There is an interesting
verse in Acts 13:36 which says, "David, after he had served his own generation
by the will of God, fell on sleep . . . " If you will allow me to apply that
thought in a different context, I would say that many books and their writers
serve their own generation by the will of God and then both books and writers
pass away. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. In each generation,
God raises up those to serve Him and His people. The members of the Church are
never left as orphans.
But from time to time there
are special men raised up by the Lord whose influence continues on to future
generations. The Reformation period (circa 1500-1700 AD) is replete with this
kind of men. And around the turn of the Twentieth Century there was also a number
of men raised up that have given us invaluable help in the Word, especially
with the original languages. They were prolific writers. These men have left
their mark on their own generation as well as those that follow.
Mr. William E. Vine was
one of those men. He was born of godly parents in 1873, and was educated in
the classics. A schoolmaster for a number of years, he brought to his writings
the habits of those disciplines. He is best known for the Expository Dictionary
of New Testament Words, which was reviewed in the September 1991 Uplook. However,
the rest of his works have, over the years, gone out of print.
I am privileged to have
three or four of his books in my library. These were picked up in used book
stores over the years and have been of great help to me. I feel that his book,
"The Church and the Churches," is one of the finest I have ever read on that
subject. His commentaries are not wordy expositions, but succinct--to the point--opening
up the passage under consideration. In his New Testament commentaries, there
is great stress laid on the Greek words, their meanings and syntax, so that
the reader is brought to a fuller understanding of the text.
Over the years, Gospel Tract
Publications of Glasgow, Scotland, has done a great service to our generation
by gathering together and reissuing these out-of- print books that have enduring
value and need to be read by our generation. They published the "Assembly Writers
Library," a 12-volume set containing many good articles and reprints of books
of a past generation of assembly writers. And in 1985-86, they gathered together
and printed many of the works of W. E. Vine--his commentaries as well as books
and articles on many biblical subjects. It is a five-volume set, nicely bound,
and with good print.
In this set you will find
most of the commentaries on Paul's Epistles as well as John's Epistles and Gospel
and the Book of Hebrews. You will find also many articles and books on "Church
truth," including his book on "The Church and the Churches." In the same volume
with these books is an excellent book on "The Divine Plan of Missions." It is
well worth reading and learning from in these days when the Scriptures are being
set aside for what is considered to be expedient.