I am getting ready to begin a new preaching series in the book of James two Sundays from now. Some of you have asked what study resources I am using so here are the main commentaries. I have broken them down in 3 categories: technical, mid-range, and expository.
First, on the technical side I am really enjoying Peter David’s commentary in the New International Greek Testament Commentary series. He is careful, doctrinally solid, and a good “conversation partner” for the details of the Greek text. Don’t bother with this if you are not a Greek reader, however.
In the second category, I first started reading Douglas Moo’s commentary on James in the Pillar commentary series about a year ago and I have really learned a lot from him. He deals with the Greek text but a lot of that is reserved for the footnotes so the English speaker can follow the flow of his main discussion of the text. Moo does serious exegesis of the passage but also keeps the big picture of the theology of the book in mind as he goes along. I find myself almost always agreeing with his conclusions. He also has a pastoral heart that shows itself at different points.
The final category is expository commentaries and here I will recommend two. First, John MacArthur is always helpful in his expository commentaries. It was close to ten years ago that my wife and I first started reading his commentary on Revelation together and we have both been hooked ever since. It would not be an unwise investment for every Christian home to have a set of MacArthur commentaries as a life-long reference tool for the home. He is ever the pastor and he always keeps his nose in the biblical text. He often uses the Old Testament to illustrate theological truths that he finds in the New. His commentary on James is consistent with this pattern.
Second in this category of expository commentaries would be the commentary by Kent Hughes in his Preaching the Word series. Hughes has some good preaching insights into the text and often offers some interesting illustrations.
Finally, some of you are just waiting for me to drop the name of a good Puritan writing on James! Well, I won’t disappoint. I am reading the commentary by Thomas Manton and what can I say…he is truly a physician of the soul! In language somewhat far removed from the vernacular English of our day, Manton ruminates on the themes of the book of James in a way that encourages, instructs and convicts as he teaches the reader about a faith that truly lives to God. May we have that kind of faith in increasing ways!