John MacArthur Study Bible

Discussion in 'Book Exchange' started by sojourner, Aug 25, 2015.

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  1. sojourner

    sojourner Puritan Board Freshman

    Hello everyone!

    After buying the 2005 ed. Reformation Study Bible (ESV).
    I am eyeing MacArthur's study bible. I really want the NIV since I already have 2 ESV study bibles.

    Would love to hear your comments. :)
  2. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    MacArthur self-identifies as a "leaky dispensationalist." Insofar as his Bible reflects dispensational hermeneutics, it is flawed (in my opinion). But, he is also a Calvinistically leaning, Puritan appreciating, improvement over broad evangelicalism. Insofar as the Bible captures these influences, it can be quite helpful.
  3. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    I agree with what Dennis said above. MacArthur is dispensational and this clearly comes through in his notes. On the other hand, he is quite helpful when it comes to the historical background of things and with providing useful cross references. If used with caution, it can be a helpful tool.
  4. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    'No' on MacArthur, and an emphatic 'no' on the NIV. If you want a Dispensational slant on things, find a MacArthur NKJV.

    Since ESV and NIV are from the same family of texts, you aren't adding anything, and taking a big step in the wrong direction by adding an NIV. If you want a different modern translation, I'd recommend NKJV. If you want to stay in the old RSV family, there are several options that are better than the NIV.
  5. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    I have the MacArthur SB in the NKJV and I like it very much. As Bill said above, it is very good on the historical aspect. It can sometimes be confusing though, since he is not always coming at theology from a reformed perspective, and forget about the eschatological view.

    So having other reformed resources to double check would be advisable. The ESV SB, and the Reformation Heritage SB (KJV) are both good choices. For the NIV, which I happen to hold in high regard, Zondervan has released a SB edited by D.A. Carson who is a reformed Baptist preacher, teacher, missionary. I don't have it, I have the old 1984 Kenneth Barker edited edition, but I'd bet it is first rate.
  6. sojourner

    sojourner Puritan Board Freshman

    You mean by dispensationalist the israelites are separate and the other chosen people of God?.Now Im having second thoughts with regards in buying that study bible...
    The 2005 Reformation Bible doesnt have much study notes compared with the ESV. I also have the Wilmington Guide to the Bible.
  7. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    By that, I hope you mean the original 1984 NIV, which is better than the revisions which followed in later years.
  8. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I have to agree with Dennis.
  9. psycheives

    psycheives Puritan Board Freshman

    Dear Leah, I agree with our brothers - I would avoid the MacArthur Study Bible. Yes, he holds Israel is God's special people and the church is "a parenthesis" in God's plan. The version I have was compiled with his notes from when he rejected Limited Atonement. He did eventually come to embrace this teaching, but back when the Study Bible was first put together, the study notes reject Limited Atonement (from TULIP). It is also my understanding, the 1997 Study Bible included his very erroneous and damaging "denial of eternal sonship" doctrine. I'm not sure if the 2005 edition has been updated to remove these errors.

    If you are looking for more study notes, the Spirit of Reformation Bible (out of print but available around $100 on Amazon/Ebay from time to time) has a lot more notes. Also, Sproul's newest Reformation Study Bible has many more notes. One of my favorite things to do is to use Calvin's Commentaries as I read through the Bible. If you do that, you'll be a million times better off than using MacArthur's notes. Calvin's Commentaries are free online.
  10. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    I'd recommend it in the NKJV or NASB. Try to get one with a sewn binding if you can. For something that big (or really of any size), a glued binding might come apart on you within a year or two of regular use. The doctrinal basis is, as noted, not confessionally Reformed. In other words, it is not fully compatible with the 2nd London Baptist Confession of 1689. But it is without question the best dispensational Study Bible. I find it helpful to study works from various perspectives at times.

    If you're just wanting it for occasional reference and don't mind ebooks, keep your eye on The Kindle edition/of the MacArthur is typically available a couple of times a year or so for approximately $4.99.

