Resources for Disciples

When trying to better understand a book of the Bible, you need to invest in resources wisely. This page helps individuals in that process.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Top 3 Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew

Devotional - Matthew: The Crossway Classic Commentaries, by J. C. Ryle {edited by Alister McGrath and J. I. Packer}.  ($6+, used)
     A person could seriously pick this up for a daily devotional reading through the Gospel of Matthew. This is a simple, straightforward expositional study of Matthew's Gospel, but it is rich and deep and thought-provoking. Ryle describes his intent in writing his expositions on Matthew "by stating as briefly as possible the main scope and purpose of the passage under consideration. I have then selected two, three, or four prominent points in the passage, singled them out from the rest, dwelt exclusively on them, and endeavored to enforce them plainly and vigorously on the reader's attention." While not a stand alone commentary, I could not recommend it more highly.
     + Runner-up:  Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries), by R. T. France.  ($10+, used)

Academic - Matthew: A Mentor Commentary, Volumes 1 and 2, by Knox Chamblin.  ($55+ for both volumes, new)
     Perhaps I am biased in my evaluation of assigning Dr. Chamblin's two volume exegesis of Matthew as my favorite commentary. I loved my late seminary professor so much that we named our second son Chamblin. Of the man, I can say he was as pastoral and gentle and as brilliant and humble as anyone I have ever known. That gentle pastoral, humble brilliance shines in his commentary on Matthew. His exegesis is sound and thorough, and he answers the tougher questions that one might raise regarding Matthew clearly and effectively. My only minor critique has to do with the lay-out.
     + Runner-up:  New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew, by William Hendriksen.  ($15+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Matthew: A Commentary - Volume 1: The Christbook, Matthew 1-12 and Matthew: A Commentary - Volume 2: The Churchbook, Matthew 13-28, by Frederick Dale Bruner.  ($38+ for both volumes, used)
     The teacher and preacher can expect to gain fresh insights on the Gospel of Matthew in Bruner's two volume commentary. Eugene Peterson accurately says that Bruner's commentary is a "theological wrestling with the text." William Willimon also gets it right by pointing out that "Bruner is concerned with Christian formation, with the daily task of living faithfully within today's church." What you thus get in this two volume set is a theologically rich, personally challenging exposition of the Gospel of Matthew. I am not always on the same page as Bruner, but he forces me to grapple with his perspective. (I have the 1990 version of Bruner; he updated this set in 2007). For the teacher/preacher looking for something helpful and original albeit less exhaustive than Bruner's two volumes, opt for Garland's book listed as runner-up.
     + Runner-up:  Reading Matthew: A Literary and Theological Commentary, by David E. Garland.  ($8+, used)

Two supplemental resources that I highly recommend:  Get one of these.
1. The Sermon on the Mount: The Character of a Disciple, by Daniel Doriani.  ($6+, used)
2. The Message of the Sermon on the Mount: The Bible Speaks Today, by John Stott.  ($6+, used)

Three supplemental resources worth consulting:
1. The Greatest Story: A Unique Blending of the Four Gospels, by Johnston M. Cheney & Stanley A. Ellison.  ($8+, used)
2. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels, by Kenneth E. Bailey.  ($10+, used)
3. Twelve Ordinary Men, by John MacArthur.  ($6+, used)

Friday, August 31, 2018

Top 3 Commentaries on the Gospel of Mark

Devotional - Mark (2 Volumes in 1 / ESV Edition): Jesus, Servant and Savior (Preaching the Word), by R. Kent Hughes.  ($23+, new)
     Hughes does not offer a stand alone commentary in his contribution to the literature on Mark's Gospel, but he does provide anyone studying this biblical book with a plethora of ideas for illustrating and applying the text. Although he does not deal much with the original language or other technical matters, he is clear and to the point regarding his interpretation of the text. I really enjoy these 'two volumes.' (Geddert, recommended as runner-up, is less devotional in nature, but he effectively breaks his exposition into essentially two parts: "The Text in Biblical Context" and "The Text in the Life of the Church.")
     + Runner-up:  Mark: Believers Church Bible Commentary, by Timothy J. Geddert.  ($12+, used; $24+, new)

Academic - Mark: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, by Mark L. Strauss.  ($23+, used)
     I really like the way that this exegetical commentary series is laid out. As is to be expected, some of the commentaries in the series hold stronger appeal to me than others regarding their exegetical and expositional insights. Strauss' commentary on Mark may be the best thus far. His introduction is thorough in dealing with questions raised by critical scholarship and his commentary section is excellent. Often, where there are multiple interpretations Strauss presents them while arriving at a conclusion that seems to make the most sense in light of the Old Testament scripture as well as cultural and historical considerations. I also agree with him that Mark 16:9-20 is not part of the original Greek manuscript. This is my favorite commentary on Mark's Gospel.
     + Runner-up:  The Gospel According to Mark: The New International Commentary on the New Testament, by William L. Lane.  ($13+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, by Ben Witherington, III.  ($29+, used/new)
     This commentary offers a number of fresh insights that should appeal to the preacher/teacher looking for a non-conventional angle on the Gospel of Mark. Even when I find myself disagreeing with his perspective and/or interpretation, I value the information he puts forth. Indeed, what Witherington does exceptionally well within this commentary is draw from historical, cultural, and linguistic material to offer conclusions that you might not otherwise reach. Sometimes, in presenting his thoughts, I think he makes unnecessary stretches, like his explanation regarding the ending of Mark's Gospel. Another minor drawback for the preacher/teacher is that Witherington tackles the text in such a way that certain verses lack appropriate reflection. That being the case, while I value this contribution to the literature a great deal, I would caution someone from using this as a stand alone commentary.
     + Runner-up:  Mark: Teach the Text Commentary, by Grant R. Osborne.  ($16+, used/new)

