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Preaching the Bible for All its Worth

Regularly we receive queries about best resources from pastors as they approach a new series on a biblical book. The questions are good: despite so many commentaries being published, the best resources for listening to the Bible and preaching it for all its worth are not always obvious. The best preaching operates at the intersection of the telos of the passage/book being preached and the life of the particular congregation (see Craig Bartholomew, Excellent Preaching). Good preaching must therefore engage in what John Stott called “double listening”: one ear to Scripture, one ear to contemporary life and culture, with the sermon building a bridge between the two. This series, which will eventually cover the whole Bible, aims to provide preachers – and thinking non-preachers – with some of the best resources. We are assuming readers will understand that neither we nor you will or should agree with everything these sources say.

The Old Testament

Hearing the Old Testament: Listening for God’s Address, ed. Craig G. Bartholomew and David Beldman (Eerdmans), is full of excellent material from leading scholars, helping readers and preachers to leverage the best scholarship in the service of hearing what God is saying.

On preaching the Old Testament see Chris Wright, Sweeter Than Honey: Preaching the Old Testament (Langham Preaching Resources), co-published (exactly the same text)  by Zondervan, with the title How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament For All Its Worth! 

The New Testament

For a sense of the recent history of New Testament interpretation see Stephen Neill and Tom Wright’s excellent, The Interpretation of the New Testament, 1861-1986 (OUP, 1988). Wright’s multivolume Christian Origins and the Question of God series is magisterial.


At its best, the renaissance of so-called theological interpretation of the Bible is a great boon for the preacher, since it aims to read the Bible for the church. Two important sources are Vanhoozer, et al, eds. A Dictionary of Theological Interpretation of the Bible (Baker Academic, 2005) and Bartholomew and Thomas, eds., A Manifesto for Theological Interpretation (Baker Academic, 2016). The latter was an initiative of the Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar

We are delighted that Baker Academic has given us permission to make the manifesto itself available for download on our website. This is a short document that the student, seminarian, pastor, scholar can carry with them and refer to as they engage with the Bible.

Book By Book


  • Gordon Wenham’s 2 volume WBC remains a standard, although Claus Westermann’s monumental commentary and other works on Genesis are always worth consulting, as are Sarna and Von Rad. 
  • Henri Blocher’s In the Beginning is a classic. We need far more of his creative work in English! 
  • Paul Borgman, Genesis: The Story We Haven’t Heard (IVP Academic, 2001) is very useful on the patriarchal narratives and spiritual formation. 
  • Bill Dumbrell’s Covenant and Creation is a really important work in biblical theology with a great deal of material on Genesis. See also his The End of the Beginning
  • Leon Kass’s The Beginning of Wisdom is a truly extraordinary work, which is a veritable trove of fresh thinking about how to read Genesis and how it relates to contemporary life and thought. This major work has been somewhat missed by biblical scholars and theologians, greatly to their loss.  
  • Karl Barth is always worth consulting on theological interpretation. Inter alia he has some 130 pages of small print rich theological exposition of Genesis 1. The final volume of his Church Dogmatics is an index which can help you to find these sections fast. 
  • Bruce R. Ashford and Craig G. Bartholomew, The Doctrine of Creation: A Constructive Kuyperian Approach (Downers Grove, ILL: IVP Academic, 2020) is full of exegesis and excavations in the Christian tradition. 


  • A.J. Culp, Invited to Know God: The Book of Deuteronomy (Lexham Press, 2019), might be called a mini-commentary (128 pages!), focusing on how the different sections of the text accomplish a singular goal: to help people know God. It develops the idea, as such, that Deuteronomy stands not in opposition to the gospel but as an example of the gospel. Small and readable, this book is the fruit of the author’s broader scholarship on Deuteronomy (e.g., Memoir of Moses [Fortress Academic, 2020]).
  • Daniel Block’s Deuteronomy (Zondervan, 2012) is a good starting point for preachers, providing an excellent balance of ancient background, textual analysis, and contemporary exposition. 
  • Peter Craigie’s The Book of Deuteronomy (Eerdmans, 1976) is a classic and still offers accessible but thoughtful exposition of the text.
  • Christopher Wright’s Deuteronomy (Paternoster, 1996) is another good entry-level resource. It is especially good on Deuteronomy’s law, ethics, and missional intent. 
  • J.G. McConville’s Deuteronomy (InterVarsity Press, 2002) is a deceptively deep resource, offering an excellent second-level commentary (and beyond!) for preachers. Where this commentary especially shines is in its discussions of Deuteronomy’s theology and purposes (i.e., speech-acts).  
  • J. Gary Millar’s Now Choose Life: Theology and Ethics in Deuteronomy (Apollos, 1998) grows out of his earlier work with J.G. McConville and is one of the more accessible discussions available on theology and ethics. It is especially helpful in showing how Deuteronomy’s theme of journey brings theology and ethics together. 
  • Daniel Block’s The Gospel According to Moses (Cascade Books, 2012) and The Triumph of Grace (Cascade Books, 2017) are collections of essays from the course of this Deuteronomy scholar’s career. The volumes are both affordable and accessible, and they feature topics eminently helpful to the preacher, such as Deuteronomy’s theology, its perspective on prayer, its view of education and family, and how to preach Old Testament law today.