    If you are looking for another Bible that is confessionally Reformed, I'd recommend the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible. The notes are worth it even if you don't typically use the KJV. Another option in the KJV is the Matthew Henry Study Bible.

    Despite the translation, the new NIV Study Bible edited by D.A. Carson that was released yesterday may be worth a look.

    As Psyche noted, the NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible is also a great resource and may still have a leg up on the Ligonier Reformation Study Bible in some respects. Alas, it is out of print. But for the hardcover, you should be able to do better than $100 if you are willing to wait awhile and keep your eye on eBay. (You can't have my copy, at least right now!) I think an electronic version is available for about $20 from CBD unless it has disappeared. It is also available for Laridian's Pocket Bible mobile app. In that format you can pair it with any translation.

    The HCSB Study Bible is another good one although it is more broadly evangelical and somewhat less Calvinistic than the ESV Study Bible. But one of our resident scholars here contributed to it. It is basically freely available online at the WordSearch site. It has a lot of word studies and other good basic information. You can also usually get the Kindle edition cheap.

    Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2015
  11. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    The ESV Study Bible is broad evangelical/Reformed in orientation and has more study notes than any other I know about.
  12. RBBen

    RBBen Puritan Board Freshman

    Be careful with Macarthur. Like others have said, he is a Dispensationalist and a proud one. Thus, you will see a dispensational bent on his exegesis and commentary on Old Testament prophecy and Revelation. Rather than spending more money on another study Bible, I would recommend looking at spending that money on Beale and Carson's Commentary on the New Testament's Use of the Old Testament if you don't already have it.
  13. psycheives

    psycheives Puritan Board Freshman

    I should mention that Dispensationalism isn't even my main concern. He also promotes the "Lordship Salvation" view that is severely critiqued as "legalistic works salvation" by other Calvinists. They believe he gets "justification by faith alone" wrong by adding works/commitment/discipleship(sanctification) back into justification as a requirement of things we must do in order to be saved. So he confuses justification and sanctification.

    One should also be aware that he has preached through the NT in his sermons but will not preach through the Old Testament (only selected verses from selected books). I would assume this is because of his Dispensational views that the Old Testament is not for us today, but if anyone knows differently please let us know. When looking at the study notes in the 2010 MacArthur Study Bible, the NT study notes are full and in-depth but the OT are very limited and mostly just word definitions or geographic details or small historical details. My understanding is that his students took his sermons/lectures/articles and reformatted them into notes and put them in the Bible. So, since he hasn't preached through the OT, they had very few notes to insert. So in his OT, you get a note for verse 2, 8, 14, etc. While acknowledging our theological differences, I would agree that he is one of the best dispensationalists and is an excellent speaker.

    I did the same thing as you - I looked for the Reformed Bible with the MOST notes. In the end, I splurged on the Spirit of Reformation Bible because it had vastly more notes than any other study bible. RC Sproul and Richard Pratt used to put out the New Geneva Bible. The Spirit of Reformation Bible is the follow-up to that Bible, when Sproul departed to go work on his own Bible. Today Sproul's newest Bible has close to as many notes as my "Spirit of Reformation bible" (not to be confused with the Pentecostal "New Spirit-Filled Life Bible"). When comparing them, they appear to have about the same number of notes. I still think the Spirit of Reformation Bible has slightly more pointed notes but they are pretty close. I'm very glad to see such a great improvement on Sproul's new Bible. So a good cheaper alternative would be Sproul's new bible.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2015
  14. God'sElectSaint

    God'sElectSaint Puritan Board Freshman

    I have a MacArthur SB NASB and it is rather disappointing. The ESV SB is rather good. I am not really a big study bible fan as Psyche said just reading Calvin as you read through your bible is probably best. I like just a good reference bible. My RL Allan has the original KJV translation notes and they usually suffice me just fine.
  15. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Although several Study Bibles were a big help to me when I first started reading the Bible, I find that I don't use them much anymore unless I have a particular question about a text. (In those cases, I might consult as many as 5-10 between the books I have, plus electronic editions.) The exception now is occasionally using the notes for family and private worship in the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible. With regard to reference editions, I've thought for years that I "need" a reference edition with marginal notes. But too often they are a distraction when trying to simply read the text. So I find myself gravitating more towards my Windsor text edition KJV from the Trinitarian Bible Society.