* A supplemental resource worth consulting:
1. Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark's Story of Jesus, by Ched Myers.  ($8+, used; $22+, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on the Gospel of Luke

Devotional - Luke: Interpretation, by Fred B. Craddock.  ($8+, used)
     Craddock's commentary is not terribly in-depth, but it is remarkably insightful. Craddock is able to communicate more in less words than any other work that I have read on Luke's Gospel. This is not an illustrative commentary, but it is practical and easy to understand. For my money, it is the second best commentary on Luke that you will find, and I highly commend it to anyone studying the Gospel of Luke. In fact, if you want something straight-forward, contextual, and edifying without getting bogged down in technical matters, Craddock's contribution is the place to start.
     + Runner-up:  Exploring the Gospel of Luke, by John Phillips.  ($18+, used; $28+, new)
    
Academic - New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke, by William Hendriksen.  ($12+, used)
     Hendriksen writes a thorough, exegetically sound commentary of just over 1,000 pages on Luke's Gospel. He deals with the Greek separate from his interpretative comments, so individuals can readily benefit from his exegesis regardless of their familiarity with the original language. Albeit not a commentary to provide the reader with illustrations or to offer much in the way of concrete application, Hendriksen does not disappoint when it comes to depth of exegetical and cultural insight. Because of the wealth of information that Hendriksen offers and the clarity in which he presents that information, his is my favorite commentary on Luke. (Garland's work is more current and also worth consulting).
     + Runner-up:  Luke: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, by David E. Garland.  ($28+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Luke: Teach the Text Commentary Series, by R. T. France.  ($12+, used)        
     New Testament scholar R. T. France shows his penchant for practical exposition in this contribution to the Teach the Text Commentary Series. He does an excellent job with an economy of words while providing interpretive insights in a verse-by-verse format. As is par for the course in this commentary series, he also highlights something about the historical and cultural background of each section/division of scripture, lists several key themes, hits on a theological topic, and closes with practical ways (including illustration ideas) to teach the text. This work serves as a great tool for anyone teaching or preaching through Luke, but it is not a stand alone commentary.
     + Runner-up:  Luke: The NIV Application Commentary Series, by Darrell L. Bock.  ($12+, used)

* Two supplemental resources worth consulting:
1. Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers, by Eugene Peterson.  ($7+, used)
2. Poet & Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes: A Literary-Cultural Approach to the Parables in Luke (Combined Edition), by Kenneth E. Bailey.  ($8+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on the Gospel of John

Devotional - Expository Reflections on the Gospel of John, by Leon Morris.  ($14+, used)
     The commentary I reference here by Morris was published in 1990, and it can only be purchased used. A lengthier more technical edition was released in 1995 by Morris as part of the New International Commentary on the New Testament series ($33+, used). The NICNT version is still in print, and I have no doubts that it is excellent. Yet, I also know that different commentary series require certain formatting, and I would not change anything from Morris' original work, which is my favorite commentary on the Gospel of John. This commentary reads sermonical, as Morris explains texts in paragraph form with basic headers to serve as points of emphasis.
     + Runner-up:  Expository Thoughts on the Gospels Volume 4: John, by J. C. Ryle.  ($14+, new)
     
Academic - The Gospel According to John: The Anchor Bible, Volumes 29 and 29a, by Raymond E. Brown.  ($26+ for both volumes, used)
     I do not agree with several perspectives that Brown advances, but I respect the breadth and depth of the research given to the Gospel of John in these two volumes. Anyone doing a serious study of John's Gospel would benefit from consulting Brown's seminal work. I do not over-exaggerate when I say that some of his observations are breathtaking. This is an older work, so it would be good to also consider adding D. A. Carson's work to your library.
     + Runner-up:  The Gospel According to John: The Pillar New Testament Commentary, by D. A. Carson.  ($28+, new)

Preaching/Teaching - Encountering John: The Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective, by Andreas J. Kostenberger.  ($8+, used)
     This commentary is an especially great resource for someone teaching through the Gospel of John. It gives a sound overview of (a) questions surrounding the text as well as (b) an explanation of of the text. Kostenberger does not provide in this particular book the depth of insight you will find in Morris, Ryle, Brown, or Carson, but he effectively explores the themes of John's Gospel. Teachers should appreciate his suggested outlines, stated objectives, and study questions along with some helpful pictures and charts. (The text I list as runner-up in this category is especially helpful and original in spots, and much less helpful in spots).
     + Runner-up:  The Gospel According to John: A Literary and Theological Commentary, by Thomas L. Brodie.  ($25+, used) 

* A supplemental resource worth consulting:
1. The Assurance of Our Salvation (Studies in John 17): Exploring the Depth of Jesus' Prayer for His Own, by Martin Lloyd-Jones.  ($24+, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on Acts

Devotional - The Acts of the Apostles, by G. Campbell Morgan.  ($17+, used)  
     I love Morgan's reflections on Acts. I imagine the commentary is the compilation of sermons that Morgan preached, so textual selections are explicated accordingly in paragraph form. While the formatting could prove a bit troublesome for someone using the commentary to help him or her teach through Acts, so much of what Morgan writes is quotable. Morgan's insights are sharp and convicting, making this commentary one worth adding to your library.
     + Runner-up:  The Spirit, the Church, and the World: The Message of Acts, by John Stott.  ($8+, used)
     
