NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC) | Reviews, Theology

The NIV Application Commentary series has been a go-to biblical resource for pastors for since Zondervan began publishing it two decades ago. NIVAC volumes are known for being accessible and affordable, but most of all, these commentaries have a reputation for helping the reader apply the biblical text to twenty-first century life. Pastors from various denomination, and professors from diverse theological seminaries, have praised this series for being biblical, relevant, and budget-friendly.

NIV application commentary
Old Testament volumes have a yellow border

Since the 1990’s, the NIVAC series has been producing commentaries that discuss the first century, in relation to understanding the biblical text, and the twenty-first century, in relation to applying it. It is not the intention of the publisher or the editors to produce technical volumes that dive deeply into the original languages, non-biblical literature, or latest scholarship. Authors may reference these topics, but they are not the focus of the commentaries. The NIVAC series is incomplete and volumes are still being released.

The purpose of the NIVAC series can be clearly seen in the three ways each biblical passages is discussed. First, the author writes about the “Original Meaning” of the passage, which is where exegesis occurs. Next, comes “Bridging Contexts,” in which parallels are drawn between first-century and twenty-first century living. “Contemporary Significance” is third, which is where the author suggests applications, which may include illustrations, quotations, statistics, and other aids that can assist preachers.

Robert Yarbrough’s review in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society of Gary M. Burge’s Letters of John volume in the NIVAC series can be used as a representative example of how authors use the three series-prescribed categories. Yarbrough notes that of the pages in Burge’s commentary “48% are devoted to exegesis, 14% to erecting bridges and 38% to application.” He adds, “This truly is an ‘application’ commentary compared to most, as its title promises.” [1]

Please see how the NIVAC series compares to dozens of other commentary series on the Bible Commentaries Comparison Chart.

Video: John Walton on his Job commentary

NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC): Reviews, Theology

NIV application commentary series
New Testament volumes have a white border

Among the best-reviewed Old Testament volumes include John Walton’s Genesis commentary, Roy Gane’s Leviticus and Numbers commentary, Karen Jobes’ Esther commentary, and John Oswalt’s Isaiah commentary. Among the best-reviewed New Testament volumes include Darrell Bock’s Luke commentary, Gary Burge’s John commentary, Douglas Moo’s Romans commentary, George Guthrie’s Hebrews commentary, and Craig Keener’s Revelation commentary.

Theologically, the NIVAC series is broadly evangelical. The authors, who come from various denominational traditions, generally arrive at conservative theological conclusions. However, one particular volume came under criticism after its author was suspended by the seminary where he taught.

Peter Enns, who wrote the Exodus commentary in the series, was suspended by Westminster Seminary in 2005, after the publication of a book, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, which some argue challenges the doctrine of inerrancy. [2] The book was well-reviewed by notable commentators such as Tremper Longman III and Joel B. Green. It was criticized by notable commentators such as D.A. Carson and G.K. Beale.

The controversy did not directly concern the Exodus volume in the NIVAC series, which is one of the best reviewed commentaries in print today. Nevertheless, some reviewers have suggested not purchasing the volume because of the positions Enn’s takes in his other writings. [3]

Interviews from the NIVAC Series on Best Bible Commentaries

I am pleased to have interviewed authors from the NIVAC series on Best Bible Commentaries. Please follow the links provided below to read the Q & A’s in their entirety.

Roy Gane Q & A on Leviticus and Numbers

Preview: “The whole writing project personally edified me and drew me closer to Christ, first as I saw the loving character of God reflected in the sacrifices foreshadowing the sacrifice of Christ and in the way he reached out to his people and interacted with them as close as he could get from his sanctuary residence among them.”

Andrew E. Hill Q & A on 1-2 Chronicles

Preview: “I enjoyed writing about King David as a worshiper, and a worship leader. In part, because of the interest one of our sons has in the character of King David. I was also prompted to develop the topics by the work of former students who wrote thoughtful papers on the subject of King David and worship (appropriately credited in the commentary).”

George Guthrie Q & A on Hebrews

Preview: “As I came to the climax of the christology in Hebrews, particularly 9:11-10:18, the decisiveness of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins really impressed me and has continued to be a cornerstone of my own faith.”

Also see: Gary Burge on the Gospel of John

NIV Application Commentary Volumes

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

Old Testament

Genesis – John H. Walton | Published: 2000

Exodus – Peter E. Enns | Published: 2000

Leviticus, Numbers – Roy Gane | Published: 2000

Deuteronomy – Daniel I. Block | Published: 2000

Joshua – Robert L. Hubbard, Jr. | Published: 2000

Judges, Ruth – K. Lawson Younger | Published: 2000

1 and 2 Samuel – Bill T. Arnold | Published: 2000

1 and 2 Kings – August H. Konkel | Published: 2000

1 and 2 Chronicles – Andrew E. Hill | Published: 2000

— Ezra (no volume yet) —

— Nehemiah (no volume yet) —

Esther – Karen H. Jobes | Published: 2000

Job – John H. Walton | Published: 2000

Psalms, Vol. I – Gerald H. Wilson | Published: 2000

Psalms, Vol. II – W. Dennis Tucker, Jr. and Jamie A. Grant | Published: 2000

Proverbs – Paul Koptak | Published: 2000

Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon – Iain Provan | Published: 2000

Isaiah – John N. Oswalt | Published: 2000

Jeremiah, Lamentations – J. Andrew Dearman | Published: 2000

Ezekiel – Iain M. Duguid | Published: 2000

Daniel – Tremper Longman III | Published: 2000

Hosea, Amos, and Micah – Gary V. Smith | Published: 2000

Joel, Obadiah, Malachi – David W. Baker | Published: 2000

Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah – James Bruckner | Published: 2000

Haggai, Zechariah – Mark J. Boda | Published: 2000

New Testament

Matthew – Michael Wilkins | Published: 2004

Mark – David E. Garland | Published: 1996

Luke – Darrell L. Bock | Published: 1996

John – Gary Burge | Published: 2000

Acts – Ajith Fernando | Published: 1998

Romans – Douglas J. Moo | Published: 2000

1 Corinthians – Craig L. Blomberg | Published: 1995

2 Corinthians – Scott J. Hafemann | Published: 2000

Galatians – Scot McKnight | Published: 1995

Ephesians – Klyne Snodgrass | Published: 1996

Philippians – Frank S. Thielman | Published: 1995

Colossians, Philemon – David E. Garland | Published: 1998

1 and 2 Thessalonians – Michael W. Holmes | Published: 1998

1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus – Walter L. Liefeld | Published: 1999

Hebrews – George H. Guthrie | Published: 1998

James – David P. Nystrom | Published: 1997

1 Peter – Scot McKnight | Published: 1996

2 Peter, Jude – Douglas J. Moo | Published: 1997

The Letters of John – Gary M. Burge | Published: 1996

Revelation – Craig S. Keener | Published: 2000


  1. Yarbrough, Robert W. Source: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 42 no 2 Jun 1999, p 370-372 (subscription required)