Bible Speaks Today Commentaries (BST) | Reviews, Theology

The Bible Speaks Today commentary series has been published by IVP Academic since 1968 when Anglican scholar and evangelical leader, John Stott (d. 2011), published the first volume, The Message to the Galatians. Since that time, BST commentaries have been a favorite of pastors and lay Christians because they are great devotional aids and they are affordable in comparison to in-depth, hardback commentaries. Theologically, the series is broadly evangelical, which makes them helpful no matter a person’s particular denomination or church.

Stott explained that The Bible Speaks Today series has three purposes:

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  • To expound the biblical text with accuracy. The Bible Speaks Today commentaries address the text passage-by-passage, yet most sections involve discussion of individual verses and even single words when they are important to understand the meaning of the text.
  • To relate it to contemporary life. Volumes in the BST series value application suggestions and devotional insights. Many writers, such as Stott, are highly quotable making volumes in this series great for preachers and Bible study leaders.
  • To be readable. BST commentaries are not technical; meaning, writers seldom include in-depth discussion on the details of the original languages of Scripture. Furthermore, authors do not interact with current biblical scholarship. [1]

The Bible Speaks Today series is complete as of 2015 and now covers all 66 biblical books. Stott edited the series along with Irish biblical scholar, J.A. Motyer (d. 2016). [2]

Note: See the Bible Commentaries Comparison Chart to see how the BST series compares to dozens of other commentary series.

Bible Speaks Today (BST): Reviews

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Stott wrote some of the most well-reviewed volumes in the BST series, such as the Acts commentary, the Romans commentary, and the Ephesians commentary. Motyer also contributed to the series, writing the highly-praised Exodus commentary and Philippians commentary.

In 2014, during a question-and-answer on Twitter, former founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Tim Keller, said the Bible Speaks Today was one of his favorite commentaries series. [3]

The Message of Acts (link below) was recipient of the 1991 Christianity Today Readers’ Choice Award. [4]

The Message of Romans (link below) was one of Christianity Today’s 1995 Books of the Year. [5]

Author Interview from the BST Series on Best Bible Commentaries

I am pleased to have conducted a question-and-answer on the Malachi volume in The Bible Speaks Today series with author Peter Adam: (click to read entire Q & A)

Preview: “I often assess how much God loves me by how happy I am, how well my life is going, how well my ministry is going. Many others do the same. We are on the happiness marathon, not the holiness marathon. But the convincing, eternal, and permanently powerful proof of God’s love is the death of his Son in our place, to save us from wrath and judgement. Amazing love!”

Adam’s work as been well-reviewed. In Bible Study Magazine, Jason Brueckner wrote: “Adam continually points us toward the saving work of Christ while reminding us of them. The Message of Malachi will prove a valuable resource for those who desire to preach from Malachi or simply understand it better.”

Volumes in the Bible Speaks Today Commentary Series

The links below go to Amazon, which sells new and used copies. Also, visit Christian Book Distributors’ The Bible Speaks Today commentaries page to compare prices.

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New Testament Volumes

The Message of Matthew – Michael Green | Published: 2001

The Message of the Sermon on the Mount – John Stott | Published: 1985

The Message of Mark – Donald English | Published: 1992

The Message of Luke – Michael Wilcock | Published: 1984

The Message of John – Bruce Milne | Published: 1993

The Message of Acts – John Stott | Published: 1994

The Spirit moves the church into the world. That is how it has always been since the day of Pentecost when the Spirit brought thousands from many countries into the body of Christ. With the breadth and scholarly care that have marked John Stott’s years of ministry, this book opens to us the early days of the church as recorded by Luke in the book of Acts.

The experiences of the early church have much to say about issues that concern Christians today. What can Acts tell us about tongues and other extraordinary manifestations of the Spirit? How should churches structure themselves–with elders, deacons, pastors or all three? What should a normal Christian conversion look like? And, of course, how should the church reach out into the world with the message of salvation?

