“Bible commentary”: If you search for the words “Bible commentary” on major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, you will see that more than 250,000 people search each month for information about Bible commentaries. Although many throughout the world do not believe in God and the Bible, quite a few people still do and many want a good “Bible commentary” to help them better understand the Scriptures.
a Bible commentary web site that offers FREE Bible commentaries as well
as FREE sermon outlines, FREE audio sermons and FREE Bible articles.
There is also a “Christian blog” at
if you like a regular supply of great Christian articles.
HOW TO FIND A GOOD AND (OR) THE BEST BIBLE COMMENTARY FOR YOUR BIBLE STUDY:
Know what your needs are.
Bible commentaries are written for various levels of study.
Some offer a general overview of the text.
Other commentaries offer an exposition of the text that is
verse-by-verse. Some will
even discuss the words used in the original text (i.e. Hebrew and
Greek). Bible commentaries
range from very simplistic to highly technical.
One means of determining what type of Bible commentary you need
is based on how you will use the commentary.
Is this for your personal use?
Do you need a commentary to teach a Bible class?
Is the commentary for sermon preparation?
If you want your Bible study to be enhanced by a commentary, you should
know something about the author of the book you are considering buying.
Does he allow his religious background to influence his comments
on the Bible? Some
demonstrate bias in their work and especially their writings.
Seek to find Bible study material that is free from bias—you want
an author who will offer an unvarnished view of the Biblical text.
Applying the Bible to everyday life.
A key part of all Bible study is applying God’s word to daily
life. Preachers need to do
this in their sermons, and Bible class teachers need to do this for
their students. Some Bible
commentaries offer very little application of the text.
Other commentaries offer more application than interpretation.
Know how much “application” you need, and use this criteria to
help you select a good Bible commentary.
A series of Bible commentaries:
Rather than try to find several individual Bible commentaries,
some think they can find a single series of commentaries, and this is
all they will ever need.
While this approach is understandable, it is not always the best choice.
If a series of commentaries is done by a single author, the
author may have done an especially good job with some Bible books but
not in others. If a
commentary series is done by multiple authors, some authors may be
outstanding, and others may be very poor.
There are a few Bible commentaries that must be bought as a set,
or you may want to purchase an entire set; however, it is better to
individually select the best volumes from a set of Bible commentaries.
5. Bible commentaries can often be purchased as paperback books, hardback books, or in some type of electronic format. Many now like Bible commentaries on-line and many search for things like “free Bible commentary” or “on-line Bible commentary.” You need to decide what you like best. Many Bible students prefer a combination of Bible commentaries in the form of actual books and electronic books. Some Bible programs include Bible commentaries that are pretty good. Other Bible programs are seemingly filled with very poor commentaries, perhaps in an attempt to make their product more attractive to unsuspecting buyers.
6. Has the Bible commentary material actually been taught in a classroom setting? The best Bible commentaries have been taught to students. When authors write material that is not “field tested,” it may make a lot of sense to them but not to those who eventually read the material. See if you can find Bible study material that has actually been used to instruct others.
7. What version is the Bible commentary based on? Many modern Bible commentaries are based on the NIV (the New International Version). While the NIV is not a paraphrase, it is by no means one of the more accurate translations. Several good Bible commentaries have been based on the KJV (King James Version), the ASV (American Standard Version) and the NASB (New American Standard Bible). You may choose a Bible commentary that is based on a translation that is not very accurate, but this should be done very, very cautiously.
8. Remember, Bible commentaries are not inspired by God. Just because the author says something is true, or just because he has an advanced degree, that does not make the statement true. The Bible tells us to check things out for ourselves (Acts 17:11), so do not let a commentator have the final word on something; especially in matters related to salvation, worship and Christian living.
9. How many Bible commentaries should you buy? Some preachers have dozens or hundreds of Bible commentaries. There are even some preachers who have several thousand Bible commentaries. A person may have a houseful of Bible study tools, but if he does not use them or know what is in them, they are of little use to him. Only purchase Bible study materials that you will realistically use. Bible commentaries are to help people learn more about the Scriptures, not impress people.
10. What about one volume commentaries? Some Bible commentaries are contained in a single volume. In some cases there is a single volume for the Old Testament and a single volume for the New Testament. Single volume commentaries can be useful, but they usually lack the depth you find in a commentary that focuses on a single Bible book.
11. Look for a Bible commentary that offers cross-references. A good Bible commentary will usually offer cross-references at different points to help you further study out various subjects. These cross-references are often neglected by readers, but a lot of good information can be gained by taking the time to read and study them.
12. Do not overlook old commentaries on the Bible. Many seem to think the “newest books are the best,” but such is not always true with Bible study tools. People have been writing some very insightful things about the Bible for some 2,000 years. Some of the Bible commentary information from the 1800’s is especially good. Do not discount older Bible commentators.
13. When people think of “Bible commentaries,” they often think of books which offer specific comments on the text. While this definition is fairly accurate, there are other books that also fall into the “commentary” category. Bible encyclopedias and Bible dictionaries are sometimes useful in studying the Bible. Nave’s Topical Bible may be considered a “commentary” resource. There are also “theology” books that discuss various topics. Many Bible students appreciate various “word study resources” such as Henry Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon and the Greek English Lexicon by Bauer. Bible commentary information can also be found using the “Synonyms of the New Testament” by Trench, the Theological Lexicon of the New Testament by Spicq, the Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament by Balz and Schneider, the Dictionary of New Testament of Theology by Colin Brown, and Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.
14. Bigger is not always better. Some seem to have the idea that if a Bible commentary is “big” (hundreds or thousands of pages), it will be good. Some authors say a lot in a few words and others say very little in a lot of words.
15. The cost (price) of Bible commentaries is another important matter. Some Bible commentaries may cost as little as $5.00 if purchased new. Others may cost close to $100. While it is true that some excellent commentaries are often $15-$20, it is not true that a high price always guarantees a good or useful Bible commentary. Some high priced commentaries have very little value to most people and some inexpensive Bible commentaries are very, very good.
16. Bible commentaries can sometimes be bought at a discounted rate. When many people think of buying a Bible commentary they go to the local religious bookstore in their local mall. Many of the big name chain bookstores no longer carry a wide selection of Bible commentaries. On-line shopping may be a better way to find Bible commentaries. There are also some companies that specialize in discounted religious books, including Bible commentaries.
17. Do not let a Bible commentary be a substitute for personal Bible study. Some treat a commentary as if it is on the same level as God’s Word or even more important than the Scriptures. A Bible commentary is just that—a commentary. It may help you understand some Bible passages better, but it is an uninspired work.
18. A Bible commentary may take the form of a “topical study.” For instance, if you found a good book describing the “fruit of the spirit” or the “works of the flesh” in Gal. 5:19, this book would qualify as a “Bible commentary.” Some great Bible commentaries actually take the form of a topical study.
19. Pray if you are searching for a Bible commentary on a certain book or perhaps your very first Bible commentary. Ask God in His providence to help you find the book or books you need to better know Him and His word.
20. Try to preview any Bible commentary before purchasing it. Google books has many books available that can be viewed for free, including my Bible commentary on Romans and my Bible commentary on First Corinthians. You might be able to find an excerpt of the book you are studying on-line, or the Bible commentary you are considering may also be available on-line.
Many have found their Bible study to be enhanced by one or more Bible commentaries. If you want to further your journey in knowing God more fully, feel free to visit www.abiblecommentary.com and take advantage of all the Bible study and Bible commentary material available there.
May God richly bless your study of His word.