The Heart of a Bible Commentator

Charles Quarles, Sermon on the Mount: Restoring Christ’s Message to the Modern Church (Nashville: B&H, 2011), xiv–xv:

Writing this commentary has been a life-changing experience. Due to other writing projects and some health challenges, I have worked on this commentary off and on for the past six years. During this time I have been privileged to live with the Savior on the mountain pondering His precious teaching until I heard His voice and, I believe, felt His heart.

Throughout the process of writing this commentary, I have sought to heed the admonition of J. A. Bengel:

“Te totum applica ad textum; rem totam applica ad te”

(“Apply yourself totally to the text; apply the text totally to yourself”).

The first prescribed exercise has often been enlightening, and I have seen and understood important elements of the text in new ways.

The second prescribed exercise has led me to see myself in new ways.

I have been encouraged by Jesus’ promises, indicted by His rebukes, stirred by His challenges, and strengthened by His presence.

I have learned the importance of seeking to live in accord with God’s character and not merely His commands.

I have aspired for holiness as a participant in the new exodus, a recipient of new creation, and a beneficiary of the new covenant.

Jesus’ words have caused my stomach to grumble with new hunger for righteousness and have parched my throat with new thirst for Christlikeness.

My prayer is that this commentary will help lead each reader to a similar experience. I sincerely hope that you will hear and respond to Jesus’ teaching like a true disciple rather than like the crowds who were impressed by Jesus’ authority but who ignored His instructions.

As you study Christ’s message, I urge you to consider whether you will be recognized as a true “son of God” whose character resembles that of the heavenly Father on the great day of judgment or dismissed as a hypocrite with the fateful words, “I never knew you.”

Relief is still available to the beggarly in spirit who humble themselves before Christ.

Ask and the gift of salvation will be given to you.

Seek the kingdom and you will find it.

Knock at its gates and a gracious Savior will open them for you.

I covet each reader’s prayer for my own growth in godliness. For I recognize that if my life is not as apt a commentary on Jesus’ sermon as this book, I have failed to hear the true voice of the Teacher on the mountain and this book is an expression of the hypocrisy that Jesus so despised. May Christ grant to us a righteousness that surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees and mirrors that of the Father’s own heart.