DDT Review of Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Volumes 1-3 by Jon Courson
Page Number: 4,000+
Author Theology: New Evangelical, Calvary Chapel-ish
Bible Text: KJV
Sometimes titles are relatively worthless, or worse even than that: deceptive. Not this one! It is not an Explanation Commentary, nor is it a Textual Commentary. It focuses on application.
Courson wrote this like a complete commentary on the Bible; however, it is available separately in three volumes (Gen-Job; Psa-Mal; Matt-Rev). As of April, 2023, theWord Bible software offers the volumes individually, or if purchased all together, at a discount (and if you like this style of commentary, why would you not buy it in its entirety?).
Strictly speaking, Courson is an expositor; but he is certainly not exegetical in his comments. Let me explain. Good exposition is building a rhetorical bridge from “what it meant when written to its original audience” to “what it means today to my congregation.”
Exegesis is studying to understand what the text meant. It focuses on language and culture. A technical commentary often focuses on exegesis – sometimes exclusively. That is a great feature in the study; but will put everyone to sleep in the pew.
Some commentaries strike a balance between “what it meant” to “what it means.” This type of commentary will answer broad textual questions, but often skips the fine points of understanding a text.
Courson? He moves right to application (you probably expected that, since the title of his commentary is “Jon Courson’s Application Commentary”). This might seem “fluff” to some; but a good expositor will quickly recognize the skill required to make accurate application look easy. Courson has that in spades.
BONUS: Sporadically, a topic will arise in the text that he wants to explore deeper. So he’ll write, something like this, from 1Ki 8:57-61 – “For a topical study of 1 Kings 8:57-61, entitled ‘The Building Blocks of Blessing,’ turn to page 984.” And when these comments intersect your specific study area, whoo boy, what a boon to your final presentation! These selections, though sparse, are expositional gold. [DDT Note: These bonus writings are quite sparse in Vol 1-2, and only a little more common in Vol 3.]
WHAT I LIKE
TheWord has organized these commentary volumes as a hybrid commentary type with nice hyperlinks. Functionally, the topic tree window is organized by chapter, but the verse clicks work by verse. This allows relatively simple navigation from either the commentary window or the Bible view window. It also allows those “bonus topical studies” to show up right in the text, and it makes them easily clickable. You’ll be able to see these points in the included picture at the bottom of this review.
The text is easy to read. The included KJV text is in a very light burgandy color, which makes it easy to not only see the KJV text, but to easily see the difference as to where the Bible ends and Courson’s comments (in black) begin.
I like to read Courson near the end of my research. He gives great ideas for how to bring the ancient text to modern living. And he does it well. I would have liked more of his “bonus” writings, though.
PROCESSING THE COMMENTARY IN THEWORD BIBLE SOFTWARE
As noted above, the commentary is laid out chapter by chapter, but the verse comments are clickable. That means, if you click on Exodus 13:20, the commentary moves right to Exodus 13:20, and not Exodus 13:1. This is very helpful, especially, when using TW’s commentary pop-up links inside the bible window.
There are no page numbers in the text; but fear not! When Courson directs you to “page 984″ for that bonus topical material, TW puts the link right in the commentary text (blue hyperlinks), AND inside the commentary topic tree. Trust me – all of Courson’s material is easy to find.
Intrinsic verse references (“2:10″) are all hyperlinked, just like you would expect from a premium module.
While Courson will rarely reference a Hebrew or Greek word, I did not note any instance where that word was hyperlinked to original language resources.
I like Courson. I have used him in other formats. This one is the best I’ve used. This is a DDT recommended resource.
Dave Thomason – “DoctorDaveT” of www.DoctorDaveT.com
Jon Courson is a pastor in the Calvary Chapel Movement, under Chuck Smith. In 2002, he left his Applegate Christian Fellowship (which Courson founded and grew into a robust church of 10,000) in southern Oregon to return to Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel (25,000 members) in Costa Meza California as an assistant to Chuck Smith.
Courson has amassed more than 1,500 teachings in an expositional style. Jon Courson’s Application Commentary will combine a verse-by-verse teaching of every paragraph of Scripture with practical topical studies throughout.
With more than 1,200 Calvary Chapels in the U.S. and 2,500 worldwide, Jon Courson delivers with fresh, new insights into the Bible.
- verse by verse devotional exposition
- 179 Topical studies/sermons laced throughout the commentary
- background illustrations and colorful information
- relevant and vivid insights
- 1900 pages approximately
Sample from 2 John 1:1-4:
Because they were written as personal correspondence rather than as doctrinal statements or historical records, John’s second and third epistles afford us the opportunity to eavesdrop on the early church, to read mail addressed to the group who “turned the world upside down” (see Acts 17:6). And in so doing, we see that the old adage is indeed true: Wherever there are people, there are problems. So it is that in 2 and 3 John, John deals with people problems in the early church. In 2 John, He deals with them generically; in 3 John, he deals with them specifically.
There are times when we must speak the truth generally and let the Holy Spirit make application specifically. But there are also times when, like John, we must speak the truth to people individually and personally.
The lessons seen in John’s last two epistles have great application to us congregationally, as families, and as individuals.
John 1 (a)
John refers to himself as “the elder” because in addition to being the last surviving apostle, at the time he wrote this letter, he was most likely close to one hundred years old. That’s the great thing about ministry. A thirty-three-year-old player in the NFL is considered an old man. But in the things of God, a man that age is just beginning. Because our lives become richer and deeper the longer we walk with the Lord, there is no disqualification for age.
2 John 1 (b)
…unto the elect lady and her children…
There is debate about whether the “elect lady” to whom John wrote was a literal lady, an acquaintance of John’s—or a church, the church being the elect as well as the bride of Christ.
Why didn’t John identify the elect lady? If, indeed, she was an individual, I believe it is very likely John kept her identity hidden in order to spare her from the persecution aimed at believers when this letter was written. John commends the elect lady in verses 1–4, commands her in verses 5–6, cautions her in verses 7–11, and, lastly, comforts her in verses 12, 13.
…whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; for the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever. Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
Although John talks about love more than any other writer in Scripture, he also emphasizes truth more than any other writer—using the word “truth” twenty times in his Gospel, nine times in 1 John, five times in these opening verses of 2 John, and five more times in 3 John.
I find it interesting that it was the “apostle of love” whom the Lord tapped on the shoulder to also be the one who stressed truth, because when you talk about love, it’s very easy to get mushy, to become sentimental, to begin to say, “I’ll just love that person rather than be honest with him.” Such is not the case with John. And his example is a needful one in a day when the economy has eclipsed integrity as our nation’s top priority, in an age where what is true for one person may or may not be true for another, in a culture that embraces Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” (John 18:38), rather than Jesus’ declaration, “I am the truth” (John 14:6).
While I don’t want to be one who causes people to batten down the hatches whenever they see me coming, neither do I want to let the church or my kids walk in ways I know will be destructive. Our relationships with our kids, our spouses, and our sisters and brothers in the Lord cannot survive without truth. That’s why Paul says we are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)—for both are vital.
I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.
Mom and Dad, make sure you model absolute integrity to your kids. Never let them see you compromise truth even in little, seemingly insignificant ways—for such actions will plant seeds in their hearts that will take root, causing them to be people who do not walk in integrity or deal with others honestly.