Academic - The Book of the Acts: The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Revised Edition, by F. F. Bruce.  ($16+, used)
     As it pertains to my top three commentary recommendations on Acts, Bruce's contribution is the only one to offer a verse-by-verse exegetical treatment of the book. While falling in the academic category, Bruce's commentary is accessible to anyone. He relegates his more technical observations to the footnotes, which are worth reading for greater depth of understanding about matters of language and culture. For a good balance to one's study of Acts, I heartily encourage students grab a copy of Bruce to accompany the works of Hughes and/or Morgan. (If you can only have one commentary on Acts on your shelf, get either Bruce or Witherington).
     + Runner-up:  The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, by Ben Witherington III.  ($38+, used; $46+, new)

Preaching/Teaching - Acts: The Church Afire (Preaching the Word), by R. Kent Hughes.  ($26+, new)
     R. Kent Hughes breaks his exposition of Acts into larger chunks of text than I might prefer, but his commentary provides a wealth of great illustrations and practical applications. While this resource does not offer scholarly depth or engagement with the Greek, it does yield personal enrichment as well as powerful ideas for preaching and/or teaching. It is my favorite commentary on the book of Acts, and, I might add, it is a pleasure to read. Keep in mind, though, that I cannot recommend Hughes' work as a stand alone commentary; you would need Bruce or Witherington to supplement it.
     + Runner-up:  Acts: The New American Commentary, by John B. Polhill.  ($14+, used)

A supplemental resource worth consulting:
1. The Message of Acts in the History of Redemption, by Dennis E. Johnson.  ($8+, used; $16+, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on Romans

Devotional - Romans: God's Good News for the World, by John Stott.  ($8+, used hardcover)
     Stott deals with sections of Romans rather than going verse-by-verse, but his explanation of this theologically rich epistle is balanced and easy to understand. Stott has written my favorite commentary on Romans because he readily acknowledges where and when we must take off our sandals to stand on the holy ground of God's mystery and grandeur. At one point, he writes: "Many mysteries surround the doctrine of election, and theologians are unwise to systematize it in such a way that no puzzles, enigmas or loose ends are left" (268). For the runner-up in this category, I list Warren Wiersbe here (I have the six volume set that includes all of Wiersbe's helpful Be Series commentaries, and his writing on Romans is my favorite).
     + Runner-up:  Be Right (Romans): How to Be Right with God, Yourself, and Others, by Warren Wiersbe.  ($6+, used) 
   
Academic - Romans: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, by Thomas Schreiner.  ($25+, used; $39+, new)
     Schreiner is an excellent exegete of the New Testament scripture. For a thorough, more technical study in the book of Romans, his contribution through the BECNT series is probably the best resource to purchase. Whereas he describes his explanation as exegetical and expository, do not expect to find illustrations or practical applications. What you can expect is an excellent handling of the Greek and an appropriate consideration of the scholarly insights of others.
     + Runner-up:  Romans: The NIV Application Commentary Series, by Douglas J. Moo.  ($14+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Romans: Expositions of Bible Doctrines (2 Volumes), by Donald Gray Barnhouse.  ($25+, new)
     These two volumes are essentially sermons from Barnhouse through the book of Romans, and the preacher/teacher can expect to glean a wealth of illustration material and application ideas from them. Written in a way that anyone can understand and appreciate, Barnhouse's commentary on Romans is accessible and insightful. While Barnhouse certainly covers the book of Romans with great depth, a drawback to this set as a commentary for the preacher/teacher is its sermonical format, which does not prove particularly helpful in exegesis of particular verses. (I own the original four volume set).
     + Runner-up:  The Story of God Bible Commentary, by Michael F. Bird & Scot McKnight.  ($25+, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on 1 Corinthians

Devotional - 1 Corinthians: The Word of the Cross (Preaching the Word), by Stephen T. Um.  ($22+, new)
     Um's commentary on 1 Corinthians is a combination of exegetical accuracy with pastoral application. Sermonic in nature, the commentary does not read as academic. Yet, it is clear that Um is careful to couch his observations in a detailed study of the original language, with due consideration to the cultural setting of Corinth, and amid the scriptural context. An excellent resource for anyone's personal library.
     + Runner-up:  1 Corinthians: Interpretation, by Richard B. Hays.  ($14+, used)
   
Academic - New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, by Simon J. Kistemaker.  ($14+, used)
     As is true of all the commentaries in this theologically sound New Testament set, Kistemaker weaves commentary with doctrinal considerations and Greek words, phrases, and constructions. His interpretation is straightforward and astute, broadly connecting Paul's text to today under the heading of "Practical Considerations." For depth of insight, especially on some of the more challenging texts, this is my favorite commentary on Paul's first letter to Corinth. (For a superb introduction, get Orr and Walther's commentary, and also complement Kistemaker with Um's sermonic work).
     + Runner-up:  1 Corinthians: The Anchor Bible, Volume 32, by William F. Orr & James Arthur Walther.  ($8+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Conflict & Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians, by Ben Witherington III.  ($26+, used)
     The strength of Witherington's commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians is how it gets behind the culture of Corinth to help you better understand what is going on in the Corinthian church. He engages where appropriate with the Greek language but not to an extent that the average reader would be at all overwhelmed. I find his perspective on 1 and 2 Corinthians to be fresh and engaging, although I differ with some of his interpretations. This is a great resource for the teacher of 1 and 2 Corinthians to have at his/her disposal.
     + Runner-up:  1 Corinthians: Teach the Text Commentary Series, by Preben Vang.  ($10+, used; $18+, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on 2 Corinthians

