Part 5.

Helpful Books for Bible Study

6. Commentaries

We can imagine some of our readers lifting their eyebrows at this word, especially in the light of what we have already said about original work. We can only say, there are two kinds of commentaries and we must not be afraid of a word because it has been abused. What is our own little book, but an endeavor to throw light upon the truths of the precious word of God? What are these outlines which we have been commending, but elucidations of the great dispensations, etc. , of Scripture; and what the helpful "Notes," etc., which have been of such benefit to multitudes? These are but commentaries under another name, and we must not despise helps of this kind. Indeed, the student who gathers most by original work will be the last to despise helps of every kind.

We desire under this head to give no exhaustive list — an impossible thing; nor even to point out every helpful commentary, which would also be an impossibility; nor yet merely to repeat what we have said elsewhere, but simply to answer an inquiry that might be made by any one engaged in Bible study.

As to commentaries on the entire Bible, we mention first, although it covers only part of the Old Testament with all the New,

1. "The Numerical Bible," by F. W. Grant. We have already spoken of it as supplying a new and carefully prepared version of the Bible, and have as well pointed out the value of its outlines, together with the numerical structure to which we have had occasion to draw the reader's attention. We therefore confine what we have to say here simply to its value as a comment upon the Scriptures, and we can truly say that, in our judgment, no more valuable commentary exists.

It is not in the strictest sense a commentary. That is, it does not take up each verse and give grammatical and other elucidations, with practical remarks at the close. It is rather an enlargement of the thought of an outline, giving the scope and contents of each book with its divisions and sub-divisions, and going into the evident purpose of the Spirit of God in each portion, both as to its form and contents. There is always special reference to the spiritual significance, and where this is clearly grasped, it often offers a key to the literal interpretation of a passage. Mr. Grant is particularly rich and helpful in the typical portions of the Old Testament; the comments on the tabernacle in Exodus, on the sacrifices in Leviticus, the other ceremonial ordinances in Numbers and Deuteronomy, are most valuable and suggestive. Indeed, it is the peculiar charm of this book that it gives us clues for further study, rather than sating the mind with every possible thought upon a passage. The work is thus stimulating and enables one to pursue his own studies with greater liberty and confidence. Nor is the practical feature found wanting. Indeed who that is most engaged with the truly spiritual can handle it in a coldly intellectual manner? It is ever God's way to appeal to the heart and conscience as well as the intellect, and a mere mental enjoyment of Scripture is a dangerous thing.

The two volumes from Genesis to 2 Samuel are a treasure-house of "things new and old" in this direction. The separate volume on the book of Psalms is remarkable in every way. We know of nothing to be compared with it in value as a commentary upon the Psalms, and especially with reference to their structure, dispensational setting, and Christological value.

We are thankful to say that the entire New Testament is completed, and here, in Gospels, Acts and Epistles, together with Revelation, we have a complete commentary upon the Christian Scriptures, most useful and sufficiently minute in the more abstract portions to amount to a helpful treatment of the subject.

It has also a system of references by which an effort is made to elucidate the text by suited and classified references. These have proven helpful to many students, not only in furnishing actual texts, but indicating the nature of proper references and how far we may make use of Scripture as a divinely inspired comment upon itself. This line of study, as already suggested, is most valuable, and indeed fascinating.

2. With certain qualifications and reservations, we mention "Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary" of the entire Scriptures — a work of considerable value in furnishing a comment upon every portion of Scripture, in the main orthodox, but lacking that dispensational grasp of truth which is of such great importance. It is perhaps the most valuable commentary of this character that we can speak of. For those who know dispensational truth, it would be valuable in a general way, as furnishing useful and helpful explanations of much of an antiquarian and historical, as well as doctrinal and practical character.

3. Somewhat similar, but probably more scholarly and more lengthy, is "The Speaker's Commentary," prepared by prominent clergymen of the Church of England, with much to commend in its devout and reverent tone and genuine scholarship, while quite within the comprehension of the average student.

