Tag Archives: Bryan Chapell

Top Three Marriage Books

Over my years in the ministry, I’ve taught many marriage preparation classes.  From time to time, I’ve also counselled couples with marriage problems.  In my preaching, I’ve had many opportunities to speak about marriage.  Besides all that, I’ve been married myself for what’s going on to 23 years.  All these things give me a vested interest in good books about marriage.  I’ve read a few.  Almost all of them have something worthwhile, but there are some that really stand out.  Here are my top three, in order of importance:

When Sinners Say “I Do”: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage, Dave Harvey.

This one tops the list because of the author’s relentless focus on the gospel.  Written in a warm, personal style, Dave Harvey helps couples come to terms with the biggest problem that all marriages face and the solution to this problem.  Along with some of the other topics one would expect in a marriage book, he also discusses one you don’t often encounter:  death.  If you’re going to read just one book about marriage, make it this one.

Strengthening Your Marriage, Wayne Mack.

Are you ready to get to work on your marriage?  Then this is the book you’re looking for.  It’s not just a review of biblical teaching about marriage, but a very practical workbook.  It contains a variety of exercises for husbands and wives to complete.  The idea is that they would be done with a pastor or counsellor, but certainly couples could benefit from doing them on their own too.  I use Wayne Mack’s book Preparing for Marriage God’s Way for my marriage preparation classes and I appreciate his biblical approach.

Each for the Other: Marriage As It’s Meant To Be, Bryan Chapell with Kathy Chapell

I really like this one for three reasons.  One is that it includes the perspective of a woman.  Another is that it has great stories and illustrations to drive home the points of the authors.  Finally, I value the clear explanations and applications of biblical submission and headship.  This book also includes discussion questions to go with each chapter.

Book Review: Ephesians (Reformed Expository Commentary)

Ephesians (Reformed Expository Commentary), Bryan Chapell, Phillipsburg: P&R, 2009.  Hardcover, 383 pages, $31.51.

Commentaries are my most-used books.  However, I rarely read through a commentary from front to back, certainly seldom ever in a short period of time.  The last time I did that was in 1992 with John Stott’s The Spirit, The Church and the World.  I read that commentary on Acts because of a positive review in Christian Renewal.  While I don’t remember who the reviewer was (Tangelder? Farenhorst?), I recall reading that this was the kind of commentary that you’d want to enjoy from front to back.  The reviewer was right.

Bryan Chapell’s Reformed Expository Commentary on Ephesians is the same kind of book.  You could read it straight through quite comfortably and profitably.  You could use this as a daily devotional.  It’s written in a reader-friendly style.

The author is well-known as the president of the PCA seminary (Covenant) in St. Louis.  He’s written a number of books, the most influential of which has been Christ-Centered Preaching.  There he laid out his vision for how preaching should be focussed on what matters and, of course, tied tightly to the Scriptures.  In this volume, originally a series of seminary chapel messages, he shows exactly how it’s done.

Readers interested in the technical aspects of the exegesis of Ephesians will find some assistance in the many footnotes.  However, the commentary focuses more on the results of exegesis and application than it does on the nitty-gritty details.  This makes it accessible to a wide audience.  The excellent illustrations and anecdotes throughout also serve that purpose.  Naturally, there will be places where other Reformed exegetes will disagree with Chapell’s conclusions.  For instance, I’m not persuaded by his understanding of the reference to psalms, hymns and spiritual songs in Ephesians 5:19 – he believes that these refer to distinct categories that include “the songs of the New Testament church.”  Nevertheless, his conclusions throughout certainly fall into the range found among Reformed commentators.  He also regularly brings in supporting material from the Reformed confessions, which, for this Presbyterian author, means mostly the Westminster Standards.

Anybody could pick up this book and be edified by it.  However, since it was originally written as a series of seminary chapel messages, theological students and pastors would be especially encouraged and challenged by it.  Certainly as I was reading it, I felt as if Chapell were speaking directly to me in my ministry.  He encourages pastors and prospective pastors to take the proper approach to their congregations, to buoy them with God’s love, rather than burden them with God’s displeasure.  That said, the last chapters (dealing with Ephesians 5-6) would also be helpful for husbands, wives, and parents.  All in all, this is an excellent volume and I can highly recommend it.

“We Are His Family”

I have resisted the temptation.  Here I was going to share some excerpts from volume 2 of Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics, but I resisted.  There is a necessary being “against,” but it can consume you and eat away at your soul.  Philippians 4:8-9 is still in my Bible.  There is growth in sanctification even in a sinner like me, believe it.

So, instead of Uncle Herman (the brother of Father Abraham), I have a beautiful passage from Bryan Chapell’s Reformed Expository Commentary on Ephesians.  Here he’s commenting on Ephesians 2:19-22:

God says in this passage that we are his family.  We are treasured in his house always, always.  Whatever transitions come, whether they are transitions away from current location or away from his approval, whether they are transitions of success or failure, whether they are transitions of family or difficulty or career, the love of our Father will never waver.  His heavenly power and protection are active in our behalf wherever we go — near or far, to places familiar or alien — because we are citizens of his kingdom and members of his family.  Through Christ we not only have access to our Father’s presence, we also have access to our Father’s heart.  There his Spirit advocates for us with tenderness beyond our provoking and pronounces to our heart what the heavens announce to the world: “You are our child, and you will always be.”

Praise God for the gospel!

Power Follows Love

I’m only about halfway through it, but I’m already convinced that Bryan Chapell’s contribution to the Reformed Expository Commentary series is the best book I’ve read in a while.  He’s a reliable guide to Ephesians and an excellent communicator.  I hope to have a full review next week or the week after, but for now here’s just a sample of what I love about this book.  This is from the chapter on Ephesians 3:14-19:

When Christian leaders see this wonderful truth of Scripture — that power follows love — our calling becomes very clear.  It is our duty, our privilege, our delight to engender in those that we want to grow in grace and holiness an ever greater love for Christ.  How do we do this?  We engender love the way that the apostle does: we proclaim how great is Christ’s love for us.


“Filling up” with love for God is the object not merely of our private duties but also of our ministries to others.  When we understand that the primary obligation of our preaching is to have God’s people embrace the wonders of his love so that they can serve Christ with power, then preaching becomes a wondrous and joyful task.  Our mission is to reach the wounded and rebellious hearts with the compelling love of Christ.  Our ministry becomes more appealing even in our own minds when we understand that our task is more to buoy God’s people with his love than to burden them with his displeasure.  Because the joy of the Lord is his people’s strength, we always minister with the aim of providing the hope that enables others to progress in their walk of faith.  (165-166, emphasis added)

Can anyone tell that Chapell is a seminary professor who teaches homiletics?  Thanks for the reminder, Professor Chapell.  I’ve learned a lot from you.