Personal Thoughts about Commentaries (3): ROMANS

The Best Commentaries on Romans:

Remember, this list has preachers primarily in mind:

1. Douglas Moo (NICNT) – Somewhat dense, which may hinder readers somewhat, but interaction with the text and the literature is very impressive.  Deals well with the ‘new perspective’, and even manages some applications (but see Moo’s contribution to the NIVAC series).  His Introduction is on the short side, but there are numerous excurses.  Not all will like his treatment of Chapter 7.

2. Thomas Schreiner (BECNT) – I might have put this first because of its accuracy and usability.  Still a big book, but not as intimidating as Moo.  Pastors should purchase both works.

3. John R.W. Stott (BST) – After Moo and Schreiner one could do worse than studying Stott’s outstanding exposition.  Brings out the argument very well and shows how the book may be preached.  One bad spot, he teaches theistic evolution!

4. Leon Morris (Pillar) – Very competent mid-level commentary.  Doesn’t mix it up with the Sanders/Dunn crowd, but provides a very sure-footed guide.

5. James R. Edwards (NIBC) – This is a surprisingly helpful book.  Edwards’ style enables him to deal with most interpretive problems within a brief compass.

6. John Murray (older NICNT) – Replaced by Moo but not completely eclipsed.  Very theological (which suits Romans).  Murray always presses the weight of Divine truth upon the mind, though his style is ponderous.

7. R.C.H. Lenski – Conservative Arminian, but there is much good material here.

8. John Calvin – It is amazing that Calvin can say so much in so few words.  This was his first commentary.

9. W.H. Griffith Thomas – A deceptively simple commentary which asks great questions of the text and gives real aid to the expositor.

10. C.E.B. Cranfield (ICC) – Cranfield’s commentary has almost legendary status, and its handling of the Greek text is wonderfully impressive.  His English prose also flows easily.  But there is a lot to pick through, especially his Barthian leanings.

No doubt there are readers of this list who wonder why certain writers did not make the list.  Well, if I could offer a brief apology I would say that I chose Stott over Osborne (IVPNTC), Murray over Hendriksen (NTC), Lenski over Witherington, and Griffith Thomas over Bruce (TNTC).  Other worthwhile commentaries are by Godet, Haldane, Schlatter and Custer.  I’m sure J.P. Lange would be quite good if I could understand what he was saying.  I give no place to Barth, Dunn or Achtemeier as I just don’t think they are worth messing with.  But Nygren’s introduction (especially his stuff on the two aeons in chapter 5) is very helpful.

4 thoughts on “Personal Thoughts about Commentaries (3): ROMANS”

    1. Well, there are slim pickings! Major? No. There are old ones by William Newell and by W. H. Griffith Thomas. James Stifler’s is good but hard to find. I think Stewart Custer wrote one a few years back.

      God bless,


  1. What do you think of Jack Cottrell’s commentary ? I understand he is an arminian who is not afraid to challenge the calvinists. For some reason he is not well known – but i’m not sure if because he is not good or because of his oppinions.

    1. Emanuel,

      Cottrell is what used to be called a ‘Campbellite’ – part of the ‘Restoration Movement’ under Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell. They have a four step gospel which includes baptism. No baptism, no salvation.

      For all that, Cottrell is a decent theologian for many things. His work on the doctrine of God (3 vols) has been praised. I have only read a couple of essays by him, and I thought they were a mix of good and bad, which isn’t surprising. I would not recommend his commentary on Romans. If you want a good Arminian work go for Grant Osborne.

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