- The Power of God's Word - a simple study
- The Necessity of Scripture (Pdf) - William D. Barrick
- The Sufficiency of Scripture (Pdf) - John MacArthur
- 850 Books for Biblical Expositors (Pdf) prepared by Master's Seminary
- Rationality, Meaningfulness & Precision of Scripture - Robert L. Thomas
- The Authority of Scripture - excellent article by Richard L. Mayhue
- NT Commentaries for Bible Expositors: 1987-92 by James E Rosscup
- OT Commentaries for Biblical Expositors: 1987-92 by James E Rosscup
- Biblical Commentaries Online - nice compilation
INDEX TO TOPICS
(on this page)
- Spurgeon's advice Regarding Consulting the Commentaries
- Bible Book Introductions - John MacArthur, et. al.
- Consult Conservative Commentaries
- Collections of Commentaries on Old and New Testament Books:
- Verse by Verse Studies
- Reference Search Tool
- RefTagger by Logos
- TheWord Bible software - recommended
- E-Sword - Free Bible Study Software Program
- Logos Bible Study Software
- Study Bibles - Defenders, Holman, Reformation - all free online
- Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
- Romans and Ephesians by Dr. Wayne Barber
- A Testimony of Jesus Christ - excellent commentary on the Revelation
- The Net Bible Bible Online: OT & NT
- The Ray C. Stedman Library
- Bible Commentary by David Guzik
- Multiple Comments on one verse, one one page
- Expository Notes on all 66 Books of the Bible - Constable
- Some of the Commentaries on the Web written prior to 1900
- A W Pink's Archive (caveat)
- William Barclay's Commentaries
- Expositions of Holy Scripture by Alexander Maclaren
- Other Bible Translations (especially Amplified Version)
- Adam Clarke
- A W Pink
- Bibliography of resources quoted on preceptaustin.org — Interpretation in inductive Bible study
- Approach to Interpretation - supernaturalistic, naturalistic, existential, dogmatic
The "prince of preachers" Charles Haddon Spurgeon in his work "Commenting and Commentaries" declared to his students that...
"we should heartily subscribe to the declaration, that more expository preaching (Type of preaching in which an extended passage of the Scripture, especially a book, is explained and interpreted over a number of weeks) is greatly needed, and that all preachers would be the better if they were more able expounders (implies a careful often elaborate explanation to make something clear and understandable) of the inspired Word.
To render such a result more probable, every inducement to search the Holy Scriptures should be placed in the way of our ministers, and to the younger brethren some guidance should be offered as to the works most likely to aid them in their studies. Many are persuaded that they should expound the Word, but being unversed (unfamiliar, unstudied) in the original tongues (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek) they can only fall back upon the help of their English Concordances, and are left floundering about, when a sound comment would direct their thoughts. True, the Holy Spirit will instruct the seeker, but He works by means. The Ethiopian eunuch might have received divine illumination, and doubtless did receive it, but still, when asked whether he understood the Scripture which he read, he replied, "How can I unless some man shall guide me?" The guiding man is needed still. Divines who have studied the Scriptures have left us great stores of holy thought which we do well to use. Their expositions can never be a substitute for our own meditations, but as water poured down a dry pump often sets it to work to bring up water of its own, so suggestive reading sets the mind in motion on its own account. Here, however, is the difficulty. Students do not find it easy to choose which works to buy (nor which of an endlessly and rapidly proliferating list of offerings on the internet to make good use of), and their slender stores are often wasted on books of a comparatively worthless kind. If I can save a poor man from spending his money for that which is not bread, or, by directing a brother to a good book, may enable him to dig deeper into the mines of truth, I shall be well repaid. For this purpose I have toiled, and read much, and passed under review some three or four thousand volumes. From these I have compiled my catalogue, rejecting man, yet making a very varied selection. Though I have carefully used such judgment as I possess, I have doubtless made many errors; I shall certainly find very few who will agree with all my criticisms, and some persons may be angry at my remarks. I have, however, done my best, and, with as much impartiality as I can command, I have nothing extenuated nor set down aught in malice. He who finds fault will do well to execute the work in better style; only let him remember that he will have my heifer to plough with and therefore ought in all reason to excel me.
I have used a degree of pleasantry in my remarks on the Commentaries, for a catalogue is a dry affair, and, as much for my own sake as for that of my readers, I have indulged the mirthful vein here and there. For this I hope I shall escape censure, even if I do not win commendation.
To God I commend this labour, which has been undertaken and carried out with no motive but that of honoring his name, and edifying his Church by stimulating the study of his Word. May He, for His Son's sake, grant my heart's desire." (and this writer humbly agrees)...
It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others. My chat this afternoon is not for these great originals, but for you who are content to learn of holy men, taught of God, and mighty in the Scriptures. It has been the fashion of late years to speak against the use of commentaries...A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might have saved many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences. Usually, we have found the despisers of commentaries to be men who have no sort of acquaintance with them; in their case, it is the opposite of familiarity which has bred contempt. It is true there are a number of expositions of the whole Bible which are hardly worth shelf room; they aim at too much and fail altogether; the authors have spread a little learning over a vast surface, and have badly attempted for the entire Scriptures what they might have accomplished for one book with tolerable success...who can pretend to biblical learning who has not made himself familiar with the great writers who spent a life in explaining some one sacred book?
