An Interview with Pastor Rob Ventura, General Editor of William Burkitt’s New Testament Commentary

Here is a previous Q&A with Pastor Rob to know more about him: Q&A with Rob Ventura (A New Exposition of the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689)

To purchase a copy of William Burkitt: Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament, click here. This will be a Two-Volume set with Volume One: Matthew to Romans at 540 pages and Volume Two: 1 Corinthians to Revelation at 460 pages.


Evan: Who is William Burkitt?

Rob: William Burkitt was born on July 25, 1650, at Hitcham, in Suffolk, England, the son of Miles and Rebecca Burkitt. William studied at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, earning his B. A. in 1668, his M. A. in 1672, and was ordained into the ministry that same year. Burkitt was a Reformed Anglican and served as a dedicated pastor, a distinguished Bible expositor, a prolific writer, and a zealous promoter of foreign missions. He was also a close friend of William Gurnall, author of the classic book The Christian in Complete Armour, and in 1679 he preached Gurnall’s funeral sermon. At the age of 53, on Sunday, October 24, 1703, Burkitt succumbed to a fever and died at Denham, his wife surviving him.

Evan: What is significant about his New Testament commentary?

Rob: Few people in our day are familiar with Burkitt’s New Testament commentary, which inspired Matthew Henry to write his excellent exposition of the whole Bible. In fact, Henry said that in his day, this work “met with very good acceptance among serious people” and that “no doubt, by the blessing of God, [it] will continue to do great service to the church.” C. H. Spurgeon characterized this commentary as “the goodly volume,” recommending that his ministerial students give “attentive perusal” to it. And the great evangelist George Whitefield testified that it helped him to understand “free grace and the necessity of being justified in [God’s] sight by faith only.”

Burkitt writes very much in the style of the Puritans. He is full of clear, plain, and practical exposition with useful applications for his readers. He even informs us in his work that he wrote it so that families could use it during their daily devotions. Given its sermonic style, it is especially beneficial for preachers and teachers of the Word of God. I would easily rank it alongside the commentaries of Matthew Henry and Matthew Poole and consider it an outstanding resource for any gospel minister. If you want to find weekly help for your sermons, Burkitt will instruct your mind, warm your heart, and help you to richly bless your people.

Evan: What led to this project?

Rob: Some years ago, I discovered Burkitt’s New Testament commentary online and have used it with much joy ever since. There are so many things I like about this work that I could not keep it to myself. To my great delight, Mike Gaydosh at Solid Ground Christian Books agreed to publish this valuable volume, having used it himself for many years with much profit.

Evan: Why is this work important, and what do you hope readers will take away from it?

Rob: Burkitt is important because his exegetical comments will help any student of the Word of God to know the Bible better. Besides this, Burkitt is extremely warm and practical. His comments will motivate the reader of his volume to obey Christ joyously in all that he calls them to do. This old treasure chest brims with jewels for the taking.

Thank you so much Pastor Rob! Thankful for you and your ministry. May the Lord use this work to help believers and strengthen His Church!

Here is what others are saying about Burkitt’s Commentary:

“William Burkitt’s Expository Notes, with Practical Observations, on the New Testament were reprinted often in the eighteenth century and have long begged reprinting today. As a peace-loving Reformed Anglican, Burkitt was puritan-minded in thought and practice, and thus these notes are full of experiential, and especially practical thoughts. They reveal Burkitt’s pastoral heart for the unsaved, the beginner in grace, and the mature Christian. These enlightening notes contain the astute expository observations of Matthew Poole’s renowned 3-volume Commentary as well as the practical and homiletical flavor of Matthew Henry’s even more famous 6-volume Commentary. In some ways, they are a mixture of both, and worthy to be read by preachers and Christians alike as a reliable and practical guide to understanding the New Testament Scriptures. I highly recommend these useful volumes and am so grateful to Solid Ground Christian Books for reprinting them.” —Dr. Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan

“Most of us have profited greatly from Matthew Henry’s or Matthew Poole’s commentaries on the Scriptures, and not Burkitt since his work was until now only available online. To think he was a friend of William Gurnall (and preached at his funeral) is quite extraordinary. Kudos, then, to Rob Ventura and Solid Ground Christian Books for making this volume available again. Generations to come will now profit from his exceptionally good comments.” —Derek W. H. Thomas, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina, Chancellor’s Professor, Reformed Theological Seminary, Teaching Fellow, Ligonier Ministries