4. "Ellicott's Commentary" on the entire Scriptures seems also a valuable work of the same character, while the older commentaries of Scott and Matthew Henry are far too voluminous and diffuse for the average reader to make much use of.

5. Of more distinctly technical works, we might mention the commentaries of Kiel and Delitzsch upon the Old Testament, rich and scholarly, but without the knowledge of dispensational truth. We might mention as a New Testament companion to these, a work different indeed in many respects, but valuable:

6. "Alford's Greek Testament," in five volumes. The author was a scholarly, gifted man, no mean textual critic, and with quite an insight into prophetic truth. His notes are interesting and suggestive, and his text, especially with its rich thesaurus of various readings, is invaluable. He must however be read with discrimination.

7. The Lange series of doctrinal, critical, exegetical and homiletical commentaries on the entire Bible is of varying value according to the authors. While not distinctly unsound nor tainted with higher critical infidelity, it is scarcely a work one would recommend for the general reader. Some, however, will profit from it, and whoever is capable of understanding it should at least be also capable of detecting partial or erroneous views.

With these, we close our general list and add only a few works upon special books.

1. C. H. Mackintosh's "Notes on the Pentateuch" we have already described and would again warmly commend. They should have their place on the shelves of every Bible student. With many, they have been the key to opening the entire Bible. The beloved author was a man of singular piety and ability, with a remarkable gift of expression. Scarcely anywhere in the English language will we find more beautiful and forcible language. It is a work to be put in the hands of a beginner, and many there are who have wished that he could have continued his comments upon the entire Scriptures in the same manner. This, however, was not permitted. We therefore add, as far as we can, a list of works of a similar class, upon the remainder of the Scriptures.

2."The Book of Joshua," by H. F. Witherby, is quite in line with Mr. Mackintosh's work and a good introduction to this important and little understood book. It is particularly rich in its unfolding of what we might call "Ephesian truth."

3. "Lectures on the Book of Judges," by S. Ridout. In a series of familiar addresses, the contents of this book are opened up, the lessons of Israel's failure to possess themselves of the land and to hold it in the fear of God, with special application to individual and corporate life at the present time.

4. "Gleanings from the Book of Ruth," by the same author, is along similar lines, and, together with other smaller works, is an exposition of that lovely pastoral supplement to Judges.*

{*See also "The Time of Harvest," by C. Knapp "Ruth, or Blessing and Rest," by C. Stanley.}

5. "King Saul: the Man after the Flesh," by S. Ridout, is a series of Notes upon 1 Samuel, after the manner of the book on Judges; and while King Saul is the prominent character, as indeed he is in 1 Samuel, there is an exposition of the book from beginning to end.

"Life and Times of David," by C. H. Mackintosh, covers the same period, as "Staff and Sceptre," by C. Knapp, also does.

6. The Kings of Judah and Israel," by C. Knapp. This book covers 2d Samuel, Kings and Chronicles,with many helpful and valuable notes on the various kings, good and bad, of Judah, and those who led or maintained the divided kingdom of Israel in their apostasy.

To these also may be added the helpful monographs, by C. H. Mackintosh, on Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Elijah and Josiah. "Mephibosheth," "Great Stones and Costly," "Doors Shut and Lamps Put Out," interesting and valuable pamphlets by Charles Stanley. "Meditations on Elisha," by J. G. Bellett, in that gifted author's usual happy style.

7. The captivity books, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther, have been commented upon by E. Dennett, C. Stanley and others. "The Captives of Judah," by J. G. Bellett, is valuable.

"The Gates of Jerusalem," by H. A. Ironside, and the same author's suggestive "Notes on Esther," bring us to the end of the historical books.

8. "Notes on Job," by W. Kelly, with a new and able translation of that book, with Notes following each chapter, is an excellent little volume. Mr. Mackintosh has written "Job and His Friends" which deals with one feature of the book, and Mr. Stanley on "Job's Conversion." There is still room for a handling of the whole book after the manner of Mr. Mackintosh.