Devotional - The Strength of Weakness: How God Uses Our Flaws to Achieve His Goals, by Roy Clements.  ($5+, used)
     For a few different reasons, Clements' commentary on 2 Corinthians can only be found used now, but do not let that deter you from trying to find a copy for your library. This is my favorite commentary on 2 Corinthians, even though I would not necessarily recommend it as a stand alone resource. On a few passages, Clements lacks the depth that a student of Paul's second letter to Corinth needs; however, overall he explains the text in such a way so as to connect to the head and to the heart. 
     + Runner-up:  1 & 2 Corinthians: Holman New Testament Commentary, Volume 7, by Richard Pratt.  ($14+, new)
     
Academic - 2 Corinthians: The New American Commentary, by David E. Garland.  ($24+, new)
     I do not always agree with Garland's interpretation in this commentary, but he manages to get me to think through various passages in a fresh way. You will be hard-pressed to find better scholarship on Paul's second letter to Corinth than what Garland provides. This is a great theological treatment of 2 Corinthians, and it would be a wonderful complement to Clements' more devotional work.
     + Runner-up:  The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: The New International Commentary on the New Testament (1962), by Philip Edgcumbe Hughes.  ($14+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Conflict & Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians, by Ben Witherington III.  ($26+, used)
     As I mentioned in my post on 1 Corinthians: "The strength of Witherington's commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians is how it gets behind the culture of Corinth to help you better understand what is going on in the Corinthian church. He engages where appropriate with the Greek language but not to an extent that the average reader would be at all overwhelmed. I find his perspective on 1 and 2 Corinthians to be fresh and engaging, although I differ with some of his interpretations. This is a great resource for the teacher of 1 and 2 Corinthians to have at his/her disposal."
     + Runner-up:  Insights on 1 & 2 Corinthians: Swindoll's Living Insights New Testament Commentary, by Charles R. Swindoll.  ($16+, used/new)

* A supplemental resource that I highly recommend:  Get this.
1. A Model of Christian Maturity: An Exposition of 2 Corinthians 10-13, by D. A. Carson.  ($11+, new)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Top 3 Commentaries on Galatians

Devotional - Galatians: The Bible Speaks Today, by John Stott.  ($6+, used) 
     Probably the best introductory commentary on Galatians out there, Stott does what Stott always does -- explain the text in a clear, user-friendly manner. For the person teaching through Galatians, he or she can also expect some clever structural arrangements that will stick with you. I think Stott's interpretation is stellar, although he does not explore the letter through a technical lens (consider Schreiner or Oaks for that) but through a devotional one.
     + Runner-up:  Galatians: Paul's Charter of Christian Freedom, by Leon Morris.  ($12+, used) 
    
Academic - Galatians: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, by Thomas R. Schreiner.  ($27+, new)
     Schreiner has put forward an excellent academic commentary that delves into the depths of Galatians. He offers a translation of each verse from the literal Greek, an outline of sections from the biblical text, and sound exegesis that respectfully considers various views before landing on a clear interpretation. Consistent with the series, he ends each of his chapters with a Theology in Application section: Schreiner excels here. A top notch somewhat technical commentary worth adding to your personal library, this is probably the work you want if you can only afford one on Galatians.
     + Runner-up:  Galatians: The Crossway Classic Commentaries, by Martin Luther {edited by Alister McGrath and J. I. Packer}.  ($18+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Galatians: Reformed Expository Commentary, by Philip Graham Ryken.  ($20+, new)
     My favorite commentary on Galatians, Ryken writes in a pastoral and practical way. Likely adapted from sermons, Ryken does not provide much insight as it pertains to the literal Greek text, but he explains, illustrates, and applies Paul's letter remarkably well. The layman and the scholar should find some helpful nuggets in this commentary. I would recommend, however, that the more serious student purchase Schreiner's work in the ZECNT series (listed above).
     + Runner-up:  Galatians: Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament, by Peter Oakes.  ($16+, new)

* A supplemental resource worth consulting:
1. Traveling Light: Modern Meditations on St. Paul's Letter of Freedom, by Eugene Peterson.  ($5+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Ephesians

Devotional - Ephesians: Reformed Expository Commentary, by Bryan Chapell.  ($15+, used)
     Chapell's commentary is a non-academic, non-technical readable exposition on Ephesians. One of the premier preachers in the world, his contribution on the literature reads sermonical, which is a good thing. Chapell provides a number of excellent illustration and application ideas while appropriately explaining the theological and practical tenets of Paul's letter to Ephesus. Students desiring more interaction with the Greek text and other scholastic matters should opt for Hoehner's commentary.
     + Runner-up:  Ephesians: The NIV Application Commentary Series, by Klyne Snodgrass.  ($9+, used) 

Academic - Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary, by Harold W. Hoehner.  ($35+, used/new)
     For the longest time I placed Lincoln as my favorite commentary on Ephesians, even though I could not support his rejection of Pauline authorship. Recently, I acquired a copy of Hoehner's exegetical commentary, which I have come to prefer over Lincoln. At nearly 900 pages, Hoehner leaves no stone unturned in his interpretation of Paul's epistle to Ephesus. While some knowledge of the Greek proves helpful in navigating his work, it remains accessible. Overall, a student of Ephesians would be hard pressed to find a better, more thorough and accurate treatment of Paul's epistle. Albeit my favorite traditional commentary on Ephesians, my favorite overall resource is Eugene Peterson's Practice Resurrection (listed below).
     + Runner-up:  Ephesians: Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 42, by Andrew Lincoln.  ($36+, new)

