The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Sep 17, 2015

Evangelical New Testament Commentaries: A Short and Totally Biased Guide

First off, a shout-out to my friend Joe Greene who has re-entered the blogosphere with his newest post, "10 How-To Steps of Biblical Interpretation" (click here). By the way, for those interested in pneumatology in Biblical Studies, see his article on "The Spirit In The Temple: Bridging The Gap Between Old Testament Absence And New Testament Assumption," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 55 (Dec. 2012): 717-742.

The other day I had the privilege of addressing the seminary students here at Baptist Theological Seminary, a fine, strapping group, if I do say so myself! I was asked to create a "commentary guide," so I obliged by sharing with them my top 2-5 commentaries on each NT book (the OT list will have to wait, though I will say I'm very found of C. John Collins' Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary and Daniel I. Block's New American Commentary on Ruth.

The following list is, ultimately, my own creation, but it has been heavily influenced by my own biases (some of the authors were profs of mine), various reviews I read, and Daniel Akin's massive "Building a Theological Library" document (revised, 2011). The 2013 update, which I have not read, is here:

At the end, I list 20+ books that should be in every seminary student or pastor's library (eventually).
Please note that some parts of this list are more competent than others! My list on 1 Peter, for example, actually counts for something because I've actually published in that realm (and just had a new article on 1 Peter 2:6 accepted recently, my first article since finishing my doctorate!). Conversely, my section on Mark is woefully ignorant and inadequate, but hey, I'm posting it anyways and if you object you can get your own blog! :) Or, better yet, make suggestions in the "comments" section.

This list is subject to revision, especially if I get any good comments.

      1. D. A. Carson, in volume 9 of the revised Expositor's Bible Commentary (2010).
 This is probably pound-for-pound the best commentary on Matthew, even though I'm normally not a fan of the Expositor's series.
      2. David L. Turner, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (2008).
      3. John A. Broadus, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (no specific series).
 This is the classic conservative work, still highly regarded today (was reprinted
 in 1958, but probably public domain).
     4. R. T. France, New International Commentary on the New Testament (2007).
     5. Also worth having, D. A. Carson, The Sermon on the Mount: An Evangelical
 Exposition of Matthew 5-7 (1978).

     1. James R. Edwards, Pillar New Testament Commentary (2001).
     2. R. T. France, New International Greek Testament Commentary (2002).

     1. Darrell L. Bock, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (2
volumes, 1994)
     2. Leon Morris, Tyndale New Testament Commentary (2007)
     3. I. Howard Marshall, New International Greek Testament Commentary (1978)

     1. Andreas Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
(2004). I'm a bit biased on this one, since Köstenberger was one of my teachers,
 but it really is an excellent source. For a more entry-level source, see
Köstenberger's Encountering John.
      2. D. A. Carson, Pillar New Testament Commentary (1990). Carson was
 Köstenberger's mentor, so you no doubt you'll see some of the same emphasis, but both are good commentaries in their own right..
     3. G. R. Beasley-Murray, Word Biblical Commentary (1987). Usually the WBC
 series is daunting and rarely the most conservative; however, Beasley-Murray's
 work is a golden exception (and Beasley-Murray was a Baptist pastor and
     4. Leon Morris, New International Commentary on the New Testament (1995).
 Almost anything by Leon Morris will have significant value.
     5. Note: the premier commentary on John for broader academia (not conservative
 but with some value) is Raymond Brown's Anchor Bible commentary (2 vols,
     6. Also, the two-volume commentary by Craig Keener (stand alone, I think, but published by Baker Academic)--Dr. Keener puts the "epic" back on commentary-writing (see acts, below). Thanks to my friend Joe Greene for this suggestion.

     1. Craig S. Keener, Acts: An Exegetical Commentary (3 volumes; stand-alone, no
 series; 2011-2014). It is not an exaggeration to say that this is the most epic
 commentary ever written on any book in the New Testament (and I do not use
 the term "epic" lightly!). While all three volumes will cost you a pretty penny,
 this pretty much represents "almost everything you wanted to know about the
 book of Acts" by a conservative scholar.
     2. Darrell Bock, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (2007).
     3. I Howard Marshall, Tyndale New Testament Commentary (2007).
     4. C. K. Barrett, International Critical Commentary (2 vols., 2000).
     5. In addition, the ministry student should be interested to hear that the "lost"
 commentary on Acts by J. B. Lightfoot has just recently been published: The
 Acts of the Apostles: A Newly Discovered Commentary (2014), ed. by Ben
 Witherington III (who personally discovered Lightfoot's notes in the Durham
 Cathedral Library, collecting dust).

     1. Douglas Moo, New International Commentary on the New Testament (1996).
     2. Grant R. Osborne, IVP New Testament Commentary (2004). Osborne is
 probably the most Arminian on the list, while Schreiner is probably the most
 Calvinistic, but both have value.
      3. C. E. B. Cranfield, International Critical Commentary (1979). 2 vols.
      4. Thomas Schreiner, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
     5. Leon Morris, Pillar New Testament Commentary (1988).
     6. F. F. Bruce, Tyndale New Testament Commentary (2nd ed., 2007).

