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Basic Preacher’s Library


Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching*

Azurdia, Arturo G. III. Spirit Empowered Preaching: Involving the Holy Spirit in Your Ministry (Christian Focus, 1998).

Old Testament: General

OT Commentary Survey, Tremper Longman (Baker)

An Introduction to the Old Testament, by Dillard & Longman (Zondervan)

Old Testament: Commentaries

Symbol Key: *- Especially good,  ^- A commentary which I have not yet read, but, based on either the reputation of the author or reports of the work, it would still be on the front of my purchase list if I were going in to make a purchase today.

Genesis- Wenham* (WBC), Hamilton* (NIC)


Leviticus- Wenham (NIC)


Deuteronomy- Craigie* (NIC)

Joshua- Howard (NAC)^

Judges-Ruth- Block (NAC)^

Ruth- Hubbard (NIC)

2 Chronicles- Dillard (WBC)

Psalms[1]- VanGemeren (EBC), Kidner (Tyndale); I honestly am frustrated with the brevity and lack of detail in modern commentaries on Psalms (even the more academic, technical ones).  I often do not find much help on particular verses or phrases.

Psalms 1-50- Craigie (WBC)[2]

Proverbs- Kidner (Tyndale)

Proverbs, Eccl, Song- Garrett (NAC)

Ecclesiastes- Longman (NIC)^

Song of Solomon- Longman (NIC)^

Isaiah- Oswalt* (NIC, 2vol)

Jeremiah- Thompson (NIC)

Ezekiel- Block (NIC, 2 vol)^

Haggai, Malachi- Verhoef (NIC)

As I have worked on specific passages in Isaiah and the Psalms I have often found Calvin to be of the most benefit.  He takes the space necessary to deal adequately with these long books and does so with his well known care and skill seeking the meaning of the text, its implications for theology and its relevance for the church.

New Testament: General

An Introduction to the New Testament, by Carson, Moo, Morris (Zondervan)

NT Commentary Survey, D. A. Carson (Baker)

Printed sermons from Martin Lloyd-Jones are often good and helpful

Complete set of Carson’s sermon books from Baker*[3]

Any of Stott’s commentaries (in the Bible Speaks today series on Sermon on the Mount, Acts, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy & Titus, 2 Timothy)

New Testament: Commentaries

Complete set for start- Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (some real gems in here)

Matthew- Carson* (EBC) [the more recent volume by Keener from Eerdmans looks promising as well]

Mark- Lane (NIC), though now a bit dated; France (NIGTC)^

Luke- Bock^ (BEC, 2 vols) is the commentary now.  His NIVAp volume is also helpful.

John- Carson* (Pillar), Morris* (NIC), Barrett*

Acts- Bruce (NIC)- no astounding one to my mind; Marshall (Tyndale) but necessarily short; Stott

Romans- Moo* (NIC), Cranfield* (ICC- the standard), Schreiner (BEC)^, Stott

1 Corinthians- Fee* (NIC); Anthony Thistleton (NIGTC)^

2 Corinthians- Barrett (Blacks)

Galatians- Longenecker (WBC)

Ephesians- O’Brien (Pillar)

Philippians- Fee* (NIC), O’Brien* (NIGTC)

Colossians, Philemon- O’Brien* (WBC)

1-2 Thessalonians- Bruce (WBC) or Wannamaker (NIGTC)

1-2 Timothy, Titus- Marshall* (ICC)[4], Mounce (WBC), Fee (NIBC)[5], Knight (NIGTC)

Hebrews- Lane (WBC), Guthrie (NIVAp)

James- Moo (Pillar)

1 Peter-Michaels (WBC), Marshall (IVPNT)

2 Peter, Jude- Bauckham[6] (WBC), Moo (NIVAp)^

1-3 John[7]- Marshall* (NIC); Stott’s in Tyndale may be one of the best in the series; Carson is doing the NIGTC vol.

Revelation- Beale* (NIGTC), Mounce* (NIC) has been a good standard; Osborne’s BEC volume is due out soon


Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, Klein, Blomberg, Hubbard (Word)

Exegetical Fallacies, Carson

Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, Schreiner (Baker)

Reading the Bible for All It’s Worth, Fee and Stuart

New Testament Exposition, Liefeld (this book got me excited about preaching)


Calvin, Institutes[8]

Grudem, Systematic Theology

Packer, Knowing God

Piper, Desiring God

Piper, The Pleasures of God

Sproul, The Holiness of God

Mark Dever’s “9 Marks of a Healthy Church”

Church History

Dowley, ed. The History of Christianity

Church history is so vital and helpful to the task of the preacher, but it is not often used.  Many books could be listed as helpful, but it has been a difficult task for me to find one or two to list as the basic necessity.


-  A good concordance whether electronic or paper.  Any of the major ones available are fine.

