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Our Top 10 Picks: Bible Commentaries!
Our Top 10 Picks: Bible Commentaries!

This post was contributed by Jeremiah Chandler, former intern at Sho.resh. We are so excited to have him share with us today!

The benefits of Bible Commentaries

The importance of spending time in God’s word cannot be stressed enough! But, the difficulty in analyzing an ancient piece of text alone without cultural understanding is something we have all experienced. For this reason, many scholarly intelligent people devote much of their lives to studying the Word of God, gaining unique knowledge regarding the historical and cultural context of the books of the Bibles. Even more so, individuals have noted their revelations and insights that they discovered in their years of studying the Bible in the sweet little package of a Bible Commentary! Soooooo, Felicity and I threw together a list of our top 10 commentaries for your guys’ enjoyment, 5 each. Check ’em out!



Halley’s Bible Handbook

Halley, the man himself, personally read the Bible over 100 times!! HOLY COW! As my mother always said, you cannot read the Bible that many times without the Holy Spirit revealing some amazing stuff!

This little gem is complete with archeological finds, validating texts in the Bible. Honestly, reading the commentary is like walking through a fancy museum. He includes the possessions of kings mentioned in the Bible, maps detailing the settings, and an “Epitome of Church History.” You cannot say wow enough when seeing everything he includes.

To understand the author’s perspective a little bit, he opens up the commentary with a quote:

“The Bible is the most priceless possession of the human race.”

-Henry Halley

*boom *mic drop

You can check out this handbook here!

Next commentary, lets go!


 Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: New Testament

Jon Courson’s Bible study truly feels like sitting down with a knowledgeable friend who loves Jesus, did their research, and wants to share their findings with you. As said by Chuck Smith, this commentary does not try “to be so exacting with the letter of law” and indoctrinate you with guesses of possible meanings, but it wants to show you truths that inspire you to worship.

“It is hard to find a good devotional commentary on the Bible, one that brings both understanding and life to the passage, so that you are inspired to worship the Lord as you gain new insights into the truth of His love and grace towards us.
This commentary is on that does just that”
-Chuck Smith

Not enough good things can be said about Jon Courson’s adoration of the Lord and his pursuit of truth. It is this pursuit that results in Holy Spirit given truths applicable to anyone in their walk with Christ.

Check it out here!

Definitely one of my favorites! 10/10 would recommend. Let us keep moving!


The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament

The fancy IVP in the title stands for Inter Varsity Press. This shows the authors purpose to reach college students, offering the original cultural content of the books. While many commentaries aim to do this, IVP Bible background sets this as their number one priority.

What do you guys know about the Ephesians, Corinthians, Philippians, or even Aristocratic Greek culture? This commentary offers simple, understandable insights on the Bible you have not heard anywhere else. GUYS. I promise you; you will learn a thorough amount of priceless knowledge that will enrich your Bible reading.

A must read. Check it out here!


Thru the Bible Series
With J. Vernon McGee

Veron McGee spent much of his life teaching through the Bible, from beginning to end. As my mother would say, he includes “a complete beautiful outline of each book.” Differently from the IVP commentary, Thru Bible study goes from Genesis to Revelation and relates the happenings of the Bible to modern examples.

He speaks in common vernacular, almost like talking to one of your college friends.

“Have you heard of the scandals of the Corinthians?!”
“Paul would never have said that if…”

One of my favorite things about McGee is his ability to relate it to modern day situations in today’s terms while not taking away from the original text. Not an easy task.

Check it out here!

For this commentary, just make sure you have an open shelf. It comes in five volumes.


How to read the Bible Book by Book
By Gordan D. Fee + Douglas Stewart

These two guys, Gordan Fee and Douglas Stewart, set out to make individuals a better Bible reader. An organization originally assigned them to write about “how the various books of the Bible function as entities of their own or how each fits into God’s entire Bible.” However, they state that in this particular commentary, they write concerning the latter.

Each Book’s commentary begins with “ORIENTING DATA” including content, historical coverage, and emphases. They formatted the commentaries as an outline, breaking down the content of each section into understandable bite-size pieces.

This commentary will help anyone beginning to dive deeper into God’s word or those who already hold some experience under their belt.

Check out this bad boy here!