    I got the ESV Study Bible about 3-4 years ago and hardly use it. I've never used the NIV Spirit of the Reformation much either, (which I've had for 8-10 years) even though I am loath to part with it. I only use it for occasional reference. I don't use the MacArthur very much anymore either.

    in my opinion, one of the better uses for Study Bibles is as a handy reference to a particular doctrinal point of view. I think the Scofield III (the same notes as the "New Scofield" of 1967) is the best Study Bible to get an introduction to traditional or revised dispensationalism, for example. That was helpful to me a number of years ago when I was in an area where the most solid church appeared to be a dispensational Bible church. I had never studied dispensationalism before and wanted to know what I was in for. The MacArthur Study Bible gets into that to some degree, but it is not organized in a systematic way and has no index to the study notes. But otherwise it is the best dispensational Study Bible.

    You've got the ESV Study Bible for broadly Calvinistic evangelicalism. The new NIV Zondervan Study Bible edited by D.A. Carson may somewhat fit into that category as well. There are a few others that have some Calvinistic notes here and there, but they also tend to be dispensational to some degree.

    As has been previously noted, the choices for confessional Reformed are the Reformation Study Bible published by Ligonier, the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible, and the NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible. Matthew Henry is good for a post-Puritan work with a devotional focus. But it is not a good option if one is looking for any detail on geography, history, textual issues, theological debates and so on.
  16. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    If I understand correctly, he had a contract with Moody to complete the NT commentary series but he very likely also had an ambition to preach through the whole NT that coincided with that. While there definitely aren't as many notes compared to the NT, I think the OT notes are not quite as skimpy as you suggest. There are probably more notes than most if not all Study Bibles that were in print at the time that the MacArthur was published in 1997. (Compare the NIV Study Bible and even the first New Geneva/Reformation Study Bible, (Ligonier) which I found to be too skimpy too often and thus got rid of it years ago. The notes in the NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible are quite a bit more thorough in many cases, as you note.) I'm flipping through the MacArthur right now and find that there are a good many pages in the OT where the notes take up half of the page. The notes on many of the pages take up about 1/4 to 1/3 of the page. In both the ESV Study Bible and the NIV Spirit of the Reformation, there are fewer notes on average in the OT compared to the NT. Naturally though, the notes in the latter tend to be more in keeping with a confessional Reformed point of view and the former are to a somewhat lesser extent if only because it is not dispensational. (From what I've seen, it definitely does not teach a Reformed view of the use of the law, the Sabbath, and probably other matters.) Naturally, MacArthur is going to have less of a tendency to "spiritualize" than Reformed amillennial interpreters will. He's not confessionally Reformed and has never claimed to be. If someone is looking for something that is fully compatible with the WCF, then a different choice is called for.

    From what I have gathered, I don't think that MacArthur has spent much time in the classroom as a teacher. According to the introduction to the MacArthur, the starting point for the OT notes was work that several faculty members at TMS did, with MacArthur working them up into their final form. A team from TMS and GTY put together material from his NT sermons for a first draft for him to work with.

    With regard to Lordship Salvation, my understanding is that "The Gospel According to Jesus" (which was the main book in question) was rendered more palatable to its critics with some clarifications on justification in the 1994 edition. For what it's worth, one can find the same sort of statements that got MacArthur in trouble with Horton et. al. in J.M. Boice, A.W. Pink, and some other writers who are generally considered to be "Reformed" broadly speaking. When perhaps the majority of Reformed teachers (at least those who cared) were calling Tullian T's teaching on law and gospel Lutheran and antinomian, some others went to the mat defending him even though his rejection of the Third Use of the Law and Reformed teaching on sanctification in general was obvious. So some have gone to the other extreme as well.

