This guest Bible Gateway Blog post is a personal reflection on the NIV Faithlife Study Bible (Zondervan, 2017) (@NIVBible) by Dr. Stanley N. Gundry, senior vice president and publisher, Zondervan Academic, and editor-in-chief, Zondervan.
Be True to the Word
My father was a pastor who had strong convictions about Bible doctrine and how the Bible should be interpreted—I say “strong” convictions, but perhaps I should say “dogmatic.” As I grew into adulthood, I began to question some of those convictions, but there is one that has been a constant for me throughout my life. That conviction is best summarized by his parting words to me before he died: “Stan, be true to the Word.” My Dad would have loved it if I had been a carbon copy of him, but it’s significant that he did not ask for that—he admonished me to be true to the Bible, God’s Word written. I’ve never forgotten that.
But if one is to do that, it does not work to just swallow hook, line, and sinker what one reads in a book, a study Bible, or even what one’s pastor teaches (even if your pastor is your father, as in my case!). Let’s face it, there are many portions of Scripture that have more than one potentially viable meaning or interpretation. Since it’s the Bible that’s inspired, and not any one person’s interpretation, it’s important that when we read and study the Bible we understand how other devout and serious students through the centuries have understood the Bible, including those parts where different interpreters have come to different conclusions. To do so adequately, one needs guidance in knowing what the different possibilities of interpretation are.
Since graduating from seminary some 54 years ago, I have ministered as a pastor, college and seminary professor, and as a publisher of Christian books. No matter what my role, I’ve always done my best to follow my dying father’s wish—Stan, be true to the Word. And so, whether as a pastor-teacher, professor, or publisher, one of my goals has been to not only communicate what I believe, but to make sure my audience understands how other serious interpreters of the Bible have understood the passage or doctrinal issue in question. While I have my own convictions, ultimately I want my audience to come to their own conclusions based on the biblical evidence as they understand it.
Now, this is just a long way of explaining why I so appreciate the NIV Faithlife Study Bible. It gently but effectively guides the reader toward understanding the text of Scripture, and when appropriate, it briefly but clearly informs the reader of the possible interpretations in an even-handed manner. The NIV Faithlife Study Bible does this from Genesis to Revelation—from discussing the possible referents of the “sons of God” and the “daughters of humans” (Gen. 6:1-2), to the possible meanings of the Hebrew word translated as “virgin” (Isa. 7:14), to the implications of “the keys of the kingdom” (Matt. 16:19), to the three major interpretations of the 1,000-year reign of Christ (Rev. 20:1-7), and hundreds of similar explanatory notes from the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of the book of Revelation. My conclusion is that the NIV Faithlife Study Bible is a great tool for those believers who aspire to emulate the Jews at Berea who received the Apostle Paul’s message with great eagerness, but nevertheless “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).
The NIV Faithlife Study Bible (Zondervan, 2017) is filled with innovative graphics, rich commentary, and insights from multiple points of view—all designed to inform readers’ faith and to engage their curiosity, no matter where they are on their faith journey. To learn more, visit www.NIVFaithlifeStudyBible.com.