First among the mighty for general usefulness we are bound to mention the man whose name is a household word, Matthew Henry. He is most pious and pithy, sound and sensible, suggestive and sober, terse and trustworthy. You will find him to be glittering with metaphors, rich in analogies, overflowing with illustrations, superabundant in reflections. He delights in apposition and alliteration; he is usually plain, quaint, and full of pith; he sees right through a text directly; apparently he is not critical, but he quietly gives the result of an accurate critical knowledge of the original fully up to the best critics of his time. He is not versed in the manners and customs of the East, for the Holy Land was not so accessible as in our day; but he is deeply spiritual, heavenly, and profitable; finding good matter in every text, and from all deducing most practical and judicious lessons.
(Ed note: Matthew Henry was a nonconformist Presbyterian pastor, a master of biblical languages and a diligent Bible student who ransacked the old commentary material of his day to pass the meat along to us. He had a lovely gift for organizing and expressing his thoughts. It is notable that Henry died having finished his comments only through the book of Acts. The comments on Romans through Revelation were supplied by 14 contemporary preachers of his day, and all were dissenters from the Church of England. The unabridged edition of Henry's commentary is generally considered superior to the "concise" versions available today.)
Spurgeon goes on to add that...
A very distinguished place is due to Dr. Gill. Beyond all controversy, Gill was one of the most able Hebraists of his day, and in other matters no mean proficient...Probably no man since Gill's days has at all equalled him in the matter of Rabbinical learning. Say what you will about that lore, it has its value: of course, a man has to rake among perfect dunghills and dust heaps, but there are a few jewels which the world could not afford to miss. Gill was a master cinder sifter among the Targums, the Talmuds, the Mishna, and the Gemara. Richly did he deserve the degree of which he said, "I never bought it, nor thought it, nor sought it. He was always at work; it is difficult to say when he slept, for he wrote 10,000 folio pages of theology...
Adam Clarke is the great annotator of our Wesleyan friends; and they have no reason to be ashamed of him, for he takes rank among the chief of expositors. His mind was evidently fascinated by the singularities of learning, and hence his commentary is rather too much of an old curiosity shop, but it is filled with valuable rarities, such as none but a great man could have collected. Like Gill, he is one sided (Arminian - believed you could lose your salvation), only in the opposite direction to our friend the Baptist....If you have a copy of Adam Clarke, and exercise discretion in reading it, (Click critique of Adam Clarke) you will derive immense advantage from it, for frequently by a sort of side light he brings out the meaning of the text in an astonishingly novel manner. I do not wonder that Adam Clarke still stands, notwithstanding his peculiarities, a prince among commentators. (from Commenting and Commentaries)
In other writings Spurgeon had some interesting thoughts...
Regarding Matthew Henry - You will find him to be glittering with metaphors, rich in analogies, overflowing with illustrations, superabundant in reflections. Every minister ought to read Matthew Henry entirely and carefully through once at least. You will acquire a vast store of sermons if you read with your note-book close at hand; and as for thoughts, they will swarm around you like twittering swallows around an old gable towards the close of autumn."
Regarding John Gill - “He is always worth consulting...for good, sound, massive, sober sense in commenting, who can excel Gill?”
Regarding Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's commentary - We consult it continually, and with growing interest. It contains so great a variety of information that if a man had no other exposition he would find himself at no great loss if he possessed this and used it diligently.
Regarding Matthew Poole's (Puritan who lived from 1624-1679) Commentary (published about 1685) - If I must have only one commentary, and had read Matthew Henry as I have, I do not know but what I should choose Poole. He is a very prudent and judicious commentator... not so pithy and witty by far as Matthew Henry, but he is perhaps more accurate, less a commentator, and more an expositor.
Below are some of the resources readily available on preceptaustin.org and the Internet in general, with a brief critique and/or explanation of their potential utility.
Someone has quipped that it is amazing how much light the Scriptures shed on the commentaries. It follows that the discerning reader should always perform their own inductive Bible study before consulting the commentaries. Too many students go to the commentary before they go to the Book or even the Author of the Book! Remember that every commentary is written by a human author, and is it is natural that the comments are strongly biased by the author's general belief system and the approach to the interpretation of Scripture. Therefore it behooves the judicious student of God's Word to restrict himself or herself to Conservative Commentaries.
This practice is especially critical in the interpretation of prophetic books like Daniel and Revelation. Click a brief discussion of the common methods of interpreting Revelation [preterist, historicist, idealist, futurist or literalist] and a list of recommended futuristic commentaries and sermons. Click for a list of futuristic commentaries and sermons on the book of Daniel. Commentaries on prophetic books vary widely in their interpretative approach, and you may not always be able to easily discern their bias. Click list of published Revelation commentaries categorized by the predominant interpretative view of the author. If an interpreter does not use the normal, customary, literal method of interpreting Scripture, interpretation is given over to an unconstrained imagination and presuppositions which explains the imaginative, confusing interpretations of non-literal interpreters. Remember that all the prophecies of the Old and New Testament that have been fulfilled to date have been fulfilled literally, thus there is no precedent for anything but a literal approach to the prophetic books containing prophecies yet to be fulfilled.
