Pillar New Testament Commentaries (PNTC) | Reviews, Theology

The Pillar New Testament Commentary is a biblical studies resource that Eerdman’s Publishing Company has printed since the early 1990’s. The series is incomplete and new volumes are still being released.

pillar new testament commentary
The Pillar New Testament Commentary series started with D.A. Carson’s John volume

The series’ editor is theologian D.A. Carson, who is Research professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and founder of The Gospel Coalition. [1]

Carson authored The Gospel According to John volume in the series, which is considered one of the best John commentaries in print today.

Which commentary series is best for your purposes? See Best Bible Commentaries: Top 50. Based on aggregate reviews.

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In fact, Carson’s John volume was the foundation of the entire PNTC series. [2]

Long-time Eerdmans editor, Milton Essenburg, explains that the idea for the Pillar commentary series first came to him in the early 1990’s when he perceived a market-place need for mid-size commentaries that were not overly technical and had pastors as their target audience.

“In looking for a model for such a series, I ended up with D. A. Carson’s The Gospel of John,” Essenburg writes. “I wrote D. A. Carson about my ideas, and he was highly favorable toward them.” [1]

Since Carson’s John commentary had a pillar on the front of it, Essenburg decided to name the new series “Pillar.”

Pillar commentaries are intended for pastors and professors. Carson describes the vision for the series this way:

Ideally, the Pillar series should be first-class exegesis capturing the flow of the argument, with sufficient interaction with the secondary literature to ensure that the work is current, while at the same time reflecting unselfconscious warmth, a certain spiritual vitality that shows itself in the form of expression and in unobtrusive application. [3] 

Pillar volumes are not technical, so they do not require the reader to have a working knowledge of New Testament Greek, though the original language is referenced in volumes and it is the foundation for exegesis in each volume.

For those who are interested in technical details, the footnotes provide an abundance of information. The combination of exegesis and homiletical help has made Pillar go-to series for preachers and teachers.

Theologically, PNTC commentaries reflect an evangelical approach to Scripture, fulfilling one of the primary aims of the series. They are are often noted for their conservative scholarship.

Several of the volumes in the series are well-reviewed by established biblical and theological journals, and are considered among the best scholarship in their subject area, such as Carson’s aforementioned John volume.

Douglas Moo’s volume is considered one of the best James commentaries, David Peterson’s volume is considered one of the best Acts commentaries, and James R. Edwards’ Mark volume is considered one of the best Mark commentaries.

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

Pillar New Testament Commentaries (PNTC): Reviews

Donald A. Hagner, Professor Emeritus at Fuller Theological Seminary, writes about James R. Edwards’ volume, The Gospel According to Luke,

This is a first-rate commentary, written by a seasoned New Testament exegete, reflecting the wisdom and insight we have come to expect from its author. It is built on a foundation of excellent scholarship and in dialogue with the best secondary literature; its approach to the text is reverent and edifying. . . . Immensely rewarding.

Interview: See Best Bible Commentaries’ interview with James R. Edwards on this volume

Darrell L. Bock, Professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, writes about Brian S. Rosner and Roy E. Ciampa’s volume, The First Letter to the Corinthians,

Up to date, replete with many fresh readings, and rooted in the complex historical context that was first century Corinth, this commentary is in touch with those issues that make 1 Corinthians so relevant for the church. Both useful and edifying, Ciampa and Rosner’s work is a partner to keep close at hand as one probes this ethically relevant epistle.

Interview: See Best Bible Commentaries’ interview with Roy E. Ciampa on this volume

Craig Keener, professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, writes about David G. Peterson’s volume, The Acts of the Apostles,

David Peterson interacts with Acts scholarship fairly and in an up-to-date way; his literary and historical conclusions are well informed and sound. His introduction airs issues thoroughly, yet the entire work is easy to follow. Peterson consistently engages the cohesive, larger picture and the theological message of the book.

Interview: See Best Bible Commentaries’ interview with David G. Peterson on this volume

David E. Garland of George W. Truett Theological Seminary, writes about Mark Seifrid’s volume, The Second Letter to the Corinthians,

Seifrid brings extraordinary erudition, exegetical precision, and astute theological reflection to the interpretation of this poignant letter. He makes Paul’s parental love for his problem church come alive and presents his word of the cross so that it also speaks to present-day realities. . . . An outstanding addition to an excellent commentary series.

Interview: See Best Bible Commentaries’ interview with Mark Seifrid on this volume

Also see: Best Bible Commentaries interview with Robert Yarbrough on his new release in the PNTC series on the 1-2 Timothy and Titus volume

Volumes in the Pillar Series — Original and Revised

The links below go to Amazon, which sells new and used copies.

