Personal Thoughts About Commentaries: The Thessalonian Epistles

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The two small letters of Paul to the young Thessalonian Church are among the earliest of his writings. This means that they are also among the earliest writings of the New Testament – even for those of us who opt for the traditional dates of the Gospels. Although I am pretribulational it has to be admitted that Paul does not settle the date of the rapture in these letters. Therefore, what I look for is careful exegesis informed by salient considerations of other biblical teachings on the subject. Attempts to spiritualize the “naos” in 2 Thessalonians 2 count as a mark against any work.

1. Robert L. Thomas

This contribution to the Expositor’s Bible Commentary is, to my mind, the best single exegetical treatment of the Thessalonian Correspondence. Although space restrictions were imposed on the author, Thomas makes very good use of his allotted pages. The work is based on Thomas’s “Exegetical Digests” of these books.

2. D. Edmond Hiebert

The Second Advent shows up in every chapter of these letters, and the material on the Day of the Lord and the Antichrist have to be treated with care, not squeezed into a theological box. Hiebert’s exegesis is thorough enough for most pastors, and his conclusions are well thought through.

3. F. F. Bruce

The first installment of the WBC still holds its own as an excellent commentary on these epistles. A lengthy (for Bruce) Excursus on Antichrist is included which is worth pondering, even if all will not come out where Bruce does.

4. Jeffrey A. D. Weima

A big commentary (BEC) for such small letters. Lots of interesting insights into the setting of the letters as well as good exegesis and practical application.

5. Charles Wanamaker

In my book this work is essential for the serious exegete. Wanamaker’s book (NICGNT) has its idiosyncrasies (like making out that 2 Thess. was written before 1 Thess.). But I like the thought-provoking comments a lot.

6. Gary Shogren

Okay, so I haven’t perused this, but I like the series and this one gets strong recommendations, so I’m going to stick my neck out.

7. Michael Stallard

The best contribution to a rather disappointing series (21st Century). Stallard has the exegetical and theological muscle to write a very solid commentary. This is a good go-to resource for the premillenial interpreter.

8. Abraham Malherbe

A well written and scholarly work in the Anchor series which repays careful reading. Good on background and at placing the reader in the life-setting, including the thought-world of the recipients.

9. Gene L. Green

Excellent on the practical theology of the letters. Not so great on the eschatology. Still, this installment in the Pillar series is a fine commentary on balance.

10. Gordon D. Fee

Fee (NICNT) is always worth interacting with. He is a great scholar who writes with pastoral passion. He is his own man, which means he is insightful and sometimes a little irritating at turns.

Honorable mentions go to Richard Mayhue’s book, which though more slanted toward straightforward exposition, has enough exegetical skill behind it to be of value to any reader. Michael Holmes’s book in the NIVAC series, D. Michael Martin’s premillennial study in the NAC, John Stott’s always useful commentary, and I. Howard Marshall’s impressively concise piece for the NCBC are all good. All of these might have made it in the top ten, but decisions must be made. I also want to plug the work by Peter A. Steveson from Bob Jones University, who has given us a solid conservative commentary on these epistles.

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There are 4 Comments

T Howard's picture

I, too, found Robert L Thomas's EBC commentary to be helpful. I also appreciated D. Michael Martin's NAC commentary. Because Stallard was the dean of my seminary, I purchased his commentary but honestly didn't find it that helpful.

TylerR's picture


Hiebert, Martin, Thomas, Fee, Calvin

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

Paul Henebury's picture

I would have no problem with replacing Stallard with Martin.  Martin is more detailed.  My reasoning was to provide books which are both detailed and reliable expositions.  

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Thanks for these fine reviews.  I have enjoyed Hiebert's very much.

Although I am near the latter part of my ministry, I would have greatly appreciated these leads when I was young and accumulating commentaries.

I am at the stage where, when I get a new book, I force myself to get rid of an old one.  Fortunately, Kindle books don't count!

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