgrim of eternity." Page 65.Even though I enjoyed reading this book I did not agree with every conclusion Barclay taught. In 1 Peter 3:18-20, Barclay believes the "doctrine originally meant" Jesus did not descend into Hell at his death on the cross. Hades meant death and that Jesus fully died, but Jesus did not descend into Hell itself. Barclay does not give his own personal belief, only what he believes the doctrine originally meant. Pages 66-69. When first reading this section I stumbled over it, reading and re-reading. I looked up various Scriptures in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, pertaining to Jesus' death on the cross. I read what my Crossway ESV Study Bible explains in the notes. I Googled this part of Scripture. Come to find out this section is one of the most difficult to understand, see Christianity Today article:
My final conclusion is Barclay is correct.
|Many Witnesses, One Lord|
By William Barclay