L. Scott Kellum, Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament: Acts (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2020), 340 pages.
Introduction and Overview
For those unfamiliar with this series, the EGGNT is a series working through each book of the New Testament in Greek. This volume focuses on the book of Acts. In this work, Kellum goes verse by verse and word by word through the entire book of Acts. The series, and this book in particular, focuses on exegesis, and does so with respect to major scholarly works (eight commentaries and a few other works cited on pages 12-13).
The overall structure of the book is as follows. The “Introduction” provides a brief but detailed overview of the authorship, date of the book, provenance, purpose and audience, and general notes to the reader of the book. A brief discussion is offered surrounding the “so-called western text of Acts” (10). In addition, an outline of the book is provided at the beginning, allowing ease of reference and clear representation of the materials (3-12).
Following the outline, each section has a heading (e.g., “I. Foundations for the Church and Her Mission (1:1-2:47).” After the main heading is offered with a brief comment, the exegesis focuses on words and phrases. For example, Acts 1:1-2 begins with an exegesis of Μἐν. After each subsection is completed (in the example above, 1:1-2, a “For Further Study” section provides the reader with references to other significant works regarding the words, phrases, and theological subjects discussed in each section. In addition, “Homiletical Suggestions” are offered, giving the teacher and preacher additional thoughts to consider. These general points provide the structure for the entire volume.
Strengths of this Work
There are many strengths in this work. To begin with, and perhaps the most important strength, is the exegesis. The work discusses every word of the book of Acts. While this may seem to be overwhelming, the work only contains 340 pages (which includes an exegetical outline, a grammar index, and a Scripture index). Thus, the work offers detailed exegesis without wordiness or unnecessary materials. It is to the point, offering information that is necessary to understand the passage. In addition to this, the exegesis is further enhanced by discussing points of division regarding certain words or phrases.
For example, most are familiar with the variety of opinions regarding Acts 2:38. The author provides a brief discussion (three paragraphs) which presents the two main views (i.e., baptismal salvation or baptism because of salvation). This provides the reader with enough information to grasp the various opinions without overwhelming the reader with the enormous amount of literature available.
The fact that one does not have to know Greek to utilize this resource is another significant contribution to the study of Acts. Though I would not recommend someone who did not know Greek to use it, one could navigate the book of Acts and enhance their understanding of Luke’s history of the early church. For example, for Acts 8:29, Kellum writes, “The theme of supernatural leading continues with the Spirit’s direction to Philip. The instruction is in the form of a compound imp. Πρὀσλθε (2nd sg. aor. act. impv. Of προςἐρχομαι) and κολλἠθητι (2nd sg. aor. pass. impv. of κολλἀω, ‘be joined’).” One can use the abbreviation helps on pages xxix-xxxviii to figure out the parts of speech. Kellum provides the definitions, and with the reference to Scripture one’s knowledge of how the Holy Spirit lead Philip.
The way Kellum compares the English translations also provides an addition help. On Acts 11:20, while discussing the word “Ησαν,” Kellum notes the RSV, NASB, and NET’s rendering. Further in the verse Kellum also discusses another word, “Ελαλουν,” where he cites the translations of the NASB, NET, TNIV, NLT, NIV, and CEB. This provides the reader with a slim, comparative study of the various ways in which translation teams render words and phrases.
Though there are many more, I would end with what I believe to be another asset of this work is the material presented. One could easily spend pages discussing the various issues present in the work. For example, in Acts 2 alone the following topics are present: the baptism of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, and large revival. Books have been written on these subjects. Kellum, however, sticks to the work of exegesis, only presenting what is necessary for understanding the text. This frees up space in the work and allows the student to seek other resources addressing the particularities of certain passages.
Weaknesses of this Work
I hesitate to offer any “weaknesses” because of how impressed I am with this work. Though I label these as “weaknesses,” I would rather use the phrase “suggestions to improve a great work.”
Though I mentioned this as a strength (see above), I believe the succinctness can, at times, limit the appropriate discussion. I cited the reference to Acts 2:38 as a strength because Kellum offers the two main views and briefly discusses them. However, I include this as an area for improvement because it is a significant verse. Many theological systems are built on the idea of baptismal regeneration, and this is one of the key texts used to defend said positions. Would it have hindered the flow of the work to include a more thorough discussion, focusing primarily on the exegetical? If the editors were attempting to “stay the course,” I think an appendix would have been a helpful alternative.
Another area that I would love to see bolstered is the theological implications distilled from the exegetical work. Again, this may be out of the scope of the publisher, but an important passage like Acts 13:48 needs more attention. Kellum provides the necessary exegesis, with citations from other works. The verse, however, has enormous theological implications and one’s own theological views may hinder one’s interpretation. Kellum notes, “No word of a double-predestination is stated. Luke clearly saw no contradiction between human responsibility and divine sovereignty (Keener 2.2102).” While that is true, it may be helpful to the church to discuss why this is the case.
Who would benefit from this Work?
According to the general editors, this work “aims to close the gap between the Greek text and the available tools.” Later in the general introduction, Köstenberger and Yarbrough note this work would be profitable for students beginning Greek, intermediate students, and advanced students. I concur with their assessments, with the addition of those who are involved in the ministry of the Word. Whether they are preaching, teaching, or leading small groups, this work will yield many fruits. Though it would require additional preparation time, the individual seeking to truly know God’s Word will enjoy the benefits of hard work.
I also maintain that teachers involved with biblical or linguistical studies will benefit from this work. For the teacher working through the book of Acts specifically, or the works of Luke generally, this book will present a complete exegesis (including references to current scholarship) in aiding the progression of the class. This work could also serve graduate studies if the class focused on this book.
Considering the nature of the work, I would not recommend it to the average individual with no knowledge of Greek and little desire to study the Word of God on any deep level. The difficulty of working through a dense book like this may cause discouragement on behalf of the apathetic individual.
With that said, anyone who wants to know the book of Acts better should purchase this book. It may require intense effort and more hours than most, but in the end, the individual who perseveres will be rewarded with a deep understanding of the Greek New Testament.
 L. Scott Kellum, Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament: Acts (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2020), 15.
 Kellum, Acts, 16.
 Ibid., 19.
 Ibid., 42.
 Kellum, Acts, 105.
 Ibid., 166.
 Ibid., xxv.