When it comes to biblical interpretation, Christians must do their best to leave their biases aside and be open to how the text might challenge our long-held beliefs and way of life. For this reason, we shouldn’t necessarily be looking for voices and commentaries that only confirm our own opinions. However, it is helpful to know how your tradition reads the text and what serves as the basis for that reading.
Below, you’ll find commentaries from Wesleyan-Arminian scholars. These commentators believe that God’s holy love is his most defining attribute, and that he desires that all people be saved. This doesn’t mean that these commentaries will always carry sharp, Wesleyan-Arminian views. But they do stand out from other commentaries in that they are written by scholars with these theological convictions.
You’ll notice some Gospels are more popular than others. Also, there are varying degrees of historical-critical appropriations here. Add your contributions in the comments below.
The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary by Craig Keener
Keener draws on his impressive knowledge of the classical world to illuminate Scripture. Based on this background knowledge, he consistently shows how the original audience would have interpreted a text. Keener teaches as Asbury Theological Seminary and is growing more distinguished every year.
Matthew by Ben Witherington III
Here Witherington offers insights especially from Jewish wisdom literature and traces the implications for christology and ethics. Witherington is Jean R. Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and is a popular evangelical New Testament scholar with both the church and secular media outlets.
Matthew by Grant Osborne
This is part of the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary series, which focuses on the Greek text and its literary and compositional structure. Here Osborne offers solid exegesis while having an eye for application. Osborne is an expert on hermeneutics and serves as Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew (3 vols) by W. D. Davies and Dale C. Alison
This series is known for its comprehension, drawing on diverse fields of study. Davies was Welsh, a Methodist, and held a position at Duke Divinity School, among other notable academic institutions. He also oversaw the dissertation of renowned biblical scholar E. P Sanders. Allison is the Richard J. Dearborn Professor of New Testament Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary.
Matthew by Stanley Hauerwas
Hauerwas offers a theological commentary on the Gospel according to Matthew that aims to serve the church. This series is written by theologians, not biblical scholars (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible). His voice and views are challenging and provocative, and draws theologians such as Karl Barth into theological conversation. Hauwerwas is the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor Emeritus of Divinity and Law at Duke Divinity School, and in 2001 TIME named him “America’s Best Theologian.”
The Gospel of Matthew by John Nolland
This commentary does engage with the Greek text but it remains accessible. Nolland focuses on textual, literary features, and includes a healthy does of redaction criticism. It is part of the New International Greek Testament Commentary series. Nolland is Scottish, a Methodist, and Tutor in New Testament at Trinity College in Bristol, UK.
Matthew: A Commentary for Bible Students by Roger L. Hahn
This commentary is aimed at the beginning Bible student and disciple; it traces the theological theme of the kingdom and shows how it relates to the transformed life. It is part of a series published by the Wesleyan Church. Hahn is Dean of the Faculty, Professor of New Testament, and Willard H. Taylor Chair of Biblical Theology at Nazarene Theological Seminary.
The Wesleyan Bible Commentary: Matthew – Acts by Ralph Earle, Harvey J. S. Blaney, and Charles W. Carter
This commentary is several decades old, but these authors represent several churches in the Wesleyan tradition and so offer helpful insight on how these texts may be appropriated by their various communities.
The Structure of Matthew’s Gospel: A Study in Literary Design by David R. Bauer
Bauer is a meticulous scholar whose Inductive Bible Study method illuminates the text in unique ways. This commentary pays particular attention to the literary structure of the work. Bauer is Dean of the School of Biblical Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary.
Matthew and the Margins: A Sociopolitical and Religious Reading by Warren Carter
This verse by verse commentary offers an approach that considers Matthew’s gospel a subversive document to the Roman empire. Expect themes concerning power, marginality, and empire here. Carter serves as Professor of New Testament at Brite Divinity School and is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.
The Gospel According to Matthew (2 vols.) by George Wesley Buchanan
Buchanan’s commentaries are technical works that focus especially on intertexuality—showing the parallels and echoes of Scripture within a text. Buchanan is Professor Emeritus, Wesley Theological Seminary, and is on the board of Biblical Archaeological Review.
The Gospel of Mark
Mark: A Commentary for Bible Students by David Smith
This work, again part of the series published by the Wesleyan Church, promotes discipleship and life transformation by exegeting the text and drawing out life applications. Here, the focus is on the person and message of Jesus Christ. Smith is the Academic Dean for Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University.
