5 Best Commentary Sets For Sunday School Teachers



One of my hobbies is connecting Christian leaders with resources that will help them better serve the Church. One tool that is indispensable to the Christian leader is a good commentary. Here, I want to talk specifically to Sunday School teachers and Church leaders in similar roles. This is not to exclude others (of course, if you don't have a similar role in the Church, feel free to read this and pick out any commentary that may help you. Just be sure to pass it on to those who are leading the Church in this capacity). Here are 5 commentary sets that I believe will help prepare Sunday School teachers to lead the Church in this capacity:

1. Warren Wiersbe's "Be" Series

This is simply a well constructed commentary set. The commentary here is not technical, yet the commentaries go deep enough to give readers a better grasp of the text. In short, it is what would be considered an introductory commentary. Each commentary provides sufficient background information to give readers an awareness of information necessary to discover the original meaning of a passage in its original context, and then translate that meaning into an application for modern readers of Scripture.

An added benefit of these commentaries is the price. Not only are they solid commentaries, but they are inexpensive, as well. In fact, if you have a Kindle, you can get many of them for less than two dollars, and almost all of them for less than ten dollars each. If you opt for a paperback copy, the price isn't much higher. Overall, this would be a good series to go through with a small Sunday School class.

2. J. Vernon McGee's "Thru The Bible" Series

This is a very basic commentary. While it does not go into as much depth as the "Be" Series, it is still useful for introducing newer Christians to the Bible. The commentaries themselves are based on a series of radio broadcasts that McGee gave over the course of three years.

There are two major benefits to this commentary set. First, it is very simple and easy to follow. Second, the commentaries themselves are very cheap and easy to come by. The Kindle edition of each of the individual volumes are currently $4.99 each on Amazon. While I would not recommend this to a class of more mature Christians (because they should know more about the Bible by that time), I would recommend it for a class of newer Christians.

3. The Holman Commentary Series

The Holman New Testament Commentary offers expository explanation of the popular NIV text based on trusted, conservative scholarship. A multi-faceted a step approach leads the reader from the introduction with contemporary illustrations, through verse-by-verse commentary, to a conclusion and life application. "Deeper Discoveries" help the reader understand the most important words, phrases, and teaching of each chapter. A teaching outline helps the reader to internalize what has been read, organize its message, and prepare to share it with others. The "Final Issues for Discussion" section brings closure to the reader's study. A closing prayer personalizes the study and commits the reader to live out the truths studied.

The major benefit to this commentary set is that it was designed specifically for Sunday Schools. The downside is that it goes chapter-by-chapter, instead of verse-by-verse or section-by-section through the text. This means that if you have a passage that, say, crosses a chapter line, you will get a part A and a part B to this message. Other than this, it has very few flaws compared to some other introductory commentaries.

Note: While the link above takes you to the page for the entire set, you should be able to get to each individual commentary from this page.

4. The Christ-Centered Exposition Series

This commentary series is a devotional-style series, affirming that the Bible is a Christ-centered book, containing a unified story of redemptive history of which Jesus is the hero. It's presented as sermons and divided into chapters that conclude with a "Reflect & Discuss" section, making this series ideal for small group study, personal devotion, and even sermon preparation. It's not academic but rather presents an accessible, practical and friendly commentary that provides pastors and lay leaders with a practical application of God’s written word, exalting Jesus as the hero of every book.

This series is edited by Tony Merida and David Platt, so the commentaries themselves have a Calvinist slant. However, this commentary series accomplishes what many others do not: It shows how every book of the Bible has Jesus at its center. It is also strong precisely where some other commentaries are weak: It focuses on the verses that make up a passage. That is, it is willing to cross chapter lines if it means maintaining the passage the way it was meant to be read. Another selling point is the price. Each volume is inexpensive, so you won't end up shelling out a ton of money for this series. Overall, this is a great value on a good commentary set.


5. N.T. Wright for Everyone Bible Study Series

With both the heart of a pastor and the mind of a scholar, Wright offers his profound exegetical/theological insights in this valuable study tool that employs the popular inductive method. Now complete, the prominent New Testament scholar's unique series for laypeople and scholars alike features thoughtful questions, prayer suggestions, and useful background and cultural information. In addition, there is an Old Testament companion to this series. This is a great series from one of the brightest biblical scholars of our day.

Which one is your favorite? Do you have another suggestion that should be added to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

Comments

  1. My suggestion for quality Wesleyan-compatible commentaries for sunday school teachers and lay ministers:

    1. N.T. Wright for Everyone Bible Study Series
    2. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching
    3. NIV Application Commentary Series [NIVAC]
    4. A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary Series [SRC] (Witherington/Keener/et al)
    5. Handbook on the Pentateuch/Handbook on the Historical Books, By Victor Hamilton
    6. Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary, By: Victor P. Hamilton

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    Replies
    1. I'm actually planning on doing a post on good Wesleyan commentaries. I like this list for the most part, but I would include the Wesleyan commentaries on the New Testament, and perhaps a couple of others. I don't know if the Socio-Rhetorical commentaries would be the best for Sunday Schools, but they are definitely a good series. This post was targeted for a larger audience than the Wesleyan-holiness tradition, so I've tried to mention a variety of different types of commentaries. Some of the upcoming posts will be tailored more toward those in the Wesleyan-holiness tradition.

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