First Corinthians

     1. Gordon D. Fee New International Commentary on the New Testament (1987).
     2. Anthony C. Thiselton, New International Greek Testament Commentary (2002).
A bit intimidating, and some parts are overly technical, but still good.
     3. David Garland, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament.

Second Corinthians
      1. George Guthrie, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (2015).
 Brand new, and Guthrie was one of my profs one summer, so I can personally vouch for his
 solid conservative scholarship.
      2. David Garland, New American Commentary (1999).
      3. Mark A. Seifrid, Pillar New Testament Commentary (2014)

     1. Douglas Moo, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (2013).
     2. F. F. Bruce, New International Greek Testament Commentary (1982).
     3. Timothy George, New American Commentary (1994).

      1. Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (stand alone, no
series; 2003).
      2. Peter T. O'Brian, Pillar New Testament Commentary (1997).
      3. F. F. Bruce, New International Commentary on the New Testament (1984;
 includes Colossians and Philemon).

      1. Gordon Fee, New International Commentary on the New Testament (1995).
      2. Peter T. O'Brian, New International Greek Testament Commentary (2005).
      3. Ralph P. Martin, Tyndale New Testament Commentary (2007).

Colossians and Philemon

     1. F. F. Bruce, New International Commentary on the New Testament (1984;
 includes Ephesians).
     2. Douglas J. Moo, Pillar New Testament Commentary (2008).
     3. David E. Garland, NIV Application Commentary (1998). Please don't let the
 series title turn you away; this series has some excellent resources, makes a
 genuine effort to be practical and relevant to the Christian life (without
 neglecting scholarship), and will correct the NIV when the author feels it to be

First and Second Thessalonians
     1. Gordon D. Fee, New International Commentary on the New Testament (2009).
     2. Gene L. Green, Pillar New Testament Commentary (2002).
     3. Charles A. Wanamaker, New International Greek Testament Commentary
 (1990). A bit odd in that Wanamaker thinks 2 Thessalonians was written first,
 but still a helpful resource.

Pastoral Epistles
     1. William D. Mounce, Word Biblical Commentary (2000). This volume is a bit
 intimidating, but very thorough, with probably the best defense of Pauline
 authorship you will ever see.
     2. George W. Knight III, New International Greek Testament Commentary (1992).
     3. Donald Guthrie, Tyndale New Testament Commentary (1990). The most
 accessible volume on this list; use it when you're in more of a hurry. The "big
 three" for serious study are really Mounce, Knight, and Towner.
     4. Philip H. Towner, New International Commentary on the New Testament
     5. I. Howard Marshall, International Critical Commentary (1999).

     1. Peter T. O'Brian, Pillar New Testament Commentary (2010).
      2. George H. Guthrie, NIV Application Commentary (1998). The NIVAP series is extremely practical, one of the rare series that seems to care about its readers spiritual health. Guthrie's represents  one of the better books in the series.
     3. David Allen, New American Commentary (2010).

     1. Douglas Moo, Pillar New Testament Commentary (2000).
     2. George H. Guthrie, volume 13 of the revised Expositor's Bible Commentary
     3. Peter Davids, New International Greek Testament Commentary (1982).

First Peter (my area of expertise)
      1. Karen H. Jobes, Baker Exegetical Commentary (2005). Being a specialist on 1
 Peter, I would like to strongly stress that this is flat-out the best commentary out
 there (with some good theological observations as well).
      2. Douglas Harink, Brazos Theological Commentary (includes 2 Peter; 2009). This
 is one of the most quotable commentaries you'll find, packed with excellent,
 challenging discussion. It does not, however, deal with the minutia of the text
 like others on this list.
     3. Wayne Grudem, Tyndale New Testament Commentary (1988). Entry-level,
 more accessible than others on this list. I would use Grudem if teaching a college-level class, but Jobes for grad school or beyond.
     4. Peter H. Davids, New International Commentary on the New Testament 1990).
     5. The premier commentaries in broader academia (i.e., not necessarily
 conservative) are John H. Elliott (Anchor Bible) and Paul J. Achtemeier
 (Hermeneia). Also, John Elliott's A Home for the Homeless, a social-scientific study of 1 Peter, had a huge impact on my first book (for what it's worth, my first book is Foreknowledge and Social Identity in 1 Peter, published by Wipf&Stock).
     6. Larry R. Helyer, The Life and Witness of Peter (2012), is an excellent book for
 broader studies on Peter, his writings, and his theology.

Second Peter and Jude
     1. Peter H. Davids, Pillar New Testament Commentary (2006).
     2. Gene L. Green, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (2008).
     3. Thomas R. Schreiner, New American Commentary (2003). Also includes First
Peter, but I prefer other commentaries for that epistle.