  • David Beldman’s Deserting the King: The Book of Judges (Lexham, 2017) is a short, accessible, theological introduction to the book. It is not a commentary but would be a good place for the preacher to start to get up to speed quickly on the overall design, themes and theological message of Judges. 
  • For another accessible little exposition of Judges, Dale Ralph Davis’ Judges: Such a Great Salvation (Christian Focus, 2000) is a nice, concise and entertaining commentary with personal anecdotes and homiletical insights. 
  • Daniel Block’s commentary on Judges (and Ruth) in the New American Commentary series (B&H, 1999) is one of the best commentaries on the book — clear and insightful. Block helpfully identified the “canaanization” of Israel as the theme of the book. A valuable resource for preachers doing a series through the book.
  • Lawson Younger’s commentary on Judges/Ruth (NIVAC; Zondervan, 2002) is also worth purchasing. The nature of this series is that it is oriented to contemporary application and Younger has some good insights in this regard, as well as sound and helpful exegetical work.
  • David Beldman’s 2 Horizon commentary on Judges (Eerdmans) is his third significant book on Judges. It should be in the library of every preacher and student of the Bible. Beldman leverages a literary reading and the rich sociological resources of Philip Rieff’s trilogy Sacred Order/Social Order to open up Judges in fresh and important ways. Here is first-rate scholarship that will help you hear and preach Judges. 
  • Barry Webb’s commentary (NICOT; Eerdmans, 2012) is also worth consulting and comparing with the works of Block and Younger. Webb tends to interpret events in the book more positively than sometimes seems warranted, but he is a creative and thoughtful commentator, and his commentary is certainly worthwhile for his literary/theological interpretation as well as many examples of contemporary application.
  • Trent Butler’s commentary in the Word Biblical Commentary series (Thomas Nelson, 2009), weighing in at over 600 pages, is not for the faint of heart. However, as an advanced and more technical commentary which deals with a vast amount of secondary literature on Judges, it is an incredibly valuable resource. If there is a controversial issue in Judges, he will have discussed it (and probably read everything on it). Furthermore, Butler does careful work, has good sensibilities, and is a trustworthy interpreter of the book. 
  • For something completely different, Lion’s Honey: The Myth (Canongate Books, 2005), written by an Israeli novelist called David Grossman, is an absolutely fascinating reading of the Samson narratives (Judges 13-16). It is a sort of literary-psychological reading of the Samson narratives that creatively opens up aspects of these narratives that those familiar with Samson can easily overlook. Psychological readings have the danger of reading too much into narratives and their characters, but Grossman is acutely in tune with the minute details of the texts and has profound insights to offer. The book is easy to read and it is not long. It would be a helpful supplement for sermons on the Samson narratives.


Jonah is a truly remarkable book. However, especially among evangelicals, two obstacles regularly get in the way of our hearing it in its full acoustics. The first is whether or not Jonah is historical. Was Jonah actually swallowed by a large fish? This historical question is not unimportant, but it easily prevents us from listening to Jonah if we make it the main concern. It becomes a serious obstacle if we believe that only if Jonah is history writing can it tell us truth. In its own way fiction can be as truth-telling as history writing, as, for example, Jesus’ parables reveal again and again. The second is whether or not Jonah is about Jesus. It is clear from the Gospels that Jonah is a type of Jesus, but to make Jesus the main focus of our reading of Jonah obscures its powerful message. 

