New Spirit-Filled Life Bible (New King James Version), by Jack Hayford (review)

When the house-church to which I belong began an in-depth study of the Holy Spirit a couple months ago, I was giddy with excitement when I received the Booksneeze newsletter announcing the soon-to-be-available “NewSpirit Filled Life Bible” (New King James Version) for review.  I’ve been experimenting with different bibles, looking for one to replace my worn, soft-cover “So-and-so Study Bible”.  I love the NKJV, so this one was a no-brainer request.  I’ve been without success in my hunt so far, so when this one finally arrived, I couldn’t wait to dive into it.

Given that the house-church was still studying the Holy Spirit when the bible arrived, it made perfect sense that I would begin my reviewing adventures in Acts 1.  It wound up being the perfect place to start, which I will explain later in this review.  But first, I’d like to lay out some of the features of this particular bible – many of which I like, some I don’t. 

First, each book in this Bible begins with a short detail description of the Author, Date, Content, Purpose, Personal Application, Christ Revealed, and the Holy Spirit at Work (approximately 2-3 pages).  The title page of each book also contains a small box that hits the absolute basics in very brief order: Author, Date, Theme, and Key Words.  On the following page or two is a book outline.  I like these features.  They’re clear and concise, and provide a spring board for where to begin your studies if you wish to go deeper.

Next, each book contains several Word Wealth insets.  These are small boxes that pertain to particular words in the text that the editors believed would be helpful.  What is great is that these boxes are not filled with an author’s personal opinions, or how a particular denomination believes.  Instead, words are lightly dissected in their Hebrew or Greek usage.  This feature does some of the legwork for those times when you wish you had an exhaustive concordance handy.

Third, another similar inset box contained within the text is this Kingdom Dynamics feature.  This box contains information for how the text applies to the Kingdom of God, what the first hearers/believers were experiencing, etc.  It provides a more detailed commentary about an important theme in the passage.  This commentary is slightly different from those “bottom-of-the-page” commentaries where a particular author tells you what s/he believes about, let’s say, the “rapture” for example.

So naturally, this brings me to the next point: commentaries.  Have you ever read a study Bible by so-and-so and you wished s/he would leave personal or debatable opinions out of it?  That’s been done in this Bible.  Since there are so many contributors to this Bible, it is highly unlikely they all believed the same things on those debatable issues.  And those opinions have been omitted from the commentaries.  So if you’re looking for someone to tell you what to believe at all turns, this isn’t the Bible for you.

Fifth, and finally I’m going to gripe about something.  I absolutely do not like the way verses have been divided in this Bible.  Whether the verse is complete or not, each verse number starts the next line in the column.  For example, if you’re reading Acts 1:10-11, it looks like this:

10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,
11 who also said…

I don’t like it because it’s choppy.  Do you remember your high school or college literature class where you were required to read a poem aloud?  I know you didn’t do this, but as you listened to your classmates read the poem line by line, you and everyone else could tell when one line concluded and the next began.  It sounded choppy rather than “flowy”.  That’s what this broken-verse format does in this Bible, so I’ll just come out and say it: I hate this feature.  Although I’m relatively certain the editors’ rationale was to make each verse easier to find in rapid searches, I’m positively against chopping up paragraphs like this.  ‘Nuff said.

This section completes each book.  Numerical references throughout the Biblical text may point the reader to one or more of these points.  The Truth section briefly explains the history behind the passage’s theme.  The Action section describes what the Holy Spirit intends for us to do with the given theme or information in the text.  It’s brilliant!  For what good is reading the Bible if we don’t also make life application?

I mentioned in my second paragraph that Acts 1 was the perfect place to begin my study-review.  After reading, I was directed to one of the Truth-in-Action points for Acts 4:13.  It reads, Expect your Spirit-filled relationship with Jesus to help you speak boldly, with courage and spiritual understanding.”  I went jogging in a park later that evening, and when I returned to my vehicle I saw a woman sitting alone in her vehicle.  She didn’t appear to be resting or happy.  As I stretched, I felt some kind of difficult-to-explain inner prompting to approach the woman and offer her a Pocket Testament I carry for times such as these.  As I debated with God the reasons why I shouldn’t approach her, I finally asked for His strength to speak boldly and clearly with her.  In other words, I expected the Holy Spirit to back me up on this one.  He did.  The woman began crying as we spoke (not because I was mean), and we finished in prayer.

So, could it be said that the Holy Spirit intended all of these things to come together at near intervals (Bible study, study Bible, and conversation)?  I think so.  I don’t believe it all happened accidentally, but was orchestrated by Divine appointment – for there are no accidents in God’s economy.

Definitely 4 1/2 stars.  That half star is close to a full star due to the verse divisions.  But I’m going to err on the side of grace and choose to believe there was good intention and reason behind those divisions.  This Bible has officially replaced my old, worn-out “So-and-so’s Study Bible”.

Disclaimer: I received this Bible free of charge from Booksneeze (Thomas Nelson Publishers) in exchange for my unbiased review.  All opinions are mine.  I have not been coerced or threatened in any way to provide a positive review.

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