A good check on whether a commentator interprets Scripture literally in the area of prophecy is to read their comments on Revelation 20, specifically the 1000 year period mentioned six times (eg compare the note by the modern evangelical writer Guzik and some of the pre-1900 commentaries like Matthew Henry or Jameison Fausset, Brown or Adam Clarke who comments on the "1000 years" that "there is no doubt that the earth is in a state of progressive moral improvement; and that the light of true religion is shining more copiously everywhere, and will shine more and more to the perfect day"!)
The purpose of these collections is to compile the a compact listing of the best sermons, commentaries, devotionals and illustrations in one site with each resource organized by chapter and verse so that it can be utilized somewhat like a multi-authored "commentary". Click the drop down menu below for a list of the completed collections on books of the Bible for conservative resources on all 66 books of the Bible.
|OLD TESTAMENT RESOURCES
LINKS TO HUNDREDS OF CONSERVATIVE RESOURCES
SERMONS, COMMENTARIES, DEVOTIONALS, ILLUSTRATIONS
CLICK FOR LIST OF ONSITE VERSE BY VERSE OT COMMENTARIES
WHICH UPDATED AUTOMATICALLY
|NEW TESTAMENT RESOURCES
LINKS TO HUNDREDS OF CONSERVATIVE RESOURCES
SERMONS, COMMENTARIES, DEVOTIONALS, ILLUSTRATIONS
CLICK FOR LIST OF ONSITE VERSE BY VERSE NT COMMENTARIES
WHICH UPDATED AUTOMATICALLY
It should be noted that given the large number of links to off site resources, there is no way I could read each work verbatim. Therefore it follows that just because a particular author or resource is listed, this does not mean that I agree with everything that this author has written. Therefore "caveat emptor" (let the "buyer beware"). Every attempt is made to select the most conservative and thoroughly evangelical resources but this is a difficult task. For example, one might agree with the majority of what one pastor or commentator has to say, but have significant disagreement on some issues, like for example the "millennium". Therefore, you, the reader, are strongly advised to first prayerfully examine the Scriptures in context making your own unbiased observations. And as you grow in your ability to read the Scriptures inductively, you will come to realize the truth of the saying that it is "amazing how much light study of the Scriptures will shed on the commentaries!"
more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received (deliberate & readily received - even as they might welcome a guest into their house - put out the "welcome mat for") the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things (truths taught by Paul) were so (see note Acts 17:11).
If you first perform your own study in reliance on your own personal Teacher, the Holy Spirit, you will be better equipped to comment on whether or not the commentary, sermon or devotional you are reading is an accurate reflection of what God meant for a passage or section of Scripture to teach. If you are not familiar with the inductive approach to Bible Study click for an introduction and discussion of the three components - observation (which answers the question "What Does the Text Say?"), interpretation (which answers the question "What Does it mean?"), and application (which addresses the question "How will I respond to the truth I have gleaned?").
If you feel that a particular resource contains significant erroneous interpretative material please email your concerns. Several resources have been removed when specific issues were questioned by you the users and they were found to be correct.
Each Book has a brief discussion of: Title, Author and Date, Background and Setting, Historical and Theological Themes, Interpretive Challenges and an Outline by Chapter and Verse. Very useful overview of each book. Grace To You ministries has made these freely available from the MacArthur Study Bible.
Insights on the Bible- An Overview of the Books of the Bible - Chuck Swindoll - note Overview Chart of the Book in the upper right corner (after you have selected a Book of the Bible).
|Christ in All the Scriptures - A M Hodgkin|
|The Old Testament Presents...Reflections of Christ by Paul R. Van Gorder -Table of Contents for all 33 OT Books|
These notes have been compiled while leading various Bible studies over the past 30 years. The approach is generally expositional, with emphasis on sound doctrine, original language studies (see in depth Greek Word Studies)., and application. Frequent use is made of well done illustrations, especially from Our Daily Bread: A Daily Devotional.
Quotations from conservative, evangelical resources are frequently used to amplify the passage. The following studies are currently available and they are continually being added to, revised and updated but Be a Berean.
The purpose of the Reference Search Page this page is make multiple Bible related Search Engines available for quick and easy access. Utilizing the various search engines you can search various conservative preachers so that their sermons function much like a commentary. I would especially recommend sermons from Spurgeon, John Piper, Ray Pritchard, C H Spurgeon and Ray Stedman)
RefTagger is a free web tool which converts all the Bible references (eg Acts 17:11) on your website, blog, etc, into active verse popups. Hover over the verse for popup in your choice of various translations (see below). You can even copy and paste the Biblical text in the popup box. When you click the link, the verse can be read in context which is always advisable if you have time, for context is king in interpretation! This tool is used extensively on preceptaustin to encourage you to read the actual words of God rather than just the Scripture annotation (see Isaiah 55:10, 11, Lk 1:37ASV).