Mark 8:27–16:20 by Craig Evans
This commentary here delves deep into textual, historical, and theological exposition of the text. It is part of the World Biblical Commentary, which houses some of the most important evangelical contributions to biblical scholarship. Evans is a leading New Testament scholar, and though from a baptist background, is Arminian in his understanding of salvation. Evans is the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins and Dean of the School of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University in Texas.
The Gospel according to Mark by William L. Lane
Lane uses redaction criticism to show how Mark was written to a community facing persecution in order to strengthen them in their faith. Part of the NICNT, this work is both readable and technical. Lane was a Free Methodist and held the Paul T. Walls Chair in Wesleyan and Biblical Studies at Seattle Pacific University until his retirement in 1997. He died in 1999.
The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary by Ben Witherington III
You’ll soon discover that Witherington has written a commentary on every book of the New Testament. Here the socio-rhetorical approach for biblical interpretation, of which he is a leading proponent, comes to the forefront. He uses this to demonstrate that Mark is a work of ancient rhetoric and biography. Witherington is Jean R. Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and is a popular evangelical New Testament scholar with both the church and secular media outlets.
Mark: A Wesleyan Commentary by Kent Brower
This is part of the New Beacon Bible Commentary series that is written from a Wesleyan perspective. Here, Brower goes verse by verse to draw out textual details, theological themes, and interpretive issues. Brower studied under F. F. Bruce, and is Senior Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Nazarene Theological College in Manchester, England.
The Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of Luke by Joel B. Green
Green carries a wealth of multidisciplinary knowledge and here offers profound historical-narrative insights for Luke, focusing on “discourse analysis.” Part of the NICNT commentary series, this is an oft-referenced piece of work. Green tends toward theological interpretation, which is a gift to the church. Green serves as Professor of New Testament and Dean of the School of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary.
The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text by I. Howard Marshall
This commentary is written for students but is technical, engaging highly with the Greek text and offering a thorough linguistic analysis from a historical-critical approach. Marshall was an accomplished and prolific British scholar, and was Professor Emeritus at University of Aberdeen.
Luke: A Commentary for Bible Students by Ken Heer
Part of the Wesleyan Commentary series, this work focuses on Luke’s attempt at persuasion of his readers that Jesus is indeed the foundation for a true way of life. Heer is the Director of Education and the Ministry for The Wesleyan Church.
Luke (3 vols) by John Nolland
This work treats the historical context, literary structure, and relationship to other gospels. It also addresses concerns about historicity and theological meaning. The World Biblical Commentary houses some of the most important evangelical contributions to biblical scholarship. Nolland is Academic Dean and Lecturer in New Testament studies at Trinity College, Bristol, England.
Luke by Craig A. Evans
This is a popular level commentary which offers a lot of helpful Old Testament and intertestamental background. It is part of the New International Biblical Commentary. Evans is the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins and Dean of the School of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University in Texas.
Luke 1-9; 9-24: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition (NBBC) by David A. Neale
The New Beacon Bible Commentary series aims to “aid individuals in every walk of life in the study and meditation of God’s Word.” It is written from the Wesleyan theological tradition. These volumes in particular are very accessible while diving deep into the meaning of the text. Resisting technical language, they draw out discipleship themes throughout. Neale is the vice president and academic dean at Booth University College in Winnipeg.
The Gospel of John
The Gospel of John (2 vols.) by Craig Keener
Here Keener offers important background information from the Jewish and Greco-Roman world, and again highlights how this impacts our interpretation. Keener is Professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary.
John’s Wisdom: A Commentary on the Fourth Gospel by Ben Witherington III
Witherington continues to bring his insight from Jewish wisdom literature and shows how this sheds important light on understanding the Gospel of John. He argues that for John, Jesus is wisdom personified. This approach also lends itself to modern day applications, which can be found throughout. Witherington is Professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary.
John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition by Joseph Dongell
Part of the Wesleyan Commentary series, this work focuses on the transformation that results from encountering the love of God in the person of Jesus. Dongell is Professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary.
The Gospel according to St. John: An Introduction with Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text by C. K. Barrett
This commentary is based on the Greek text, and treats the work as a theological unity, generally rejecting redaction criticism insights. Barrett served as Professor of Divinity at Durham College and was a British Methodist.
Add your own in the comments below.