The Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament is a newer series of solid, scholarly and evangelical commentaries. I am pleased to provide a brief overview of the series using Thomas Schreiner’s contribution on Galatians as an example.
The ZECNT is a commentary series whose unusual structure and features make it unique. Future commentary series will have to take this format into consideration as they try to develop a comparable model. Though these are exegetical commentaries on the Greek text, those who are either uneducated in Greek or who are loosely familiar with it will still find much of benefit. The final form of the ZECNT series “was refined over time by an editorial board who listened to pastors and teachers express what they wanted to see in a commentary series based on the Greek text (p. 9).” I believe the editors of the ZECNT have lived up to that desire.
The ZECNT series follows a seven-fold outline form for each chapter. Here, we will explain each part of the outline and provide a sample of what it looks like from the chapter on Galatians 3:26-29.
1. Literary Context
Each chapter starts out by setting the Literary Context. The context of each pericope is explained in one or more paragraphs. Following the explanation the author places the pericope within the larger context of the whole book in outline form. Example: Following Paul’s argument in Galatians 3:1-25 concerning the nature of the law in relation to the promises of God, Paul now moves to show “that the law as a pedagogue is now passed since all believers are now God’s sons and daughters in Christ through faith (p. 253).” All believers, Gentiles included, are the promised sons of Abraham by virtue of being in Christ who is Himself the one true offspring of Abraham (3:16).
2. Main Idea
Second, following the literary context is the Main Idea. This section seeks to summarize the central message of each pericope in a few sentences. Example: Schreiner states that the main idea of Galatians 3:26-29 “is that believers are the offspring of Abraham by virtue of their union with Christ Jesus (p. 254).”