These and many other topics are handled with a pastoral heart and an unwavering commitment to the authority of God’s Word in our lives. As Stott concludes, “The Acts of the Apostles have long ago finished; the acts of the followers of Jesus will continue until the end of the world.”

The Message of Romans – John Stott | Published: 2001

John Stott joins a chorus of distinguished voices of the church who have pondered and lived the great themes of Romans, and who have tuned our ears to hear its rich harmonies and meditate on its broad vision. In the classic tradition of great Christian leaders who have commented on Romans, Stott expounds Paul’s words, themes and arguments. The power of the gospel, the righteousness of God revealed from heaven, is clearly addressed to today’s men and women who have answered its summons.

Not only is Stott deeply acquainted with the text and context of Romans, he is also conversant with the most recent Pauline scholarship. Even more important, he views Romans from his own pastoral and missionary perspective, an outlook shaped in turn by the great vision of the apostle. Here is a commentary for those who live on the edge of the third millennium, a commentary spanning the two worlds of Romans—Paul’s and ours.

The Message of 1 Corinthians – David Prior | Published: 1985

The Message of 2 Corinthians – Paul W. Barnett | Published: 1988

The Message of Galatians – John Stott | Published: 1984

To enclaves of young converts tucked away in the mountains of Asia Minor, Paul wrote what is perhaps the oldest document in the New Testament—the letter to the Galatians. What problems were they facing?

Among a variety of religious authorities espousing different teachings, how were they to know who was right? How were men and women to be put right with God? How could Christians in the midst of a pagan culture live lives truly pleasing to God? ‘Only one way—’ answered Paul, ‘through Jesus Christ.’ His answer holds true for us as well. The details of our struggle have changed since Paul’s day, but the principles he sets forth are as timeless as the Lord he exalts.

In this book, John Stott helps us to understand and apply the message of Galatians in the face of contemporary challenges to our faith.

The Message of Ephesians – John Stott | Published: 1984

The Message of Philippians – J. Alec Motyer | Published: 1984

If you were in jail, what sort of letter would you write to your Christian friends? Would it focus on the difficulties—the poor food, cramped quarters and lonely isolation?

Paul’s letter to the Philippians, written from prison, has no hint of self-pity. The letter radiates joy—joy that Christ was proclaimed, joy in fellowship with the Philippian Christians and, above all, joy in Jesus himself. In this volume of the Bible Speaks Today series, Alec Motyer identifies three major themes that filled Paul’s heart and mind as he wrote: the unity of the church, the person of Jesus and what he has achieved, and the call to live a life worthy of the gospel.

The Message of Colossians and Philemon – R.C. Lucas | Published: 1984

The Message of 1 and 2 Thessalonians – John Stott | Published: 1994

The Message of 1 Timothy and Titus – John Stott | Published: 2001

The Message of 2 Timothy – John Stott | Published: 1984

The Message of Hebrews – Raymond Brown | Published: 1984

The Message of James – J. Alec Motyer | Published: 1985

The Message of 1 Peter – Edmund P. Clowney | Published: 1989

The Message of 2 Peter and Jude – R.C. Lucas and Christopher Green | Published: 1995

The Message of John’s Letters – David Jackman | Published: 1988

The Message of Revelation – Michael Wilcock | Published: 1984

What is the book of Revelation? Does it describe in veiled language events of its writer’s own day, or is it largely a prophecy of events still to come? Is it a chart of the whole of history from Christ’s first coming to his second? Or does it deal chiefly with principles which are always valid in Christian experience? And what is a twentieth-century reader to do with creatures covered with eyes, locusts like horses, seven bowls of wrath, war in heaven, various beasts and a dragon?

Michael Wilcock maintains that when God’s words, declarations, arguments and reasonings had all been spoken, God gave the church “a gorgeous picture book.” Wilcok lifts the curtain on Revelation’s drama in eight scenes, helping our imaginations as well as our minds grasp the key concepts of this fascinating and enigmatic New Testament book.