In order to really hear Jonah we need to attend to what Brevard Childs called the discrete witness of the OT, before moving on to how it is received in the NT. Jonah meant something to its OT audience/s, and this should be our first focus of attention. Jonah 1:1, for example, alerts us to typical OT prophetic revelation coming to Jonah, and “Nineveh” became the capital of one of Israel’s great enemies, Assyria. We neglect this “historical” dimension to our detriment.

Equally important is the type of literature we find in Jonah. Amidst the twelve minor prophets Jonah, uniquely, is narrative about a prophet. Read Jonah in the Hebrew and you will soon discover that Jonah is exquisitely crafted narrative. Thus, an awareness of OT narrative and how it works is an indispensable tool for accessing the message of Jonah. It is through the poetics of the text that we hear its message. See the section on “Narrative” in David J. H. Beldman’s chapter “Literary Approaches and Old Testament Interpretation,” in Craig G. Bartholomew and David J. H. Beldman, eds., Hearing the Old Testament: Listening for God’s Address (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), including his references to further literature in the footnotes. Leslie C. Allen, The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah and Micah (NICOT. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), and Kenneth M. Craig, A Poetics of Jonah: Art in the Service of Ideology (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1999), are important and useful sources in this respect.

To really hear Jonah we need imagination. We need to imagine ourselves sitting amidst a group of OT Israelites listening to the story, picking up on the references to other parts of the OT. As we do so we will become alert to Jonah’s privilege of being a recipient of God’s words, of the absolutely extraordinary commission that comes through those words, and we will find ourselves conflicted about Jonah’s reaction. In the process it will gradually dawn upon us that Jonah is … us, Israel, who have the comparable privilege of having God’s oracles. We will journey with this most reluctant prophet who eventually performs God’s command but then becomes exceedingly upset when God does not execute judgement on Nineveh. On the role of imagination in biblical interpretation see Trevor Hart, “Imagination and Responsible Reading,” chapter 15 in Craig G. Bartholomew, et al., eds., Renewing Biblical Interpretation (SAHS 1. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), and Nicholas Wolterstorff’s response.

Read thus, all sorts of important themes will be pushed to the surface. Themes like: as recipients of God’s words what sort of responsibility do we have to the nations? Are God’s words just for his people (Israel) or are they also for the other nations? On this missional note see Stephen B. Chapman and Laceye C. Warner, “Jonah and the Imitation of God: Rethinking Evangelism in the Old Testament,” JTI  2.I (2008), 43–69. Are we really to care for our great enemies, for those who have caused us so much pain? It is hard here not to recall Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s profound point in relation to 1 Peter 3:9:

     “The world lives by the blessing of God and of the righteous and thus has a future. Blessing means laying one’s hand on something and saying, Despite everything, you belong to God. This is what we do with the world that inflicts such suffering on us. We do not abandon it, we do not repudiate, despise or condemn it. Instead we call it back to God, we give it hope, we lay our hands on it and say, may God’s blessing come upon you, may God renew you, be blessed, world created by God, you who belong to your Creator and Redeemer.”(1)

And what are we to make of unbelievers who behave far better than believers, as do the sailors compared with Jonah. See Frank A. Spina, The Faith of the Outsider: Exclusion and Inclusion in the Biblical Story (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), chapter 5.

YHWH is clearly the main character in Jonah and what an extraordinary depiction we receive of him. Jonah foregrounds characteristics of YHWH that are rarely found in lists of his attributes, namely his holiness, compassion and patience. Karl Barth is attentive to

God’s patience, and he is well worth reading on this. See Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics 2.1, 406–39. In relation to God’s compassion Jonah concludes on an extraordinary note. God is concerned about the many cattle in Nineveh! His compassion extends to his entire creation.

We know from Genesis 1:26–28 that we are made in the image of God. But are we up to the journey of becoming like God? This question is posed in acute fashion in Jonah. Jonah is invited to become like God. His response is to flee but God pursues him. As he descends in the waters he finds his way back to God again but then becomes very angry with God when God relents from judging the Ninevites. In a Roald Dahl-like twist, we never learn whether Jonah finally came round to God’s way of thinking and acting. Jonah is invited, again and again, to transformation, but did he accept the invitation? Ultimately this does not matter because the book is about us! We have the privilege of being recipients of God’s words, and are we willing to carry God’s image by becoming holy, compassionate and patient? Two excellent readings of Jonah in this respect are André Lacocque and Pierre-Emmanuel Lacocque, The Jonah Complex (Atlanta, GA: John Knox, 1981); Jonah: A Psycho-Religious Approach to the Prophet (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1990).