-  See the reading list at CRC’s website (, though it’s point is to list many good books to read, whereas the point here is to keep this list to a minimum for the basic library.

Don’t Bother With:

-  The generic commentary sets like the Pulpit Commentary, etc.  It is a much better use of money to buy good individual commentaries.

-  Older word study sets (Vines, Wuest, Robertson, AGM [Spiros Zodhiates], etc.).  The material is usually quite dated and in some just wrong.  Kittel, Colin Brown, can be useful if used properly.  VanGemeren on the OT looks promising.

-  Don’t waste good money on illustration books.  Instead listen, observe life, think, and read for yourself.  Illustrations will arise from these things.  It is still helpful to have some sources to mine for illustrations but for this old Readers Digests are very useful (and can be found for cheap) and other books like Bennett’s Book of Virtues.  Often OT stories and church history provide great illustrations which will acquaint your hearers with important things while also illustrating (similarly, world history and classic literature can be good sources).  Lastly, people tend to give you these kind of books anyway, so even if it is useful to have a couple, they will likely come this way.

Comments on Commentary Series:

BEC- Baker Exegetical Commentary

EBC- Expositor’s Bible Commentary

ICC- International Critical Commentary

IVPNT- IVP New Testament Commentaries

NAC- New American Commentary

NIBC- New International Biblical Commentary

NIC- New International Commentary

NIGTC- New International Greek Text Commentary

NIVAp- NIV Application Commentary

WBC- Word Biblical Commentary

Series have different purposes and biases and it may be useful to have a basic understanding of these.

Series based on the Greek text and therefore more technical in focus:

BEC- newer series, seems to be the most conservative of the technical series listed here

ICC- Old standard with volumes being updated.  In general it is the least conservative of the series listed, though there are some more conservative ones (e.g. Marshall & Cranfield)

WBC- Claims to be evangelical but this obviously encompasses a broad definition of the term.  It varies greatly from volume to volume

NIGTC- Basically evangelical

Useful Extras:

The Theological Journal Library- contains full text articles from several evangelical journals as well as some other useful material.  For about $100 it looks to be good value.

Reformation Overview- Video Curriculum (CBD $60)- 6 videos (30 min each) covering key figures in the Reformation)

Audio tapes can be extremely useful particularly examples of solid expository preaching.  In my mind, the best source for this is Don Carson’s webstore, Christway Media (  One large reason for this is they have tapes of Carson himself who is in my opinion one of the best expositors today.  They also have tapes from like-minded people such as Ray Ortlund, Jr. and Mark Dever.

Other “Recommended Books” Lists:

Barber, Cyril J. The Ministers Library (Moody, 1985)

Barker, Kenneth L., Bruce K. Waltke, Roy B. Zuck. Bibliography for Old Testament Exegesis and Exposition (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1979).

Rosscup, James E. Commentaries for Biblical Expositors (Author, 1983).

Spurgeon, Charles H. Commenting and Commentaries (BOT, 1969)

Stitzinger, James F. “Study Tools for Expository Preaching,” in Rediscovering Expository Preaching[9]

Wiersbe, Warren W. A Basic Library for Bible Students (Baker, 1981)

[1] Spurgeon’s Treasury of David can be a mine of useful information and application but must be under the control of careful exegesis.

[2] I am not impressed with the other WBC volumes on Psalms.

[3] Currently these include expositions of Matt 5-7 (Sermon on the Mount), Matt 8-10, John 14-17, 1 Cor 1-4, 1 Cor 12-14, 2 Cor 10-13, Philippians, and the prayers in Paul’s letters.  The titles of some vary between American and British editions.  Some have gone out of print, but I would not expect them to stay out long.

[4] Of course I disagree with his views on authorship and 1 Tim 2, but this is a good commentary, providing probably the best coverage of the issues and interaction with secondary literature.

[5] Really good with putting it altogether though I disagree with his interpretation of 1 Timothy 2.

[6] Disappointingly favors pseudonymity.

[7] The technical standards are Brown (Anchor) and Smalley (WBC), but I am not particularly satisfied with them.  They are useful but I cannot list them as a basic part of the library.

[8] The best edition is the 2 volume set in the Library of Christian Classics, ed. John T. McNeill.  The translation is more readable and the annotations can be helpful.  Other editions may be cheaper, but this one is worth the difference.

[9] This essay has a number of useful thoughts but the list of recommended books is poor in my opinion.  It recommends many books that will be of limited use but significant cost and the list of commentaries, etc. is dated and seems a bit narrow, favoring dispensationalists.

One Comment

  1. Under Church History, a list of recommended biographies would be useful. Protestants in general have little concept of church history beyond Acts and a few key figures. Biographical sermons can help. And someone needs to produce an up-to-date multi-volume set like Schaff’s.

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