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This work has been prepared, not especially for the learned and critical class, but for the people. The aim is indicated by the title. It has been a cherished purpose to prepare a People's New Testament, with such aids as would enable the common reader to arrive at an understanding of every portion of the sacred message. If the Bible is God's message to the common people, the most important object that piety and learning can propose is to put that message in their hands in such a shape and with such aids that the ordinary reader can understand it readily. That message was first given thousands of years ago, in far away lands, to men of strange languages and customs. In the shape in which it was originally recorded no one of only common English education could understand it. If one were to demand the Scriptures as given by the sacred writers, he would receive them in strange characters and unknown tongues of which he could not understand a word or a letter. It is needful for his use that they be translated out of the original tongues and printed in his own vernacular. In order to understand them it is not only necessary that he have the aid of a translation, but even when this is done he will find much that is obscure or hard to understand. There are allusions to the customs of the times and countries in which the Scriptures were written, to the history of Israel and surrounding nations, to the geography of Palestine and other Bible countries, to men of prominence in secular history, and to various matters which must be understood if we would have a clear meaning of the sacred text. Without this understanding the reader moves through a maze of obscurity. Often, too, the meaning of passages of Scripture can only be determined by comparison with other passages. Hence, in order to a clear view of the meaning of the sacred record, not only is there need of the aid of translation, but of a library of Bible Dictionaries, Sacred Geographies, Concordances, etc., unless the result of study of these latter works is condensed in brief explanatory notes on all difficult passages.
The latter is what I have sought in this work to accomplish. The problem has been to give notes on all such passages sufficiently comprehensive to enable the ordinary reader to get a clear meaning of the sacred text, and at the same time to condense a commentary on the whole New Testament in two volumes of about six hundred pages each. I trust that the results will prove that this purpose has been attained. In order to accomplish this at the least expense of space possible, I have given the comment upon Matthew with considerable fullness, omitting no passage the meaning of which is not apparent. Where the same accounts occur in Mark and Luke, the remaining synoptic Gospels, unless some new feature is added, I have cited the reader to the place where the notes are found in Matthew, thus avoiding repetition of comments in the same volume. As the Gospel of John is, to a great extent, independent, the notes are fuller, and the references to Matthew are less frequently made. By this comparison of the parallel accounts the reader will find in the space of this volume all that is needful for an understanding of the Historical books of the New Testament, including The Acts of the Apostles.
The two versions of the Scriptures accepted among all English speaking people are placed side by side; the Common Version, so dear by the associations of ages, in large type for daily reading; and the Revised Version, embracing the latest results of the critical examination of manuscripts, in smaller type for comparison. Often a passage that is obscure in the Common Version will have new light thrown upon it by reading it in the Revision. If, after both readings have been examined, the difficulty remains, then the notes should be carefully studied. The Harmony that has been inserted from the Oxford Teacher's Bible and the Various Tables will also be found valuable aids.
If this work shall tend to create a greater interest among common readers in the New Testament and help them to “delight in the law of the Lord, and in his law to meditate day and night,” I shall praise the Heavenly Father for the grace and mercy he has granted to his servant. May the reader be made wise unto salvation and walk in the footsteps of Him whom these pages reveal until he enters the heavenly rest!
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