Read in this way we are in a good position to attend to Jesus’ invocation of Jonah as the only sign to be given to “this generation” in Matthew 12:38–42. See Frederick Dale Bruner, The Christbook, Matthew 1–12 (2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 572–585.

Jonah is part of the “Book of the Twelve” (minor prophets) and discussion continues about the extent to which it should be read as part of this “Book.” See in this and other respects Craig G. Bartholomew and Heath A. Thomas, The Minor Prophets: A Theological Introduction (Downers Grove, ILL: IVP Academic, 2023).

The Gospels

As the early form critics rediscovered, the Gospels themselves are the fruit of preaching. According to a justifiable translation of Eusebius’s quotation of Papias (c. 60–130), bishop of Hierapolis, Mark composed his Gospel from Peter’s “anecdotes” or little stories about Jesus for the church’s spiritual formation (Hist. eccl. 3.39.15). All four Gospels present Jesus as repeating and completing the biblical story of Israel’s redemption from Egypt and return from exile. Although his journey is finished, sitting resurrected at the right hand of God the Father (see Psalm 110:1, the most cited Old Testament verse in the New), the bride, his church, is being led by the Spirit through a long, trying wilderness. As travel guides, the Gospels are immediately and essentially applicable for Christians. (For this reason, the majority of those who attend church hear the Gospels read every Sunday.) Preaching Jesus in little stories inside the big story invites participation from readers (hearers). Anecdotes typically remember something of the past – there are good reasons to accept the Gospels as source material for historians – but they are sufficiently sparse, the barest of settings and words, to make room for the Spirit’s creative work on our imagination. 

The Gospels express a pneumatic, participatory hermeneutic that we also find in the Dead Sea Scrolls, specifically the Pesharim; this way of reading Scripture can be simply expressed: “This is that.” This scene, this moment, this encounter is that biblical story. The presupposition is that God, the ultimate author of the Bible, continues to lead a people by the light of the Word through type scenes, allusions and echoes. The wilderness may look differently for every person and each community in our cultural dress and distracting idols, but it is the same journey between Paradise lost and regained. Jesus came from God, and we return to God in Christ.

And yet stories are driven by conflict and temptation. Indwelt by the Spirit, Jesus discerns that the Pharisees of his day inadvertently filled the role of Isaiah’s enemies, as the Spirit may reveal to us the Pharisees of today: “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy concerning you” (Mark 7:6). This ideology is not the gospel, not the way, but that same old idol with a new face.

To repeat and summarize: the same Spirit who led Jesus through a wilderness of temptation leads us (Luke 4:1; Gal 5:18). We all have been given a God awareness and the grace to respond (Jer 31:31). We all have been given the “anointing” and are therefore Christians or “little Christs” (1 John 2:20). There is the way of the flesh and the way of the Spirit, and these very different paths may be discerned by their fruit. The Spirit takes what Jesus said and reveals our distraction from and resistance to the narrow path that leads to life. The community that produced the Pesharim, the Yahad (“union”), most likely a branch of the Essenes, believed they had received the new covenant, also calling themselves “the Way,” although the Jerusalem church, our ancestors, counterclaimed the same epithet (Acts 9:2).

As Thomas Aquinas maintained, this way of reading (or entering) Scripture does not bypass the literal sense (sensus literalis), attuning signifiers (words) to their signifieds – what Confucius called “Rectification of Names” – it comes from a deeper signified, our union with Christ.

As preachers, we are most qualified to speak after sitting humbly in the role of the Pharisee, allowing God to convict our hearts and open our eyes: “Woe is me” (Isa 6:5). But then we need the courage of Jesus to confess what is not yet entirely clear to others in the community.


