Home > Bible Study, Christian Authors, eschatology, Israel, J. C. Ryle, Luke > Philip Ryken, and J.C. Ryle, on the Gospel of Luke

Philip Ryken, and J.C. Ryle, on the Gospel of Luke

October 2, 2020

A weekly Bible Study at church has started on a study of the gospel of Luke this year, and included Dr. Ryken’s Commentary in the list of recommended resources. So I’m listening to the next best thing to the commentary: the volumes of sermons from Dr. Ryken that form the basis of his commentary, a set of 14 volumes from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ podcast “Every Last Word,” available at ReformedResources.org.  The first three volumes cover the first 5 chapters of Luke, and are straight-forward sermons with exposition and application, on the wide range of topics within these first chapters of Luke’s gospel.

One pleasant surprise has been the frequent references to J.C. Ryle, with quite a few quotes from the great 19th century Anglican bishop.  In fact, in the early chapters at least (I’m currently in Luke 6) of Ryken’s sermon series, J.C. Ryle is one of the most (or possibly the most) frequently cited resources — along with quotes from a few others such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and at least one quote from existentialist philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.

That brings me back to reading J.C. Ryle, several years after I read  his books such as Practical Religion, Holiness, and his book on prophecy, Coming Events and Present Duties.  Over the years I’ve read selected portions from his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (full e-book in PDF, Kindle, and EPUB formats available here), and now it’s been refreshing and enjoyable to read sequentially through J.C. Ryle’s full commentary on the gospel of Luke, alongside Ryken’s sermons each week.

Ryle’s writing style here is similar to other works, a devotional and educational commentary, simple and clear statements packed with truth, and always very quotable.  He well described the faith of the Old Testament saints, with the original, plain historic understanding that believers always had the Holy Spirit indwelling, though in less measure (quantity) — unlike several modern day teachers who want to come up with innovations, even such as a few who would come up with a “spirit of Christ” that indwells New Testament saints in contrast to Old Testament saints that were regenerated but not actually Spirit indwelled (since, supposedly, the Spirit of Christ did not exist in that earlier era).

Ryle’s Expository Thoughts also addresses the basics, with great application of texts, to exhort believers on the importance of Bible reading and study, evangelism, and diligence and hard work in our occupations and callings.  His comments on the Lord’s Day Sabbath, at the beginning of Luke 6, are also spot-on, instructive regarding Christ’s teaching on works of necessity and works of mercy brought out in the text, and in response to the same Sabbath criticisms in our day:  We live in days when anything like strict Sabbath observance is loudly denounced, in some quarters, as a remnant of Jewish superstition.  We are boldly told by some people, that to enforce the fourth commandment on Christians, is going back to bondage.  Let it suffice us to remember, when we hear such things, that assertions are not proofs, and that vague talk like this has no confirmation in the word of God.   J.C. Ryle elsewhere wrote an excellent short summary tract, Sabbath: A Day to Keep, referencing  many scriptures and how they relate together; but the additional comments in his Luke 6 commentary add to the full picture.

Just in going through the first chapters of Luke, it’s also interesting to see his clear statements regarding the future millennial era and ethnic Israel’s future, as with this sampling:

Christ was indeed “the glory of Israel.” The descent from Abraham–the covenants–the promises–the law of Moses–the divinely ordered Temple service–all these were mighty privileges. But all were as nothing compared to the mighty fact, that out of Israel was born the Savior of the world. This was to be the highest honor of the Jewish nation, that the mother of Christ was a Jewish woman, and that the blood of One “made of the seed of David, according to the flesh,” was to make atonement for the sin of mankind.  . . .

The day shall come when the veil shall be taken from the heart of Israel, and all shall “glory in the Lord.” (Isaiah. 45:25.) For that day let us wait, and watch, and pray. If Christ be the light and glory of our souls, that day cannot come too soon.  . . .

“and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever.” The literal fulfillment of this part of the promise is yet to come. Israel is yet to be gathered. The Jews are yet to be restored to their own land, and to look to Him whom they once pierced, as their King and their God.  . . .

The full completion of the kingdom is an event yet to come. The saints of the Most High shall one day have entire dominion. The little stone of the Gospel-kingdom shall yet fill the whole earth. But whether in its incomplete or complete state, the subjects of the kingdom are always of one character.

Also, a sampling of general application from passages in Luke’s gospel:

We do not expect a child to do the work of a full-grown man, though he may one day, if he lives long enough. We must not expect a learner of Christianity to show the faith, and love, and knowledge of an old soldier of the cross. He may become by and bye a mighty champion of the truth. But at first we must give him time.


In every calling, and vocation, and trade, we see that great effort is one prominent secret of success. It is not by luck or accident that men prosper, but by hard working. Fortunes are not made without trouble and attention, by bankers and merchants. Practice is not secured without diligence and study, by lawyers and physicians. The principle is one with which the children of this world are perfectly familiar.

  1. October 3, 2020 at 7:43 am

    Good article, Lynda.
    Question please….Do orthadox/Reformed people who also believe in a specific, remarkable ingathering of the Jews believe that the physical/political nation of Israel is somehow special before God and should therefore be treated sort of with reverence? e.g. whatever the nation of Israel does is therefore “good”, always be on the side of the nation of Israel in everything, etc.?

    • October 3, 2020 at 2:52 pm

      I think you are referring to Zionism. I have not followed the Zionist movement that closely, nor am I familiar with any particular teachers in that group. Those I know, would affirm the future restoration and see the current world events as preparatory for the Second Advent — but not to the extreme of revering modern-day unbelieving Israel in every their action/position.

      • October 4, 2020 at 8:14 am

        Thanks. After thinking about it some more, I guess I’m talking about what I remember hearing from Hal Lindsey and/or hear on 700 Club, etc… i.e. speaking with reverence about the current nation of Israel. I know historical/classical pre-millinialism isn’t like these new sorts of things. Maybe that’s what the 700 club is… Zionism(?) … in addition to being dispensational, like Schofield (who descended from Darby, right?).

      • October 4, 2020 at 8:28 am

        Yes, Scofield was in the line of Darby.

        Original Zionism was what brought about the nation of Israel in 1948 and following, a political cause though founded on the scriptures about Israel’s future national restoration.

        These groups mentioned (700 club, Hal Lindsey, etc.) are false teachers, promoting dispensationalism and this political Zionism (which goes beyond the proper biblical view, to the point of excusing any wrong-doing on the part of the nation of Israel).

      • October 4, 2020 at 8:35 am

        Yeah, thanks Lynda. I think that was what I was trying to get at. The view that excuses any wrong doing on the part of the nation of Israel. Thanks for informing and clarifying!

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