TheWord is similar in some ways to E-sword below. I have used both and prefer THEWORD. Many of the resources are free, but some of the newer commentaries are paid modules. This resource has a tool that I use 100's of times a day if I am writing commentaries. The tool is a Scripture pop-up (select the version you prefer). Here's how it works - Let's say I am reading a blog and encounter a Scripture reference. With TheWord running in the background (uses very little CPU), one simply mouses over the reference and hit control + C (copy) and the reference pops up. You can adjust the program to close the reference automatically or keep it open until you force it to close. You can also hold the mouse pointer over the reference (chap/verse) and use you mouse wheel to scroll to the previous or following passages which allows you to quickly check context. You can copy just the Bible book chapter and the entire chapter pops up (e.g., If you are studying Eph 2:8-10, but you wanted to see the entire chapter, you would select just the "Eph 2" portion of the reference and the entire chapter pops up for quick review. You can change the font size of the pop up so if you are old like me so you can easily read the reference. And this tool works anywhere the Scripture is found - internet pages, emails, Microsoft Word documents, other Bible programs, etc. In sum, this little tool is a jewel if you want to actually read the Scripture or copy it to a Word document or Web page on which you are working.
If you are short on cash, download TheWord and the free add-on resources and you will be pleasantly surprised at the depth of digital study you will be able to perform.
E-Sword is without doubt the best free software available and so it is highly recommended. It can be downloaded at no charge with a large number of helpful resources. It is easy to use and includes a well done online visual tutorial. Most of the current commentaries are generally ones prior to 1900, which means that comments on Bible prophecy are not generally in line with most conservative, evangelical, literalist interpretations. There are some excellent Greek word study tools like A. T. Robertson's Word Pictures (or click here) and Vincent's Word Studies (or click here). Zodhiates Complete Greek and Hebrew dictionary is available for purchase.
Bible Explorer - Another free Bible program is Bible Explorer (very similar to Wordsearch) which has a lengthy list of free Bible translations, commentaries, etc (Click to see the list of free books).
If you are looking to purchase the most complete Bible software product available, one that "does it all" (and then some), you need to consider Logos Bible Software. There are over 25,000 resources available not counting the many books in Christian Ebooks in Vyrso which also work in the Logos format . Because of the increasing number of resources one needs to be very discerning [Acts 17:11- note ] as many of the newer resources are neither conservative nor evangelical. The Logos program also has a steep learning curve, requires a robust computer (and yet still tends to be run slow compared to other Bible programs), and is expensive. The negatives aside, Logos is hands down my "go to" program for in depth, serious Bible research for it allows me to easily search over my library of 23, 684 (April, 2016). My library of resources includes over 1000 "personal books" I have made. This feature is wonderful if you have material in digital format you can convert to Microsoft Word Documents (Docx files), for then the Logos program will compile the Docx file into a fully searchable book that integrates seamlessly with the commercial resources produced by Logos. This feature alone is "worth the price of admission" in my opinion (See Personal Book Builder).
Wordsearch also has a very good Bible program, albeit much less expensive than Logos and with fewer resources (although they have been purchased by Lifeway and will doubtless increase their inventory). Their resources are generally less costly than Logos. For the person who does not want to invest thousands of dollars, Wordsearch would be a very reasonable alternative to Logos. While Logos has many more resources than Wordsearch, the latter has all of John MacArthur's NT Commentary series, which are no longer carried by Logos (as of April 14, 2016). Wordsearch also offers all of Adrian Rogers' excellent sermons in digital format as well as a number of other sermon series not carried by Logos.
Defender's Study Bible - From creationist Dr Henry Morris. Excellent notes. Literal interpretation.
Holman Christian Standard Bible Study Bible Evangelical. Conservative. Interprets the text literally. Click on "Library" on left side of page. Select "Study Bible Notes." Select HCSB Study Bible and "View in Reader."
Reformation Study Bible - Brief notes. Conservative. Evangelical but does not always interpret the text literally especially in eschatological passages so please be a Berean - Acts 17:11.
This excellent conservative resource was compiled by Dr. Reuben A. Torrey around the turn of the 20th century and to this day consists of over 500,000 cross references, the most comprehensive collection of Scriptural cross references available in a single resource.
You might be asking...
"Well, how does this resource qualify as a commentary?"
You have probably heard the axiom that Scripture never contradicts Scripture and thus is always the best commentary on Scripture (see discussion - Compare Scripture with Scripture). Therefore as you study God's Word develop the habit of taking a few moment to check for pertinent TSK cross references that can aid interpretation. (Click here for a discussion and example of the use of TSK reference system in the interpretation of the Bible.)
Respected Bible expositor Dr. John MacArthur speaks very highly of the TSK noting that it is
"The one book, aside from the Bible itself, that I value most in my studies."
You might be asking...
"Why not simply use my Bible's marginal cross references?"
There are at least 3 reasons you want to supplement your Bible's "built in" marginal references with with the TSK:
1) TSK generally has far more cross references per verse than your average Bible marginal references.
2) TSK references are more "relevant" to the particular verse in question than those found in most reference Bibles (Click example ).
3) TSK has more Old Testament cross references on the New Testament and thus helps integrate the New with the Old , which is important because "the Old is the New concealed" and "the New is the Old revealed." (See related study of Typology - Study of Types) Remember the Scripture will never contradict itself.
Keep in mind that as excellent as Torrey's cross references are, they were composed by a man and thus will be tainted with his theological bias.
