In his recent volume, Philippians, Colossians, in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture series, Graham Tomlin opens by noting the “remarkable difference in tone and approach,” indeed a different “set of interests” between commentaries of the Reformation era and those of our day. To illustrate this difference he cites from the preface to a commentary on Philippians by Lancelot Ridley, a 16th century commentator who wrote that his aim is that his readers:
Should not perish but live here a life acceptable to God, always in the love and fear of God, by true knowledge of him, which knowledge comes by hearing, reading, studying of God’s word, or by preaching of it, or by reading of some exposition or commentary … wherein God’s word is purely and sincerely opened and declared to God’s glory and to the profit of others. (spelling modernized)
In contrast, Tomlin notes, too often today commentaries are caught up with academic exactitude but miss the heart of the issue.
We would do well to learn from our forebears.