Commending Todd Still’s Philippians Commentary (Smyth & Helwys)

I just finished reading (nearly cover-to-cover) Todd D. Still’s (Truett Seminary) commentary on Philippians and Philemon (Smyth & Helwys, 2011). Because it aims at walking readers (especially students) through the text without getting into each and every exegetical question, I didn’t feel the need to write a full-blown “review.” Let me just say that after each chapter I read, my initial inclinations about Still’s advice were confirmed and the two words that repeatedly came to my mind were: “eminently sensible.” Still has a wonderful way with words, and those words offer very well-researched and trustworthy counsel when turning to Paul’s letter to the Philippians and to Philemon.

Two elements of the commentary are particularly noteworthy. First of all, each chapter of exegetical discussion is followed by a reflection on “Connections” (as is the format for the series). Still shows avenues of thinking and application that help the interpreter bring the ancient text into the modern world. Again, solid wisdom, especially from a godly man who spends his days training pastors.

Secondly, his Smyth & Helwys volume probably has more footnotes that many of the others in the series (that I have seen). That means that, while his main text is pretty much free of references to books and articles, the footnotes offer helpful resources for following up on an issue. There is a good amount of research on Philippians out there (commentaries, articles, and monographs), and Still draws from the best of them.

In terms of his influences, he tends to dialogue with and draw especially from the work of Hooker, Bockmuehl, and Fee – all excellent commentators. His strength is in the area of socio-historical background – no doubt following closely in the footsteps of his doktorvater John Barclay.

What else is Still working on these days?  He is writing an introduction to Paul, a guide to 1 and 2 Thessalonians for T & T Clark, the PAIDEIA commentary on 1-2 Thessalonians (Baker), and a socio-rhetorical commentary on 1 Peter (Eerdmans). Yee-gads! Well, his pain is our gain!! Thanks Todd!

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