The Branch Exposition of the Bible, Volume 1
A Preacher’s Commentary of the New Testament
“If you picture the Bible to be a mighty tree and every word a little branch, I have shaken every one of these branches because I wanted to know what it was and what it meant.” — MARTIN LUTHER
A great deal of biblical scholarship is written for academics and fails to edify readers or strengthen their Christian ministry. Yet, Christians need to be nourished by the word of God so they can mature in faith and righteousness. Filling this gap, The Branch Exposition of the Bible is a resource for preachers, scholars, and everyday Christians alike, to help open God’s word and shed its light into life, ministry and teaching.
Inspired by the words of the great reformer Martin Luther about shaking every branch of Scripture, and with experience in ministering across Africa, India and the West, Michael A. Eaton helps us understand the meaning of the Bible and taste its fruit. With an Old Testament volume to follow, this exposition of the New Testament accessibly engages with the biblical languages, gives application for our lives, and leads us through each book of the New Testament so that we can meet the resurrected Jesus Christ in the pages of Scripture.
The most valuable commentary on the Bible to come along in a century.
Rev. R. T. Kendall, PhD
The Branch Exposition of the Bible is a great resource for all Christ followers as well as a preacher’s companion. It is not just a theological treatise; rather, it is an insightful exhortation for readers and an exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ, the pivotal figure of the Bible. These New Testament expositions not only increase one’s knowledge of Scripture but help us to experience the historical Jesus in our heart. Eaton’s branch metaphor, inspired by Luther, depicts a reversal of the foolish plucking from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in disobedience to God (Gen 2:17), to gleaning from every branch of the seed-bearing tree (Gen 1:29–30a) – the living word of God (Heb 3:12) – in obedience to Christ (John 8:31–32). Listening to God’s word and obeying what God says is indispensable for Christians. Even more critical is understanding what we hear God say. The Branch is an essential tool to help us hear God; a must-read for every Christian.
Aiah Foday-Khabenje, DMin
General Secretary, Association of Evangelicals in Africa
Eaton’s exposition is as welcome as the shade of a spreading tree in the heat of India’s summer, a country in which he preached and published. The fruit of his long years of study hangs within the reach of the common reader. Mastery of the Word and relevance to the world run through the commentary like nourishing sap. Like branches criss-crossing, texts are referenced to other texts, creating thematic patterns across the Old and New Testaments. I am confident that this generation of readers will find Eaton as fresh and green as the generation he ministered to.
Havilah Dharamraj, PhD
Head, Department of Biblical Studies,
South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS), Bangalore, India
I thank God for Eaton’s wholehearted determination to let the text speak for itself and to make it as accessible as possible to his readers. In this excellent volume we can all benefit from his insights and taste something of his passion for truth. May he continue speaking to future generations through these pages.
Founder, Newfrontiers Together
Dr Michael Eaton is profound without being heavy, adventuring to the depths of the Bible, and bringing on shore the great values previously out of sight. The Branch Exposition of the Bible is additional proof of a man’s dedication to a divine course and a mandate of high discipline. All those who engage the Bible – teachers, students and study groups – will find The Branch interesting and helpful; Scriptures in their traditional context yet applicable to the contemporary. A great addition to any library.
Chrisco Central Assembly, Nairobi, Kenya
In producing The Branch Exposition of the Bible, Michael Eaton has written one of the most helpful tools any preacher or scholar of Scripture could hope for. Too many commentaries are very technical or biased toward an opinion or doctrinal slant. It is refreshing to have a scholar of Michael’s ability use all that wisdom and insight to open the Scriptures to us, revealing Christ and His Kingdom. Along with being an Ephesians 4 teacher to so many, his passion for equipping preachers with the correct tools comes through in this commentary. We keenly await the Old Testament volume!
Pastor, Cornerstone Church, Johannesburg, South Africa
I often recommend one-volume Bible commentaries to young Christians who don’t have much Bible knowledge, and I also recommend them to preachers who have got lost in the forest of complexities caused by reading too many commentaries!
The Branch Exposition of the Bible is a one-volume New Testament commentary which has three striking qualities vital for contemporary ministry. First, Michael Eaton expounds the books of the New Testament in the context of ministry, rather than the academy. Second, he does not assume the values and knowledge of Christendom, a necessary stance in a non-Christian or post-Christian context. Third, he shows multi-cultural awareness in his interpretation and application.
A very useful book for a young Christian, as well as a Bible study leader or preacher.
Peter Adam, PhD
Vicar Emeritus, St Jude’s Anglican Church, Carlton, Australia
Former Principal, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia
Dr Eaton writes with the passion of a scholar, pastor, and preacher. He meets the need of the “ordinary” preacher through scholarly exposition rather than voluminous footnotes. Though we are from different theological traditions, we converge happily on the clarity of the gospel of grace, full assurance of salvation, and the distinctions between justification and sanctification. You will delight in his insights and applications.