Preaching/Teaching - Ephesians: A Mentor Expository Commentary, by Richard D. Phillips.  ($28+, new)
     Phillips does not get caught up in critical or technical concerns; rather, he focuses his efforts on clearly explaining and effectively applying Paul's epistle. He often divides the text into ways that is especially helpful for individuals aspiring to teach/preach from Ephesians. It would be good, however, to augment Phillips' work with either Hoehner (listed above under the academic heading) or Arnold (listed as runner-up in this preaching/teaching category).
     + Runner-up:  Ephesians: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, by Clinton E. Arnold.  ($23+, used)

* A supplemental resource that I highly recommend:  Get this.
1. Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ, by Eugene Peterson.  ($15+, new)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Top 3 Commentaries on Philippians

Devotional - Philippians: The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, Volume 11, by Gordon Fee.  ($7+, used; $20+, new)
     Fee has written a longer, more technical commentary on Philippians, which receives rave reviews, through The New International Commentary on the New Testament series ($35, new). I recommend here his shorter treatment on Paul's letter to Philippi. Fee does not deal much with the original language, but he still effectively considers the historical and cultural context while clearly presenting his interpretation of Philippians. Although Fee's commentary is non-illustrative, he weaves practical application amid his explanations of the text.
     + Runner-up:  Philippians: The Fellowship of the Gospel (Preaching the Word), by R. Kent Hughes.  ($16+, used)
     
Academic - Philippians and Philemon: Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament, by James W. Thompson & Bruce W. Longenecker.  ($14+, used)
     While Thompson engages with the original language and other scholars in this commentary, it does not read overly technical or difficult. He offers great insights regarding the historical and cultural situation at the time that Paul was writing his letter to Philippi, and he explicates the textual meaning in more or less a verse-by-verse fashion. Even though he does not give suggestions for illustrating the text directly, the information he furnishes about antiquity along with the connections he makes to other scripture passages afford a teacher/preacher with a number of possible ideas. His application is a bit sparse, but he ends each of his chapters with a discussion of pertinent theological issues.
     + Runner-up:  The Letter to the Philippians: The Pillar New Testament Commentary, by G. Walter Hansen.  ($28+, used/new)

Preaching/Teaching - Philippians: A Mentor Commentary, by Matthew Harmon.  ($24+, new)
     Harmon walks through the text of Philippians verse-by-verse, phrase-by-phrase. He relegates the more technical matters to the footnotes while dealing with the substance of Paul's message in the bulk of his commentary. Especially helpful for the expositor of God's Word is how Harmon ends each of his chapters with "Suggestions for Preaching/Teaching and Application." This is an excellent resource for an individual's personal library, and it earns ever so slightly my vote for favorite commentary on Philippians.  
     + Runner-up:  Philippians: The NIV Application Commentary Series, by Frank S. Thielman.  ($10+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Colossians & Philemon

Devotional - Colossians/Philemon: The NIV Application Commentary Series, by David E. Garland.  ($12+, used)
     In Garland's commentary on Colossians and Philemon, he supplies a preacher/teacher with a number of good talking points. One of the strengths I find in this commentary is the force of the repetitive style that he employs in the "Contemporary Significance" section. Garland seems a bit more detailed than what you typically find in a NIV Application Commentary, but true to the series he does not spend time on technical or linguistic matters.
     + Runner-up:  Colossians & Philemon: The Supremacy of Christ (Preach the Word), by R. Kent Hughes.  ($13+, used)
    
Academic - Colossians and Philemon for Pastors, by John A. Kitchen.  ($30+, new)
     Kitchen's attention to detail is praiseworthy in this commentary on Colossians and Philemon. He walks through Paul's two letters verse-by-verse and phrase-by-phrase, drawing from the Greek language where appropriate. Even those who do not know Greek, however, will find the manner in which Kitchen handles the original language to be readable and useable. His "Ministry Maxims" relate the text to today's church, and this commentary is chock-full of helpful material for a pastor or a teacher. Kitchen's contribution to the literature on Colossians and Philemon is not as technical as you will find in other academic resources on these letters, but I contend that it is equal in scholarship.
     + Runner-up:  The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon: The New International Greek Testament Commentary, by James D. G. Dunn.  ($32+, new)

Preaching/Teaching - Colossians & Philemon: So Walk in Him (Focus on the Bible), by John Woodhouse.  ($16+, new)
     Woodhouse edges out Kitchen for my favorite commentary on Colossians and Philemon, although I would commend both resources to an individual building his/her personal library. Woodhouse's work is not nearly as comprehensive as that of Kitchen; still, Woodhouse is exceptionally lucid in his explanation of these two letters from Paul. He writes beautifully with practical applications weaved throughout his textual interpretation, which he supplies in a phrase-by-phrase fashion. Each of his chapters ends with a list of questions that a teacher might especially regard as helpful.  (I have listed as runner-up the much anticipated release of Beale's commentary on Colossians and Philemon, which will probably be a bit more academic in nature).
     + Runner-up:  Colossians and Philemon: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, by G. K. Beale.  ($34+, new) 

Top 3 Commentaries on 1 & 2 Thessalonians

Devotional - The Message of 1 & 2 Thessalonians: The Bible Speaks Today, by John Stott.  ($13+, new)
     In his commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Stott masterfully shows how the flow of Paul's thoughts weave together. His contextual explanation of the two letters proves especially helpful. Stott does not get into many technical details in this commentary, but his interpretation of the text is easy to understand, shows how Paul's letters to the church at Thessalonica connect to other biblical texts, and generally proves to be the most helpful commentary I have consulted on 1 and 2 Thessalonians for preparing messages to preach or teach. All the while, Stott's presentation of the material has a devotional flare to it. This is my favorite commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians, with the work by Holmes (listed below under the preaching/teaching category) as a close second.
     + Runner-up:  The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians, Revised (Eerdmans Publishing), by Leon Morris.  ($20+, new)
   
