Spurgeon's Notes on the New Testament
1 Corinthians 1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians 2 Corinthians
1 Thessalonians 1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians
1 Timothy 1 Timothy
2 Timothy 2 Timothy
1 Peter 1 Peter
2 Peter 2 Peter
1 John 1-3 John
As the Preface explains the Plan of the Work, you are earnestly requested to read it.
Family devotion is one of the greatest of Christian Institutions. Among our Puritan Ancestors it was universally maintained, and constituted an eminent feature of their home life. They would sooner have omitted a meal than have given up Morning or Evening Prayer. The benefits of their Family Worship in nurturing an intelligent piety, in influencing the children, and in sanctifying the whole household, are often noted in their biographies. It is greatly to be feared that Family Worship is not now so general as it once was; and where the form of it is still kept up, its vitality is not so vigorous as we could desire. This is greatly to be lamented, and every means should be used to remedy the evil. We cannot afford, in these days of insidious error and abounding temptation, to neglect any means of training our households in the fear of the Lord.
Heads of Families often remark to me that they find a difficulty in selecting passages from the Bible for Family Reading. They desire to interest the young people, and find that they cannot do so by reading the Bible at random, or even by taking it all in course. The force of Philip's question, "Understand what you read?" is often felt by themselves; and they feel sure that it is even more applicable to the children and servants. They want "some man to guide" them, both by selecting the passages, and by adding brief explanations where knotty points occur. I have been urged by several persons, eminent for scholarship and piety, to undertake the Work which is now before my readers. For reasons with which they have favored me, they have thought that great service would be rendered to Christian people by such a Book. The idea did not originate with myself, but was first suggested to me by Dr. Angus, of Regent's Park College, and as it has been pressed upon me by so many others, and I have felt also an inward call to its performance, I have entered upon the work with confidence.
The Book will contain the gist of the entire Bible, the passages omitted being almost always epitomized where it was possible to do so. To reduce a passage within the proper length, verses are necessarily omitted in whole or in part here and there; and the object in historical selections has been to give the general run of the incident rather than all the details; but in every case we have allowed our noble version to speak for itself, and have left the work of emendation to those whose office it may be. The portions, it is believed, are neither too long nor too short for average families. The comments are on purpose made to suit the capacities of ordinary households. The Book is not meant to be a Commentary, and must not be judged in that light: being written with one object, it could not aim at another, or it would have missed its mark. I have considered the spiritual good of the whole household. I could not sacrifice servants and children to the refined taste of a highly educated parent, but felt bound to study the lowest capacity. The remarks do not profess to be new, in fact, I have consulted standard works on every book of the Bible; and yet in a modified sense I may claim them as my own, since they have received their expression from my own mind, even when they have not originated there.
The book will be read through in one year where Morning and Evening worship are maintained, but where only one assembly of the household is possible, the observance of the second date, which is inserted below the first in smaller type, will render the work available for two years. In any case, let the portions be read consecutively, or much instruction will be lost.
I have added suitable Hymns to be sung where the family can sing, and to be read where this part of worship cannot be celebrated. For the accommodation of the members of families using this work, we issue herewith, "The Interpreter Hymn Book," containing all the Hymns.
I should be deeply grieved if this Book should, in any case, tempt a single member of the family to neglect the reading of the Bible itself: this would be the reverse of my design. My hope is that the enjoyment of these selected extracts may lead to the perusal of the whole sacred volume in an intelligent manner, and I believe that my expectation will be realized.
A chronological order has been roughly followed, but it has been frequently broken in upon for the sake of variety. In the New Testament I am indebted to Mr. Mimpress's Harmony for general direction, but I do not profess critical accuracy in details of order; such niceties were not regarded by the Evangelists themselves, and though important, are not at all essential to our present purpose.
It is hoped that the issue of "The Interpreter" in parts, will enable thousands to purchase it, who, otherwise would be unable to do so. Its aim is usefulness, and to this end, a prayer has been breathed over every page. He only who inspired the Sacred volume, can in very truth become its Interpreter: may he exercise his office in part through this instrumentality.
I have been earnestly urged to add prayers, but my conscience will not allow me to do so, although it would greatly increase the sale of the work. Let every Christian parent try to pray from his heart, and though hard at first, it will soon become a delight to pour out his heart in the bosom of his family, by the aid of the Holy Spirit. To some the use of forms of prayer appears to be lawful; as I cannot coincide with that opinion, it would be the height of hypocrisy for me to compose prayers for the use of others.
I have performed this labor between the writing of two volumes of the "Treasury of David," as a relief to my mind from the severer study which that work involves. Variety of labor is recreation. May my effort redound to God's glory, and I shall be repaid a thousand-fold, as indeed I have been already by the exercise itself.
C. H. Spurgeon