    The only preacher I can think of offhand who in relatively recent years preached through the entire Bible, OT and NT, was the late W.A. Criswell. Can anyone give any other examples of someone who did that? More often, it seems that the renowned expositors spent many more years in a fewer number of books, like Lloyd-Jones and maybe Maclaren. Some of the Puritans spent 20-30 years (and more) in one book!
  17. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    I have to disagree with this. Yes, he is a dispensationalist in some sense (he calls himself a "leaky dispensationalist," meaning that he believes there is a difference between Israel and the church, but he doesn't believe in the classic 7 dispensations of earlier dispensationalism), but he has a solidly Reformed soteriology (doctrine of salvation). He clearly teaches that good works come after salvation, not before (Ephesians 2.8-10). He definitely does not confuse justification and sanctification.

    Here he is, from his 1986 commentary on Ephesians:

    Church membership, baptism, confirmation, giving to charity, and being a good neighbor have no power to bring salvation. Nor does taking Communion, keeping the Ten Commandments, or living by the Sermon on the Mount. The only thing a person can do that will have any part in salvation is to exercise faith in what Jesus Christ has done for him. When we accept the finished work of Christ on our behalf, we act by the faith supplied by God's grace....Obviously, if it is true that salvation is all by God's grace, it is therefore not a result of works. Human effort has nothing to do with it (cf. Romans 3.20; Galatians 2.16). And thus, no one should boast, as if he had any part....Although they have no part in gaining salvation, good works have a great deal to do with living out salvation. No good works can produce salvation, but many good works are produced by salvation. (pp. 61-62, on Ephesians 2.1-10)

    Many other passages, from this and others of his books, could be cited. MacArthur is clear about salvation.
  18. psycheives

    psycheives Puritan Board Freshman

    My dear brother, I very very very much wish you were correct. I came from the MacArthurites and pray for them. They are a very well-meaning and zealous group. I think we can agree that Pastor MacArthur teaches "Lordship Salvation." This belief has been critiqued by Reformed scholars/pastors (and other Dispensationalists like Zane Hodges) as promoting a type of "works salvation." I am not at all saying that Pastor MacArthur is intentionally promoting "works salvation" - let's be super clear - he believes in "justification by faith alone." The errors are unconsciously made in his definitions/descriptions and practices and is certainly not an intended result. This criticism is made against "Lordship Salvation" because it teaches that "saving faith" includes a commitment/promise/decision/obedience to God to submit to His Lordship. Someone wrote that the term "Lordship Salvation" is incorrect to use because "lordship" is a fruit/sanctification and so does not justify.

    You can find many of Pastor MacArthur's statements in "Gospel According to Jesus." He made statements like "Disobedience is unbelief." "... repentance is a critical element of genuine faith." " is not complete unless it is obedient." You can read the critiques of "Lordship Salvation" on Puritanboard and in Michael Horton's "Christ is Lord" book: "He seems to be saying that we are justified, not by faith and works (the Roman Catholic View) or by a faith that works (the Protestant view) but by a faith that is works." (Page 39). Pastor MacArthur did revise his book "The Gospel According to Jesus" in response to the critique by Dr. Horton. In my opinion, unfortunately, these teachings can still be found in the revised book and in subsequent books and materials.

    You can read more about Pastor MacArthur's Lordship Salvation views on his church website HERE. I get what the article is trying to communicate but the words and phrases are constructed in such a way as to suggest aspects of sanctification are included/required in "saving faith." I didn't read the whole thing, but notice how the article defines "saving faith" in such an unclear way as to suggest "surrender" or "personal commitment" (man's work) is part of "saving faith"?

    Notice also these confusing statements:

    And "Faith therefore involves personal commitment to Christ. ... easy-believism teaches that saving faith is simply being convinced or giving credence to the truth of the gospel and does not include a personal commitment to the person of Christ." Saving faith includes "a personal commitment"?