There are numerous web sites with the TSK resource available but one of the most comprehensive sites available is Studylight. To see the TSK references corresponding to a verse or chapter click "Include Resources". If you type in book and chapter without verse, the search retrieves the complete listing of references for that chapter (in the right margin). Studylight also allows you to set the default translations so that all references are retrieved in that version.
Ephesians - Dr Barber's exposition of the book of Ephesians. There are 86 messages with a strong emphasis on how to live the "victorious Christ life". Dr Barber places great emphasis on Major Ian Thomas' guiding principle regarding the "Christ Life"...
He never said you could.
But He can and
He always said He would!
Anthony Garland has written A Testimony of Jesus Christ which is a verse by verse commentary on the book of the Revelation from a conservative, futuristic, literal viewpoint. If you agree that literal interpretation is the safest and most accurate way to interpret Scripture, you will find that Garland's work is one of the best resources available on the book of the Revelation.
Garland's comments are based on a literal interpretation. His straightforward approach will help reveal the Revelation which was God's intended purpose for giving it to the Church, as shown even by the Greek word for " Revelation ," apokalupsis , which conveys the idea of "taking the lid off" so as to remove the cover and expose to open view that which was heretofore not visible, known or disclosed! Indeed, The Revelation was not written to confuse the saints but to encourage, edify and equip us to fight the good fight of faith, fully confident (cp Ro 10:17- note ) of the fact that Jesus Christ will return as King of kings and Lord of lords and triumph over all evil (Rev 19:11-16- note )! Many say the study of prophecy is so controversial and confusing it should be minimized and thus many churches today assiduously avoid preaching on prophecy. I strongly disagree, for to take such an approach is to cut out 25% of the Scriptures, 80% of which has been perfectly fulfilled. Therefore surely God will fulfill the other 20% and thus it behooves us to be familiar with His plan for the ages! To be sure, prophecy study tends to attract folks that offer sensationalistic or "off the wall" interpretations, but that is all the more reason to "be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth." (2Ti 2:15 - note).
Click here for links to each chapter and verse of the Revelation from A Testimony of Jesus Christ.
For multiple other resources click Revelation.
Notes scroll with Bible verses and function like an abbreviated commentary and word study (Hebrew/Greek) resource. Let's look at one more example below using the interesting passage Genesis 3:16 after the "Fall" where God is pronouncing the consequences the woman face. You will find this note very interesting especially if you have ever taken the Precept course "Marriage Without Regrets".
(NET Bible) Genesis 3:16: To the woman he said, I will greatly increase your labor pains with pain you will give birth to children. You will want to control your husband 48 but he will dominate49 you.”
48 Hebrew “and toward your husband [will be] your desire.” The nominal sentence does not have a verb; a future verb must be supplied, because the focus of the oracle is on the future struggle. The precise meaning of the noun tesuqah, “desire”) is debated. Many interpreters conclude that it refers to sexual desire here, because the subject of the passage is the relationship between a wife and her husband, and because the word is used in a romantic sense in Song 8:6. (My note: this is an error - "desire" is actually in Song of Solomon 7:10 not SS8:6) However, this interpretation makes little sense in Gen 3:16. First, it does not fit well with the assertion “he will dominate you.” Second, it implies that sexual desire was not part of the original creation, even though the man and the woman were told to multiply. And third, it ignores the usage of the word in Genesis 4:7 where it refers to sin’s desire to control and dominate Cain. (Even in Song of Songs it carries the basic idea of “control,” for it describes the young man’s desire to “have his way sexually” with the young woman.) In Gen 3:16 the Lord announces a struggle, a conflict between the man and the woman. She will desire to control him, but he will dominate her instead. This interpretation also fits the tone of the passage, which is a judgment oracle. See further Susan T. Foh, “What is the Woman’s Desire?” Westminster Theological Journal 37 (1975): 376-83.
49 The Hebrew verb mashal means “to rule over,” but in a way that emphasizes powerful control, domination, or mastery. This also is part of the baser human nature. The translation assumes the imperfect verb form has an objective/indicative sense here. Another option is to understand it as having a modal, desiderative nuance, “but he will want to dominate you.” In this case, the Lord simply announces the struggle without indicating who will emerge victorious.
Pastor Stedman's commentaries are devotional, easy to read and filled with practical applications, all from a conservative, evangelical perspective.
Below is a list of most of Ray Stedman's edifying material...
The Power of His Presence: (see below) Mark Mitchell has compiled a full year of devotions based on the excellent writings of Ray Stedman. This resource is highly recommended for your devotional reading this year.
|January:||Mark: The Servant Who Rules|
|February:||Ecclesiastes: Things That Don't Work|
|March:||Ephesians: Riches in Christ|
|April:||Genesis 1-11: Foundations for Living|
|May:||1st John: Life with Father|
|June:||Abraham: The Man of Faith|
|July:||John 13-17: Secrets of the Spirit|
|August:||Nehemiah: Principles of Reconstruction|
|September:||2nd Corinthians: Authentic Christianity|
|October:||Psalms: Folk Songs of Faith|
|November:||1st & 2nd Timothy: Letters to a Son|
|December:||Job: Let God Be God|
Adventuring Through the Bible: 66 messages given over 4 years with each message providing an overview of one book of the Bible. One additional message addresses the 400 silent years between Malachi and Matthew. Available in MP3 format for your Ipod! This resource would be a great supplement to your system for reading through the Bible in a year.