Book descriptions are from the publisher.

The Gospel According to Matthew – Leon Morris | Published 1992

A perceptive introduction precedes Morris’s warmhearted verse-by-verse exposition of Matthew, an exposition based on his own literal translation of the text.

Now a standard reference work on the Gospel of Matthew, this mature, evangelically oriented commentary will continue to meet the needs of students, pastor, and general readers alike.

The Gospel According to Mark – James R. Edwards | Published 2001

Written by a biblical scholar who has devoted thirty years to the study of the second Gospel, this commentary aims primarily to interpret the Gospel of Mark according to its theological intentions and purposes, especially as they relate to the life and ministry of Jesus and the call to faith and discipleship.

Unique features of James Edwards’s approach include clear descriptions of key terms used by Mark and revealing discussion of the Gospel’s literary features, including Mark’s use of the “sandwich” technique and of imagistic motifs and irony.

Edwards also proposes a new paradigm for interpreting the difficult “Little Apocalypse” of chapter 13, and he argues for a new understanding of Mark’s controversial ending.

The Gospel According to Luke – James R. Edwards | Published 2015

Though Luke is often thought to have a primarily Gentile focus, Edwards counterbalances that perspective by citing numerous evidences of Luke’s overarching interest in depicting Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s providential work in the history of Israel, and he even considers the possibility that Luke himself was a Jew.

In several excursuses Edwards discusses particular topics, including Luke’s infancy narratives, the mission of Jesus as the way of salvation, and Luke’s depiction of the universal scope of the gospel.

The Gospel According to John – D.A. Carson | Published 1990

In this solid evangelical commentary on John’s Gospel, a respected Scripture expositor makes clear the flow of the text, engages a small but representative part of the massive secondary literature on John, shows how the Fourth Gospel contributes to biblical and systematic theology, and offers a consistent exposition of John as an evangelistic Gospel.

The comprehensive introduction treats such matters as the authenticity, authorship, purpose, and structure of the Gospel.

The Acts of the Apostles – David G. Peterson | Published 2009

Fifteen years in the making, this comprehensive commentary by David Peterson offers thorough exegesis and exposition of the Acts of the Apostles, drawing on recent scholarship in the fields of narrative criticism and theological analysis, incorporating insights into historical-social background, and investigating why Luke presents his material in the way he does.

In view of how long the book of Acts is — over a thousand verses — Peterson’s commentary is admirably economical yet meaty. His judgments, according to Don Carson, are always “sane, evenhanded, and judicious.”

Even while unpacking exegetical details, Peterson constantly scans the horizon, keeping the larger picture in mind.

With its solid exegesis, astute theological analysis, and practical contemporary application, Peterson’s Acts of the Apostles is a commentary that preachers, teachers, and students everywhere will want and need.

Paul’s Letter to the Romans – Colin G. Kruse | Published 2012

Paul’s letter to the Romans may well be the most influential book in Christian history. In this Romans commentary Colin Kruse shows how Paul expounds the gospel against the background of God’s sovereign action as creator, judge, and redeemer of the world.

Valuable “additional notes” on important theological themes and difficult texts — such as Paul’s discussion of same-sex relationships, the salvation of “all Israel,” and the woman Junia, who was “well known among the apostles” — further connect Romans to contemporary issues.

Throughout his commentary Kruse expertly guides readers through the plethora of interpretations of Romans, providing a reliable exposition of this foundational epistle.

Replaced Morris, Leon. The Epistle to the Romans | Published 1988

The First Letter to the Corinthians – Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner | Published 2010

This thorough commentary presents a coherent reading of 1 Corinthians, taking full account of its Old Testament and Jewish roots and demonstrating Paul’s primary concern for the unity and purity of the church and the glory of God.

Roy Ciampa and Brian Rosner’s well-informed, careful exegesis touches on an astonishingly wide swath of important yet sensitive issues, reinforcing the letter’s ongoing theological and pastoral significance.

The Second Letter to the Corinthians – Mark A. Seifrid | Published 2014

This commentary by Mark Seifrid seeks to hear Paul’s message afresh and communicate it to our time. Seifrid offers a unified reading of 2 Corinthians, which has often been regarded as a composite of excerpts and fragments.

He argues that Paul’s message is directed at the “practical atheism” of the Corinthian church — the hidden heresy that assumes God’s saving work in the world may be measured by outward standards of success and achievement.

— Galatians (no volume yet) —

The Letter to the Ephesians – Peter T. O’Brien | Published 1999

From a foremost authority on the New Testament comes a major new commentary on Ephesians–a letter of truth, love, and unity to our superficial world. 