9. Mr. Darby's "Practical Reflections on the Psalms; ""The Book of Praises," by C. E. Stuart; "Meditations on the Psalms, chiefly in their prophetic character," by J. G. Bellett; and "Notes on the Psalms," by Arthur Pridham, the latter with some provisos, will suffice.

10. "Proverbs," by H. A. Ironside, a valuable and practical comment upon each verse of that wonderful book.

11. On Ecclesiastes, we have "Old Groans and New Songs," by F. C. Jennings, in which the great problem, "Is life worth living?" is discussed in the light of New Testament joys, which alone can justify an affirmative answer.

12. "Meditations on the Song of Solomon," by A. Miller, is a sweet and edifying enlargement of this lovely book. The smaller work by H. Friend is also helpful.

13. On Isaiah we have no work of a character similar to the list we are now giving. "The Prophet Isaiah," by W. Kelly, is a larger and more scholarly work, abounding in much that is profitable however, and with the special advantage of being clear in its dispensational presentation of the truth.

14. "The Weeping Prophet," by H. A. Ironside, is a helpful unfolding of the book of Jeremiah, with practical applications to our times.

15. "Notes on Ezekiel," by W. Kelly, covers that prophet in a profitable way.

16. "Notes on Daniel," by the same author, is a remarkably helpful and simple work. Mr. Iron-side's "Lectures" on the same book, recently published, are perhaps a more popular treatment of the same subject.

17. "The Twelve Minor Prophets," by H. A. Ironside, gives quite a full unfolding of this "Deuteronomy of the Prophets" after the author's usual clear and practical manner.

Continuing our list of books that would form suited companions to C. H. M.'s "Notes," we come to the New Testament.

18. We place first here Mr. Bellett's admirable book on "The Evangelists" which, in deep, spiritual and rich views of the person of our Lord, make up for any lack of detailed exposition.

19. These details are considered in "Lectures on the Gospel of Matthew," an excellent and scholarly work by Mr. Kelly, a little above the level of the other books, but furnishing a pattern for the study of the other Synoptic Gospels.

20. "Notes on Mark," by C. E. Stuart, and "The Great Servant Prophet," a series of addresses on this Gospel, by W. T. Turpin, are useful. W. Kelly has a learned work on this same Gospel.

21. The Notes on the Gospel of Luke," From Advent to Advent," by C. E. Stuart, bear marks of that author's usual painstaking labor and helpful suggestions in many directions.

22. "Notes on the Gospel of John," by R. Evans, enter into the spirit of this wondrous Gospel, whose heights and depths still invite further prayerful meditation. A work on this Gospel in the style of Mr. Mackintosh is greatly to be desired.

23. Perhaps the best Notes on the book of Acts are those by Mr. Darby, originally written in Italian; they are a beautiful and simple unfolding of that book. Mr. Kelly has also written on it.

24. "Notes on Romans," by J. N. Darby, and another by W. Kelly on the same epistle, would serve perhaps as well as any for a detailed examination of that epistle. The smaller works by C. Crain and J. Fort have features of excellence which we miss in the others.

25. As for Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Mr. Kelly has written a series of volumes on all these epistles, than which we know of none superior. The same remark applies to his books on the pastoral epistles to Timothy and Titus.

26. "Lectures on the Epistle to the Hebrews," by S. Ridout, is in line with the book on Judges, with perhaps more reference to detailed exposition, so that the entire epistle is covered. There is also an excellent summary of the Epistle by F. W. Grant.

27. "Reflections on James," by J. N. Darby is a simple treatise on that epistle.

28. 1 and 2 Peter by W. K., and Jude by H. A. Ironside.

29. The 1st Epistle of John, by J. N. Darby, and a larger work by W. K. on the three epistles.

30. On Revelation, we have a goodly number of illuminating expositions. "The Revelation of Jesus Christ," by T. B. Baines, is simpler than another of a similar title by F. W. Grant, which is more profound and, on the whole, the best that has been written on this portion of Scripture. Mr. Baines is more after the manner of Mr. Mackintosh.

