Thinking about Commentaries

Every Christian needs to own at least one good commentary. If more Christians studied their Bibles, and heeded what they read – there would be no infant baptism. The Charismatic movement never would have gotten started. Messianic Jews would have turned their back on Goble and on Stern when they first began advocating the Law for Christians, and dismissed them as heretics.

So, what commentaries? I’ve addressed this before, but I wanted to give a short list. If you spend the money to get Logos (it’s a lot), you’ll have to get some good commentaries separate, because they refuse to offer good commentaries, preferring instead Neo-Barthian commentaries, New Evangelical, and of course, Neo-Calvinist commentaries.

So… which ones should you buy?

If you had to buy one single commentary, it would be the BKC, John Walvoord’s Bible Knowledge Commentary. The weakness of it is that he was standing with one foot in the New Evangelical camp and accepted Textual Criticism – and he prefers the NIV over the Bible.

Second – the Jamieson, Faucett Brown commentary. Weakness? some slight influence of textual criticism. Otherwise, good.

If you had money to get a third, it’s really hard to beat Matthew Henry. I’d go ahead and get his exhaustive commentaries. Weakness is that Henry did not live to finish it, but other pastors who were Nonconformists like he finished it. There’s elements of Calvinism in it, and where prophecy is concerned, Henry and the others all took an Allegorical approach. Any attempt to study prophecy relying on Henry’s commentary always end up frustrating you.

Fourth – either Matthew Poole or Warren Wiersbe. Wiersbe’s commentaries were written before he became a serious Neo-Evangelical. They’re not quite Fundamentalist, but certainly not as bad as most modern ones. Matthew Poole is good, but a strong believer in 5-point Calvinism.

These are good to study, if you understand where they are weak or errant, and are prepared to dodge those issues when they arise. Alas, I cannot think of a single commentary by anyone who I can recommend whole heartedly.