Charles C. Bing, PhD
Founder and Director, GraceLife Ministries
No one individual can be expected to master all of New Testament interpretation equally well, but what Michael Eaton focuses on the most he masters with great acumen: extracting main points and principles from every passage, which enables a preacher or teacher to move very quickly to how the text needs to be applied in their own context. For details of exegetical controversies one will often need to look elsewhere, but for inspiration and motivation to right belief and practice, Eaton is a reliable, steady expositor.
Craig L. Blomberg, PhD
Distinguished Professor of New Testament,Denver Seminary, Littleton, Colorado, USA
I had the honour and privilege of knowing Michael for over thirty-five years as a close friend, mentor and spiritual father who profoundly shaped my life and ministry. During that time, I saw the massive impact his prophetic preaching and clear exposition of the Scriptures had on numerous leaders and churches in Africa as well as around the globe.
The Branch Exposition of the Bible is an outstanding commentary of the Scriptures written in Michael’s unique, illuminating style and with a high degree of scholarship, making difficult biblical topics understandable. This volume is an invaluable resource which I believe will help to ignite widespread gospel revival!
Africa Leadership School,Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
The Branch Exposition of the Bible is a down to earth, scintillating biblical commentary from which a rural pastor in the Majority World can benefit as much as an erudite scholar in the West. It is brilliantly clear and easy to understand yet packed with depth and width of scholarship that takes into account the original context of the New Testament culture and authorship. Michael Eaton intentionally makes the biblical scholarship accessible to a simple ordinary pastor that has no other resource. One is drawn closer to God as every passage is brought alive section by section, verse by verse. The Branch stays faithful to the text and relevant. This is God’s gift for our times.
Rev Praveen Bunyan
President, Channel of Blessing InternationalRegional Coordinator – India, Langham Preaching
What a treasure we have with Michael Eaton’s magnum opus, The Branch Exposition of the Bible in this New Testament instalment. This life-changing volume is the perfect companion for daily Bible reading for every believer. You will benefit greatly from Eaton’s graceful insight into God’s Word, because it was born through prayer and struggle – it was lived through and preached in the slums! This outstanding work confirms Eaton’s status as one of the leading preachers who could both preach and write with such clarity and conviction. The commentary is lively and fresh, and difficult Bible passages are explained without the feeling that an explanation is forced. Eaton’s legacy to the church has changed my way of praying, Bible reading and preaching. It brought me closer to Christ in full assurance of salvation!
Jan-Willem P. de Reus
Volle Evangelie Gemeente Vlaardingen [Full-Gospel Church Vlaardingen],The Netherlands
I have been a student of Michael’s for twenty years. He is one of my “go to” commentators when I preach, and I am delighted that this substantial commentary is available. Whether you are an experienced Bible scholar or regular devotional reader, I whole-heartedly recommend this book to you.
Leader, Advance Movement
Whenever I listened to Michael Eaton teach, I was inspired by the evident depth of his scholarship but also the clarity and simplicity of his teaching. I am so pleased that pastors and leaders all over the world, many of whom do not have access to extensive scholarship, can now benefit from Michael Eaton’s depth of knowledge and clarity of expression. This volume will be an invaluable aid for them in understanding and explaining the Bible themselves. I wholeheartedly recommend The Branch Exposition of the Bible.
Leader, Newfrontiers Together
The Branch Exposition of the Bible is truly a preacher’s commentary – the immediate product of extensive preaching in which the tone, scholarship and cadence of the author is loud and clear. In this engaging and Christ-centred study of the New Testament, Eaton guides us in keeping our eyes firmly on Jesus, the living Word. A refreshing, enjoyable and insightful study.
Rev Joel Edwards, CBE, PhD
Ambassador, International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF)
If I was asked to select an absolute minimum number of books that a pastor may need to deliver a Bible-based sermon, a New Testament commentary such as this one would be included in the list. This is true for pastors everywhere, but especially for those serving in remote rural villages or bustling slums. The author’s clear exposition and application of the text reflects an astute theological mind steeped in wisdom that only time and a broad exposure to diverse cultural contexts will bring. As such, a work like this allows the reader to be discipled by Jesus, the writers of the New Testaments and Michael Eaton.
H. Jurgens Hendriks, PhD
Emeritus Professor, Department of Practical Theology and Missiology,
Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Program Coordinator, Network for African Congregational Theology (NetACT)
The Branch Exposition of the Bible is a lifework by Michael Eaton. He was fine-tuning this right up to the time of his death. When I first met him about forty years ago in a Christian bookshop where I was working, he was already “shaking every branch,” and we had many discussions. Later I published a number of his books through Paternoster and Piquant, but these commentaries are truly the crown of his work. Based on sermons he preached over more than twenty-five years, they primarily address his congregations in Africa, but were also shaped by his teaching at conferences in other countries. How useful they are for all of us! I never preach a sermon without consulting his careful work. And I never come away without something new to think about. I love these expositions! Michael was a wonderfully well-informed scholar, preacher, teacher and pastor who never stopped sharpening his biblical insights. Enjoy the fruit of his hard work and savour the many surprising delights.
