Author, speaker and theologian, Peter Adam is a highly esteemed Bible teacher and scholar with a passion for God's word and equipping Christians to grow in their faith through excellent and accessible resources.
Peter is the author of three commentaries in the Reading the Bible Today commentary series— Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah and Hebrews. He is a prominent speaker and writer.
Peter Adam's major ministries have included lecturing at St John's College Durham, UK, and serving in Melbourne as vicar of St Jude's, Carlton from 1982—2002, principal of Ridley Melbourne from 2002—2012, and Canon of St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne from 1996—2016. He was also chaplain of Melbourne University and archdeacon for parish development in the Melbourne Anglican diocese. Peter is currently vicar emeritus of St Jude's, Carlton.
Read our Q&A with Peter below and scroll down to see some additional articles and podcasts of Peter from the Gospel Coalition.
How did you come to know Christ?
My family were not Christians. We went to church at Christmas and Easter. When I was 9, my teacher at school, who was not a Christian, told us about his father, and his father’s Christian character and values. Though I never met his father, I was very moved by his son’s account of his life. So I went home and told my parents I wanted to start going to church every Sunday! I tried as best I could to be a Christian. It was not until I was 16 that I met a Christian evangelist, who told me the gospel, converted me, and then discipled me for 3 years. Praise God.
Click here to read more about Peter's conversion.
What ministries have you been involved in and roles have you held?
I trained at Ridley College in Melbourne under Dr Leon Morris and was ordained in 1970. My main ministries have been Vicar of St Jude’s Carlton for 20 years, and Principal of Ridley College for 10 years. I have also trained preachers, encouraged ministers, prodded people into gospel ministry, and done some writing.
Is there a particular Bible verse or passage that has been meaningful to you? If so, what is it and why has it been meaningful?
That varies from year to year, and month to month! I tend to mull over [meditate on] verses for long periods of time. I think about them, pray them, praise God for them, and talk to others about them. Recent amazing verses have been from the Psalms.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations. Psalm 90:1
How wonderful that God not only provides an eternal dwelling place, but is our dwelling place!
I trust in you, LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands. Psalm 31
We trust God, because all our times are in his hands.
What led you into writing? How did that journey begin for you and what kinds of books have you written?
I write books and chapters and articles when people ask me to do so! My first publication was a Grove Booklet, Living the Trinity, published in 1982, and still in print.
I have written Bible commentaries, and also on preaching, theology, church history, spirituality, and Christian living. I also blog for The Gospel Coalition Australia website.
[For a full list of my publications, see https://stjudes.org.au/vicar-emeritus/].
What part have commentaries played in your life and ministry personally? Why do you think they are important?
When I was first converted, I began reading Bible commentaries to help me study the Bible more seriously. My first commentaries were the old Geneva series on Hebrews, James, and Jude. So that study shaped me very deeply.
And then when I began preaching, commentaries were invaluable. Good commentaries help you see what is in the Bible passage more deeply, alert you to what you have missed, help guard you against misunderstanding, and prompt your imagination. Useful Bible commentaries comment on the Bible: less useful ones comment on other commentaries!
What commentaries have you written for the Reading the Bible Today commentary series and what led you to write each of these?
My RBT commentaries are on Esther, Hebrews and Ezra-Nehemiah. They have came out of sermon series. When you prepared to preach a book of the Bible, and then preached it, then you are ready to write a commentary on it!
Tell us about Esther, what did you learn anew or for the first time while studying and writing on this book of the Bible?
I began preaching the Old Testament because in those days people rarely preached on it. Christians who only know the New Testament have missed out on the basic teaching which is found in the OT, and which is fundamental to our faith. And they lack the assurance which is only found in seeing God fulfil his ancient promises in the coming of Christ.
Esther is a remarkable book, because God is not mentioned. It trains us to see the invisible hand of God in our daily lives and in our world today. And what a great message for people under persecution! Most Christians are persecuted in the 2/3rds world, and it is coming to us in the West. Let’s get ready!
Why do you think it is worthwhile for Christian leaders and congregations to use a tool like the Reading the Bible Today commentaries?
It is not enough to teach the Bible, we also have to train people to read the Bible themselves and equip them to teach others. Paul tells us that the word of Christ dwells among us richly when we teach and admonish one another with all wisdom [Colossians 3:16], and the writer of Hebrews complains that his readers are still immature, because they are not teaching others [Hebrews 5:12].
When I am preaching I often challenge congregations to learn for themselves and also ask God to use the sermon to train them to share what they have learnt with someone else.
The RBT series is at a useful level to teach people the Bible and enable them to teach others in one-to-one settings and in Bible studies. It is also useful for preachers, not least because the commentaries are not too long!
What are your hopes for the Reading the Bible Today commentary series and for your new Esther commentary in particular?
I hope that God uses the series to help people receive the Bible with faith, understanding, and obedience; and that he uses the series to help people explain the Bible to others.
My hope for my commentary is that it will help people trust God when he seems far away; that it will show the place of the book of Esther in Biblical Theology; and teach us the useful lessons we can learn from two Old Testament saints, Esther and Mordecai for our own lives.
Gospel Coalition Podcasts and Article
Living by the Promise: How to Read the Bible, Part 1
Answer These 14 Questions Before You Preach
Click here to hear Peter's message on Galatians 3 at The Gospel Coalition’s 2017 National Conference.
Video published by the Gospel Coalition, October 2017
Click here to listen to Peter Adam offering practical advice on preaching preparation.
Podcast published by the Gospel Coalition, July 2017
My Conversion to Christ: Peter Adam
Help Me Teach the Bible: Peter Adam on How Not to Be Boring
Click here to read Peter Adam's testimony.
Published by the Gospel Coalition Australia, October 2018.
Click here to hear Nancy Guthrie interview Peter Adam on how to make Bible teaching interesting.
Podcast published by the Gospel Coalition, August 2017