New Testament Commentaries– The Best of the Best

Bible Study Tools Part 4

Bible Study Tools: Part 4

Our English Bible is a translation of sixty-six books that were written millennia ago in cultures that are foreign to us, so it’s not surprising that Bible students seek resources to help them better understand God’s Word. But putting together a library of biblical resources is not something to attempt haphazardly. I learned the hard way that it’s easy to spend lots of money on books that will eventually need to be replaced or supplemented. In part 3 of our look at Bible study tools, we surveyed the best commentary sets. To learn why it is better to bypass commentary sets and buy individual commentaries, read Commentaries–the most versatile tool in the box.

In the coming weeks we will explore the best options for individual commentaries. Today we’ll look at a list of conveniently sorted commentaries for each book in the New Testament, and next week we will do the same in the Old Testament. I recommend putting together your library slowly. Buy commentaries as you study a particular book; so when you or your study group or your church is going through Matthew, research and purchase a commentary or two on that Gospel.

My recommendations for commentaries are separated into 3 groups:

  1. Introductory–the primary focus is application of the Word and growing in Christ. Lots of “how to” questions are answered.

  2. Intermediate–these commentaries also contain application but are more information oriented. Some go deep into the history or cultural background of the text, while others pay more attention to linguistics. Lots of “what does it mean” questions are answered. Useful for any Christ follower and especially helpful to those who teach.

  3. Technical–primary value is to teachers and advanced students. Some technical commentaries focus on the reliability of the text (textual criticism), while others examine the text itself (linguistics). These commentaries contain Greek text (sometimes transliterated, sometimes not) and require familiarity with Koine Greek to extract their full benefit, but even those with no knowledge of Greek will glean helpful insights.

Commentaries can be expensive, so do lots of research before you purchase. Expert opinions are helpful, but only to a point. My “best of” list does not contain detailed information about the recommendations because only you can decide which commentaries will be most helpful. Websites like Amazon have features that allow you to read samples and judge the usefulness of the commentary for your purposes. Take the time to do that. And may the Lord bless your research!

Matthew
Introductory: M. Wilkins, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.
Intermediate: D.A. Carson, Expositors Bible Commentary revised (EBCr), Zondervan.
Technical: R.T. France, New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT), Eerdmans.

Mark
Introductory: J. Edwards, Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC), Eerdmans.
Intermediate: R. Stein, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT), Baker.
Technical: R.T. France, New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC), Eerdmans.

Luke
Introductory: L. Morris, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (TNTC), IVP.
Intermediate: D. Bock, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 2 volumes (BECNT), Baker.
Technical: I.H. Marshall, New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC), Eerdmans.

John
Introductory: D.A. Carson, Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC), Eerdmans.
Intermediate: C. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary, 2 volumes, Hendrickson.
Technical: A. Kostenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT), Baker.

Acts
Introductory: J. Stott, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP.
Intermediate: C. Keener, Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, 4 volumes, Baker. And if Keener’s four volumes are too comprehensive, get D. Bock, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT), Baker.
Technical: C.K. Barrett, International Critical Commentary (ICC), T&T Clark.

Romans
Introductory: J. Stott, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP.
Intermediate: D. Moo, New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT), Eerdmans. Or get T. Schreiner, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT), Baker.
Technical: C.E.B. Cranfield, International Critical Commentary (ICC), T&T Clark.

1 Corinthians
Introductory: C. Blomberg, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.
Intermediate: G. Fee, New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT), Eerdmans. Or get D. Garland, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT), Baker.
Technical: A. Thiselton, New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC), Eerdmans.

2 Corinthians
Introductory: L. Belleville, IVP New Testament Commentary (IVPNTC), IVP.
Intermediate: D. Garland, New American Commentary (NAC), Broadman. Or get P. Barnett, New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT), Eerdmans.
Technical: M. Harris, New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC), Eerdmans.

Galatians
Introductory: J. Stott, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP.
Intermediate: T. Schreiner, The Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (ZECNT), Zondervan. Or get D. Moo, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT), Baker.
Technical: F.F. Bruce, New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC), Eerdmans.

Ephesians
Introductory: F. Foulkes, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (TNTC), IVP.
Intermediate: P. O’Brien, Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC), Eerdmans.
Technical: E. Best, International Critical Commentary (ICC), T&T Clark.

Philippians
Introductory: F. Theilman, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.
Intermediate: G. Fee, New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT), Eerdmans. Or get M. Silva, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT), Baker.
Technical: P. O’Brien, New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC), Eerdmans.

Colossians & Philemon
Introductory: N.T. Wright, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (TNTC), IVP.
Intermediate: D. Garland, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC)
Technical: P. O’Brien, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), Nelson.

1–2 Thessalonians
Introductory: G.K. Beale, IVP New Testament Commentary (IVPNTC).
Intermediate: G. Green, Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC), Eerdmans.
Technical: F.F. Bruce, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), Nelson.

1–2 Timothy & Titus
Introductory: J. Stott, Bible Speaks Today, 2 volumes (BST), IVP.
Intermediate: P. Towner, New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT), Eerdmans.
Technical: W. Mounce, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC).

Hebrews
Introductory: G. Guthrie, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.
Intermediate: P. Towner, New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT), Eerdmans.
Technical: W. Lane, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC). Or get P. Ellingworth, New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC), Eerdmans.

James
Introductory: J.A. Motyer, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP.
Intermediate: D. Moo, Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC), Eerdmans. Or get L. Johnson, Anchor Yale Bible (AYB). Or get C. Blomberg and M. Kamell, The Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (ZECNT), Zondervan.
Technical: P. Davids, New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC), Eerdmans.

1 Peter
Introductory: I.H. Marshall, IVP New Testament Commentary (IVPNTC). Or get W. Grudem, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (TNTC), IVP.
Intermediate: K. Jobes, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT), Baker.
Technical: P. Davids, New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT), Eerdmans.

2 Peter & Jude
Introductory: D. Moo, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.
Intermediate: P. Davids, Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC), Eerdmans.
Technical: R. Bauckham, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC).

1–3 John
Introductory: J. Stott, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (TNTC), IVP.
Intermediate: C. Kruse, Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC), Eerdmans.
Technical: I.H. Marshall, New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT), Eerdmans.

Revelation
Introductory: C. Keener, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.
Intermediate: G. Osbourne, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT), Baker.
Technical: For the premillennial perspective get R. Mounce, New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT), Eerdmans. For the amillennial perspective get G.K. Beale, New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC), Eerdmans.

So that’s my “best of the best” New Testament commentaries list, but there are many others in print and online. Some (like mine) are the views of one person; others are the consensus of many students and scholars. If you want to build a large library and desire more in-depth information on the best commentaries available, get the latest revisions of the New Testament Commentary Survey (D. Carson), and the Old Testament Commentary Survey (T. Longman III).

Next: Old Testament commentaries–the best of the best

 

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