  • Richard Bauckham, ed., The Gospels for All Christians: Rethinking the Gospel Audiences. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998. In this influential work, Bauckham and his friends make a strong case that scholars locked into the historical-critical paradigm have overly narrowed the intended audience (readership) of the Gospels to the specific communities of the evangelists. Rather, they were probably composed with some awareness of addressing the broader church.
  • Henri de Lubac, Medieval Exegesis. 3 Volumes. Translated by Mark Sebanc and E. M. Macierowski. Edinburgh, UK: T&T Clark, 1998, 2000, 2009. In the first volume, subtitled The Four Senses of Scripture, de Lubac re-introduces the Quadriga to the modern world. The cardinal was part of a movement in Roman Catholicism to retrieve the medieval worldview and exegesis of the church before the reductionism of the Enlightenment and the flatness of subsequent hermeneutical approaches to Scripture. Other significant voices of the ressourcement movement are Hans Urs von Balthasar and Jean Daniélou.
  • Martin Dibelius, From Tradition to Gospel. Translated by Bertram Lee Woolf. New York: Charles Scribners’s Sons, 1934. Dibelius, an early form critic, drew attention to the homiletical function of pericopes in the Gospels, claiming: “At the beginning of all Christian activity there stands the sermon” (37). Despite the overstatement, there is a grain of truth in this.
  • Geza Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English. New York: Penguin Books, 1998. There are newer translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but the translator deserves mention for popularizing the expression “rewritten Bible.” A good place to start for understanding this genre is a slow reading of the Yahad’s commentary on Habakkuk (1QpHab) where the “Kittim” have become the occupying Romans but there are also enemies within Second Temple Judaism. For a more academic discussion, see Sidnie White Crawford, Rewriting Scripture in Second Temple Times (Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008). She describes rewritten Scripture as “characterized by a close adherence to a recognizable and already authoritative base text … and a recognizable degree of scribal intervention into that base text for the purpose of exegesis” (13). For Vermes’s contribution to scholarship in this field, consult Rewritten Bible after Fifty Years: Texts, Terms, or Techniques? A Last Dialogue with Geza Vermes, edited by József Zsengellér (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 166. Leiden: Brill, 2014).
  • This Jewish hermeneutic evolved and flourished in the church as the Quadriga. Rabbinic interpreters recognized this and, in turn, borrowed the Quadriga from Christians, calling it Pardes (“Paradise”). This fourfold way of reading Scripture is displayed in Thomas Aquinas’s Catena Aurea (“golden chain”), a collection of glosses on the Gospels from Eastern and Western fathers. Aquinas insisted that the deeper senses of Scripture ought not to contradict the literal sense (sensus literalis). Another important work is Bonaventure’s The Tree of Life, which formed Franciscans in the way of the Gospels after their founder. His biography of Francis embodies the this-is-that hermeneutic. Ludolph of Saxony, a Carthusian monk, wrote The Life of Jesus Christ, which invited readers to enter imaginatively into the Gospel scenes. Milton T. Walsh is currently translating the volumes into English (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press). The work inspired Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises that formed Jesuit missionaries and was considered mandatory reading by Teresa of Ávila. The Quadriga enters English literature in the commentaries of Richard Rolle. John DelHousaye’s The Fourfold Gospel: A Formational Commentary on Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2020, 2021) may be the first commentary to employ the Quadriga (Pardes) in over 500 years.


Preaching through the letter of Ephesians is both a joy and a daunting task! There is very little that is NOT covered in the letter and there is a consequent danger of getting lost in the detail and missing the big picture. A few of the commentaries mentioned below fall into that trap, but remain useful repositories of information. Paul’s overall concern in Ephesians is the building and filling of the new temple founded on Christ and constituted by God’s people. The filling of this “dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph 2:22) to manifest the presence and character of the Triune God to the nations depends on individual and corporate “learning Christ” (Eph 4:20). The multiple themes of Ephesians (for example, unity, love, grace, witness, wisdom, etc.) integrate in this larger purpose and the various commentaries below can help the preacher to better understand the details. The challenge remains – as ever – to preach in such a way as our hearers are brought into the presence of the Triune God and are captivated by his perfections and works.

The first group of commentaries help primarily with the exegetical task and require some familiarity with Greek. Clinton Arnold’s volume for the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary series is an excellent guide to the letter, diving deep into the numerous exegetical challenges of Ephesians, but keeping an eye always towards contemporary application of theological insights. If a preacher had time for only one commentary, I’d recommend this. In a similar register would be Thielman’s Baker Exegetical Commentary or S. M. Baugh’s more recent Evangelical Exegetical Commentary. All these three are written within the last 15 years, come from a broadly evangelical perspective and engage deeply with the Greek. They are helpful for the deep dive into particulars. (More technical, but nevertheless useful, is Merkle’s Ephesians volume from the Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament series. For those who like structural analysis of a passage with phrasing, Merkle will be especially helpful in unpacking and making sense of Paul’s longer sentences.)