Pieter J. Kwant
International Director, Langham Literature
What a fantastic resource! The Branch Exposition of the Bible is a unique commentary for churches around the world, written by a skilled theologian, pastor and preacher. Through a life-time of ministry across several continents, Michael Eaton understood the needs of preachers, and in this volume he not only carefully explains the heart of each passage, but provides a clear and simple structure that will greatly help preachers young and old. Whatever part of the New Testament we turn to, we discover a penetrating explanation of its context, content and meaning, with manageable sections and clear headings that lead the reader through the text. This is an invaluable handbook for preachers, providing the foundations for Bible-based, truth-filled, memorably shaped and powerfully relevant preaching.
Minister-at-Large, Keswick Ministries
Michael had an amazing ability to communicate to the scholar and the everyday believer in his preaching and teaching. This commentary is powerful, relevant and readily accessible, and full of God. He does not duck hotly debated and tricky theological issues but deals with them with skill, depth and insight. I recommend disciples use this resource as part of their daily devotional.
Apostolic Lead, Commission
A lively, lucid and relevant preacher’s commentary! Michael Eaton’s The Branch Exposition of the Bible is a sound elucidation of the New Testament, combining trusted scholarship with a popular, enjoyable writing style. He explores the life and faith of the early Christians, unveils their beliefs and behaviours, and discusses how we today can apply passages to our ordinary Christian lives. With his first-hand experience in the Majority World and a heart for pastoral leadership, Eaton’s commentary will be an indispensable companion to dig deep into the heart of the New Testament.
Finny Philip, PhD
Principal, Filadelfia Bible College
Mission Director, Filadelfia Fellowship Church of India
Dr Michael Eaton spent his life presenting Jesus to the world through the exposition of Scripture, believing that “it is a Person that we are concerned with, and the Scriptures are helping us to find the fullness, the treasures and the riches, of Jesus.” Finding the technicalities of the Bible very exciting, he makes them accessible to both scholars and laymen. Dr Eaton’s commentary will open up the Scriptures, helping you to understand what God is saying.
Grace Generation Church, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
In one volume, this commentary summarizes, explains and captures the message of each New Testament book of the Bible. A helpful introduction along with clear outlines for each book helps readers to understand and grasp the whole meaning of the passages within. Its evangelical, scholarly approach gives an inspiring, deeper knowledge of Holy Scripture through clear, accurate exposition. God’s word becomes clearer through reading this volume. The author’s experience of different ministries among different ethnic groups, including in India, makes his perspective all the more practical and applicable. Eaton writes not just as a scholar but as a practitioner who lives what he writes.Whether studying the Bible for oneself or preparing a Bible study or sermon, this resource gives the reader a comfortable understanding for scholars and lay people alike.
Rev Devender Verma
Senior Pastor, Delhi Bible Fellowship
Director, School of Biblical Teaching
New Delhi, India
This is a unique commentary. It is a resource for those who are interested in understanding the Bible and preaching it, based on good exegesis and relevant application. The commentary is unconventional in more ways than one. For example, there are no long footnotes and references to contemporary scholarship as is usually the case in commentaries. However, it is apparent that it is based on sound scholarship, and the author does not hesitate to deal with debated points of interpretation. The main thrust, however, is to interpret Scripture in the light of contemporary society and each section is divided up into very helpful sub-headings. All in all, it reflects the present-day awareness that if we are to stand under the authority of Scripture, we must understand its relevance to our times and contexts. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and am thankful for the opportunity to endorse it.
Brian C. Wintle, PhD
Former Principal, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India
Michael Eaton was one of those rare biblical scholars whose years of pastoral and preaching experience enabled him to write expositions of the biblical text that are profoundly simple without being simplistic and shallow. In the Langham Preaching programme we have three tests for good preaching: faithfulness (working hard to understand and explain what the biblical author meant), clarity (using good structure to make your own meaning clear), and relevance (showing how the text speaks and applies to our lives today). Michael Eaton passes all three tests with distinction. Having his commentaries on the New Testament collected into this single volume will be an enormous blessing to the church.
Christopher J. H. Wright, PhD
International Ministries Director, Langham Partnership
Table of Contents
- Before Reading The Branch
- List of Abbreviations
- Introduction to the Gospels
- 1 Corinthians
- 2 Corinthians
- 1 Thessalonians
- 2 Thessalonians
- 1 Timothy
- 2 Timothy
- 1 Peter
- 2 Peter
- 1 John
- 2 John
- 3 John
- Publications by Michael A. Eaton