Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew

In light of Matt’s post on commentaries for John I thought I would offer my top four on the Gospel of Matthew which I am almost eleven chapters in at the moment.

  • D. A. Carson. “Matthew” in volume 8 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. To the point, insightful and theologically lucid. He dives into higher critical waters at times and gives more credence to some of the critics than their worth. All in all, very helpful for expositing the text.
  • Leon Morris. “Matthew” in the Pillar New Testament Commentary. Typical of Morris’ style which is conversant with the issues and often allows the reader to draw his own conclusions (which I appreciate). Some commentaries mention critical views so they can gain credibility in the eyes of the “academy” but Morris mentions them to show that oftentimes their conclusions are misguided and absurd.
  • Donald Hagner. “Matthew” in volume 33a of the Word Biblical Commentary. There are many things that cause me to not like this commentary. However, when Hagner is simply looking at the text he is often excellent and helpful. One needs a working knowledge of Greek to benefit from this volume and one should beware of his source critical views and warm embrace of the theory that Matthew didn’t see what he says he did but borrowed the majority of it from Mark and a mythical creature called Quelle. Also Hagner is a much more affordable option compared to the exegetical volumes of Davies/Allison (ICC) which will cost you around $200 for the three volumes on Matthew.
  • John MacArthur. Matthew volumes 1-4. There is nothing on the expositional level that comes close to these volumes on Matthew. They were born out of many years of preaching this Gospel which is evident in the abundance of illustrative material throughout this work. Overall MacArthur is careful with the text and sensitive to the context and structure. MacArthur is the guy that many pastors love to criticize but I guarantee those same pastors own his commentaries and drink from them weekly even if they hate to admit it.

I have about ten others on my honorable mention list but I wanted to keep this to my top four. I just ordered the new volume in the NICNT by R. T. France and I also picked up Craig Keener‘s volume which looks to be good.

13 responses to this post.

  1. FYI: This fall Dr. Carson is planning to update his EBC on Matthew.

  2. I would add Blomberg as a great shorter commentary that still gets to the heart of the issues, and Garland’s small volume is also great value for the size. Nolland in the NIGTC series is good, as is Wilkins in NIVAC. And, despite the expense, Davies/Allison is an excellent commentary, certainly the best of the more critical lot.

  3. Andy,

    Thanks for the tip from the inside! Let us know if you have any other insight there.


    Those are all great although I have not used Garland yet. I found that Blomberg rarely said anything different from Carson but was still helpful in a number of places. I really like M. J. Wilkins even though I despise the format of the NIVAC. I actually hope that Wilkins will write a more standard form commentary one day on Matthew, he is excellent for expositors.

    Thanks guys for dropping by.

  4. I would be interested to know if anyone has used Keener on Matthew which I just ordered. What did you think?

  5. I have used Keener all the way from day one (I am currently starting chapter 10). Keener has a better sense of background than almost anyone else, and his scholarship is impeccable. I haven’t been overwhelmed with his discussion of the actual text. Oftentimes, his bold-type summaries are worth the rest of the discussion, and can often be used as outlines.

  6. I find NIVAC irritating as well, although Wilkins doesn’t make it quite so bad (the second and third sections are always mercifully brief).

  7. Lane,

    It sounds like we are almost at the same place in Matthew (I will be at 10:27 this Sunday).

    Thanks for the heads-up on Keener. I’m looking forward to jumping in to his text.

  8. Out of curiosity, what is your opinion of J. Vernon McGee’s commentary on Matthew?

  9. Carl,

    McGee’s commentary is on a popular expositional level and is very basic. There is nothing wrong with being basic but his work will probably not add anything significant for the expositor who is preparing to preach the Word. McGee’s strength was to point out the obvious which was helpful for twenty minute long radio segments but our sermons should go further. I hope this helps, thanks for the question.

  10. I was just asking because in regards to commentaries I have several volumes of McGee’s commentaries, a few volumes of John MacArthur’s and via my copy of PC Study Bible I also have commentaries from Matthew Henry, Adam Clarke, Barnes’ Notes, and some others. About the only Christian bookstore of any worth in Tallahassee where I live is LifeWay and they have several commentary sets on sale (which I can’t afford). But I’m just a layman, not a minister nor a preacher. So I enjoy reading my study Bible and a few commentaries.

  11. MacArthur is a great commentary set for the layman. Although it is very hit and miss, the NIV Application commentary is another good commentary series for the layman. For example, Michael J. Wilkins on Matthew is excellent as is Gerald Wilson on Psalms among others. Lifeway usually carries these but I would suggest you try out which is enormously cheaper than Lifeway and just about everywhere else.

  12. Posted by shawn on August 22, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    I have been frustrated finding info on Matthew 6.14-15. It seems like a lot of the commentaries tend to ‘cop out’ of the issue here and not deal with the problem. It cannot be talking about salvation because that would be giving some other way of salvation (i.e. conditional salvation upon the reciepient forgiving other people). How is this related to sanctification…or is it. Thanks for your input.

  13. Paul, I do plan on getting more of John MacArthur’s commentaries over time. I just can’t get them all at once and don’t expect any inheritances in the near future. :-)

    Anyway, I am in my final days working part-time for a TV station owned by a local Baptist church and will be starting a fulltime job with benefits (YAY!) with the state of Florida on Friday. Once the financial situation is back on track, I’ll probably get more commentary volumes from ebay and Amazon. I lost my job of almost 10 years in August of 2006 and haven’t been able to find a fulltime position until now. My wife works but her job is basically a part-time teaching position at the local community college that varies from semester to semester. So we’ve been without benefits for over a year now. God has blessed us by keeping us healthy and having relatives willing and able to give us financial assistance after our savings ran out. In fact ever since I had gastric bypass surgery early last year and dropped so much weight, I couldn’t afford my blood pressure medication which was about $150 per month but I don’t need it anymore. I check it often and it’s normal. Once my health insurance kicks in, I’ll be able to get a long overdue checkup with my family physcian who’s gonna be absolutely thrilled with my weight loss.

    Please pardon my rambling…I just get carried away when I think about how God has helped my wife and me during these difficult times.

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