New Testament Commentary Reviews: 2 Peter and Jude

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Thousands of commentaries have been written about the Bible, and it’s easy to become confused because these resources are written to various audiences. Choosing the “best” will depend upon the kind of analysis you desire. Commentaries are often divided into three categories:

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

  • Pastoral/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.

  • Technical/Advanced–primary value is to teachers and advanced students. Some technical commentaries focus on textual criticism (the reliability of the text), while others address linguistics (the text itself). Lots of minutiae. 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 find these commentaries useful.

My recommendations identify which category each book falls into. Some commentaries overlap; when they do, both categories will be noted (e.g., Pastoral/Technical). The recommendations are listed in order of their helpfulness to Bible students, teachers, and pastors.

2 Peter and Jude

Once upon a time, there were few good commentaries on these letters, but recently we have been blessed with several excellent analyses. Below are five of the best.

  • My favorite all-around commentary on these letters is by Peter Davids in the Pillar New Testament Commentary (Eerdmans, 2006). Pastoral. Davids, who authored excellent technical analyses of James (NIGTC) and 1 Peter (NICNT), has written one of the premier intermediate commentaries on 2 Peter and Jude. Warm pastoral insights, helpful theology, and good exegesis. Jude is considered first (120 pp.), followed by almost 200 pages on 2 Peter. There are also four useful appendices (modern authors, subjects, Scripture references, and extra-biblical literature). Transliterations and English translations are provided alongside the Hebrew and Greek text. Pastors and teachers will love this resource.

  • Another outstanding general commentary is by Thomas Schreiner in the New American Commentary (Broadman, 2003). Pastoral. Schreiner’s greatest strength is his ability to simply and clearly explain complicated doctrines. He breaks the text down in a way that even a beginner can understand. Technical comments are limited to footnotes and the Greek text is transliterated. Schreiner also wrote one of the best commentaries on 1 Peter, and it is combined with 2 Peter and Jude in this volume–an exceptional value.

  • The best introductory commentary on 2 Peter and Jude is by Douglas Moo in the NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan, 1996). Devotional. Teachers and pastors will appreciate Moo’s helpful applications, and readers seeking a devotional guide will love his conversational writing style and lucid explanations. If you are new to teaching, the NIVAC is a good entry point, but don’t let it be your only commentary on these letters. Couple it with Davids or Schreiner.

  • The best technical commentary is by Richard Bauckham in the Word Biblical Commentary (Nelson, 1983). Technical. Bauckham was instrumental in setting these letters in their Jewish context, and this groundbreaking work has been the scholarly standard for more than thirty years. The WBC format is not user-friendly, and the research is dated; nevertheless, most advanced students list this as their favorite technical resource on these letters. The Greek text is not transliterated, and English translations are provided alongside.

    Lagniappe: Because of its age, this commentary can be found on the secondary market for ten bucks or so. A phenomenal value.

  • A newer analysis of Jude and 2 Peter is by Gene Green in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Baker, 2008). Technical/Pastoral. Not as technical as Bauckham but more accessible. Helpful introductions for each book. The commentary on Jude is 137 pages, and the analysis of 2 Peter is 206 pages. Transliterations are provided alongside the Hebrew and Greek text. Exhaustive list (34 pp.) of works cited and more than fifty pages of useful indices (index of subjects, index of authors, index of Greek words, index of Scripture and other ancient writings). Green and Bauckham compliment one another. I recommend getting them both.

Did I miss a commentary you are interested in? Drop me a line. These are not the only resources I am familiar with–these are just my favorites.

Next: Recommended commentaries on 1,2,3 John.

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