Top 5 Commentaries on Luke

1. Luke (BECNT, 2 Volumes) by Darrell Bock $$$$

A two-volume tour de force by arguably the preeminent Lukan scholar in the world. If you’re serious about studying this gospel, then you need this set. The layout of the BECNT series is easy to use, which makes this commentary great for those looking for both technical discussion and exposition. Bock discusses the Greek often, but it never feels unnecessary. He also does a great job of drawing out the OT implications of Luke’s gospel. He understands Luke’s purpose to be centered around God’s activity of salvation/redemption in Jesus the Messiah, which shows God’s own faithfulness to fulfill the OT promises (which include Israel and the nations). For a more in-depth look at the theology of Luke see Bock’s excellent work, A Theology of Luke and Acts. On the personal level, I had the privilege of getting to study the Gospel of Luke under Dr. Bock’s teaching the fall of 2018 at DTS. The guy is awesome—incredibly knowledgable and completely down to earth. I enthusiastically recommend this commentary set for teachers, pastors, and students.

2. Luke (PNTC) by James R. Edwards $$$

Edwards has written an engaging and learned exposition of Luke’s Gospel. Edwards introduces the Gospel saying, “Luke’s Gospel is not a testimony of his ideas, or even of his faith. It narrates events that have been brought to completion among us, i.e., the concrete and saving acts of God that have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The gospel is not a noble moral proclamation, nor can it be reduced to a set of abstract teachings and truths. It is not something that Luke or any witness can take credit for…[it’s] a history of what God has done, to which the proper human responses are belief and proclamation.” (41) Edwards is strongest in following the narrative development of Luke and discussing literary features within the narrative. He discusses the Greek plenty both in the main body of the text and in footnotes. All Greek is transliterated so no worries for those that don’t know Greek. If you can only purchase one commentary on Luke, buy this one.

3. Luke (ZECNT) by David E. Garland $$$

Garland is a skilled interpreter and writer. He has written several outstanding commentaries and this one is no different. Garland argues that Luke is writing scriptural narrative, “Luke does not regard the new as discontinuous with the past…Luke presents the scriptural story and its themes as culminating in Jesus.” (37) He draws this out throughout the commentary. Garland understands the concept of the Kingdom in an ‘already not yet’ lens, and consistently discusses the tensions in the story in regard to this motif. This is an “exegetical” commentary so the Greek text is discussed plenty, but one does not need to know Greek to benefit greatly from this commentary since each pericope is overviewed and the main point of the section is plainly laid out. Additionally, each pericope ends with theological application. Lastly, the theology of Luke is aptly discussed in the last portion of the commentary.

4. The Gospel of Luke (NICNT) by Joel B. Green $$$

This is a unique and fascinating commentary on Luke. Green focuses primarily on the literary features of the narrative—discourse analysis. He also draws out sociological backgrounds and implications of the narrative. Green argues, “As historiographical narrative, the Gospel of Luke consists of a series of event-accounts. The significance of each of these accounts is incomplete when viewed on its own. Each must be read with reference to its narrative location. Hence, the order of the narrative, Luke’s staging of events in their narrative sequence, is a primary control on the determination of meaning.” (77) I wouldn’t recommend this to be the only commentary you have on Luke, but it certainly supplements the others on the list. Rarely do I not learn something about the gospel when reading this commentary.

5. The Gospel according to Luke (AYBC, 2 Volumes) by Joseph Fitzmyer $$$$

Simply a classic. Though a little dated, Fitzmyer leaves no stone unturned. Consequently, if anyone is wanting a detailed study of Luke—exegetically and theologically—this a must buy. If you’re wanting exposition and application then save your money and time. Fitzmyer argues, “Luke is concerned to pass on to a postapostolic age a Jesus-tradition that is related to the biblical history of Israel and to insist that it is only within the stream of apostolic tradition, represented by Peter and Paul, that one finds this divinely destined salvation.” (9) Honestly, the content of this commentary is so good it should be higher on the list, but it’s layout is frustrating. The notes and explanation sections need to be combined (body with footnotes?) because there is way too much page flipping. Highly recommended especially for the serious student.

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