I was taught early on in my ministry to consult the commentaries about a passage only after doing all my own research and study, and have followed this pattern almost without fail. This includes studying the historical and cultural background of a Bible book or passage, doing word studies of the key words, outlining to discern the biblical author’s flow of thought, and seeking to fully understand the meaning and application to the original audience. Only then do I feel the need to access those who have studied the text before me, particularly widely respected, (usually) conservative commentators. Those writers which I consult or read after most often include the older College Press series (i.e., “green commentaries”), Warren Wiersbe’s “Be Series,” Albert Barnes, Baker’s New Testament Commentary Series (Hendrikson & Kistemaker), and William Barclay’s original Daily Study Bible.
To this list I have added over the last few years the John MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series. This is a 33-volume, 13,080 page set available in printed hardback as well digital formats for Kindle, Apple Books, and Bible software by companies like Logos, Wordsearch Bible, Accordance, and Olive Tree.
I love this series for what Dr. John MacArthur is known for – in-depth expository teaching. MacArthur is often criticized in the larger Christian community for his “fundamentalist” high view of the Bible as inspired and inerrant, and as God’s authority for life and practice for the Church and Christians. Now, this just happens to be my own view as well! And even though Dr. MacArthur is staunch Calvinist in some of his teaching, I still find much of his writing and teaching consistent with what I see within Scripture. (Read more about his views and some criticism of him in this Christianity Today article.)
As a single example of what can be found in this commentary set, look at this quote as Dr. MacArthur is expositing the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11. In the passage Jesus twice mentions the glory of God and Himself being glorified (John 11:4,40) in what is about to transpire.
The most important theme in the universe is the glory of God. It is the underlying reason for all of God’s works, from the creation of the world, to the redemption of fallen sinners, to the judgment of unbelievers, to the manifestation of His greatness for all eternity in heaven.
Because God’s glory is intrinsic to His nature the Bible refers to Him as the God of glory (Ps. 29:3; Acts 7:2), the Glory of Israel (1 Sam. 15:29), the King of glory (Ps. 24:7-10), and the high and exalted One (Isa. 57:15; cf. 33:5). God the Father is called the Father of glory (Eph. 1:17; cf. 2 Peter 1:17); Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:8); and the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of glory (1 Peter 4:14). God’s intrinsic glory is uniquely His, and He will not share it with anyone else (Isa. 42:8; 48:11).
The Word of God consistently extols the greatness of His glory. In Psalm 57:11 David exclaimed, “Be exalted above the heavens, O God; let Your glory be above all the earth” (cf. 108:5). Echoing his father’s thought Solomon wrote, “Blessed be His glorious name forever; And may the whole earth be filled with His glory” (Ps. 72:19). Psalm 113:4 further describes God’s glory as being “above the heavens”; Psalm 138:5 proclaims, “Great is the glory of the Lord”; and Psalm 148:13 adds, “His glory is above earth and heaven.”
Standard pricing for the 33 volumes plus index volume in print is $599.99. This is generally the price for the digital versions as well. However, as I write this the print version is available on John MacArthur’s Grace to You website (www.gty.org) for $400.00. If you volunteer to be on their emailing list at the site, you will occasionally receive special offers of even better pricing. I believe I was able to purchase my printed set this way for about $330. The same is true of the various Bible software providers. I have a digital set through Olive Tree Bible Study software which I purchased on sale from them also for about $330. To me I consider this a great investment in a great Bible study resource!