This volume in the Pillar New Testament Commentary series provides a rich exposition of Ephesians, one of the most significant documents ever written. Using the fruits of recent biblical research, Peter O’Brien shows how Ephesians sums up God’s magnificent plan of salvation in Christ and spells out his divine purpose for believers today. 

A model of the scholarly excellence characteristic of the entire PNTC series, O’Brien’s Ephesians will become the standard work on this profoundly influential book.

Also see: Why Aren’t Peter O’Brien’s Commentaries Published Anymore? [4]

The Letter to the Philippians – G. Walter Hansen | Published 2009

After a select bibliography, Hansen’s introduction sets forth the historical setting of the church in Philippi, the nature and occasion of the letter, and a preview of two key themes–the gospel of Christ and the community in Christ.

The commentary itself discusses Philippians in light of these themes, considering Paul’s greetings, reports of gospel ministry, imperatives for citizens worthy of the gospel, recommendations of two Christ-like servants, and disclosures of his personal experience.

Hansen’s treatment as a whole is distinctive for the way it draws out and highlights the themes of partnership, citizenship, and friendship in Paul’s Philippian letter.

The Letter to the Colossians and Philemon – Douglas J. Moo | Published 2008

Exhibiting the same brilliant exegesis and sound practical insight found in his previous works, noted commentator Douglas J. Moo in this new volume not only explains accurately the meaning of the letters to the Colossians and to Philemon but also applies that meaning powerfully to twenty-first-century readers.

Moo both interacts with the Greek text of these letters and clearly explains the English text to a contemporary audience.

The Letters to the Thessalonians – Gene Green | Published 2002

The main body of the book provides informed verse-by-verse commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians that extracts the fullest possible meaning from these important New Testament texts.

As Green’s exposition shows, the Thessalonian scriptures are especially valuable as letters of friendship and for showing Paul’s pastoral concern for the many areas in which the Thessalonians needed guidance.

Some of Paul’s purposes are to thank the new believers for their steadfastness amid suffering, to encourage them in their trials, to urge them not to neglect their daily work, and, no less important, to teach them about the future of believers who die before Christ returns.

Indeed, the matter of the last things and the second coming of Christ so permeates these texts that they are often called Paul’s eschatological letters.

The Letters to Timothy and Titus – Robert W. Yarbrough | Published 2018

In keeping with the character of Pillar New Testament Commentary volumes, The Letters to Timothy and Titus offers a straightforward reading of these texts.

Their primary concerns — God, salvation, and the pastoral task — remain central to Yarbrough’s thorough and comprehensive exegesis. Engaging with the best scholarship and resources, Yarbrough shows how these letters are as relevant today as they were to the early Christians.

The Letter to the Hebrews – Peter O’Brien | Published 2010

In this carefully crafted commentary Peter O’Brien distinctively harvests the results of recent scholarship on the letter to the Hebrews, especially in relation to the genre of the document and the flow of its discourse.

This volume is purposely neither unduly technical nor unhelpfully brief. Its careful exegesis and exposition combined with its theological richness and warm devotion will fruitfully serve pastors, teachers, and students everywhere.

The Letter to James – Douglas J. Moo | Published 2000

This highly original commentary seeks to make the Letter of James clear and applicable to Christian living today.

Interacting with the latest views on James but keeping academic references to a minimum, Douglas Moo first introduces the Letter of James in its historical context and then provides verse-by-verse comments that explain the message of James both to its first readers and to today’s church.

— 1 Peter (no volume yet) —

The Letters of 2 Peter, Jude – Peter H. Davids | Published 2006

Filling a notable gap in scholarship on 2 Peter and Jude, Peter Davids artfully unpacks these two neglected but fascinating epistles that deal with the confrontation between the Greco-Roman world and the burgeoning first-century Jesus communities.

Davids firmly grasps the overall structure of these oft-maligned epistles and presents a strong case for 2 Peter and Jude as coherent, consistent documents.

Marked by exceptional exegesis and sharp, independent judgments, Davids’s work both connects with the latest scholarship and transforms scholarly insights into helpful conclusions benefiting Christian believers.

The Letters of John – Colin G. Kruse | Published 2000

This Pillar commentary seeks to clearly explain the meaning of John’s letters to teachers, pastors, and general readers looking for a reliable resource for personal study.

Colin Kruse introduces the important issues involved in interpreting the Johannine letters, gives verse-by-verse comments, and provides extensive discussion of John’s major theological themes, including the real humanity of Christ, atonement, the role of the Spirit, Christian assurance, the meaning of koinonia, Christian love, and eternal life.

Revelation (no volume yet) —






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