- Authentic Christianity
- Body Life (Revised and Expanded Edition)
- Genesis 1-3: Understanding Man
- Genesis 4-11: The Beginnings
- Genesis 11:31-25:1-8: Abraham: Man of Faith
- Leviticus: The Way to Wholeness
- Esther: The Queen and I
- The Book of Job: Behind Suffering
- Psalms of Faith
- Ecclesiastes: Is this All There is to Life?
- Jeremiah: Death of a Nation
- Talking With My Father: Jesus Teaches on Prayer
- Matthew 13: Behind History (The Parables of Matthew 13)
- Matthew 24-25: What on Earth is Happening (The Olivet Discourse)
- Mark 1:1-8:33 The Gospel of Mark: The Servant who Rules
- Mark 8:33-16:20 The Gospel of Mark: The Ruler Who Serves
- The Gospel of John: God's Loving Word
- John 13-17: Secrets of the Spirit (The Upper Room Discourse)
- Acts: When the Church was Young
- Romans 1-8: Romans: From Guilt to Glory - Volume 1
- Romans 9-16 Romans: From Guilt to Glory - Volume 2)
- Romans: Reason to Rejoice (2004)
- 1Corinthians: The Deep Things of God
- 2Corinthians: Power out of Weakness
- Ephesians: Our Riches in Christ
- Ephesians 6:10-20: Spiritual Warfare
- 1, 2 Thessalonians: Waiting for the Second Coming,
- Hebrews: How to Live What You Believe
- Hebrews, IVP New Testament Commentary Series, 1992.
- 1 John: Life by the Son
- Revelation: God's Final Word
Conservative brief verse by verse commentary on the entire Bible. Along with the resource by Constable below, Guzik is one of the few entire Bible commentaries from a contemporary writer which is freely available on the internet. The comments on prophecy are definitely conservative, evangelical and literal. As mentioned earlier a good guide to determine whether a given author interprets Scripture literally, is to read their comments on Revelation 20, specifically regarding the "1000 years" mentioned six times (eg read Guzik's notes on Revelation 20) Note that the Guzik's commentary at Studylight.org is not necessarily up to date (e.g., as of June, 2007 there are no commentaries on Ezekiel, and just a sprinkling of the Psalms). Click here for the most up to date collection of Guzik's commentaries.
Studylight has an interesting tool called "Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary" - This allows you to quickly see the comments from multiple resources without having to leave the page. Most of the commentaries however tend to be older (pre-1900).
See also Studylight's collection of over 90 Bible commentaries - Bible Commentaries. Remember also to check the Preceptaustin.org collection of OT and NT resources which includes links to the Studylight material in addition to literally 100's of other resources not found on Studylight.
Thomas Constable Expository Notes include notes on all 66 books and takes a conservative, literalist approach to the Scriptures. Dr Constable's website also includes James Van Dine's Bible Analyses which has an introduction to each book (historical context, literary structure, etc).
The commentaries below freely available on the Web but all are of "older vintage". Although they are generally conservative, these commentaries tend not to be literal (and futuristic) in their interpretation of prophetic passages (C lick collection on the Revelation. Scroll down to the categorization by author's interpretative approach to prophecy) (See similar evaluation under Daniel Commentaries)
Treasury of David (Psalms) by C. H. Spurgeon.
Highly recommended to supplement your personal study in the Psalms. This magnum opus has no peer. Read the psalms devotionally (and inductively) and then compare your observations, interpretations and applications with Spurgeon's powerful, often pithy remarks.
Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary - Of all the pre-1900 commentaries, this one tends to give the most literal interpretation of the Scriptures and therefore does not generally replace Israel with the church. Sample excerpt of eschatological (prophetic, apocalyptic) passage Zechariah 14:2 - "gather all nations, etc. — The prophecy seems literal (compare Joel 3:2). If Antichrist be the leader of the nations, it seems inconsistent with the statement that he will at this time be sitting in the temple as God at Jerusalem (2Thessalonians 2:4); thus Antichrist outside would be made to besiege Antichrist within the city. But difficulties do not set aside revelations: the event will clear up seeming difficulties (Ed: Interesting statement!). Compare the complicated movements, Daniel 11:1-45-note." Comment on Zech 14:11 - "no more utter destruction — (Jer 31:40). Literally, “no more curse” (Rev 22:3-note; compare Malachi 4:6-note), for there will be no more sin. Temporal blessings and spiritual prosperity shall go together in the millennium: long life (Isaiah 65:20-22), peace (Isaiah 2:4-note), honor (Isaiah 60:14-16), righteous government (Isaiah 54:14; Isaiah 60:18). (Zechariah 14 - Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible) Spurgeon adds that JFB is "to some extent a compilation and condensation of other men's thoughts, but it is sufficiently original to claim a place in every minister's library: indeed it contains so great a variety of information that if a man had no other exposition he would find himself at no great loss if he possessed this & used it diligently. (See also JFB's unabridged commentary - Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged)
Pulpit Commentary (PC) - This is a commentary has brief expositions plus homilies with each verse. Although the Pulpit Commentary is impressive in size and is generally theologically conservative, as with most of the commentaries written prior to 1900, it is not recommended as your primary commentary but only as a secondary resource. One must be especially discerning when reading the Old Testament comments (specific those related to prophecy) as the PC unfortunately frequently misinterprets the promises to Israel as promises given to the Church. For example, in the PC's commentary on the book of Isaiah, the word "church" is used 827 times, despite the fact that the church is not found in the Old Testament. Paul's "commentary" clearly states that the "church" was "the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages [including Isaiah] and generations" (Col 1:26-note)!