    The article defines repentance: "Repentance is a turning from sin... It is a change of heart, but genuine repentance will effect a change of behavior as well. ... In contrast, easy-believism teaches that repentance is simply a synonym for faith and that no turning from sin is required for salvation." This makes it sound like turning from sin/repentance/sanctification is required for salvation.

    Consider this statement: "[The gospel] was an offer of eternal life and forgiveness for repentant sinners..." FOR repentant sinners. Above repentance is defined as "turning from sin," which sounds like sanctification. So repentant/sanctified sinners are given the "offer of eternal life and forgiveness."

    The article continues "To put it simply, the gospel call to faith presupposes that sinners must repent of their sin and yield to Christ’s authority." What does he mean by this? The gospel PRESUPPOSES repentance and commitment?

    Again, "...the faith He demands involves unconditional surrender." There it is again. Faith involves not just surrender but now an extremely high level of surrender "unconditional surrender." Does any Christian ever offer Christ "unconditional surrender?" Don't we fail and sin and place ourselves before Him all the time, if we are honest?

    Another very troubling and confusing statement: "Christ does not bestow eternal life on those whose hearts remain set against Him." Wait... Woah! Except Christ does exactly that! He gives eternal life to sinners, who's hearts do remain against him. Only, because he does this, their hearts WON'T remain against him. We will always remain against him - until he saves us. Only then will we change. Now if the author wrote "Those who remain lost to sin till the end will not receive eternal life," we can agree. But the way the article is phrased makes things sound reversed. Instead of these aspects of sanctification being consequences of our justification, this entire article continuously phrases them to sound like conditions/pre-requisites.

    One more: "Surrender to Jesus’ lordship is not an addendum to the biblical terms of salvation; the summons to submission is at the heart of the gospel invitation throughout Scripture. In contrast, easy-believism teaches that submission to Christ’s supreme authority is not germane to the saving transaction."

    Where is the clear teaching that we bring NOTHING to the table? NOTHING. Not commitment. Not obedience. We are disobedient all the way up until we are regenerated, converted, justified.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2015
  19. Darryl Le Roux

    Darryl Le Roux Puritan Board Freshman

    Not once did I leave reading MacArthur's definition of Lordship salvation as a works based doctrine. I also believe that your understanding of his wording is incorrect.

    Acts 3:19 " "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;"

    Works based? I don't think so, and neither does MacArthur.
  20. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    I agree with Darryl. Of all the things that should concern us regarding Pastor Macarthur, Lordship salvation is the least of these In my humble opinion.
  21. Reformed Roman

    Reformed Roman Puritan Board Freshman

    I read almost every one of those statements... I didn't see one of which in context that would mean works based salvation. If a person comes to Christ in faith for salvation, he is turning from his old way of life. That's repentance. Dying with Christ, and rising with Him.

    He talked about faith involving a personal commitment. I'm sorry but if you come to Christ in faith but you have no commitment to follow him, your not following him, and that faith isn't faith.

    None of those things are works salvation.

    He clearly teaches salvation by faith alone and all of these things are merely marks of true faith and conversion. It's extremely clear

    I heard of some doctrinal issues in the 90s , regarding the sonship of Christ, things that have been turned from long ago.

    Again. The only thing is his bent towards dispensationalism.

    Honestly I think he is a great asset. You need different views to challenge you. I wouldn't heap false teachers in my collection but he is far from it.

    Be careful about reading every text and immediately going to study notes. It's easy to mix mans opinion and literally hold his or her interpretation to mean their interpretation is God's word. I try to read and have devotional time away from all notes. Notes are a good resource when your really stuck, or when you need to see things from someone else's prospective
  22. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    It is my understanding that MacArthur's key work on Lordship Salvation, The Gospel According to Jesus, was later modified with in part the help of Reformed theologians. I don't know if the revisions to that work represent clarifications in his theological regarding what's being taught here.

