The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

“A Portrait of Paul”

with 17 comments

It seems that the time has come to break cover and shuffle into the foetid pool.  The book mentioned a few days ago is now available in the US for pre-publication orders from Reformation Heritage Books or Westminster Bookstore or Monergism Books or Christian Book Distributors (CBD) or Grace Books International. and Evangelical Press are now stocking the item.

A Portrait of Paul: Identifying a True Minister of Christ

Rob Ventura & Jeremy Walker

Blurb: What does a true pastor look like, and what constitutes a faithful ministry? How can we identify the life and labors of one called by God to serve in the church of Jesus Christ? To address these questions, Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker examine how the apostle Paul describes his pastoral relation to the people of God in Colossians 1:24–2:5. By discussing these essential attitudes, qualities, and characteristics of a faithful minister of Christ, A Portrait of Paul provides gospel ministers an example of what they should be, and demonstrates for churches the kind of pastors they will seek if they desire men after God’s own heart.


  1. The Joy of Paul’s Ministry
  2. The Focus of Paul’s Ministry
  3. The Hardships of Paul’s Ministry
  4. The Origin of Paul’s Ministry
  5. The Essence of Paul’s Ministry
  6. The Subject of Paul’s Ministry (sample)
  7. The Goal of Paul’s Ministry
  8. The Strength of Paul’s Ministry
  9. The Conflict of Paul’s Ministry
  10. The Warnings of Paul’s Ministry


John MacArthur: The apostle Paul has always been a hero whom I look to as a model for my ministry. His unrelenting faithfulness in the worst kinds of trials is a remarkable example to every pastor and missionary. In the midst of suffering, hardship, and (in the end) the abandonment of his own friends and fellow workers, Paul remained steadfast, dynamic, and utterly devoted to Christ. This invaluable study of Paul’s life from Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker is a wonderful, powerful, soul-stirring examination of Paul’s self-sacrifice and his unfaltering service to the church. It will both motivate and encourage you, especially if you’re facing trials, opposition, or discouragement in your service for Christ.

Geoff Thomas: For the first two decades of my life as a Christian, I had an abundance of role models who seemed to enflesh for me how a minister of God should live. I realize now that I even took their presence and consistent example for granted. I looked forward to the future under the protection of their mature lives of patience, wisdom, and many kindnesses. The labors of most of those men have come to an end and today I face another situation. There are now numbers of fine younger men in training and starting out on their own ministries. What grace and zeal they have, but there appears to be less role models than the company with which I was favored. What Walker and Ventura have done in this splendid book is to return to the fountainhead of Christianity, to the apostle Paul with the authority the Lord Christ gave to him, his wisdom and compassion, and examine the apostle’s relationship with one congregation, how he advised and exhorted them concerning the demands of discipleship and their relationship with fellow believers. Paul became Christ’s servant and mouthpiece to them and he has left us with a timeless inspired example. He exhorted his readers more than once to be followers of him as he followed God. With a refreshing contemporary style, and with humble submission to the Scripture, these two ministers have given to us a role model for pastoral life. This is a very helpful book and a means of grace to me.

Paul Washer: This work on the Christian ministry is a clarion call to true devotion and piety in the pastorate. The theology is pure and the language is as powerful as it is beautiful. I pray that every pastor and congregant might take up this book and read it. It will hold a place in my library beside Baxter’s Reformed Pastor, Bridges’ Christian Ministry, and Spurgeon’s Lectures. I will refer to it often. It will serve as a great antidote against all that might cause my heart to stray from Christ’s call.

Conrad Mbewe: When I first sensed God’s call to the preaching ministry, I did a study of the life and ministry of the apostle Paul. And, oh, what a study that was! It opened my eyes to the difference between ministry in the New Testament and what is in vogue today. Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker have now brought all those truths that I saw into this one volume. I, therefore, commend this book to all who want to take God’s call to the work of ministry seriously. For, in these pages is the heart and experience of a true minister of the new covenant.

