The work of a pastor is oftentimes a quiet, secluded, and unseen work, happening behind closed doors and over the course of months and years. Such was the case for Dr. Matt Harmon in the writing of a commentary on Galatians, a New Testament epistle written by Paul. Writing commentaries, and books in general, is nothing new to Dr. Harmon. But his latest project, a Galatians commentary, holds a special place in his heart. We caught up with him to ask about this latest book.
1. You have written several books. How do you choose which topic you will write about? How did you choose to write about Galatians?
Some of the books I have written are the result of a publisher approaching me to write about a specific subject or contribute to a series. For others, I have come up with an idea and then proposed it to a publisher. My Galatians commentary is actually a combination of the two. I was approached by the editors of the commentary series and asked to contribute, but they allowed me to suggest what New Testament book I would like to do in the series.
I have loved Galatians since doing my doctoral dissertation on how Paul’s argument and theology are shaped by his reading of Isaiah. So when I had the opportunity to write a commentary on the letter I jumped at the chance.
2. Why should every Christian read Galatians? And what should we be looking to glean from our reading?
Galatians gives one of the clearest presentations of the gospel in the entire Bible. It explains how a sinner can be declared not guilty before God in his law court. It describes how to live a life that pleases God in the power of the Holy Spirit. These are truths that all of us as believers need to understand and apply to our lives, no matter how long we have been following Jesus. As he explains these realities, Paul helps us to see how deeply rooted in the Old Testament these truths really are. Indeed, Paul actually models how to read the Old Testament as he explains how the Mosaic Law relates to God’s promises and their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. And that’s just scratching the surface!
3. What was the most surprising or thought-provoking thing you learned while writing the Galatians commentary?
Although I had done a good bit of work on how Paul uses the Old Testament in Galatians, working through the letter verse by verse opened my eyes to just how deep and pervasive his engagement with Scripture truly is. The reason we often miss this feature of Galatians is that we do not know the Old Testament as well as we should!
One of the unique features of this commentary on Galatians is that in addition to the verse-by-verse commentary, there is an extended discussion (nearly 100 pages) of nine different biblical-theological themes in Galatians. For each of these themes, I try to explain not only how that theme shows up in Galatians, but how it fits within the larger storyline of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
4. What’s the next project you’re working on?
My next book will be out in early 2023. It’s a short theology of 2 Peter and Jude in the New Testament Theology series from Crossway. I have several projects I am currently working on right now at various stages. Several of them are related to how New Testament authors use the Old Testament. I am slowly chipping away at a commentary on Luke, which I hope to have finished sometime in 2024 with the goal of it being published in 2025.
Copies of “Galatians: Evangelical Biblical Theology Commentary” can be purchased on Amazon. Harmon talks more about the Galatians commentary on episode 101 of his podcast: Various and Sundry. Listen at directory.libsyn.com/episode/index/show/variousandsundrypodcast/id/21395972.
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