In the PC comments on the book of Isaiah there is only a single mention of the "millennium" (and even that mention is not interpreted correctly) compared with 52 mentions in the highly more literal Bible Knowledge Commentary. In fact, a literal reading of the book of Isaiah reveals it to be filled with direct and indirect allusions to a future time period which correlates very well with the 1000 year, "Millennial" period of Revelation 20. If you attempt to read the book of Isaiah from an amillennial (no literal millennium) perspective, many of the chapters cannot be interpreted literally which leads to a strained and often inaccurate interpretation of Isaiah's many prophecies which deal directly with Israel's future, including the believing remnant of Jews and the promised millennial kingdom.
Here is one example in which the Pulpit Commentary spiritualizes the interpretation of the famous prophecy in Isaiah 2:2-note
"Now it will come about that in the last days, the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it."
The Pulpit Commentary writes that "the mountain of the Lord's house" is "the Church, the true Zion" which is clearly a misinterpretation.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary agrees that Isaiah's description "refers to the mount where the Temple was built."
The second allusion to mountains in context however does not refer to literal mountains but is a figure of speech using mountains to refer to a kingdom (as is done elsewhere in the Old Testament - see "great mountain" in Daniel 2:35-note, cp Jer 51:24-25 where mountain is a metaphorical description of Babylon). In the interest of being "fair and balanced" it is also possible to interpret the first mountain as a reference to the kingdom of Israel as the leading ("chief") kingdom over all the other kingdoms of the earth. Either of these interpretations makes good sense in the context, but to interpret this phrase as "the Church" is nonsense and confuses the meaning of the entire prophecy in Isaiah 2. Notice also that clearly this prophecy was given to Judah and Israel (Isa 2:1 -note), so even if one tried to say the Church is Israel (based on Gal 6:16 - see The Israel of God), they would not be able to explain Isaiah's mention of Judah, for nowhere is Judah called the "church."
For a short introduction to the science of Biblical interpretation (hermeneutics), including allegorical interpretation, see The Art and Science of Interpretation.
In summary, although conservative commentaries written prior to 1900 can be very enlightening resources (and many are listed in the book collections on this website), the wise student of the Word, will first perform a careful inductive study of the passage (this caveat is especially true of prophetic passages where specific commentaries can vary "wildly") so that he or she will not misled by the comments in the commentary.
All this said, the Pulpit Commentary (as well as all the commentaries written prior to 1900) can be very useful, but the wise student will "examine (present imperative) everything carefully; hold fast (present imperative) to that which is good" and "abstain (present imperative) from every form of evil." (1Th 5:21-22-note)
Pink's commentaries are available for Old and New Testament books and are filled with pointed insights and applications. Pink is always worth consulting if he has written a commentary on the book you are studying. Please see the caveat regarding his works. See also discussion of Approach to Interpretation
Alexander Maclaren was one of Great Britain's most notable and famous preachers. Maclaren published a number of books of sermons and climaxed his ministry by publishing his monumental Expositions of Holy Scripture (click for another source) which consists of expository essays covering most books of the Bible and are characterized by a devotional flavor.
While pastoring the Union Chapel, Manchester (1858-1903), he was known as "the prince of expository preachers." If you are not familiar with Maclaren's style, here are a few of his quotes to whet your appetite (or read his exposition Jehovah Jireh based on Genesis 22:14):
The risen life of Jesus is the nourishment and strengthening and blessing and life of a Christian. Our daily experience ought to be that there comes, wavelet by wavelet, that silent, gentle, and yet omnipotent influx into our empty hearts, this very life of Christ Himself."
"Faith does not grasp a doctrine, but a heart. The trust which Christ requires is the bond that unites souls with Him; and the very life of it is entire committal of myself to Him in all my relations and for all my needs, and absolute utter confidence in Him as all sufficient for everything that I can require."
"Each of us may be sure that if God sends us on stony paths He will provide us with strong shoes, and He will not send us out on any journey for which He does not equip us well."
There is nothing more impotent than words which lie dormant in our brains and have no influence on our lives.
Seek to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life.
We must have the glory sink into us before it can be reflected from us. In deep inward beholding we must have Christ in our hearts, that He may shine forth from our lives.
"Man's course begins in a garden, but it ends in a city."
"Only he who can say, 'The Lord is the strength of my life' can say, 'Of whom shall I be afraid?'
"Love is the only fire that is hot enough to melt the iron obstinacy of a creatures' will"
"We believe that the history of the world is but the history of His influence and that the center of the whole universe is the cross of Calvary."