1, 2, 3 John
     1. Colin G. Kruse, Pillar New Testament Commentary (2000). Superior to Akin's book
 when dealing with difficult passages.
     2. Daniel L. Akin, New American Commentary (2001). I'm slightly biased, since
 this author gave me my last diploma, but if you want a solid conservative work
 written by somebody with both pastoral experience and scholarly credentials,
 this is probably the best. Also has three helpful appendices dealing with the term
 antichrist, "Welcoming False Teachers into your Home," and "Homiletical
     3. I. Howard Marshall, New International Commentary on the New Testament
      4. Robert W. Yarbrough, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament


     1. Grant R. Osborne, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (2005).
 Though not a dispensationalist, Osborne's commentary is still, in my opinion,
 the best for your money (especially on background matters). [Yes, my theological biases are revealed here]
      2. Robert Thomas, Revelation: An Exegetical Commentary (1995; 2 volumes;
 stand-alone, not part of a series). This is the most scholarly dispensational
 treatment. Though a bit dry at times (and weaker on the background), still a
 must-have for dispensational pastors.
     3. John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (1966; stand-alone, not part of
 a series). The classic dispensationalist commentary, valuable for theology (in my thoroughly theologically biased opinion) but
 somewhat weaker on background matters and as an introduction to the book as a
      4. Also highly recommended: Colin J. Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches
 of Asia in Their Local Setting (1989). Note to the student or pastor: Revelation
 was written to seven distinct locales, each with their own rich history that Jesus
 Christ, in his address in chapters 2-3, draws on (e.g., the Laodiceans and their
 sickening water supply). The expositor who wishes to be true to Jesus' message
 should study the background of these churches and their geographical locations.
    5. Also (with thanks to Joe Greene), G. K. Beale's NIGTC volume.

Note: For the biblical theology of individual NT authors,, Zondervan is in the
process of producing a fantastic series (called "Biblical Theology of the New
Testament," ed. by my former professor Andreas J. Köstenberger). Published
volumes so far include Peter H. Davids, A Theology of James, Peter, and Jude, and
Köstenberger's A Theology of John's Gospel and Letters.

Other New Testament resources that can benefit graduate students and
pastors (not in any particular order):

     1. D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed.
     2. Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles, The Cradle,
 the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (2009). In
 historical and background matters, I believe this is a superior introduction to
 Carson and Moo.
     3. Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, 4th ed. (1990).
     4. Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, 3rd ed. (1955).
     5. Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity, 2nd ed. (1993). If you can
 only afford one backgrounds book, let it be this one!
      6. Gary M. Burge, Lynn H. Cohick, Gene L. Green, The New Testament in
 Antiquity (2009).
     7. Larry R. Helyer, Exploring Jewish Literature of the Second Temple Period: A
 Guide for New Testament Studies (2002).
     8. David Alan Black, New Testament Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide (1994).
 An entry-level, easily readable guide to textual criticism.
     9. Andreas J. Köstenberger and Michael J. Kruger, The Heresy of Orthodoxy
 (2010). If you find yourself needing to refute the works of Bart Ehrman, the
 "Bauer thesis," and the like, this is one of the better books.
    10. J. Ed Komoszewski, J. James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing
 Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular
 Culture (2006). A fantastic book that refutes all the pop culture (and liberal
 scholarship) views on Jesus, including alleged parallels between the
 Resurrection and the "Osiris myth," etc. Much more readable than
 Köstenberger/Kruger and more suitable for the average Christian.
    11. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson, eds., Commentary on the New Testament Use of
 the Old Testament (2007). A massive tome that can quite easily repay your
 investment. Comprehensive examination of every (or almost every) New
 Testament use of the Old Testament, from the hands of capable conservative
    12. James R. Edwards, Is Jesus the Only Savior? (2005) A fantastic treatment of
 Jesus Christ as the only Name under heaven by which we are saved! An
 effective refutation of pluralistic liberalism.
    13. Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (1997). If you can only
 afford one Greek reference book, this should be it.
    14. Murray J. Harris, Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament
 (2012). An surprisingly useful resource!
    15. Peter Cotterell and Max Turner, Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation (1989).
 A fantastic book dealing with discerning appropriation of the biblical
 languages in exposition.
    16. D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, 2nd ed. (1996). This is an extremely helpful
 resource, a good safeguard against certain excesses in preaching.
    17. J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God's Word: A Hands-On
 Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible, 3rd ed. (2012). In
 my opinion, the best book on hermeneutics. As a bonus, it has what other books
 on hermeneutics too often lack: an entire chapter on the Holy Spirit.
    18. F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (latest edition
 2003; one of the most significant and best-selling books in conservative
    19. David Alan Black, Using New Testament Greek in Ministry: A Practical Guide for Students and Pastors. A very practical book that shouldn't scare anybody away!
    20. Tom (N. T.) Wright and Stephen Neil, The Interpretation of the New Testament: 1861-1986. This is, in my opinion, probably one of the best books for preparing for further studies in NT beyond a master's degree.
    21. Any kind of "Reader's Lexicon" of the New Testament that assists you in
 reading through your Greek NT (a "reader's lexicon" will go verse-by-verse
 and supply rare words, e.g., that occur less than 25 times in the NT; you can
 have it open as you read through your Greek NT and not have to look up
 individual words).