Have you ever read something in your Bible that stopped you in your tracks?
You have no idea what that verse means. Or maybe you’re wondering how it reconciles with another part of Scripture that seems to say something different.
Don’t worry–I’ve been there. In fact, I’d venture to guess that anyone who’s read the Bible has felt clueless and helpless at times, but thankfully we have LOTS of resources at our fingertips that can shed light on hazy places. A Bible commentary is just one of those resources. But how to find a good Bible commentary is the million dollar question.
Let’s start here: the Bible was given to us to be read and studied in community.
The eunuch in Acts 8: 30-31 was a puzzled reader of the Bible, much like you and me:
Then Philip….heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
I hope you’re involved in a Bible study group in your church that reads the Bible together, because that’s how it was meant to be read and studied–in community! This is exactly what we do inside myOneThingAlone: we find joy in Jesus as we read, interpret, and apply the Bible to our lives, and you’re invited to join us here!
A Bible commentary is an invitation to sit in community and interpret the Bible together. The community is there to serve us in reading, understanding, and applying biblical truth. This is what a good Bible commentary does — it provides community to aid understanding.
How to Find a Good Bible Commentary You Can Trust
Aside from our local churches and online communities like myOneThingAlone, we also have commentaries written by Bible scholars that can help too.
“A Bible commentary is an explanation of the biblical text by someone (usually a scholar) who has immersed himself or herself in the language, context, and form of biblical texts. The Bible commentator delivers to us details that we simply don’t have by the simple reading of Scripture.” – Bible Gateway Blog
Commentaries help us stand on the shoulders of giants who dedicate their lives to studying certain parts of the Bible. But we need to be careful who we listen to, because just because something’s available in print or online doesn’t mean it’s sound doctrine.
I encourage you to:
- Pray to ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
- Ask your Pastor which commentaries they prefer
- Look up your favorite publisher and search their publications. (Example: Moody Publishers)
- Read multiple commentaries to understand multiple perspectives.
How to Know Which Bible Commentary to Use?
Even once you’ve found a commentary series you can trust, your next step is to consider whether you’re looking for a quick clarification, an in-depth understanding, or the big picture of a book or passage.
Before you invest in a Bible commentary, you can also borrow a few from a friend or your local library, look up reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, and even preview the book on GoogleBooks.com (this is one of my favorite features for my own personal research).
A Few of My Favorite Bible Commentaries
In my video above, I walk you through the variety of commentaries that serve as examples of these needs, and I also include some easy access tips to find a good Bible commentary.
But for your ease of reference, I’m going to list some of my favorites here as well:
ESV Study Bible (commentary notes included in footnotes on each page)
NIV Study Bible (commentary notes included in footnotes on each page)
Moody Bible Commentary (one volume on the whole Bible)
John McArthur Commentary (one volume on the whole Bible)
The Pillar New Testament Commentary Series (in-depth, verse-by-verse commentary)
Do you use Bible commentaries? If so, which ones are your favorite?
If you’ve enjoyed this video, you’ll love the Bible study video tutorials we share inside our membership community, myOneThingAlone.
Each month we create a new treasure, including video tutorials on how to use Bible commentaries online and in print, as well as other important Bible study skills like observation, interpretation, application, word studies, cross-references, etc. Join the waiting list so you’re the first to know when we open registration!