Academic - 1-2 Thessalonians: The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, Volume 13, by G. K. Beale.  ($12+, used)
     This commentary series is typically not as technical as you will find in other more academic series, but Beale provides a strong scholarly interpretation of Paul's two letters to Thessalonica. Unlike other IVP New Testament Commentaries, Beale spends little time in presenting ideas for illustration or points of application, but he focuses instead on providing a logical and thorough explanation of Paul's letters to the Thessalonians. In fact, he might do the best job of any commentary I have seen demonstrating how the apostle's teachings in 1-2 Thessalonians connect to other biblical texts. I highly recommend this addition to the literature as a complement to either Stott or Holmes, or perhaps Grant. This work is accessible to anyone while also thought-provoking for the academic mind.
     + Runner-up:  1 & 2 Thessalonians: The Pillar New Testament Commentary, by Gene L. Green.  ($30+, used/new)

Preaching/Teaching -  1 & 2 Thessalonians: The NIV Application Commentary Series, by Michael W. Holmes.  ($8+, used)
     Holmes offers a straight-forward analysis of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, pulling out major themes consistent in Pauline literature as they relate to these two letters. The strength of this commentary pertains most notably to the development of some illustration ideas as well as practical application points that will prove beneficial for anyone teaching or preaching through Paul's communications with Thessalonica. Grant, listed as runner-up here, is also worth adding to a person's library.
     + Runner-up:  1 & 2 Thessalonians: The Hope of Salvation (Preaching the Word), by James H. Grant, Jr.  ($8+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles

Devotional - The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus: The Bible Speaks Today and The Message of 2 Timothy: The Bible Speaks Today, by John Stott.  ($12+ for both books, used)
     Stott is consistently easy to read in his commentaries, and that proves true with his contribution to the literature on 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. He will occasionally engage with words in Greek but always in a manner that is user friendly. Where he lacks in illustrating the text he makes up in applying it. Stott also does a good job of outlining the flow of the Pastoral Epistles in these two volumes.
     + Runner-up:  The Pastoral Epistles (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries), by Donald Guthrie. ($21+, new)
  
Academic - The Pastoral Epistles for Pastors, by John Kitchen.  ($29+, new)
     Although not purely an academic or technical commentary, Kitchen is thorough in his verse-by-verse interpretation of Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus. When necessary, Kitchen highlights the Greek meaning of words. My favorite component of Kitchen's commentary relates to his "Ministry Maxims," which connects the teaching of Paul's letters to practical leadership in ministry today. If I had to choose one resource as my favorite commentary on the pastoral letters, I would select Kitchen's contribution. (More technical than Kitchens, Mounce's commentary is a close second and should find a place in a person's library).
     + Runner-up:  Pastoral Epistles: Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 46, by William D. Mounce.  ($37+, new)

Preaching/Teaching - Exploring the Pastoral Epistles: An Expository Commentary, by John Phillips.  ($27+, new)
     Especially helpful for those teaching through the Pastoral Epistles, Phillips not only faithfully interprets the text he also effectively outlines it. Phillips does not go into great depth in explaining the text, but he is conservative, clear, and writes in way that considers the historical and scriptural context. A wonderful resource to consult.
     + Runner-up:  1-2 Timothy and Titus: To Guard the Deposit (Preaching the Word), by R. Kent Hughes & Bryan Chapell.  ($14+, used)

* A supplemental resource worth consulting:
1. The Letter to Titus: The Anchor Bible, by Jerome D. Quinn.  ($8+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Hebrews

Devotional - Hebrews: The NIV Application Commentary Series, by George H. Guthrie.  ($15+, used)
     This is an excellent resource to complement a few of the more quality academic resources available on the letter to the Hebrews. If teaching a class like Sunday school, Guthrie would be my recommended "go to" text. For individuals doing a bit deeper exegesis through a sermon series and the like, they would benefit from consulting Guthrie alongside Johnson, P. E. Hughes, and Bruce (all listed below). Overall, this is a great commentary to have on hand for a study in/through Hebrews.
     + Runner-up:  Hebrews: Reformed Expository Commentary, by Richard D. Phillips.  ($30+, used/new)
    
Academic - Hebrews: A Commentary (The New Testament Library), by Luke Timothy Johnson ($20+, used; $40+, new)
     My favorite commentary on Hebrews is Johnson's treatment of the letter. Whenever I have a specific question about the book, I turn to him first. He is scholarly in his interpretation, but he writes with a flare that often grips my heart.
     + Runner-up:  A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, by Philip Edgecumbe Hughes.  ($28+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul (Preaching the Word), by R. Kent Hughes.  ($28+, new)
     R. Kent Hughes has a knack for dealing with difficult texts and explaining them clearly and interestingly. That knack stands out in his commentary on Hebrews. Whereas Hughes does not address technical matters in this commentary, you can easily tell that he wrestled with them. As a result, what you get is sound exegesis put in expository form. For an individual looking for an illustrative and applicable resource to aid in teaching or preaching through Hebrews, this commentary is a great starting point. (Note: Bruce's commentary, which I have listed as runner-up in this category, is actually more academic in nature).
     + Runner-up:  The Epistle to the Hebrews: The New International Commentary on the New Testament, by F. F. Bruce.  ($27+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on James