We have thus endeavored to suggest a library of Expositions of the entire Scriptures for the average reader, which might be called an elementary commentary on the Bible, while by no means unsuitable for more advanced students.

All these books have the advantage of having been written from the standpoint of "rightly dividing the Word of truth," particularly as to dispensational details. There are many excellent works which have not been mentioned, but which lack this clear setting as to the general scope of Scripture teaching. No doubt, many think of favorite authors whom they would prefer to some mentioned here. We simply give a list which we can commend as being both profitable and safe.

We add a few books not exactly expository,but which are as necessary for the Christian's library.

1. "Facts and Theories as to a Future State," by F. W. Grant, the classic on this solemn subject a treasure-house of truth to meet the current assaults upon the fact of man's responsibility, the eternity of punishment and related subjects. In view of the activity of Adventism, Millennial - dawnism, Christadelphianism, and other similar forms of error, this book is a necessity for the Bible student and Christian worker.

2. "The Atonement" and "The Crowned Christ," two works by the same author upon the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ, are most valuable treatises on these subjects.

3. "The Son of God," by J. G. Bellett; "The Moral Glory of the Lord Jesus," by the same, are two delightful, elevating books, leading to a deeper and adoring sense of the excellence and matchless worth of our Lord. The first dwells upon His deity; the second upon His humanity.

4. "The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit," by S. Ridout, is an attempt to present in orderly detail this most important subject; special attention has been drawn to the unscriptural idea of seeking a baptism of the Spirit, a "second blessing," etc., while fully recognizing the need of being "filled with the Spirit" who dwells already in every believer. The work of the Spirit in connection with Church ministry, worship, etc., as well as in His dispensational work in the past and in the future, is set forth.

5. "Divine Unfoldings," by Walter Scott, is a very helpful and interesting little book in which the accuracy of Scripture in using the various titles of God and our Lord Jesus Christ is set forth. This book should have a place in every library.

6. "The Prophetic History of the Church," by F. W. Grant; "Simple Papers on the Church of God," by C. E. Stuart, and W.Kelly's "Lectures on the Church of God" are excellent. These or similar books should find a place upon the shelves of every one who desires to know what the Bible teaches on this great subject.

7. No library would be complete without a little poetry. At least, the "Hymns of Ter Steegen, Suso and Others," by Mrs. Bevan, and her own book "Coming," should find a place in the smallest library.

We add a short list of books upon the subject that has been before us, many of which will be found suggestive and covering part at least of the ground we have gone over. This must necessarily be the case, for Bible study cannot be entirely along new lines.

1. "How to Study the Bible," by D. L. Moody.

This is a stimulating and suggestive little book, giving simply an address upon this topic. It does not pretend to enter into such details as the Bible student would require.

2. "How to Study the Bible for greatest Profit," by R. Torrey.

Dr. Torrey has also written a very suggestive introduction to the "New Topical Text Book," elsewhere noted. His suggestions are valuable. In the book we notice here, he has gone quite fully and thoroughly into the general subject. Many of his suggestions, as just mentioned, will be found to have been given in one form or another in our own book but his method of treating the subject is original, and those who can do so will find much of profit in going over it. His suggestions as to analysis are good,and the chapter devoted to an outline of I Peter will be found stimulating. We can commend the book cordially.

3. "How to Study the Bible," by I. M. Haldeman.

This is the first of a series of articles on Bible studies embraced in the book to which this article gives its name. While excellent and helpful, the purchaser must not expect to find a book of the size indicated by the price, as only the first article, of some fifty pages, is given to this subject. Dr. Haldeman also alludes to various methods, some of which we have taken up.

Without claiming exhaustiveness for our little book, we can say that we do not know of any special method recommended in any of the other books which is not dealt with in our own.