On a more popular level, it’s hard to surpass Stott’s BST volume for packing a huge amount of insight and scholarship into concise and accessible prose. For those who want to see how Ephesians has been preached exhaustively verse by verse over the years, Lloyd-Jones’s six-volume series on Ephesians (published by Banner of Truth) will inspire, though it needs cultural translation now.

Amongst many others, Hoehner’s Exegetical Commentary is a treasure trove of word studies and detail, though it often misses the bigger picture of the literary features of the letter and their theological significance. Though by no means agreeing with all of Markus Barth’s or Ernest Best’s interpretations (they are both good examples of commentary shaped by their own contemporary cultural assumptions and concerns – easy to see with decades of hindsight, but perhaps more difficult to spot in ourselves?), they were both deeply engaged in the text of Ephesians and are provocative and stimulating company. Barth is especially helpful in considering wider background and literary relationships of the letter. Lincoln’s Word Biblical Commentary remains a standard technical commentary, though, like Barth and Best, not all readers will agree with his interpretations. He is most provocative in suggesting the author’s rhetorical strategy (he doesn’t believe it was Paul). Delving further back in time, John Eadie’s 19th-century commentary is wonderfully rich and deep and doxological and will repay a visit. Further yet, Chrysostom’s homilies are fascinating.

Lastly, and most recently, Michael Allen’s Theological Commentary on Ephesians seeks to reflect many of the theological concerns of the late John Webster, who was working on this commentary before his untimely death. Allen’s theological astuteness and rich reflections on Ephesians will benefit any preacher and will be a necessary complement to the more detailed exegetical works (though Allen is clearly deeply engaged with the text).

There are three more resources that will help a preacher, though they are not commentaries. The temple theme in Ephesians is important and relatively neglected. Anyone seeking an introduction (though a many hundreds of pages introduction!) to the theme, should get hold of Greg Beale’s The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God. For those who want to mine the treasures of John Owen and do the hard work of translating into our vernacular, his Communion with the Triune God takes as its starting point Ephesians 2:18 and will hugely enrich any preaching of this theme of Ephesians. Lastly, though not concerned directly with Ephesians, because the concept of union with Christ is so important to preaching the practical implications of the theology of Ephesians, Grant Macaskill’s Living in Union with Christ does a great job of contemporary prophetic critique and theological reflection that would provide a solid framework for any preacher’s attempts to bring the message of Ephesians to their flock today.


  • Allen, Michael. Ephesians. Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2020.
  • Arnold, Clinton E. Ephesians. Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011.
  • Barth, Markus. Ephesians: Translation and Commentary on Chapters 1– 3. Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974.
  • –––. Ephesians: Translation and Commentary on Chapters 4– 6. Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974.
  • Baugh, Steven M. Ephesians: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016.
  • Beale, Gregory K. The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God. Leicester, UK: Apollos, 2004.
  • Best, Ernest. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Ephesians. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998.
  • Chrysostom, John. Homilies on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, in Church Fathers – The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. OakTree Software, Inc., 2008. Accordance Electronic Ed.
  • Eadie, John. A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians. Glasgow: R. Griffin & Co, 1854.
  • Hoehner, Harold W. Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002.
  • Lincoln, Andrew T. Ephesians. Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1990.
  • Macaskill, Grant. Living in Union with Christ: Paul’s Gospel and Christian Moral Identity. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019.
  • Merkle, Benjamin L. Ephesians. Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2016.
  • Owen, John. Communion with the Triune God. Edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor. With a foreword by Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007.
  • Stott, John R. W. The Message of Ephesians: God’s New Society. Leicester: InterVarsity Press, 1991.
  • Thielman, Frank. Ephesians. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010.


