John Piper has often remarked that he finds the most help from old commentaries. It is the Puritans and other Christians from previous generations that usually made a point to wrestle deeply with the questions raised by the text and its theological import, rather than mainly the technical details. Nonetheless, it is important to be aware of the modern scholarly commentaries, and there is indeed much benefit that can be derived from them as well. In addition, a precious few do stand out as continuing the spirit of the former days. We would recommend the following as some of the more significant modern commentaries and resources on commentaries written from an evangelical perspective.
Resources on Commentaries
There are a couple of books which provide brief descriptions and reviews of every major commentary. These books are invaluable resources to consult in developing a solid commentary library, large or small.
For the Old Testament, Tremper Longman's Old Testament
Commentary Survey, 2nd edition (Baker) gives an overview of
the benefits/drawbacks of all the major OT commentaries on each
book, rating them and recommending those which are most
For the New Testament, D. A. Carson's New Testament Commentary Survey, 4th edition (Baker) does the same. Both Longman and Carson are solid evangelicals and give insightful advice.
Denver seminary also has a helpful online commentary resource. For the Old Testament, visit the Denver Seminary Annotated Old Testament Bibliography.
For the New Testament, visit the Denver Seminary New Testament Exegesis Bibliography.
An Easy Way to Obtain a Commentary on Every Book of the Bible
It can be expensive to buy a commentary on every book of the Bible. Yet, it can be important to at least have something to refer to as a resource on every book of the Bible. It is at this point that it can be useful to buy either 1) a "whole-Bible commentary" (i.e., the whole Bible treated in a concise one volume commentary) or 2) an entire commentary set on CD-ROM (i.e., a multiple volume series that is available electronically rather than only in hardcover). Both of these routes are usually much cheaper than buying an individual printed commentary for each book.
Buying a whole set can be hit and miss, of course-some of the commentaries will be very good, and some will not be. And buying a one-volume whole-Bible commentary can leave you with less depth than you are looking for. But at least these options give you something on every book of the Bible. Most of us do not have the space or money for a full-service physical commentary on each individual book of the Bible, and so a CD-ROM or whole Bible commentary is a cheap way of having something on every book of the Bible, those for which we might otherwise never purchase a commentary. Further, you can then go back and supplement your library by buying any specific commentaries that do a better job of treating the books of the Bible for which you need a more thorough or better resource.
For a good commentary set that includes something on every book of the Bible and that contains more hits than misses, we would suggest the CD-ROM version of the Expositor's Bible Commentary. The EBC has excellent commentaries on Genesis, Matthew, and Acts, and the rest of the series is well done as well.
For a good whole-Bible commentary, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible has been a great devotional commentary for millions of Christians. In the more scholarly realm, we would recommend IVP's New Bible Commentary or Baker's The Baker Commentary on the Bible.
Recommended Individual Commentaries on Each Book
As mentioned above, even if you have a one-volume commentary or an entire commentary set on CD-ROM, it is still important to obtain something more thorough on certain books of the Bible (the particular books depend upon which ones you refer to most). We would recommend the following as helpful commentaries which are important to be aware of, while emphasizing that this once again does not mean perfect agreement with them on our part.
The series for which each commentary was written is in parenthesis after the author. The first time a series appears, we have written it out; subsequent references are abbreviated.
Genesis: Wenham (Word Biblical Commentary) or Sailhamer
(Expositor's Bible Commentary)
Exodus: Enns (NIV Application Commentary)
Leviticus: Hartley (WBC)
Numbers: Wenham (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
Deuteronomy: McConville (AOTC ); Wright (New International Biblical Commentary)
Joshua: Woudstra (New International Commentary on the Old Testament) or Hess (Tyndale Old Testament Commentary)
Judges, Ruth: Block (New American Commentary)
1 & 2 Samuel: Bergen (NAC)
1 & 2 Kings: House (NAC)
1 Chronicles: Braun (WBC)
2 Chronicles: Dillard (WBC)
Ezra and Nehemiah: Williamson (WBC)
Esther: Baldwin (TOTC)
Job: Andersen (TOTC)
Psalms: Kidner (TOTC)
Proverbs: Kidner (TOTC); Bridges (Banner of Truth)
Ecclesiastes: Longman (NICOT)
Song of Songs: Longman (NICOT)
Isaiah: Oswalt (NICOT)
Jeremiah: Thompson (NICOT)
Jeremiah & Lamentations: Harrison (TOTC)
Ezekiel: Allen (WBC)
Daniel: Baldwin (TOTC); Longman (NIVAC)
Minor Prophets: McComiskey (3 volumes; superb)
Matthew: D.A. Carson (EBC)
Mark: Lane (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Luke: Bock (Baker Exegetical Commentary)
John: Carson (Pillar New Testament Commentary)
Acts: Longenecker (EBC)
Romans: Moo (NICNT); Schreiner (BEC); Murray (Eerdmans)
1 Corinthians: Fee (NICNT)
2 Corinthians: Barnett (NICNT)
Galatians: Longenecker (Word)
Ephesians: O'Brien (PNTC)
Philippians: O'Brien (New International Greek Testament Commentary)
Colossians/Philemon: O'Brien (WBC)
1 & 2 Thessalonians: Bruce (WBC)
Pastoral Epistles: Mounce (WBC)
Hebrews: Ellingworth (NIGTC)
James: Moo (PNTC)
1 Peter: Grudem (Tyndale New Testament Commentary)
2 Peter and Jude: Baukham (WBC); Moo (NIVAC)
Johannine Epistles: Kruse (PNTC); Stott (TNTC)
Revelation: Beale (NIGTC)