Listed below are several commentaries and Bible reference books that will help you gain a deeper understanding of God’s word, strengthen your faith, and expand your ability to create a meaningful message. Most of the reference books can be found at your local Christian bookstore, or online at Amazon. Remember, the only way to communicate the gospel effectively is to study, pray and then pray some more!
Bible Commentaries and Sermon Outlines
Studying commentaries and sermon outlines from other teachers is a must if you want to be a good expositor of the word. God doesn’t want us to casually throw things together. “We must study to show ourselves approved, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). It’s foolish not to tap into the insight that God has given to others who have spent a lifetime studying the Bible.
Studying the works and insights of others helps to insure that we don’t get off track theologically. I would suggest never using less than three references during your study. This insures that you are not just using one man’s opinion. You will come away from your study confident that you have adequately researched your passage and have heard from God regarding how He wants the message to be applied.
John MacArthur: In his studies you will find an excellent exposition of scripture. He comes from a very conservative, Calvinistic and anti-charismatic view point. As with any commentary, we must take from it what we can use and not worry with what we cannot use. You’ll find most of his teachings on this site.
J. Vernon McGee: A practicle Bible teacher who was best known for his popular radio program, “Thru the Bible.” From Genesis to Revelation, McGee taught thru the entire Bible every five years.
Chuck Smith: Pastor Chuck is one of the best bible teachers of our time. He has a unique ability to make God’s word simple and This is a very simple and easy to use online study tool. You will get brief explanations along with excellent insight. This site also offers MP3 downloads of his radio program.easy to understand. He has both survey as well as in depth studies. This link offers a huge collection of his teachings for free.
William Barclay: Barclay’s Daily Bible Study series brings with it a wealth of colorful background facts. It will give you insight into the time and context of your passage, as well as an understanding of the original language. I almost always use this work when studying a book of the bible. I would however be cautious as you study because in certain places in the scriptures he leans strongly toward liberal interpretations. It is good to use, but I would never use it alone. Always use it in conjunction with other conservative commentaries.
Henry Ironside: This is another author and preacher from yesteryear. His teachings are very simple and easy to understand and will give you a lot of practical applications. Most of his writings were birthed from what he preached.
Martin Lloyd Jones: This man is considered by many to be one of the foremost bible expositors. His are not brief teachings. If you are looking for an in-depth study of the word his writings are a must.
Bible Reference Books
The reference books listed below are a few of the most fundamental works for the study of God’s word. They are especially good for those who are new to preaching and the ministry.
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance: A necessary tool for any Bible student, especially beginners. You can look up any word and find every place it appears in the Bible. This is a great tool for topical messages. It also includes Greek and Hebrew dictionaries so you can look up the word’s basic meaning from the original.
Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon: This is a Greek dictionary that allows you to look up the original meanings of words in the Bible. The numbers next to each word in both Strong’s and Thayer’s correspond with each other for easy use.
Vines Expository Dictionary: This is also good for looking up key words in your study. In this dictionary you’ll be able to find not only the meaning of the word, but also whether it’s a verb or noun, etc. A must have for every serious Bible student.