    That said, there are some excellent study Bibles available from a Reformed perspective, both confessionally and more broadly, that would lead me to put MacArthur's further down on my list.
  23. Toasty

    Toasty Puritan Board Sophomore

    I wish his website would say something like, "Faith means to rely upon or depend upon. Faith in Christ is only means by which justification is received. Many things accompany faith such as obedience to God and turning away from the evil deeds of the flesh, but those things are not the means by which salvation is received." I think the website should make it clear that faith is alone instrument of justification even though many things can accompany faith.
  24. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Except for maybe the early days when Scofield's notes were considered by some to be as essential to sound doctrine as the Bible itself, I don't know that 7 dispensations specifically has ever been considered essential to dispensationalism. (If I recall correctly Darby had 9.) I'd have to check, but I don't think that Ryrie says that they are some kind of essential in "Dispensationalism Today," and one of the purposes of that book was to state what the essentials are. Although I suppose he would have to had affirmed them in some sense, Alva McClain didn't seem to have had much use for dispensations at all. He only mentions the term about 3 times in his magnum opus, and almost always, if not always, in a dismissive way. And he was so much of a dispensationalist that he taught no less than 3 offers of the kingdom to Israel. The German theologian Erich Sauer seems to have had very little use for them either. Robert Duncan Culver says Sauer's work was a move back toward the "older premillennialism" and some have argued that it represents an early form of progressive dispensationalism, but Ryrie highly recommended him nonetheless.

    All MacArthur means by "leaky dispensationalism" is that he does not emphasize dispensations (no matter what number) and (perhaps especially) that he believes that it only has to do with ecclesiology (Israel/church distinction) and eschatology. Since so-called "free grace" theology was considered to be a dispensational distinctive by many (especially of the old Dallas school of thought) MacArthur was accused of abandoning dispensationalism after the publication of "The Gospel According to Jesus." In an appendix of "Faith Works," (later reissued as "The Gospel According to the Apostles") he reaffirms his commitment to dispensationalism but argues that it should only pertain to ecclesiology and eschatology. (Some recent TMS graduates (e.g. Michael Vlach) have reiterated this and have further clarified it.) MacArthur says in the early days, certain teachers went to seed on the dispensations, etc. and it got out of hand.

    For what it's worth
  25. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Psyche seems to be confused as to what the Lordship Salvation controversy was about back in the late '80s and '90s.

    One way to put it is like this: in Ephesians 2.8-10, MacArthur was just trying to stress verse 10, which too many people sort of ignore. Salvation is by grace alone - yes (verses 8-9)! But good works do follow after it (verse 10).
  26. TrustGzus

    TrustGzus Puritan Board Freshman

    I've found the exchange on Lorship Salvation in the thread confusing in light of facts such as Boice and Packer doing forwards to MacArthur's book. Grudem speaks positively of the view. If it's not the Reformed view, at worst it would appear to be a view that Reformed Christians are divided over.
  27. Warren

    Warren Puritan Board Freshman

    Joe, who are Boice and Packer?

    In Lordship Salvation, are good works those works which we do unto the Lord? Such as my day job. MacArthur doesn't seem like the sort of man to tell me that I need to do fantastic works to be sanctified. He seems to have a grasp of reality, the Word included.
  28. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    Here is MacArthur, from his website, on Lordship Salvation ;

    James Montgomery Boice and J.I. Packer ,theologians , pastors, teachers. Very well respected in the reformed community.
  29. Warren

    Warren Puritan Board Freshman

    Then I don't see anything controversial in MacArthur's Lordship doctrine. I just stay way from his eschatology. But generally I stay away from study bibles and commentaries. There is a chain link(?) Bible out there, that has a color coding system for thematic study of the Bible. I think its called the Thompson link Bible, which I'd like to read in the NASB.

    I recognize Packer, now. I didn't know he was low Anglican, or so old. That's cool.
  30. sojourner

    sojourner Puritan Board Freshman

    Wow.. thanks for all your answers. Thanks Sis. Psyche and to everyone who have answered here. :)
    Well, I guess, I should stick now to my ESV Study Bible and 2005 ed. Reformation Study BIble. I will just order the New Reformation BIble hopefully soon.
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