In continuing with these posts on commentary recommendations which I have in my library, I now come to the 1st & 2nd epistle to the Thessalonians. Most commentaries that are available have both letters included in one volume since it would be tremendously difficult to understand one without the other. Obviously, if one is studying ethics & eschatology, the letters to the Thessalonians are going to be a primary reference. Anyone who has read my blog for any sort of time knows that I don’t adhere to the secret rapture theory amongst other interpretations put forth by our dispensational friends.
There are two commentaries that I use in a primary fashion while studying these epistles. The first would be from the Pillar New Testament Commentary series called “The Letters to the Thessalonians” written by Professor Gene L. Green. Green’s commentary is one of the most balanced commentaries that I’ve read on these epistles in quite some time. I very much enjoyed his introduction especially where he deals with the culture and religious life of Thessalonica. I felt it gave a tremendously useful background prior to getting into the text itself. Like many other volumes in the PNTC series, Green delves into deep exegetical insight without bogging the reader down with an over emphasis on the original languages. I found this volume especially pastoral as Green kept in mind that his audience may not be seminary scholars. While Green deals with the eschatological implications of interpreting the texts of 1 Thess. 4-5 & 2 Thess. 1, Green demonstrates these eschatological teachings are intended to bring great comfort and hope to the believer and insert joy into his day-to-day living. Many don’t realize how our Christian life is entrenched in our view of eschatology and attempt to separate the ethics from the eschatology. Green brings the point home that one is contingent on the other. The commentary is approximately 450 pages long and has extensive footnotes throughout. There is no question that any study of these epistles will be greatly enriched by using this commentary.
My second choice is a smaller volume from the IVP New Testament Commentary Series merely titled 1 & 2 Thessalonians. The commentary was written by one of my favorite authors, G.K. Beale. As always, Beale produces a tremendously useful commentary which benefited me greatly. What I believe many will enjoy about this commentary is just how readable it is. Generally speaking, Beale’s works can be tremendously difficult to read and one has to closely examine what he attempting to argue. This commentary is far different from what he has produced in the past. The commentary flows very well and one doesn’t have to have a degree in theology to understand it. The volume is approximately 279 pages which is quite substantially smaller than Green’s. I felt also that Green gave a much fuller introduction than Beale but when it came to the eschatological texts, Beale did a fantastic job and I feel surpasses Green. His treatment of 1 Thess. 4:13-17 was fantastic and coming from a true eschatologist, this could only be the case.
Certainly both these commentaries would be useful to anyone who would like to study the text of 1 & 2 Thessalonians more seriously. There are other very good commentaries out there but they are a bit dated and these two are some of the better works of a more recent nature.