True Confession

I have a theology crush on Matthew Henry. 

Yes, that one. The theologian who lived before America even became a nation. The one who preached the Gospel in Chester, England in the 17th and early 18th Century and died in 1714. The one who was loved and renowned by men such as Charles Spurgeon and George Whitfield.

Henry knew the Bible and wrote with a depth and insight that leaves one breathless. How does he do it?

Take this, for example, on John ch. 1:6-9

There was a profound silence concerning him [Jesus], till John Baptist came for a witness to him. Now observe, (1.) The matter of his testimony: He came to bear witness to the light. Light is a thing which witnesses for itself, and carries its own evidence along with it; but to those who shut their eyes against the light it is necessary there should be those that bear witness to it. Christ’s light needs not man’s testimony, but the world’s darkness does. John was like the night watchman that goes round the town, proclaiming the approach of the morning light to those that have closed their eyes, and are not willing themselves to observe it; or like that watchman that was set to tell those who asked him what of the night that the morning comes, and, if you will enquire, enquire ye, Isa. 21:11, 12…

(2.) The design of his testimony: That all men through him might believe; not in him, but in Christ, whose way he was sent to prepare. He taught men to look through him, and pass through him, to Christ; through the doctrine of repentance for sin to that of faith in Christ. He prepared men for the reception and entertainment of Christ and his gospel, by awakening them to a sight and sense of sin; and that, their eyes being thereby opened, they might be ready to admit those beams of divine light which, in the person and doctrine of the Messiah, were now ready to shine in their faces.

And on and on he goes. Henry takes the Word of God and elevates it through his commentary, leaving no doubt in the reader’s mind that this Messiah, this Jesus that he is referring to, is higher and more beautiful than anything on earth, and yet at the same time both personable and approachable. He is both lofty in his review of the Word of God, and understandable in his communication of that Word to us.

His commentary also challenges me out of my complacency and routine. Are we not also, as those whose eyes have admitted “those beams of divine light”, to be “windows” to Christ?  That those whose eyes are still closed and in darkness would look through us and see Christ, as we live and speak the doctrine of repentance for sin and faith in Christ?

So much depth and beauty can be found in the written word; indeed, it is often a window to the very soul of the author penning them.


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