Choosing a Commentary for the way you study

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by Michelle Stramel 15 Comments

Stack of booksFrom the early church fathers to Matthew Henry and beyond, Bible scholars and teachers continue to find different approaches for explaining the meaning of the Bible text to us. While we all appreciate their efforts, it can be difficult to choose from so many options. Here is a guide to help you easily navigate the commentary choices for use with PocketBible.

Concise Commentary

Brief but comprehensive is how the dictionary defines “concise.” You may see adjectives such as “overview,” “passage-by-passage” or “chapter-by-chapter” in the description for a concise commentary. Study Bibles generally fall into this category. As do Bible Handbooks which, among other features, offer brief commentary on the Bible text. The benefit of these types of commentaries is that they are brief and to the point. They either focus on the main or most important points of a verse or passage or provide overviews of Scripture in sections.

Study Notes available for PocketBible include the ESV Study Bible, Life Application Study Bible, NIV Study Bible, Dake Study Bible, NLT Study Bible, MacArthur Study Bible, Ryrie Study Bible, Women’s Study Bible and Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible.

Concise commentaries offered include Halley’s Bible Handbook, NIV Bible Study Commentary, Darby’s Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, Tyndale Concise Commentary, New Unger’s Bible Handbook, Open Your Bible Commentary and With the Word Commentary.

In-Depth Commentary

As you consider one-volume, two-volume or multi-volume commentary titles, you will find the offerings continue to differ by breadth and coverage. If you prefer a commentary that has something to say about every verse in the Bible, make sure the description for the commentary touts verse-by-verse coverage. If you are looking for greater depth and scholarly discussion regarding each verse, choose a multi-volume commentary set rather than a one or two-volume commentary set. Keep in mind that the depth of comments is not always related to whether comments are verse-by-verse or passage-by-passage. Many commentaries have a mixture of both, as they strive to explain the Scriptures in keeping with the purpose of the commentary.

Most commentaries offer a mixture of historical background and insight as to the meaning or interpretation of a verse. If your commentary uses a word like application or background in the title, then comments will probably be slanted toward that type of information. A multi-volume commentary set will usually go deeper still into the meaning of each verse offering alternative interpretations, exegetical issues, etc.

One to Two Volume Commentaries

Multi-Volume Commentaries

Complete sets include Cornerstone Commentary Series, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, and IVP NT Commentary Series. Partial sets include the Ancient Christian Commentary Series.

Hide what you own to make your commentary shopping easier. Login when you visit our website and choose the Commentary section (or any book type) and we’ll hide what you already own from the list.

Which PocketBible commentaries do you find most helpful in your Bible study?

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15 Responses

  1. Paul amos says:

    For the best commentary why don’t we have John Calvin?

    • Michelle Stramel says:

      Paul, thanks for letting us know you are interested in Calvin’s Commentaries. He does cover the books of Genesis, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus and 1 John in the Classic Bible Commentary that we offer.


  2. Lee Behrens says:

    I’d like to see Ligonier’s Reformation Study Bible notes. Now would be a good time since they will be releasing an updated edition very soon. Thanks!

    • Michelle Stramel says:

      Lee, we have checked into that and thanks for letting us know you’d like to see it.


  3. Margaret says:

    How about MacArthur’s NT Commentaries?

    • Michelle Stramel says:

      Margaret, we have that on our list but have not been able to do those as of yet.


      • Margaret says:

        Any more news as to whether Laridian is going to include MacArthur’s NT Commentaries to their Library? Is it “in process” of negotiating or just wish list?

  4. Bruce Gilliland says:

    I have mentioned to Craig a couple of times that I would like to have William Barclay’s Daily Bible Study series (NT only). The publisher pulled from distribution an older electronic version several years ago. They later released an updated version of the series in paperback, but I am not sure if they have made it available for Bible software programs.

    • Michelle Stramel says:

      Bruce, we haven’t made much headway on that particular series but we do have it on our list.


  5. Gigi Blanchard says:

    I would love to be able to highlight any commentary – I hope that is a feature that will be added soon.
    Thanks for a great product!

    • Michelle Stramel says:

      Gigi, thanks for your feedback and request. We do have this on our request list for consideration.


  6. Tim C. says:

    “I’d like to see Ligonier’s Reformation Study Bible notes. Now would be a good time since they will be releasing an updated edition very soon. Thanks!” : Word !!!, any luck with this?

  7. Margaret Gabriel says:

    Hello again!

    Just checking to see if there’s any new developments in procuring MacArthur’s NT Commentaries? It’s been a while since I asked 🙂
    God bless!

    ( btw, is it still on the list? Not a priority? Licensing? Coding? I’m not familiar with the process…)

    • Craig Rairdin says:

      Without getting into details, suffice to say that some publishers have royalty rates that are so high that it is impossible for us to recover our investment in tagging the book. We will sometimes publish extremely popular or valuable titles from these publishers with the hope that some day we will break even, or that customers who buy those books will also buy others, but in general we have to be careful not to publish too many titles from those companies or it significantly affects our ability to stay in business.

      Not saying whether MacArthur’s publisher is one of those companies or not; just explaining the reality of our business. We keep track of what people are asking for and use that to drive what we procure for publication, so we appreciate your input. In the meantime, we offer a number of commentaries from the same or similar doctrinal perspective as MacArthur that you would probably find useful. 🙂

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