Devotional - Plain Talk on James, by Manford George Gutzke.  ($8+, used)
     Gutzke gets right down to it in his commentary on James, bypassing many of the questions critics tend to raise. For instance, he does not concern himself with the human authorship of James, focusing instead on the divine authorship through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. My favorite part of Gutzke's commentary is how he illustrates his explanations so well. Although not a verse-by-verse commentary, the author provides a reasonable overview of James. Truly more devotional in nature, Gutzke's work is not a stand-alone commentary. Also, it is hard to find even a used copy of this commentary today. (If you cannot find a copy, the runner-up from Motyer or even R. Kent Hughes' commentary on James would serve as apt replacements for Gutzke in this category).
     + Runner-up:  The Message of James: The Bible Speaks Today, by J. Alec Motyer.  ($8+, used; $15+, new)

Academic - James: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Volume 16, by Craig L. Blomberg & Mariam J. Kamell.  ($24+, new)
     Blomberg and Kamell write a conservative, scholarly commentary walking through James verse-by-verse. They do a superb job of explaining the text in light of the original Greek language without reading cumbersome. My favorite part of this particular commentary is when Blomberg and Kamell interject their thoughts in the section called "Theology in Application." I also value their short concluding chapter on the theology of James. 
     + Runner-up:  The Epistle of James: Tests of a Living Faith, by D. Edmond Hiebert.  ($8+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - James: Reformed Expository Commentary, by Daniel M. Doriani.  ($18+, new)
     Doriani's commentary on James is a perfect example of when good exegesis translates into effective exposition. He does not include technical details in this commentary, but he is thorough in his explanation of the text (not verse-by-verse) while also structuring, illustrating, and applying passages from James remarkably well. This contribution to the literature on James yields a perfect blend of scholarship and practicality for the teacher/preacher. Doriani has written my favorite commentary on James. However, I recommend Blomberg and Kamell's commentary (or Hiebert's) as a solid complement to Doriani's work.
     + Runner-up:  The Epistle of James: A Commentary, by C. Leslie Mitton  ($8+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on 1 Peter

Devotional - 1 Peter: The Story of God Bible Commentary, by Dennis R. Edwards.  ($20+, new)
     The Story of God Bible Commentary series essentially divides into two major sections: "Explain the Story" and "Live the Story." Edwards covers both well, but I most value the connections he forges between textual interpretation and practical application. For someone to get the overall gist of 1 Peter and who is looking to communicate the message of 1 Peter in a relevant manner, Edwards has provided an excellent resource.
     + Runner-up:  The Message of 1 Peter: The Bible Speaks Today, by Edmund Clowney.  ($10+, used; $17+, new)
   
Academic - 1, 2 Peter, Jude: The New American Commentary, Volume 37, by Thomas R. Schreiner.  ($22+, new)
     Schreiner tackles the more difficult texts in the Petrine letters and Jude with tact and precision while also interacting with different scholars on certain matters. He engages with words and phrases in the original language without overwhelming someone not familiar with Greek. Although in a few instances his conclusions come across as somewhat abrupt, this is a conservative and well-written commentary that would appeal to lay persons and academics alike. If you can only afford one commentary on 1-2 Peter and Jude, buy Schreiner's work. I probably would identify Schreiner as my favorite commentary on 1 Peter, but Jobes' work (listed as runner-up in this category) is equally outstanding.
     + Runner-up:  1 Peter: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, by Karen Jobes.  ($27+, new)

Preaching/Teaching - 1 Peter: Reformed Expository Commentary, by Daniel Doriani.  ($18+, used; $25+, new)
     Know up front that Doriani's commentary on 1 Peter is certainly written with the preacher/teacher in mind. To go deeper into the epistle pick up Schreiner and/or Jobes, but to get substantial outline, illustration, and application thoughts, start with Doriani. This is an enjoyable commentary to read, as each chapter is sermonic in nature and does a great job of bridging the original context with current culture. I think a person is well-served to have Doriani and either Schreiner or Jobes in his/her library.
     + Runner-up:  1 Peter: The Two Horizons New Testament Commentary, by Joel B. Green.  ($22+, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on 2 Peter, Jude

Devotional - 2 Peter & Jude (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries), by Michael Green.  ($5+, used)
     Michael Green's introduction alone makes purchasing a used copy of this commentary worthwhile. After that, his treatment of the text is basic and to the point, but he often cites Richard Bauckham - considered by many as the gold standard on 2 Peter and Jude - in support of his interpretations. Consequently, you get Green's conservatism in concert with Bauckham's scholarship in a condensed, non-technical manner with a pastoral bent. [Bauckham does not affirm Petrine authorship of 2 Peter, and he reads overly technical, which is consistent with many contributions in the Word Biblical Commentaries]. 
     + Runner-up:  1 and 2 Peter and Jude: Sharing Christ's Sufferings (Preaching the Word), by David R. Helm.  ($13+, used; $20+, new)
    
Academic - 1, 2 Peter, Jude: The New American Commentary, Volume 37, by Thomas R. Schreiner.  ($22+, new)
     As I wrote in my post regarding 1 Peter: "Schreiner tackles the more difficult texts in the Petrine letters and Jude with tact and precision while also interacting with different scholars on certain matters. He engages with words and phrases in the original language without overwhelming someone not familiar with Greek. Although in a few instances his conclusions come across as somewhat abrupt, this is a conservative and well-written commentary that would appeal to lay persons and academics alike." Schreiner may not be as thorough as Davids - recommended as runner-up in this category - but because you get 1 and 2 Peter as well as Jude in Schreiner's commentary, I commend him to you in this spot keeping budgetary considerations in mind.
     + Runner-up: The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude: The Pillar New Testament Commentary, by Peter Davids.  ($28+, used/new)  

