Ryle’s Expository Thoughts can be used as a help in family worship, or as an aid in pastoral visitation, or simply as a companion to the Gospels in the private reading of Scripture.
Gospel of Matthew – 1 Volume As the first Gospel in the New Testament, Matthew was, not surprisingly, the first to be published in J. C. Ryle’s series of Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (1856). Ryle’s expositions are a rich combination of doctrinal and practical comments on the Gospel text.
Gospel of Mark – 1 Volume First published in 1857, Mark was the second book to appear in J. C. Ryle’s series of Expository Thoughts on the Gospels.
The earliest of the Gospel narratives to be written, Mark, says Ryle, ‘is singularly full of precious facts about the Lord Jesus, narrated in a simple, terse, pithy, and condensed style’. Those last four adjectives could well be used to describe Ryle’s own comments on the Gospel!
Gospel of Luke – 2 Volumes Within a year of publishing Markin his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels series, J. C. Ryle had, in 1858, completed the Gospel of Luke.
Written specifically for a non-Jewish readership, Luke’s Gospel is perhaps the most ‘accessible’ of the narratives of the life of Christ for modern readers. Ryle’s desire for his readers mirrors that of Luke Luke 1:4), that they might gain ‘a more clear knowledge of Christ, as a living person, a living priest, a living physician, a living friend, a living advocate at the right hand of God, and a living Saviour soon about to come again’.
Gospel of John – 3 Volumes ‘The Gospel of St. John, rightly interpreted, is the best and simplest answer to those who profess to admire a vague and indistinct Christianity.’ There were many such in J. C. Ryle’s day, as in our own, and these final three volumes of his Expository Thoughts on the Gospelsseries provide a detailed commentary upon, and ‘right interpretation’ of the fourth Gospel.
In these volumes Ryle shows again that, as in all his writing and preaching, he was first and foremost a pastor, and as J. I. Packer has pointed out, ‘alongside the question “Is it true?” the question “What effect will this have on ordinary people?” was always in his mind’.
J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) was appointed the first Bishop of Liverpool in 1880 and was the leader of the Evangelical party in the Church of England for more than half a century. He is highly regarded for his plain and lively writings on practical and spiritual themes, and their usefulness and impact have been consistently recognized and remain as wise and relevant today as when he first wrote them.