During my final year in seminary I watched a video that interviewed Dr. Andrew MacRae and several of the ADC alumnus. I don't remember the class I was in, and I don't even remember why we were watching the video. But there is one thing that stuck out in my mind, and it was a question they asked the alumnus they talked to: "what are some of the most important books on your bookshelf." Every single one of them said it was their commentaries. They said that they were continually going to their commentaries. We live in an age of a lot of NY times best sellers and lots and lots of hit Christian authors. Yet the reality is that when you are in the trenches of ministry, it is the Bible and books that are designed to shed light on the Bible that will be the most well-worn on your shelves (or virtual shelves if you're like me).
So yes, go ahead and read the next Driscoll/Chandler/Warren/Lucado whatever book, but don't forget to invest in good commentaries because they are the books you'll keep going back to in ministry. The key is to choose a good one, and there just so happens to be an awesome website that I tell all of my students about called bestcommentaries.com. You'll want to bookmark this one.
Lots of us tend to just jump on amazon or goodreads and read some reviews and look at the ratings. In the case of spending your money on a commentary, this isn't always a great idea. You don't know who rated that book or wrote that review or if they have any sort of qualification to adequately assess a commentary. That's why bestcommentaries.com is so great. It is run by Evangelical scholars who have degrees in the field of Biblical Studies. Some of the contributors are even commentary authors themselves.
Kinds of Commentaries
Not all commentaries are equal, nor should they be. Some are more technical than others. Some work on the finer details of the original language. Some focus more on the theology of the text. Others are more devotional in nature. Odds are a devotional commentary isn't quite going to satisfy a student working on an exegetical paper, but it may provide some good thoughts for someone preparing a devotion or doing their own devotions. Some critical commentaries avoid theology and practical matters all together – these ones will tend to have a lot of the original languages in their pages.
bestcommentaries.com helps you to make the right decision by tagging each commentary as:
In addition to tagging each commentary, they are given a rating. If you are like me and prefer digital over printed, the website will also identify if the commentaries are available through any of the major Bible Software companies.
If you want to do good and deep exegesis - your Bible's study notes are not going to cut it. Spend your money wisely by finding a good commentary to help you dig deep into God's Word.