Spring 1995 · Vol. 24 No. 1 · pp. 121–22 

Book Review


Chalmer E. Faw. Believers Church Bible Commentary. Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1993. 335 pages.

Reviewed by Doug Heidebrecht

Chalmer Faw’s commentary on the book of Acts in the Believers Church Bible Commentary series joins a significant number of commentaries published on Acts within the last few years. Dr. Faw’s earlier role as a professor of New Testament at Bethany Theological Seminary and his experience training church leaders in Nigeria, along with his continuing concern for spiritual renewal, have enabled him to make a unique and significant contribution.

Faw contends that despite the variety of purposes Luke may have had for writing Acts, they are all overshadowed by the revolutionary aim of transforming all life and bringing it under the Lordship of Jesus Christ (21). Acts 1:8 provides the key verse and outline for the book; it emphasizes the centrality of witnessing by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Faw uses the structure of the Believers Church series to explore each section in Acts. After a brief introduction in the Preview and an Outline of the text to be discussed, Faw presents the major emphases of each passage in the Explanatory Notes. In a very readable style, the narrative is summarized and accented with insights from linguistic, historical, and geographical details. Faw maintains a sensitivity to the author's (Luke's) literary patterns and theological motives. The personalities of the early church, such as Peter and Barnabas, are brought to life for the reader. {122}

A wider perspective on selected themes is developed through a comparative study in the section “The Text in Its Biblical Context.” Helpful background material and corresponding parallels from both the Old and the New Testament are highlighted. “The Text in the Life of the Church” section addresses theological and practical issues arising from the attempt to understand and apply the book of Acts today. For example, issues addressed in connection with Acts 2 include: Conversion and Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Tongues-Speaking Today, Pentecost for First Century Only?, Communal Living, and Evangelism by Attraction. Faw illustrates his conclusion primarily with the experiences of those within the Anabaptist/Brethren tradition. Nine thematic essays of a slightly more technical nature are located at the end of the book and round out the commentary.

Unfortunately, the bibliography is dated and virtually none of the recent commentaries on Acts are included or recommended as resources for further study. Faw could have strengthened his commentary further by including insights from the growing number of studies examining the sociological background of the New Testament (e.g., J.H. Neyrey, ed. The Social World of Luke-Acts. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1991).

Chalmer Faw has written an organized and readable commentary fulfilling the intent of the series to illuminate Scripture for as wide a range of readers as possible (11). While Faw hints at the scholarly debate underlying numerous issues in Acts, he does not stop to discuss the options in depth. His passion to see the contemporary church experience the Spirit's power in witness is unmistakably clear.

Doug Heidebrecht
Instructor in Biblical Studies
Bethany Bible Institute
Hepburn, Saskatchewan