Monday, February 13, 2012

Straight to the Heart of Matthew by Phil Moore

Moore has written this book “to take you on a tour of Matthew's gospel and bring you face to face with Jesus as Matthew knew him.” (16) Matthew groups his material by theme rather than chronological order. More suggests there are five “acts” to this gospel drama and divides his work accordingly.
Moore's work is not a commentary. Each of the sixty readings is about four pages long and covers one or two major lessons in the Bible passage. This would make a nice devotional reading, covering two months.
I learned some things from Moore's book, such as the parallel of the life of Jesus to the experiences of Israel. Jesus baptism (Israel through the Red Sea), Jesus' forty days of temptation (Israel's forty years in the wilderness), Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Israel receiving the law at Mt. Sinai). 
Another great lesson is the method of the devil in Jesus' temptation. He also has a great section on Gehenna (Matt. 10:28).
On the Pharisees, he notes they did everything humanly possible to bring Israel back to God. “That was the problem. Everything humanly possible. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is a description of what is divinely possible.” (60)
On Matt. 7:13-27 and the narrow road - “Christians are saved by grace through faith, but there is no such thing as an 'invisible conversion.' When a person puts their faith in Jesus Christ, they start living differently. It's as simple as that.” (78)

I am a picky theological reader and a couple things Moore wrote bothered me. He presumes to know what Moses, Elijah and Jesus were talking about at the transfiguration. (165) He says, “Jesus had been reading the Psalms in the run-up to his crucifixion.” (249) (How does he know that? Perhaps Jesus had memorized them as a child.) He has a discussion about Jesus being a ransom (Matt. 20:28) that seemed to make the topic less understandable than more so. (194-7)

Those were minor issues, however. In general, this is a very good book for devotional reading. It is one volume in a series, Straight to the Heart. You can find out more about the books, about Phil Moore, and read his blog, at

Kregel Publications, 272 pages.  Publisher product information.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of this review.

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