Matthew Poole Picture

Matthew Poole

1624-1679

A Commentary on the Holy Bible

English Nonconformist Theologian

Matthew Poole

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Matthew Poole was born at York, England, and was educated at Emmanual College, Cambridge. He lived during tumultuous times in England. From 1661 to 1665, Parliament passed four acts known together as the Clarendon Code. The second of these was the Act of Uniformity (1662). It made the use of the Book of Common Prayer compulsory in the religious services of the official Church of England. This book prescribed the form of public prayers and the administration of the sacraments. Around 2000 clergy refused to comply and were called "nonconformists." They were forced to resign their pastorates and were not allowed to hold civil or military offices or to be awarded degrees by the universities of Cambridge and Oxford.

From 1649 until the passing of the Act of Uniformity in 1662, Poole was the rector of St. Michael le Querne, London. He eventually left England and lived the remainder of his life in Amsterdam. A biography of Poole has recently been published: Matthew Poole: His Life, His Times, His Contributions Along with His Argument against The Infallibility of the Roman Catholic Church by Thomas Harley (2009).

Poole's work, A Commentary on the Holy Bible, was originally called Annotations upon the Holy Bible. In the opinion of some, this commentary is the only true rival to Matthew Henry, born while Poole was still living. Charles Spurgeon had this to say: "If I must have only one commentary, and had read Matthew Henry as I have, I do not know but what I should choose Poole. He is a very prudent and judicious commentator...not so pithy and witty by far as Matthew Henry, but he is perhaps more accurate, less a commentator, and more an expositor." The commentary is generally published in three volumes and is readily available.

How was the serpent in Genesis 3 able to speak to Eve? Read Poole's intriguing analysis of this verse and then compare it with the other great exposition that we've posted by Matthew Henry.

The Serpent Speaks: Genesis 3:1

Excerpt giving Poole's commentary on the serpent addressing Eve.

Read Matthew Poole's explanation of this puzzling curse and then compare it with the other great exposition that we've posted by Matthew Henry.

Cursed Be Canaan: Genesis 9:24-26

Excerpt giving Poole's commentary on Noah's curse of Canaan.

Abraham is commanded by God to offer up his son Isaac as a burnt-offering. Read Matthew Poole's explanation and then compare it with the other great exposition that we've posted by Matthew Henry.

You can also compare the treatment of this text by Alexander Maclaren.

Abraham's Great Test: Genesis 22:2-14

Excerpt giving Poole's commentary on Abraham's faith and obedience in offering up his son Isaac.

Did you ever notice Paul's argument in Romans 9:19-20: One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' " Paul takes this quote from Isaiah 29:16 and 45:9, but the essence of the argument is first made by God himself to Job.

Satan had challenged God by claiming that Job was faithful to him only because God blessed him so richly. Therefore, Satan was given permission to take all that Job had and afflict him with a horrible disease. Three friends came to console Job in his misery, but ended up accusing him of sin. Why else, they reasoned, would such a terrible disaster fall on him? Well, Job had not sinned, but he ends up sinning in his attempt to justify himself as he argued with his three "miserable comforters."

The great climax of the book is extremely exciting. God himself finally speaks to Job "out of the whirlwind": Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? (38:2-5).

The questioning goes on and on. Finally, God concludes: Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him! (40:2).

Read Matthew Poole's exposition of this amazing chapter and then compare it with the other great exposition of Job 38 that we've posted by Matthew Henry.

Job 38

Excerpt giving Poole's commentary on Job chapter 38.

Almost everyone is familiar with the Beatitudes given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew Poole's explanation of these well-known verses and then compare it with the other great exposition that we've posted by Matthew Henry.

Matthew 5:1-12

Excerpt giving Poole's commentary on the Beatitudes.

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a comparison in made without using the word "like" or "as"; an allegory is an extended metaphor. A simile is a figure of speech in which a comparison is made using the word "like" or "as"; a parable is an extended simile. The parable of the wheat and tares is one of Jesus' better known parables. But can you identify the sower, the field, the wheat, and the tares? Read Matthew Poole's explanation and then compare it with two other great expositions that we've posted, one by Matthew Henry and the other by Richard Trench.

The Wheat and the Tares: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Excerpt giving Poole's commentary on the Parable of the Wheat and Tares.

At one point during his ministry, Jesus said this to his disciples: "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53). A hard saying? This is what many of Jesus' disciples thought too: "On hearing it, many of his disciples said, 'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?'" (v. 60). F. F. Bruce points out in his book, The Hard Sayings of Jesus, that some of his statements are "hard" because they are hard to understand; other statements are hard because the demands they make on us are only too clear! What does Jesus mean by this statement in John 6:53? Read Matthew Poole's explanation and then compare it with the other great exposition that we've posted by Matthew Henry.

A Hard Saying: John 6:60-71

Excerpt giving Poole's commentary on eating the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking his blood.

The Parable of the Unjust Steward is a difficult one. Read Matthew Poole's explanation of these well-known verses and then compare it with four other great expositions that we've posted: Matthew Henry, Richard Trench, Frederic Godet, and Richard Church.

The Unjust Steward: Luke 16:1-9

Excerpt giving Poole's commentary on the Parable of the Unjust Steward.

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