Old Testament Volumes

The Message of Genesis 1–11: David J. Atkinson | Published: 1990

The early chapters of Genesis proclaim the origin of the world and of human life on earth. They uncover the origins of evil. They illuminate the meaning of freedom. They express the harmony of creation, evoke wonder as God is portrayed in his creative power and beauty, and ultimately show us how and why we are—offering hope for the renewal of our natural world and for the healing of our broken relationships.

Writing as a scientist and as a pastor, David Atkinson avoids technicalities and speculation and provides a skillful guide to the text’s theological significance. While many commentaries on these chapters become tangled in problems of dating, authorship, and historicity, this tour of the opening chapters of Genesis focuses on the issues that really matter.

The Message of Genesis 12–50: Joyce G. Baldwin | Published: 1986

The Message of Exodus: J.A. Motyer | Published: 2005

The Message of Leviticus: Derek Tidball | Published: 2005

The Message of Numbers: Raymond Brown | Published: 2002

The Message of Deuteronomy: Raymond Brown | Published: 1993

The Message of Joshua – David G. Firth | Published: 2015

The Message of Judges: Grace Abounding – Michael Wilcock | Published: 1993

The Message of Ruth – David J. Atkinson | Published: 1985

The Message of Samuel – Mary J. Evans | Published: 2004

The Message of Kings – John W. Olley | Published: 2011

The Message of Chronicles – Michael Wilcock | Published: 1987

The Message of Ezra and Haggai – Robert Fyall | Published: 2010

The Message of Nehemiah – Raymond Brown | Published: 1998

The Message of Esther – David Firth | Published: 2010

The Message of Job – David J. Atkinson | Published: 1991

The Message of Psalms 1–72 – Michael Wilcock | Published: 2002

The Message of Psalms 73–150 – Michael Wilcock | Published: 2001

The Message of Proverbs – David J. Atkinson | Published: 1997

The Message of Ecclesiastes – Derek Kidner | Published: 1984

The Message of the Song of Songs – Tom Gledhill | Published: 1994

The Message of Isaiah Barry G. Webb | Published: 1997

Ever since Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue of Nazareth, Christians have gravitated to this great prophecy as the interpretive center of the Old Testament. Here the story of Israel, scourged by judgment and exile yet hopeful of restoration, is framed by its witnesses, heaven and earth. How will Israel be brought through its school of suffering and be propelled toward its divine destiny as the vanguard of a new heaven and earth?

In the visionary world of Isaiah, the varied themes and imagery of the Old Testament converge and blend to transcend their plainest meanings as they project an extraordinary climax of the story of Israel and of the world. Barry Webb calls Isaiah the “Romans” of the Old Testament, where all the threads come together and the big picture of God’s purposes for His people and for His world are most clearly set forth. Attuned to the magnificent literary architecture of Isaiah, he escorts us through this prophecy and trains our ears and hearts to resonate with its great biblical-theological themes.

The Message of Jeremiah Christopher J.H. Wright | Published: 2014

The Message of Lamentations Christopher J.H. Wright | Published: 2015

The Message of Ezekiel Christopher J.H. Wright | Published: 2001

The Message of DanielDale R. Davis | Published: 2013

The Message of HoseaDerek Kidner | Published: 1984

The Message of Joel, Micah and Habakkuk David Prior | Published: 1999

The Message of Amos J.A. Motyer | Published: 1984

The Message of Obadiah, Nahum and Zephaniah Gordon Bridger | Published: 2010

The Message of JonahRosemary Nixon | Published: 2003

The Message of Zechariah Barry G. Webb | Published: 2003

The Message of Malachi Peter Adam | Published: 2013

From the publisher:

The Bible Speaks Today series has been widely acclaimed for its combination of scholarship and application. Now these bestselling New Testament commentaries are made available in electronic form. All who preach and teach the Word of God, or who want to study it earnestly, will benefit from these superb studies and the technology that now supports them.


Footnotes:

  1. https://www.ivpress.com/the-bible-speaks-today-series
  2. From the “General Preface” found in any volume in the series.
  3. https://twitter.com/timkellernyc/status/493821742268551168
  4. https://www.librarything.com/bookaward/Christianity+Today+Book+Awards
  5. Ibid.