Don’t be scared away by the title. After all, commentaries are not only for pastors. So read on!
I do not have an extensive collection of commentaries (though, for a guy who has only preached once, I’m doing alright, thanks primarily to my father trimming down his library). But of the volumes I do have, among the ones I’ve enjoyed the most are titles in the Reformed Expository Commentary series. These are not the kind of commentary that rely on extremely thorough and scholarly treatments of the passages. Rather, they are pastoral (though still scholarly) in their tone and read much like application-heavy expositional sermons (which, I suspect, is where many of them had their origins).
The co-editors of the series are Philip Ryken and Richard Phillips. In the Series Introduction they make it clear that these commentaries were written for pastors, lay teachers and all other lay persons. “We hope that the devotional quality of these studies of Scripture will instruct and inspire each Christian who reads them in joyful, obedient discipleship to Jesus Christ.” I think they’ve written the commentaries in such a way that this goal is attainable. As you may have discerning from the title, the commentaries are consistent with the Reformed creeds and confessions. They are biblical (committed to comprehensive exposition of the text), doctrinal (committed to the Westminster Standards), redemptive-historical (committed to a Christ-centered view of the Old Testament), and practical (committed to applying the text to people today). Individual volumes are endorsed by a wide variety of Reformed pastors and theologians (Baptist and Presbyterian alike–don’t be scared off by the word “Westminster.”).
I have found the commentaries very useful in my personal devotions. I read a chapter or two from the Bible, spend a bit of time meditating upon it, and then turn to the commentary. It has been a wonderful way of reaching into the depths of these books of the Bible. The commentaries are certainly easy to read, even for a guy with no formal theological training and very little knowledge of the original languages.
If you have been looking for a guide to going deeper into the text of the Bible, these commentaries may be just the key. Unlike many commentaries, they are very reasonably priced and, since the series is still in its infancy, you can jump in now and build the series as they are released in the coming years. While I’m sure this series will prove valuable to pastors and teachers, it is the kind of commentary series that anyone can purchase and benefit from.
To this point the following volumes are available:
I have worked my way through James and am currently well into Hebrews (and have referenced the others in writing and research). I’m probably going to head to 1 Timothy next and then detour into one of the Old Testament books. I can certainly vouch for James and Hebrews. Both have been very well written and very easy to understand and apply. While I have not read much written by Richard Phillips, Jesus the Evangelist and now his commentary on Hebrews are quickly making me realize that he has been blessed with a great gift for teaching. And his volume seems typical of this series.
So take a look and consider adding this commentary series to your library. And then be sure to read them. I’m convinced you’ll find that they will prove beneficial to your faith.