Skip to content ↓

Best Commentaries on Colossians & Philemon

This page is current as of December 2023.

For recommendations on other books and an introduction to this series, visit
Best Commentaries on Each Book of the Bible.

Before turning to the expert recommendations, here is a recent commentary written by a trusted scholar that may be of interest. Because this volume is newly published, the commentators on the commentaries have not yet had opportunity to evaluate it. It would, though, come with my recommendation.

  • David W. Pao – Colossians and Philemon (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary). The ZECNT has become a favorite series of myself and many others. I have used this volume, though only sparsely, and found it solid. (Amazon, Westminster Books, Logos)

And now, here are the expert recommendations:

Douglas J. Moo – The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon (Pillar New Testament Commentary). Moo’s commentary is quite recent (2008) and, therefore, reviews have not yet caught up to it. However, Keith Mathison penned a short review while making his way through and said, “If anyone is going to give O’Brien a run for his money, it is Moo. Moo has the advantage of having written in the Pillar series–a much more reader-friendly series than the WBC. His commentary is also able to take into consideration studies published since 1987.” He places it as a close second behind O’Brien. I wouldn’t be surprised if before long, as reviews catch up, if I need to bump it up as well. (Amazon, Westminster Books, Logos)

F.F. Bruce – The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (New International Commentary on the New Testament). Bruce’s work is always worth reading and, according to the commentators on the commentaries, this one is no exception. Plus, you get the extra value of three books in one! It brings less depth than the two that precede it, but is nonetheless said to be excellent. (Amazon, Logos)

David E. Garland – Colossians/Philemon (NIV Application Commentary). The NIV Application Commentary set is known for being a little bit uneven, with some volumes being far superior to others. However, Garland’s is regarded as one of the best in the series. Because this series invests heavily in application, the pastor or general reader may find this focus its most helpful addition to the volumes above. (Amazon, Westminster Books, Logos)

R.C. Lucas – The Message of Colossians and Philemon (The Bible Speaks Today). Lucas’ contribution to The Bible Speaks Today series fits my criteria in always wanting to include one commentary geared toward the general or devotional reader. This one may not provide as much fodder for sermon prep, but will be useful to those reading for personal purposes. Jim Rosscup says this work “is not a ‘commentary’ but an accurate, readable exposition keyed to practical life.” (Amazon, Westminster Books, Logos)

There are many more noteworthy commentaries on Colossians and Philemon. Dunn’s contribution to the NIGTC is said to be good, though he denies Paul’s authorship of Colossians. It would be a good one for those with extensive knowledge of Greek. (Amazon, Westminster Books, Logos)

Let me close with a couple of questions: What are your preferred commentaries on Colossians? Are there some you’ve found particularly helpful for preaching or for devotional purposes?

  • What Is the Best Thing In Life?

    What Is the Best Thing In Life?

    Any time we consider the spiritual disciplines, or means of grace, it is crucial that we remember not only the great purpose of these habits but also the great blessing they represent. We were made to know God and to be known by God. We were made in the image of God to have a…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    Weekend A La Carte (March 2)

    A La Carte: The only way out of our desperate hypocrisy / Are Evangelicals too hard on men? / 9 healthy ways to respond to criticism / Is God disappointed with me? / 4 snapshots of dispensationalism today / Logos and Kindle deals / and more.

  • Free Stuff Fridays (Help The Persecuted)

    This weeks giveaway is sponsored by Help The Persecuted. Help The Persecuted rescues, restores, and rebuilds the lives of persecuted believers in the Islamic World through spiritual support and tangible help. Every week, they send out an email with specific, real-time prayer requests of persecuted believers to their global Prayer Network. You can join the…

  • A La Carte Friday 2

    A La Carte (March 1)

    A La Carte: Rumblings of revival among Gen Z / Addition by subtraction / Seeing red / Burying the talents of the Great Rewarder / Inviting evaluation of your preaching / Book and Kindle deals / and more.

  • New and Notable Books

    New and Notable Christian Books for February 2024

    February is typically a solid month for book releases, and this February was no exception. As the month drew to its close, I sorted through the many (many!) books that came my way this month and arrived at this list of new and notables. In each case, I’ve provided the editorial description to give you…

  • A La Carte Thursday 1

    A La Carte (February 29)

    A La Carte: Is it ever right to lie? / When the “perfect” fit isn’t / An open letter to Christians who doubt / When a baby is a disease / The long view of preaching / and more.