Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 24, 1971

Searching The Commentaries

Warren Berkley

Young Gospel preachers, in an effort to preach the whole truth, often refer to commentaries for sermon ideas. After preaching for only a few months I have been no exception. However, I consider myself lucky to have based my use of commentaries on a few basic principles of New Testament authority.

COMMENTATORS ARE NOT INSPIRED WRITERS. Concerning the authenticity of the letters of Paul, the Apostle said, "By revelation was made known unto me the mystery, as I wrote before in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the spirit" (Eph. 3:3-5) The author of a commentary cannot make such a claim as Paul made.

A COMMENTARY IS NOT INSPIRED OF GOD. "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work." (II Tim. 3:16,17) Commentaries are not always profitable and never inspired of God.

COMMENTATORS OFTEN OFFER NO EVIDENCE FOR THEIR CONCLUSIONS. I recently purchased a commentary on the letters to the Galatians and Ephesians written by "A great New Testament Expositor." In his discussion of Eph. 4:4-6, he concluded that the plan of unity for Christ followers is merely the act of announcing surrender to the love of Christ. He went on to explain that this "act of surrender" would not have to include oneness of doctrine. I am anxious to see what comment he offers on Matt. 15:9 or John 17:21. This expositor offered no evidence for his idea which should behoove us to carefully investigate the proof a commentator offers for his conclusions, if any.

To conclude, commentaries are certainly helpful to the Bible student, but only if used with the proper attitude. In my own use of Bible aids I have kept two rules in mind; 1. Use a commentary to suggest various fields of thought, not as an authority, (Matt. 28:18). 2. Carefully investigate for yourself the proof or evidence supporting the conclusions, (I Pet. 3:15).