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The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon (Pillar New Testament Commentary)

By Douglas J. Moo
September 2009 | Review by Mark Rowcroft


Douglas Moo's excellent, accessible commentary on these two Pauline letters evaluates the merits of plausible constructed 'backgrounds', combines exegesis with sound practical insight, balances scholarship with pastoral concern, and applies the meaning of the texts powerfully to twenty-first century readers.

  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • ISBN: 978-1844743414
  • Pages: 480
  • Price: £29.99
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Book Review

This commentary is part of the Pillar New Testament Commentary Series, the series editor being Don Carson. Douglas Moo’s previous commentaries on Romans and James have been well received and it is good to have this on Colossians and Philemon.

The Colossians commentary begins with a standard introduction that gives a robust defence of Pauline authorship before considering the circumstances of the letter. There is a helpful section on the nature of the Colossian heresy in which different views and various relevant factors are examined before cautious conclusions are put forward.

The exposition of the biblical text bears all the hallmarks of an author of high academic calibre yet humble love for the Word of God. Throughout, Moo highlights the main themes that run through the letter and examines the Old Testament background as it impinges on certain passages.

When dealing with verses that give rise to different interpretations, Moo is thoughtful and gracious. The commentary follows the spirit of the letter in showing the glory and sufficiency of Jesus Christ.

In dealing with chapter 2 verses 16-17, the author’s leanings towards new covenant theology come into play in his comments upon the place of the law and, in particular, on the Sabbath in the life of God’s people today. His views are stated with relatively little explanation and for some this treatment will come as a disappointment in an otherwise excellent commentary.

The Philemon commentary is very useful, showing the impact that Jesus Christ has upon our relationships with and attitudes towards one another. Overall this is a warm and stimulating commentary that repays careful reading.

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