  • Dean Flemming’s Self-Giving Love: The Book of Philippians (Lexham, 2021), offers a concise, theological travel guide to Philippians and a helpful entry point to the letter. It shows how the story of Jesus and his self-emptying love is central to the entire letter. This book gives preachers a practically oriented overview of the key themes, literary design and missional implications of Philippians. Packed with memorable illustrations and chapter-ending discussion questions, it is also ideal for personal and small group Bible study.
  • Gordon Fee’s Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (NICNT, Eerdmans, 1995) remains the gold standard for serious exegetical commentaries on the letter. Fee interprets Philippians as a first-century letter of “friendship,” which continues to speak to God’s people in every generation. His in-depth approach to the text is consistently balanced, insightful, and theologically and spiritually sensitive. Don’t let the commentary’s length put you off. Fee is an engaging writer and this book deserves a place in any preacher’s library.
  • For a solid mid-size commentary, Markus Bockmuehl’s The Epistle to the Philippians (BNTC, Continuum, 2006) is a strong choice. Bockmuehl’s approach is scholarly but highly readable. This verse-by-verse commentary strikes a great balance between reading Philippians in its ancient literary and historical context on the one hand and exploring its theological message for the church on the other. Unfortunately, the commentary isn’t as easy to purchase as it used to be. But preachers who make the effort will be well rewarded.
  • Dean Flemming’s Philippians: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition (NBBC, Beacon Hill, 2009) is accessible and well written. Flemming addresses all the major issues even-handedly without getting bogged down in the exegetical details. The commentary looks at each section of Philippians in light of its background (behind the text), message (in the text), and application (in front of the text), a format well suited to preaching a sermon series. What distinguishes Flemming’s commentary from many others is its persistent concern to address the relevance of the ancient text for Christians today, making it a rich resource for preaching and teaching.
  • Also strong on application is Lynn Cohick’s Philippians volume in “The Story of God Bible Commentary” series (Zondervan, 2013). As the series title suggests, the commentary seeks to interpret individual passages in light of the Bible’s grand story. It features concise, balanced explanations of the text, but its real strength lies in applying Paul’s message to contemporary concerns. The book teems with stories, illustrations and personal reflections, giving concrete examples of how Christians can live the story today. What’s more, unlike many commentaries, this one is a delight to read.
  • For a theological reading of Philippians, Daniel Migliore’s Philippians and Philemon (Belief, Baker, 2014) is hard to beat. Written by a respected systematic theologian, this commentary puts more weight on theological reflection than exegetical detail. In most cases, it deals with Philippians paragraph by paragraph rather than verse by verse. Along the way, Migliore repeatedly spotlights the communal thrust of the letter, a needed reminder for Western readers. The book’s rich pastoral orientation makes it a valuable resource for preachers.


  • Gareth Lee Cockerill’s Hebrews (New International Commentary on the New Testament, Eerdmans, 2012) is both scholarly and pastoral. Grant Osborne called this commentary “a first-rate work that is both readable and very deep” and claimed that those who read it would “gain a fine understanding of this incredibly important epistle and its place in the life of the church.” Cockerill’s commentary makes a special contribution to our understanding of the shape and pastoral purpose of Hebrews and to the relevance of the author’s Old Testament interpretation for the contemporary people of God. “Anyone planning to study, teach, or preach through Hebrews should have this commentary at their side” (Denver Journal). 

  • Jon C. Laansma’s The Letter to the Hebrews: A Commentary for Preaching, Teaching, and Bible Study (Cascade Books, 2017) is characterized by the balanced judgment that we have come to expect from its author. Laansma’s interpretation of Hebrews is thorough, fresh, and pastoral without being idiosyncratic or superficial. This book may not address all the technical issues of the Greek text or interact with every competing interpretation, but it fulfils its title as A Commentary for Preaching, Teaching, and Bible Study. “Dr. Laansma has an intuitive grasp of the epistle’s missional context and homiletical structure” (Philip Ryken).

  • Thomas R. Schreiner’s Commentary on Hebrews (Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation, Holman, 2015) is an accessible interpretation of Hebrews by a well-known evangelical biblical scholar. Its unique contribution is the way in which Schreiner begins by showing how Hebrews fits into the larger biblical story. His development of various theological themes at the end is also helpful. This commentary “manages to bridge the gap between the academy and the church in such a way that it is at home in both” (from a review by Alan S. Bandy, Shawnee).

  • David G. Peterson’s Hebrews (IVP, 2020) is a worthy addition to the Tyndale New Testament Commentary series. This volume provides us with a reliable interpretation of the text of Hebrews by a mature scholar known, among many other things, for his work on “perfection” in Hebrews. Each passage begins with a discussion of context and concludes with theological reflection. This is a solid meat, bread and potatoes commentary.

