Discerning Reader Editorial Review
Reviewed 03/25/2008 by Scott Lamb.
Recommended. A commentary that is expository, pastoral, and applicational.
Although I do not know Dan Doriani personally, I have long been glad for his ministry here in St. Louis. His teaching at Covenant Theological Seminary has benefited many of my friends, and I weekly pass by the marquee of his church and take note of what text he is preaching. Needless to say, I had a high sense of expectation as I poured through his new commentary on James from the Reformed Expository Commentary series.
I would describe this commentary as expository, pastoral, and applicational. Doriani knows his exegesis, but his real strength is in the application of the text. He takes the timeless message of the Scripture and takes it right to the heart of contemporary life. He really seems to understand how to communicate truth for comprehension and obedience by the sheep he shepherds.
Regarding the specific content of James, Doriani explains the “law” and “wisdom” flavor of James. He states that James can pile on the doubt regarding whether we are able to keep these principles of godliness. Doriani writes:
“James, like the Sermon on the Mount, is sublime and penetrating- almost too penetrating. Its piercing assessment of our failures proves we cannot achieve holiness by our striving. James stirs us to action, but as it reveals our sins, we doubt our ability to do what the writer commands. Yet James often declares that obedience is a hallmark of living faith: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (1:22). James demands an obedience that honest readers know they cannot render. Therefore, while the individual sentences and paragraphs of James are clear, we struggle to resolve the tension between the stringency of James’s demands and our inability to attain them.”
Ultimately, Doriani shows how James resolves the tension in “The Gospel according to James (4:1-6)”, and in particular he points out “the climax of James” in 4:6 – “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Doriani is a masterful writer and student of the Scripture. I really enjoyed reading through this commentary, and know that it will prove profitable when I again come to preach through the book of James in my own ministry.