Steven J. Lawson: The greatest need in churches today is for godly men to shepherd the flock of God. To be sure, no church will rise any higher than the level of its spiritual leaders. Like priest, like people. To this end, Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker have done an exceptional job in providing a model for pastoral ministry, drawn from the extraordinary example of the apostle Paul. This book is built upon careful exegesis, proper interpretation, penetrating insight, and challenging application. Herein is profiled the kind of minister every church so desperately needs and what every true minister should desire to become.

Derek W. H. Thomas: In this dual-authored portrait of Paul as a minister of the gospel, Ventura and Walker have captured the very essence of ministry. On every page, we are forced to reflect upon the dimensions of apostolic ministry and urged to comply. Packed with exposition and application of the finest sort, these pages urge gospel-focused, Christ-centered, God-exalting, Spirit-empowered, self-denying ministry. I warmly recommend it.

Carl R. Trueman: This deceptively easy to read book consists of a series of reflection on Col.1:24 to 2:5 by two experienced pastors. In an age where there is much focus on technical aspects of ministry, Ventura and Walker analyse the topic in terms, first, of call and character, and then of the existential urgency with which the great doctrines of the faith are grasped by those called to the pastorate. Intended not just to be read but to be a practical guide in helping churches think through the role of the pastor, each chapter ends with a series of pointed questions, to Christians in general and to pastors in particular, which are designed to focus the minds of all concerned on what the priorities of the pastorate, and of candidates for the pastorate should be. This book is a biblical rebuke to modern trends, a challenge to those who think they may be called to the ministry, and a reality check for all believers everywhere.

Joseph A. Pipa Jr: Ventura’s and Walker’s A Portrait of Paul Identifying a True Minister of Christ makes an unique contribution to the literature on pastoral theology. Rather than approach their subject topically, they unfold Paul’s heart for and practice of ministry through an exposition of Colossians 1:24-2:5.  The authors balance careful and experimental exposition with challenging application–addressing both fellow Christians and pastors.  All serious Christians, as well as pastors, will profit from this book; it is intellectually satisfying, experimentally challenging, and practically stimulating.

Philip H. Towner: As the diverse churches of the world have demonstrated throughout history, there is no better place to turn, when confronted with the complexities of pastoral leadership, than the Scriptures.  Each church in each generation must revisit this resource and view it anew through its particular historical, theological, cultural and political lens. The authors of A Portrait of Paul engage precisely in this task. With Colossians as their main laboratory, they probe the text and engage Paul in a conversation about pastoral ministry—its priorities, foundation, and potential—and a profile of pastoral mission and leadership emerges.  All who read this book will discover an invitation to join this rich conversation and take away numerous fresh perspectives to challenge and shape their thinking.

Sam Waldron: What is A Portrait of Paul Identifying a True Minister of Christ? It is, first, the effort of two young pastors to teach themselves and their churches what it means to be a true minister of Christ. It is, second, an exposition of Colossians 1:24–2:5 which attempts to understand how Paul’s ministry gives them and their churches a paradigm of faithful ministry. It is, third, biblical exposition of Scripture in the best historic and Reformed tradition with careful exegesis, sound doctrine, popular appeal and practical application. As such, it is a very challenging book to read as Rob and Jeremy lay before us, for instance, the selflessness and suffering true ministry requires. It is, however, a good, useful, and profitable book to read. It can, and I hope it will, do much good!

Robert R. Gonzales Jr.: Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker’s A Portrait of Paul is biblically sound, pointedly practical, and sagaciously simple. In addition to an exposition of Colossians 1:24-2:5, they provide the reader with a host of citations from other pertinent texts of Scriptures as well as judicious quotes from past and contemporary authors, all of which help to trace out the contours of Paul’s life and ministry. Each chapter concludes with practical applications directed both to fellow pastors (or aspiring pastors) and also to fellow Christians. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who would seek to imitate Paul as Paul sought to imitate Christ.

Pre-order in the US at RHB or WTS.

Further information to follow as it becomes available.

17 Responses

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  1. Nice. Looks really good. Well done big Rob and less big Jeremy!

    Hope we get a UK supplier for this soon.