“Numerous Evangelicals from Matthew Henry to John Wesley, from George Whitefield to Jupiter Hammon deeply appreciated the works of William Burkitt, whose literary corpus was regularly being published into the nineteenth century. Like other Christian authors in the Puritan and Evangelical orbits, however, in the twentieth century his name and his books fell into almost-complete obscurity. This new printing of his New Testament reflections is thus most welcome, for it enables us to once again appreciate an author who was a force for good in his day, one whom Charles Haddon Spurgeon called “Old Master Burkitt.” —Michael A G Haykin, Chair and professor of church history, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“To an earlier generation, William Burkitt’s name was well known. C.H. Spurgeon regarded Burkitt’s expository commentary as a “goodly volume,” and recommended “attentive perusal” of it. This republication of Burkitt’s ‘Expository Notes’ (perhaps J. C. Ryle intentionally echoed Burkitt) should bring this readable and practical author to modern readers. Pastor Ventura and Solid Ground Christian Books has done the church a good service in reacquainting us with this forgotten treasure. Read and be greatly edified.” —Ian Hamilton, Principal, Westminster Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Newcastle

“Burkitt’s commentary is not as well known in our day as it has been in times past, and as it deserves to be still. Busy pastors may not feel the need for yet another commentary to consult in sermon preparation, but this is not just another commentary. In short order, Burkitt handles texts in such a way as to give helpful outlines, concise exposition, thought provoking observations and a variety of rich applications. His commentary is also useful as a heart-warming aid in private devotions. I am glad to see it back in print.” —Lee McKinnon Pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Bluefield, WV

“The resurrection from obscurity of William Burkitt’s New Testament commentary with this republication will breathe new life into the devotional reading of Scripture, especially in private and family use. This work possesses a beautiful spirituality wedded to orthodox doctrine in the Reformed tradition. It abounds with words fitly spoken, like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Burkitt’s commentary is not only faithful to biblical truth; it expresses that truth with literary grace. This two-volume set may well become your favorite first reference for general edification from New Testament passages. I warmly commend it to all.” —D. Scott Meadows, Pastor Calvary Baptist Church (Reformed) Exeter, New Hampshire

Here is a sample of the commentary from James 1:18:

“JAMES 1:18-“Of his own will he has brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.”

These words are very expressive of four things, namely, of the efficient cause, the impulsive cause, the instrumental and the final cause for our regeneration.

Observe, 1. The author and efficient cause of regeneration; he that is the Father of lights, mentioned in the foregoing verse, begat us.

Note, that God, and God alone, is the prime efficient cause of regeneration; it is subjectively in the creature, it is efficiently from God: Christ appropriates this work to God, Matthew 11:23. The Scriptures appropriates it to God, Psalms 34:9, called his saints, and God himself appropriates it to himself, I will put my spirit within them, &c. Ezekiel 36:27

Observe, 2. The impelling, impulsive, and moving cause of regeneration, his own will: Of his own will begat he us; by his mere motion, induced by no cause, but the goodness of his own breast, of his own will, and not naturally, as he begat the Son from eternity; of his own will, and not necessarily, by a necessity of nature, as the sun enlightens and enlivens, but by an arbitrariness of grace; of his own will, and not by any obligation from the creature; by the will of God, and not for the merit and desert of man.

Observe, 3. The instrumental cause of our regeneration, the word of truth, that is, the gospel, which is the great instrument in God’s hand for producing the new birth in the souls of his people.

Here note, the gospel is called truth by way of excellency, the word of truth, that is, the true word; and also by way of eminency, as containing a higher and more excellent truth than any other divine truth; the gospel declares the truth of all the Old Testament types.

Observe, 4. The final cause of our new birth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures, that is, of his new creatures, the chief among his creatures; the first-fruits were the best of every kind to be offered to God, and were given as God’s peculiar right and portion; thus the new creature is God’s peculiar portion taken out of mankind, which being consecrated to God by a new begetting, they ought to serve him with a new spirit, new thankfulness, as lying under the highest obligations unto new obedience.”

To purchase a copy of William Burkitt: Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament, click here.

Evan Knies is an elder of North Hills Church in West Monroe, LA. He is husband of Lauren and father to Maesyn. He is a graduate of Boyce College and Southern Seminary.

One thought on “An Interview with Pastor Rob Ventura, General Editor of William Burkitt’s New Testament Commentary

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