  • Grant R. Osborne with George H. Guthrie, Hebrews Verse by Verse (Osborne New Testament Commentaries, Lexham, 2021). This clearly written commentary is vintage Osborne. The theological significance and contemporary relevance of the text arise directly out of the author’s adequately thorough, though not overly technical, exposition. We are indebted to George Guthrie, Osborne’s former student, for completing this commentary after the author’s death. 

  • George Guthrie’s Hebrews (NIV Application Commentary, Zondervan, 1998), though a bit older than most of the books mentioned in this article, is a valuable addition to the libraries of both pastors and scholars. The NIV Application Commentary has the stated purpose of explaining both the original meaning and contemporary significance of the biblical text. Guthrie’s explanations of the original meaning are adequately thorough, and his discussions of contemporary application are relevant without being faddish. Keep an eye out for his forthcoming Theology of Hebrews (Zondervan). 

  • William L. Lane’s Hebrews 1–8 and Hebrews 9–13 (Word Biblical Commentary, Word, 1991) is another older work that deserves mention. Those with command of the original language will want to take advantage of Lane’s rich exposition of the Greek text. Everyone, however, can read his “Explanation” section at the end of each passage or consult his shorter work, Hebrews: A Call to Commitment (Hendrickson, 1985). This shorter volume is a concise but accurate and readable exposition of Hebrews directed to serious lay people and thus useful for pastors as well. 

  • Some may like Herbert W. Bateman IV and Steven W. Smith’s Hebrews: A Commentary for Biblical Preaching and Teaching (Kregel, 2021). The Kerux Commentary series, of which this volume is a part, boasts the advantages of combining the skills of an exegete and a homiletician. This volume makes a point of explaining Hebrews within the context of Second Temple Judaism. However, the abundant reference to background material tends, at times, to overwhelm rather than elucidate the passage in question, and some of the suggestions for preaching are only superficially related to the text. 

  • Dana M. Harris’ Hebrews (B&H Academic, 2019) in the Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament is worth mentioning, although its focused dedication on a close reading of the Greek text distinguishes it from the other commentaries mentioned in this article. Harris, however, is not insensitive to theological issues and she provides an extensive bibliography on each passage. Nevertheless, this commentary is for those who want a close structural, syntactical, grammatical, linguistic (did I use enough adjectives?) reading of the Greek text. 

  • Gareth Lee Cockerill’s Yesterday, Today, and Forever: Listening to Hebrews in the 21st Century (Cascade Books, forthcoming 2022). This seven-week (forty-nine-day) reading guide is an excellent foundation for preaching or teaching Hebrews because it immerses its reader in this profound biblical book. Each passage is clearly explained in light of the pastoral purpose and rhetorical structure of Hebrews as outlined in Cockerill’s NICNT commentary discussed above. This book helps us to see Hebrews as a living, breathing organism, rather than as an ancient artefact. 

  • Herbert W. Bateman IV, editor, Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews (Kregel, 2007). The way one understands the warning passages of Hebrews is closely tied to the way in which one understands the purpose and scope of the book as a whole. Thus, it is appropriate, in conclusion, to mention this volume that provides a clear presentation of the various options. Several of the contributors to this project (Bateman, Osborne, Guthrie, and Cockerill) have written books mentioned above. Buist Fanning is another contributor, whose position is fairly represented by both Schreiner and Peterson’s commentaries.

    Three things that we often forget when reading Hebrews:

    1. Salvation and revelation are intimately related in Hebrews. It is by becoming the “Source of eternal salvation” (Heb 5:9) that the Son, seated at God’s right hand, fulfils his role as the ultimate revelation of God.

    2. Jesus’ humanity is never discussed abstractly in separation from his deity. When the author addresses Jesus’ humanity he is always talking about the eternal Son who has become human – about the incarnation. Thus, it is less than accurate to say that Hebrews 1:1-14 is about the Son’s deity and Hebrews 2:5-18 is about his humanity. Hebrews 1:1-14 is about the Son’s eternal deity and exaltation, while Hebrews 2:5–18 is about the incarnation of the eternal Son through which he has been exalted.

    3. In Hebrews the earthly obedience of the Son of God has atoned for sin (5:7-9, 9:14, 10:5-10) and established a covenant that empowers the children of God for obedience. Consciences are “cleansed” (9:14) and God’s law is written on the heart (10:14-18) enabling God’s people to live faithful lives. Forgiveness is the door to obedient living.

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