The best one volume Bible commentaries for pastors and teachers

Who am I?

I am the teaching pastor of Woodland Christian Church. I have been in ministry for 15 years preaching God’s Word an average of 1 to 3 times per week. I also do an amount of guest preaching and conference speaking. While I do some counseling and discipling, because my ministry focuses on teaching and preaching I study God’s Word for 20 to 30 hours per week. I have used numerous commentaries over the years and settled on these as the best one-volume commentaries.

I wrote...

Your Marriage God's Way: A Biblical Guide to a Christ-Centered Relationship

By Scott LaPierre,

Book cover of Your Marriage God's Way: A Biblical Guide to a Christ-Centered Relationship

What is my book about?

Your most important earthly connection is with your spouse, and when you honor the person you married, you’re also honoring God. He created marriage to be one of life’s greatest gifts, and the instruction manual you need for a joyful, lasting union is found in His Word.

In Your Marriage God’s Way, author and pastor, Scott LaPierre, takes a close look at the principles for building a biblical marriage—one in which your relationship with Christ brings guidance and blessing into your relationship with your spouse. Whether you’re at the beginning of your journey or you’ve been on the road together for years, Your Marriage God’s Way will provide the helpful and encouraging insights you need to experience marriage as God intends it.

The books I picked & why

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The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible

By John MacArthur,

Book cover of The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible

Why this book?

The MacArthur Study Bible presents some of the clearest exposition I have seen. It is the first commentary I use when developing Bible studies or sermons. The commentary was written by John MacArthur and his students at the seminary. I have been using it for 15 years of pastoral ministry and even if I have disagreed with an interpretation, I could see why it was reached and what hermeneutic they used. There are also very helpful charts and maps. The book introductions are helpful, especially if you preach or teach verse by verse and begin at the beginning of a book. There are helpful chronologies of the patriarchs, judges, kings, and profits.

NKJV Study Bible

By Thomas Nelson,

Book cover of NKJV Study Bible

Why this book?

The Thomas Nelson Study Bible is my second favorite commentary to use. It shares many similarities with The MacArthur Study Bible. There are helpful charts and maps. The commentary is clear and understandable. The cross-references are helpful as are the other study tools. The images and charts are done wonderfully. There are over 1,000 articles and notes spread through the commentary, which provide a greater understanding of certain passages and topics. Again there are also book introductions and the outlines can be very helpful. The word studies, the Strong’s numbers in case you want to do further study. The indexes and concordances at the back are helpful and easy to use. One point to consider is while John MacArthur’s commentary is Calvinistic, The Thomas Nelson Study Bible doesn’t seem to lean toward Calvinism or Arminianism, probably to reach multiple denominations.

The Moody Bible Commentary

By Michael Rydelnik (editor), Michael Vanlaningham (editor),

Book cover of The Moody Bible Commentary

Why this book?

This commentary was developed by the faculty at the Moody Bible Institute. It is also easy to understand and provides comprehensive exposition of all passages and most verses. It should be noted that frequently there is commentary on a passage, or collection of verses, versus commentary on individual verses. This is helpful to understand the flow and context of a passage, but it can leave you recognizing you need to look elsewhere when you don’t feel like there is enough explanation of individual verses. There are also helpful maps and charts and bibliographies for further reading and study.

ESV Study Bible, Personal Size

By ESV Bibles,

Book cover of ESV Study Bible, Personal Size

Why this book?

his commentary, like the previous ones, is also easy to understand. It contains extensive notes, charts, maps, and articles. The cross-references are useful. This commentary was the winner of the ECPA book of the year award. Like The Thomas Nelson Study Bible this study Bible also seems to avoid denominational leanings, holding to more general interpretations allowing it to be used by a wider range of readers and teachers.

Life Application Study Bible

By Zondervan,

Book cover of Life Application Study Bible

Why this book?

This was one of the first Bibles I was given after becoming a Christian and for years I used it more than anything else. Unlike the other commentaries that stick to the exposition of the verses, like the title would cause you to expect, this study Bible focuses on application from the verses. Of course this is very helpful for people who want to read the Bible and find application for their lives. For Bible teachers who are looking to better understand the verses they will recognize that unlike the other Bibles and amount of the commentary is simply people's thoughts. If you want to find application for your sermons and teachings, this Bible should be very helpful for you.

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