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Gospel of Matthew -1 Volume As the first Gospel in the New Testament, Matthew was, not surprisingly, the first to be published in J. C. Ryle's series of Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (1856). Ryle's expositions are a rich combination of doctrinal and practical comments on the Gospel text.
Ryle loved the Gospels because they were so full of the Lord Jesus Christ. 'No part of the Bible is so important as this', he wrote, 'and no part is so full and complete. Four distinct Gospels tell us the story of Christ's doings and dying. Four times we read the precious account of his works and words. How thankful we ought to be for this! To know Christ is to have peace with God. To follow Christ is to be a true Christian. To be with Christ will be heaven itself. We can never hear too much about the Lord Jesus Christ.'
Ryle's Expository Thoughts can be used as a help in family worship, or as an aid in pastoral visitation, or simply as a companion to the Gospels in the private reading of Scripture.
Now reprinted in fresh, new format Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Matthew will bring Ryle's plain yet profound insights to a new generation.
Gospel of Mark - 1 Volume First published in 1857, Mark was the second book to appear in J. C. Ryle's seried of Expository Thoughts on the Gospels.
The earliest of the Gospel narratives to be written, Mark, says Ryle, 'is singularly full of precious facts about the Lord Jesus, narrated in a simple, terse, pithy, and condensed style'. Those last four adjectives could well be used to describe Ryle's own comments on the Gospel!
In one of the occasional explanatory notes, he quotes the following remarks of Rudolf Stier:
St Mark has the special gift of terse brevity, and of graphic painting in wonderful combination. While on every occasion he compresses the discourses, works, and history into the simplest possible kernel, he on the other hand, unfolds the scenes more clearly than St Matthew does, who excels in the discourses. Not only do single incidents become in his hands complete pictures, but even when he is very brief, he often gives, with one pencil stroke, something new and peculiarly his own.
These Expository Thoughts on Mark do full justice to such an inspired text, and are full of encouragement, wisdom and straightforward practical application. May they continue to fulfil Ryle's desire to lead the reader 'to Christ and faith in him, to repentance and holiness, to the Bible and to prayer'.
Gospel of Luke - 2 Volumes Within a year of publishing Mark in his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels series, J. C. Ryle had, in 1858, completed the Gospel of Luke.
This was a much more 'substantial' commentary than the earlier ones on Matthew and Mark, and comprehensive 'explanatory notes' were appended to the author's 'thoughts' on each passage of Scripture. The purpose of the notes was four-fold-(i) to 'throw light on difficulties' in the text; (ii) to provide literal meanings and comparative translations of certain of the Greek words used by Luke; (iii) to quote what other 'approved writers' had said on particular passages; and (iv) to use Scripture to 'combat existing false doctrines and heresies'. Because of this, the Expository Thoughts on the Luke were - and are in this new edition - presented in two volumes, the first covering Luke chapters 1-10, the second chapters 11-24.
Written specifically for a non-Jewish readership, Luke's Gospel is perhaps the most 'accessible' of the narratives of the life of Christ for modern readers. Ryle's desire for his readers mirrors that of Luke Luke 1:4), that they might gain 'a more clear knowledge of Christ, as a living person, a living priest, a living physician, a living friend, a living advocate at the right hand of God, and a living Saviour soon about to come again'.
Gospel of John - 3 Volumes "The Gospel of St. John, rightly interpreted, is the best and simplest answer to those who profess to admire a vague and indistinct Christianity." There were many such in J. C. Ryle's day, as in our own, and these final three volumes of his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels series provide a detailed commentary upon, and 'right interpretation' of the fourth Gospel.
Originally published between published between 1869 and 1873, these volumes differ from those previously published in the series, in that they contain 'full explanatory notes on every verse of the portions expounded, forming, in fact, a complete Commentary'. The long gap between the publication of Luke (1858) and the appearance of the first volume of John (1869) is explained by the loss of Ryle's second wife, Jessie, in 1860), his being responsible for the care of his five children (the eldest being just thirteen years of age at the time), and his move to Helmingham to the much larger parish of Stradbroke in 1861, with the greater burden of work that entailed.
In these volumes Ryle shows again that, as in all his writing and preaching, he was first and foremost a pastor, and as J. I. Packer has pointed out, 'alongside the question "Is it true?" the question "What effect will this have on ordinary people?" was always in his mind'.
John Charles Ryle 1816-1900 was born Macclesfield, Chesire and educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. Graduating with a First in 'Greats' (Classics), his sporting prowess saw him represent the University at rowing and cricket.
A political career beckoned until his father's bank crashed in 1841. Instead he entered the Church of England ministry. Long afterwards he wrote, 'I have not the least doubt, it was all for the best. If I had not been ruined, I should never have been a clergyman, never have preached a sermon, or written a tract or book.'
Ryle served churches in Hampshire before moving to Helmingham, Suffolk, in 1844. It was here that he began his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels. The volumes on Matthew, Mark, and Luke were published between 1856 and 1858.
In 1861, Ryle became vicar of Stradbroke, Suffolk, where he became known for his plain preaching and firm defence of evangelical principles. He wrote several well-known books, many of them still in print today. It was at Stradbroke that he completed his Expository Thoughts series in 1873.
In 1880 Ryle became the first bishop of Liverpool. His episcopate was marked by efforts to build churches and mission halls to reach the rapidly expanding population of the city. Retiring in 1900 aged 83, Ryle died later the same year in Lowestoft, Suffolk. His successor in Liverpool described him as a 'man of granite with the heart of a child'.
Click here to read an online review of this book:
BOOK REVIEW, written by Jeremy Walker of Expository Thoughts on the Gospels.