Choosing a Commentary

Someone recently asked me which Bible commentaries I would recommend.  So I thought it might be worth posting my answer here, as well:

My favorite place to find commentaries that are freely available is: http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/

With so many commentaries at Studylight, I have not explored many of them in a lot of depth. However, I can say that these are the main ones I use (in no particular order):

  • John Calvin
  • Albert Barnes
  • Jamieson, Fausset, Brown (“Commentary Critical & Explanatory on the Whole Bible – Unabridged”)
  • John Gill
  • Matthew Henry
  • Spurgeon’s Verse Expositions
  • Keil & Delitzsch’s Commentary on the Old Testament

I also would add the following honorable mentions (in no particular order):

  • H.A. Ironside
  • John Owen
  • A.W. Pink
  • John Lightfoot’s Commentary on the Gospels
  • Alexander Maclaren
  • Matthew Poole
  • Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

However, some of my favorite commentaries are not in the public domain, and so you have to purchase them or find in a library.  These include:

  • Pillar Commentary
  • Expositor’s Bible Commentary
  • New International Commentary
  • New American Commentary

These are written more recently than most of the ones available in the public domain.

Commentaries written recently have the advantage of addressing current concerns/critiques and building off of the wisdom of all those who came before them.

But they have the disadvantage of being blinded to cultural prejudices and biases that we may also unwittingly share.  For instance, commentaries written after the “Enlightenment” have to deal with the pressures of intensified skepticism of the miraculous that commentaries written earlier don’t have to deal with….and it’s crazy to see how much unbelief has probably eroded society as a result of enlightenment ideas (a great book that shows that is “Miracles” by Craig Keener, where he compares the attitude toward the miraculous in societies affected by the “Enlightenment” vs. societies unaffected…it’s a real eye-opener).

3 thoughts on “Choosing a Commentary

    1. Great question from my wife!

      With so many commentaries at Studylight, I have not explored many of them in a lot of depth. However, I can say that these are the main ones I use (in no particular order):

      • John Calvin
      • Albert Barnes
      • Jamieson, Fausset, Brown (“Commentary Critical & Explanatory on the Whole Bible – Unabridged”)
      • John Gill
      • Matthew Henry
      • Spurgeon’s Verse Expositions
      • Keil & Delitzsch’s Commentary on the Old Testament

      I also would add the following honorable mentions (in no particular order):

      • H.A. Ironside
      • John Owen
      • A.W. Pink
      • John Lightfoot’s Commentary on the Gospels
      • Alexander Maclaren
      • Matthew Poole
      • Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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