A Bible commentary is simply a book written by a scholar who has done the hard work of dissecting a portion of the Bible, or sometimes the entire Bible, to dig into its original meaning and, in some cases, to point toward an accurate and relevant application for today. Some commentaries are highly technical with lots of references to the original languages while others are more simple and easy-to-read.
If I were starting my own Bible reference library and wanted to get some basic commentaries, I’d start with these five, all available at a great price…
The New Interpreter’s Bible One-Volume Commentary
By Beverly Roberts Gaventa (Editor), David L. Petersen (Editor), David L. Bartlett (Contributor)
Why is the New Interpreter’s commentary my favorite of all? One word: Balance.
Some commentaries are purely technical, offering insight into the nuances of the original biblical languages. Others lean heavily on history, culture, and archaeology. And others are devotional in nature, offering spiritual insight, but not necessarily a demonstration of the roots of those insights.
The NIB covers it all. You get an honest assessment of when, how, and why a passage was written, a thorough analysis of the structure and linguistic features, and sourced references to the life and times from which the passage emerged.
From the publisher’s description:
Pastors and students who want a one-volume commentary to complement the New Interpreter’s Study Bible will be pleased to find in this resource the quality of scholarship that is a hallmark of other New Interpreter’s Bible resources.
The portability, accessibility, and affordability of the one-volume commentary will appeal to professors and students as well as lay persons and pastors.
This commentary contains articles on all the books of the Bible, including the Apocrypha, as well as numerous general articles on biblical interpretation, geographical and historical setting, religion, text, canon, translation, Bible and preaching/teaching, with bibliographies for each article. Extra value includes: chronology/timeline, table of measures and money, and a subject index. A dust jacket is included.
Also, if you’re really ambitious (and well-resourced), I even more highly recommend the complete 10-volume New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary set. It remains one of the best investments I’ve ever made. I consult it almost daily.
The Bible Exposition Commentary, 6 Volumes
By Warren Wiersbe
Countless pastors, teachers, and students have pored over the best-selling Be series—and now these insightful studies are available in one complete set for a spectacular price! From Genesis to Revelation, Wiersbe unpacks the meaning and message of Scripture with a skilled exposition that remains ever-mindful of practical application. Approx. 3000 pages total, six hardcovers from Cook.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old & New Testament, 2 Volumes
Edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck
The Bible Knowledge Commentary features insightful exposition and commentary on the entire Bible from members of the distinguished Dallas Theological Seminary faculty. For commentary from the historical-grammatical and premillennial perspectives, it’s hard to beat this commentary, and the commitment to scriptural inerrancy is unmatched. Thoroughly conservative and Evangelical, this commentary showcases what Dallas Theological Seminary has become world famous for, and offers all students of the Bible an insightful and applicable commentary.
Overview of the Bible Knowledge Commentary:
- Theologically conservative (Evangelical)
- Based on the New International Version (NIV)
- Mainly a section-by-section commentary, with a good amount of verse-by-verse commentary as well
- Non-technical (all original languages are transliterated)
- Designed for all Christian students and learners
- Introduction, outline, commentary and bibliography for each book of the Bible
- Explanations of problem passages, alleged discrepancies, customs, geographical locations, and key Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic words
- Numerous maps, charts and diagrams for easy reference
- A presentation of each book’s argument, and how that book’s purpose unfolds and develops
- Numerous cross-references to parallel topics and passages
Preaching the Word New Testament Commentary, 18 Volumes
Edited by R. Kent Hughes
Critically acclaimed for its commitment to biblical authority and accessibility, the Preaching the Word series has helped pastors and teachers better communicate and apply the message of God’s Word. Now all 18 volumes are available in one set, making this commentary a primary resource for anybody seeking a reliable interpretation of the New Testament. Hardcovers, from Crossway.
Thru the Bible, 5 Volumes
By J. Vernon McGee
A complete reference edition of the 60-volume Thru the Bible commentary series, this five-volume set is an excellent choice if you need a complete Bible commentary in durable hardcover bindings. It includes Dr. McGee’s insightful study of each book of the Bible with in-depth, paragraph-by-paragraph discussions of key verses and passages.
The Moody Bible Commentary
From Moody Publishers
The Moody Bible Commentary brings together 29 Moody Bible Institute faculty to produce a one-volume commentary on the whole Bible. Each book is introduced with a description of its author, date, purpose, and themes, and is outlined to show its overall structure. Drawing on the best evangelical scholarship, the authors provide commentary on sections and passages, communicating the meaning of the text. Scripture commented on is shown in bold print for easy reference, and maps and charts provide visual aids for learning. Additional study helps include bibliographies for further study and a subject and Scripture index.
General editors Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham have led a team of contributors whose academic training, practical church experience, and teaching competency make this commentary excellent for anyone who needs help understanding the Scriptures. This comprehensive and reliable reference work should be the first place Sunday school teachers, Bible study leaders, missionaries, and pastors turn to for biblical insight. The Moody Bible Commentary will help you better understand and apply God’s written revelation to all of life!
Find more of the best Christian books here. What is your favorite Bible commentary? Share it in the comments below!