The Tony Evans Bible Commentary
By Tony Evans (Holman Bible Publishers)
The Tony Evans Bible Commentary was published in 2019 to much fanfare—and rightfully so. Evans was “the first African American to graduate with a doctoral degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.” He founded Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in 1976 and continues as its senior pastor. He has written more than 100 books, and his radio ministry—The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans—is broadcast in more than 130 countries. He was the chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys and is the chaplain for the Dallas Mavericks, a position he has held more than 30 years.
And now, besides being one of the most influential pastors in the world, Evans is the first African American to write a study Bible and a one-volume Bible commentary.
As with any commentary, the reader should begin with the “Introduction.” Here, the editor(s)—or in this case, the author—states the theological position, philosophy and approach to interpreting Scripture. Unlike most academic commentaries, Evans writes to a general audience and answers questions in his introduction a general audience is likely to ask. For example, he assumes readers will ask, “How do I even approach this thing?” In response, he offers five practical keys for studying Scripture.
For Evans, the “unifying central theme throughout the Bible is the glory of God and the advancement of his kingdom.” Everything within the Bible, then, is in service of that central theme and is worked out in individuals, families, churches and communities.
The reader will want to be familiar with the entire “General Information” section, in which Evans states his positions on key points of theology and interpretation. This section also includes practical helps like “How to Study the Bible,” which ties back to the five keys for studying Scripture stated in the “Introduction.”
From the “Definition of Key Terms,” the reader will learn Evans understands election as relating specifically to service in God’s kingdom and not to salvation. In another set of definitions, Evans provides his understanding of time as being divided into dispensations, or “progressive stages in God’s revelation.” According to Evans, the church’s presence on Earth during the latter stage ends with the rapture.
“General Information” also includes: “Theology Overview;” “Attributes of the Triune God;” “Bibliology”—or the nature of the Bible; “Names of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit;” “Doctrinal Outlines of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit;” a section on spiritual growth; and a general topical index—which usually is placed at the end of a book.
QR codes in the introductory sections for the commentary and each book of the Bible take the reader to additional resource videos.
Since this is a one-volume commentary, Evans does not expand on Scripture verse-by-verse, but rather passage-by-passage—a handful of verses at a time. His style is direct and familiar. For example, in commenting on Hosea 9:11-17, he writes: “At first, God was pleased with Israel, but they soon worshiped pagan gods (Numbers 25:1-9). That they became abhorrent like the thing they loved (9:10) is a principle you can take to the bank.”
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In commenting on the letter to Philemon—a man who owned slaves—Evans paraphrases Paul’s words in verse 18 by writing: “Charge Onesimus’ debt to me. I love him so much that I will stand in his place. You can put what he owes on my tab.” Commenting on verses 19-20, he ties this letter to his kingdom emphasis: “… following Jesus Christ means submitting to his kingdom agenda for reconciliation.”
The Tony Evans Bible Commentary provides a unique and practical view on Scripture that can round out any pastor’s or Bible teacher’s library.
Eric Black, executive director/editor/publisher