"Every life has dark tracts and long stretches of somber tint, and no representation is true to fact which dips its pencil only in light, and flings no shadows on the canvas."
"If you would win the world, melt it, do not hammer it."
Did any of you, parents, ever hear your child wake from sleep with some panic, or fear, and shriek the mother's name through the darkness? Was not that a more powerful appeal than all words? And, depend upon it, that the soul which cries aloud on God, The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, though it have "no language but a cry," will never call in vain.
"Death is but a passage. It is not a house, it is only a vestibule. The grave has a door on its inner side."
Although you may not have thought of different versions of the Bible as potential "commentaries", you might be surprised at the insights that can be gleaned from reading a passage, paragraph or chapter studied using a different version. In this regard I would highly recommend the relatively literal Amplified Version which can function much like a "mini-commentary", often expanding the meaning of the passage. To help you use this version as a "mini-commentary", be aware that the Amplified Version uses parentheses - ( ) - to identify an alternative Greek or Hebrew definition of the preceding word or phrase. In other words, you can take these alternative "definitions" and substitute them for the preceding word or phrase and it would still be a relatively literal rendering of the original Greek or Hebrew text (e.g., using John 3:3 in the Amplified Version in the box below, practice "substituting" some of the words in parentheses for "born again" and for "see" and see if that doesn't help amplify the meaning of this familiar verse). On the other hand when you see a notation in brackets - [ ] - this represents more of an explanatory or amplifying comment on the preceding word or phrase to help and helps clarify the meaning of the passage. In contrast to the notes in parentheses, the notes in brackets represent words that are not present in the original Greek or Hebrew text.
See the chart below to compare the literalness of various translations, keeping in mind that the more literal the translation, the closer it follows the original Greek or Hebrew and the less interpretative it is.
In regard to using other Bible versions to aid your study of a passage, do not restrict your study to a paraphrased version. Paraphrased versions represent a restatement of the passage with the goal being to give the meaning in another form and thereby can aid one's comprehension. As noted in the chart below, paraphrased versions are the least literal and the most interpretative. Note especially that "The Message" should be used with caution and discernment, because it is a loose and free paraphrase and some passages are very far removed from the meaning of the original Greek or Hebrew (in my opinion). On the other hand, the New Living Translation is a paraphrase which can be highly recommended.
Comparing Bible Versions - Most of the versions listed below are freely available on the internet and one can easily compare passages in different versions at sites like Studylight.org - Parallel Search. Try a simple comparison to see how the Amplified version functions as a "mini-commentary". For example, type John 3:3, selecting NASB in parallel with the Amplified Version and Highlight Variations. Can you see how the Amplified version can potentially aid understanding of a given passage? If you type in John 3 you retrieve a comparison of the entire chapter.
|New American Standard Version||The Amplified Bible|
|John 3:3 - Variant Count: 8
Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
|John 3:3 - Variant Count: 17 (48%)
Jesus answered him, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God.
Another source for parallel passages is Biblegateway.com which allows more versions to be compared but does not highlight variations.
|NAS = New American Standard
Amp = Amplified Version
ASV = Authorized Standard Version 1901
ESV = English Standard Version
RSV = Revised Standard Version
KJV = King James Version
NKJV = New King James Version
YLT = Young's Literal Translation
|NRSV = New Revised Std Version
NAB = New American Bible
NJB = New Jerusalem Bible
NIV = New International Version
NCV = New Century Version
ICB = International Children's Bible
|NLT = New Living Translation
Phillips = J B Phillips Paraphrase
GNT = Good News Translation
CEV = Contemporary English Version
TLB = The Living Bible
Msg = The Message
** MORE INTERPRETATIVE: For the most objective, non-biased and "pure" inductive study, do not use paraphrased versions as your primary resource for they provide no way to determine whether or not the translator's interpretation of the original Greek and Hebrew is accurate. The more literal versions such as NAS, ESV, KJV, NKJV more accurately render the words of the original biblical authors and are therefore recommended for inductive Bible study. Although more literal, the Amplified is not recommended as your primary text, but can be helpful once you have done your study because in many verses it functions like a "mini-commentary". Consultation (after your own inductive study) with some paraphrases (e.g., NLT and Phillips) may also yield insights into the meaning of the passage. Note that the NIV is a thought-for-thought (dynamic equivalence) translation which can be helpful for new believers, but it is not recommended for in depth bible study because of the inconsistent way in which it renders the Hebrew and Greek texts. In some cases, the NIV includes significant interpretation which leaves the reader without any indication of the other possible ways to understand that particular verse. Although every translation has some degree of interpretation, the NAS is the least interpretative of the modern translations. The NAS also has the advantage over the NIV in that it identifies words in italics that are not present in the original language but which have been added by the translators to make the passage more readable. Several other versions also use italicized words (ASV, Darby, KJV, NKJV, YLT) to signify words and phrases added by the translators to clarify or smooth out the reading. This feature helps one know when they are standing on solid ground (words not in italics) or "thin ice" (italicized phrases). Note that popular versions like the ESV, NIV, and NET Bible do not use italics (although sometimes they include notes to help explain the specific rendering.)
Arthur Pink (1886-1952)