TheESV Gospel Transformation Study Biblefeatures 375,000+ words of gospel-centered study notes, book introductions, and articles that explain passage-by-passage how God’s redemptive purposes culminate in the gospel and apply to the lives of believers today.
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When I saw the chance to review the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible come up, I was intrigued by the idea. I generally read from the KJV, but every now and then portions of the ESV have really spoken to my heart in a time and place where I needed God’s wisdom. I’ve also come to the place where the centrality of the gospel to the Bible, world history, and personal history, have become of utmost importance to me, so when I saw a Study Bible centered on the gospel, I was also intrigued. And a little excited when I learned later that I’d get a print copy of the book! One of my major questions lately has been—how can we find the gospel in the Old Testament? Judges, Esther, Job, Proverbs, the prophets? How is the most important theme of the Bible shared through those books? I was quite impressed by the amount of depth contained in the study notes. They didn’t always resonate with me, but even very familiar stories (like the book of Esther) took on a new significance for me. One of my most favorite parts of the experience was seeing how God’s purposes have always been acted out—though man may do his best to work against Him, God always prevails. After seeing some of the gospel principles in the well-loved stories, I was also impressed by how applicable those principles are across the board. Like Esther, we might not find ourself in perfect circumstances, but God can and will still use us. One quote I liked was, “Though we might not see His hand, God is at work even in circumstances that seem doomed.” Like Job, we might not understand the pain—but we can allow God to create beauty out of our brokenness. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what this Study Bible has to offer, probably mostly because the Word of God is so rich in meaning. But I have come away with three things that I really appreciate in this particular Study Bible: 1) Seeing Gospel principles pointed out throughout the Bible is a huge gift. I firmly believe we must have the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to help us gain perspective, and I believe what is given here could be that gift of perspective in a lot of situations. My view of the Bible will likely never be the same again—in a very good way. 2) Specific doctrines don’t seem to be pushed here very much (or maybe I just didn’t pick up on them!). For example, 1 Cor. 11 could be a hot-button topic for some people, and I appreciated the fact that they didn’t push one particular interpretation. Instead, they focused on the gospel truths in the passage. 3) Action steps to live out a more gospel-centered life. It seems like wherever the topic of the gospel comes up, there is always some sort of action in response to the gospel that must or should happen. And that’s shown throughout the study notes, too. I love seeing how the gospel was lived out in the lives of others, and realizing that that’s possible in my life, too, by the power of God! Like I said, it’s hard to sum this up. There is so much I haven’t read yet—I only really thoroughly read two books’ worth of study notes in preparation for this review, and excerpts elsewhere. However, if you’re looking for strengthening for your Christian walk, desire to see how the gospel is central to the entire Bible, or would like to have a deeper knowledge of the Scriptures, this might be a good option for you. I requested a free review copy of this book from Crossway Publishers, and this is my honest opinion of it.
The entire Bible is all about Jesus. The gospel is threaded through every book of the Old Testament as well as the New. There are many Christians who don’t believe this and feel that Old Testament seems largely disconnected from the New Testament. Christians should welcome more and more resources designed to show the unity of both testaments and that Christ is in all of Scripture. That’s why Crossway’s updated version of The Gospel Transformation Study Bible is a welcome addition to the Bible market. This is Crossway’s second edition of the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible with the first edition simply being called The Gospel Transformation Bible. I owned a copy of the first edition and this new edition comes with definite improvements. If you enjoy the first edition, you will definitely love the second. Let’s look at what makes this such a valuable resource. First, let’s talk about features. Each book of the Bible has an introduction preceding it. There are over 375,000 words of gospel-centered study notes. There are five new articles (one of the biggest values I find in study Bibles are the articles). There’s a concordance and 80,000 cross references. This is truly a feature-packed Bible. One of the coolest features of this Bible that took me by surprise is the introduction. It outlines the goals of the contributors and creators of this Bible. Following that, it provides specific uses for the Bible and invites the reader to purposefully use the product. I’ve never raved about an introduction to a Bible before, but this one is truly worth mentioning. The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up this hardback Bible is that it is very pleasing to the eyes. The first edition had a simpler design featuring black, red, and white as the primary colors. In the second edition Crossway has opted for a complete redesign with a very attractive blue and white wave pattern with accents of gold. You’ll even find this wave pattern if you remove the dust jacket, which I was incredibly pleased to discovery. Crossway did not cheap out when it comes to design. When you open the Bible, you’ll find crisp, white paper that has minor ghosting. You can faintly see text from the other side of the page, but honestly I am pretty impressed with the thickness of the paper. For a Bible this size, it would be easy for Crossway to choose to use thin paper, but text on the opposite side is hardly noticeable and I didn’t find it to be a distraction at all. You will notice in a comparison, that this second edition is slightly thicker than the first, but that is also because there have been some added features. I’ve said this in other reviews, but I’ll say it again. I love that this Bible is in single column format. It’s a personal preference, but I much prefer a single column Bible to a double. You can take notes in the margins (which there is decent width for) and books aren’t supposed to be double column—magazines are. This Bible comes with a single ribbon marker and in the back you’ll find the articles mentioned above, a topical index, the concordance, and some nice color maps. This Bible is feature-rich and a valuable resource that would anyone would be pleased to have on their shelf. Crossway has truly created a worthy successor to The Gospel Transformation Bible. If you have the first one and have found it useful, I think you will find The Gospel Transformation Study Bible to be a valuable upgrade. If you’ve never owned either edition and you’d