Preaching/Teaching - 2 Peter & Jude: The Two Horizons New Testament Commentary, by Ruth Anne Reese.  ($7+, used/new)
     I am surprised that more people are not aware of Reese's contribution to the literature on 2 Peter and Jude. While she does not plumb the depths of 2 Peter or Jude in her commentary section, she does explain passages from both letters in a lucid manner. Where she excels in this commentary, however, is in the "Theological Horizons" section for both Jude and 2 Peter. I find her discussion about the themes of these two biblical books quite enlightening and helpful for the teacher and/or preacher. It is my favorite commentary on 2 Peter and Jude. (I do not consider Reese's commentary as a stand-alone work, however, and you should supplement it with Schreiner, Davids, and/or Moo).
     + Runner-up:  2 Peter, Jude: The NIV Application Commentary Series, by Douglas J. Moo.  ($10+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on 1-3 John

Devotional - The Epistles of John: An Expositional Commentary, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($7+, used; $18+, new)
     The focus of Boice is not on critical concerns or technical matters in his commentary on the epistles of John. Rather, he approaches the three letters with a pastoral eye and a practical mindset, which stands out through his emphasis on how John's words provide encouragement to believers regarding the assurance of their salvation. A worthwhile read for anyone studying the Johannine literature.
     + Runner-up:  The Letters of John (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries), by John Stott.  ($7+, used; $15+, new)
   
Academic - 1-3 John: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, by Robert W. Yarbrough.  ($30+, new)
     Yarbrough's commentary is steeped in scholasticism, but it maintains readability for a wide range of students. While he can read a bit dry, his interaction with the text is thorough and reliable. He moves verse-by-verse through the letters of John, interpreting them in light of the original language where necessary. Often, Yarbrough also interacts with other scholars before stating a conclusion on certain passages. I rate the runner-up in this category essentially on par with Yarbrough.
     + Runner-up:  The Letters of John: The Pillar New Testament Commentary, by Colin G. Kruse.  ($21+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - 1,2,3 John: Redemption's Certainty (Focus on the Bible), by John D. Hannah.  ($16+, new)
     Hannah truly highlights the love of God in this contribution to the literature on the Johannine epistles. He presents his expositional thoughts beautifully while ensuring that he demonstrates the applicability of John's letters to our lives. I also value his engagement with the grammatical structure of John's sentences in the process of formulating observations about the text (this is the most complex part of the commentary). There is much to commend here; Hannah has written my favorite commentary on 1-3 John.
     + Runner-up:  1,2,3 John: The New American Commentary, by Daniel L. Akin.  ($5+, used; $12+, new)

* A supplemental resource I highly recommend:  Get this.
1. Life in Christ: Studies in 1 John, by Martin Lloyd-Jones.  ($15+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Revelation

Devotional - Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation, by Dennis E. Johnson.  ($20+, new)
     To suggest a devotional commentary for one's study of Revelation might seem like a stretch, but Johnson writes in such a way to fall into this category while still providing sound insights. He does not provide a verse-by-verse treatment of the text; rather, he clearly explains sections of Revelation in paragraph form.
     + Runner-up:  Revelation: Interpretation, by Eugene Boring.  ($11+, used)
     
Academic - Revelation: A Shorter Commentary, by G. K. Beale with David H. Campbell.  ($30+, new)
     Much more manageable than trying to work through Beale's original 1,300 page commentary of Revelation (New International Greek New Testament Commentary), this is an excellent treatment of John's letter to the 7 churches. Beale's shorter commentary walks the student of Revelation through the text in a somewhat straightforward, verse-by-verse treatment, pausing to offer "suggestions for reflection" along the way. Because of the fullness of this commentary in concert with the broad application it presents, this is a great starting point for a person wanting to engage in a serious study of Revelation. The strength of this commentary is the way that Beale details and explains all the Old Testament references that John alludes to in this apocalyptic prophecy. Among the 13 that I own, I probably would rate Beale's as my favorite commentary on Revelation.
     + Runner-up:  The Book of Revelation: The New International Commentary on the New Testament, by Robert H. Mounce.  ($30+, used/new)

Preaching/Teaching - Revelation: Teach the Text Commentary Series, by J. Scott Duvall.  ($20+, new)
     Duvall does not go nearly as in depth as you will find in other commentaries on Revelation, but that is not the purpose of the commentary series for which he is writing. I like this treatment of Revelation because it offers clear interpretive and theological insights as well as practical teaching tips for a challenging biblical book. The format also allows Duvall to walk through Revelation in a somewhat verse-by-verse manner. This is definitely an introductory level commentary that can serve as a helpful teaching aid, but it definitely is not a stand alone commentary. Alan Johnson's commentary (listed as runner-up in this category) offers less in the way of illustration and application thoughts but reads at a more advanced level.
     + Runner-up:  Revelation: The Expositor's Bible Commentary, by Alan F. Johnson.  ($22+, used/new)

* Two resources that I highly recommend:  Get these.
1. The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and Rapture, by George Eldon Ladd.  ($5+, used)
2. The Theology of the Book of Revelation, by Richard Bauckham.  ($21+, used; $30+, new)

* A resource worth consulting:
1. Revelation: Four Views, A Parallel Commentary, by Steve Gregg.  ($8+, used)