Bible commentaries

Commentaries are an integral part of writing Deep Roots studies. They help me to know if I’m off track with my questions for readers, and they answer any questions I personally may have about the text. However, I have found it is super important to find quality, theologically-sound commentaries, as not all commentaries are created equal. As I explained in this post, I rarely use commentaries written by pastors now, because in my experience, they tend to over-generalize the text. Only professional Bible scholars seem to broaden our understanding by giving us linguistic, historical, and cultural context. With that being said, here are my favorite commentaries and why.

Albert Barnes’ Commentary

If I had to pick just one commentary, I would choose Albert Barnes’. Born in 1798, Barnes is considered a classic Bible scholar today. He was a Presbyterian minister from 1825 to 1868, a span of 43 years! His commentaries may seem a little dense if you are new to Bible studies, but trust me, he is worth it. Barnes goes verse-by-verse through the biblical text, and explains locations, languages, who people are, history, what secular contemporaries said about the events, cross references, and culture. I am always surprised by how much information he provides, in light of the fact he lived about 200 years ago. He was incredibly intelligent and well-read, so his commentaries are well worth the read.

Lucky for you, you can read all of Barnes’ commentaries here

Just navigate to your desired passage in the top menu. You can also buy copies of Albert Barnes’ commentaries like me here!

Word Pictures in the New Testament by Archibald Robertson

Archibald Robertson is a very close second to Albert Barnes for me, because Robertson provides similar information. If you have both of their works, I would say you’ve got a great set of resources on your hands that gives you a full view of the text. Robertson was a Southern Baptist preacher born in 1863. His specialty was Greek syntax in the New Testament, but as I mentioned, he provides an array of information regarding each passage.  Like Barnes, Robertson goes verse-by-verse through each passage.

You can access Robertson’s New Testament commentaries online here! 


H.A. Ironside’s Commentaries

I love H.A. Ironside, because he gives more of the heart of the passage. Of course, Ironside gives context, but not as heavy as Barnes and Robertson. Instead, he gives us more into a look of the significance of a text, and how certain events might have impacted those particular people for the kingdom of God. Ironside was a preacher and theologian, who taught in places like Canada, the United States, and New Zealand. He actually helped the Moody Church and Institute with Dwight L. Moody! H.A. Ironside’s commentaries are not verse-by-verse, but rather go through each chapter by events or general ideas.

You can read H.A. Ironside’s commentaries here:

Or buy his commentaries below:

Jon Courson’s Application Commentaries

(Mind you, that both Felicity and I chose the same commentary (oops). But, it might help you in your search to hear the different reasons we chose the same commentary! -Jeremiah)

You may recall that I already suggested Jon Courson’s teaching here. Jon Courson’s Application Commentaries are the only commentary series I read by a pastor. Maybe that sounds snobby, but I really cannot stress enough how unfortunately shallow contemporary pastors’ commentaries are getting. Jon Courson is the only one who provides both the meat of a passage (context, history, language, etc.) with the heart (the significance, application, etc.).

Jon Courson was originally a Calvary Chapel pastor under Pastor Chuck Smith’s training. Eventually, Courson began his own church in Oregon, Applegate Community Church. Many people on the Calvary Chapel circuit use his commentaries with good reason. Just a few weeks ago, I was able to show his son Ben our studies and every time we quote his dad in them. Ben might have thought we were totally strange, but for me, it was a proud moment! Jon Courson’s commentaries are verse-by-verse through every chapter.

Unfortunately, you cannot access Jon Courson’s works for free online, but you can buy his Old Testament and New Testament books on Amazon in either hardback or Kindle. I believe his works are a must-have for every believer – I highly recommend them.


Bible commentaries

This doesn’t relate to any specific commentator or series, but I would strongly suggest looking up books that observe a particular passage or topic of Scripture. For example, while writing Acts, I got almost 10 books that studied only specific aspects of Acts, like the life of Paul, the accuracy of Luke, women in Acts, and the Greek syntax used in Acts. These are all highly informative and help me go deeper into the passage. Finding books like this takes a certain amount of digging, but I promise the results are worth it. Again, I would suggest mainly looking at works by credible Bible scholars and theologians. They may seem intimidating by either the language or density, but you can always skim them to parts that you find more interesting.

Here are the topical books I read for Acts, if you are wondering:


Here are other commentaries that didn’t make my top 5, but I would still suggest nevertheless:


That’s a Wrap!

What commentaries do you guys like the most? Let us know what you think should have made the list. We hope you guys enjoyed our selection and find these commentaries more than helpful!

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