    Paul Wallace

    Thursday 25 March 2010 at 09:00

  2. Hi Jeremy,
    I don’t want to spoil your own foetid pool :D, but I had thought that your Dad was coming out with a 2nd version of his work on Benjamin Keach (if I recall it was suppose to be around Nov 2009?). I’ve been keeping watch, but so far there’s just been no announcement of it? Is there no such plan any longer (that his a 2nd version coming out)?



    Wednesday 31 March 2010 at 20:56

    • Not a second version, but a second edition was planned (and I do not think any substantive changes were intended, although I believe that there was hope for an index). Whether or not a date was ever announced, I cannot say.

      Jeremy Walker

      Friday 2 April 2010 at 16:11

      • Hi Jeremy,
        yes … I meant a 2nd edition … sorry. :o) Thanks for the inside info!

        BTW the book looks good! :o)



        Saturday 3 April 2010 at 17:20

  3. Jeremy,

    Just wanted to leave you a personal note expressing my gratitude for the work you and Rob have done and for the privilege of reading and reviewing your book. It was a stimulating and convicting (!) read. I sure have a long way to go! I pray your work gets a wide reading and will encourage our instructors to assign it for reading in our practical theology department.

    Your servant,
    Bob Gonzales

    Bob Gonzales

    Tuesday 6 April 2010 at 21:50

  4. Rob and Jeremy,

    I read a blurb on Johnny Farese. It sounded rich. I look forward to this read. May the Lord bless it mightily!

    Mark Chanski

    Mark Chanski

    Saturday 8 May 2010 at 18:43

    • Thanks so much Mark. May the Lord Jesus be glorified through all that we do.

      Your brother in Christ,

      Rob Ventura

      Rob Ventura

      Monday 10 May 2010 at 13:37

  5. Rob and Jeremy,

    I am so looking forward to reading and praying in this book. Based on the reviews, I am convinced these things are incredibly important and timely for those of us who truly desire to honor Christ in the christian ministry. It is so hard. May the Lord use your book to strengthen weary knees and lead us in the path of faithfulness to Him!


    Adam Davies

    Adam Davies

    Sunday 9 May 2010 at 02:01

    • May the Lord grant these things to be so.

      Thanks so much dear brother,

      Rob V

      Rob Ventura

      Monday 10 May 2010 at 13:46

  6. Hi
    Any progress yet on a uk distributor? and – assuming you get one, which I’m sure you will – will the uk publication date be the same as the USA, ie 10th October?
    Just that it’s a long time to wait when I’m so looking forward to reading it!
    (unless of course you have any proof copies lying around spare ……!!!!)


    Friday 4 June 2010 at 13:41

    • Hello, David –

      To answer your questions:

      (1) We thought we had something lined up for co-publication, but it fell through at the eleventh hour. We are trying again, but there is no news yet, and the main man in the RHB camp is out of town for a couple of weeks, so I expect no progress for a while. You might pray, if you think it worthwhile, that we might make some headway on this before long.

      (2) Presuming we get a co-publisher, or even a definite distributor, I am not sure that the books will be in the UK by October this year. If they are printed in the US, then I imagine a lot will depend on the shipping arrangement, which might itself depend on the number of volumes the co-publisher/distributor requires.

      (3) As yet, there are no proof copies! Despite all the outstanding pre-publication publicity orchestrated by my co-author, I am still awaiting some editorial comments before the proofs are even made.

      However, despite my discouraging responses, thank you for your encouraging interest. Sorry I cannot be positive at present.

      Jeremy Walker

      Friday 4 June 2010 at 19:51

  7. Thanks for the update, Jeremy – and the practical prayer pointers.
    May have to get friends in the States to pre-order & ship over! But I hope the publication/distribution issues can be resolved before that.

    Your hymns are always a blessing by the way!


    Friday 4 June 2010 at 21:46

  8. […] Today is the official date of publication for A Portrait of Paul: Identifying a True Minister of Christ. As you probably well know by now, all the guff about it can be read, watched and heard here. […]

  9. Jeremy
    Had hoped “Portrait” would be available from Jan 12th (that was the forecast last month anyway, @ £12.99); but their site now says “Currently unavailable. We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.”
    Haven’t managed to find it on any other UK websites either.
    Do you know if it is available anywhere over here yet?


    Tuesday 4 January 2011 at 20:07

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