I have always been drawn to what one of my friends has termed ‘lesser spotted Scripture’. I love John 3:16, Isaiah 6, Psalm 23 and Romans 8 as much as the next Christian. But, I am also keenly aware that God has given us the whole counsel of Scripture which includes 2 Chronicles, Ecclesiastes, Haggai and Jude! That means I often enjoy preaching from those lesser known books.
What I have found is that the lesser known books are lesser known because they strike us as difficult. Indeed, Ecclesiastes and 2 Peter are difficult books to grasp the big idea of. However, once we have devoted some time to them, the truths they possess shine all the more brightly. After preaching through both 2 Peter and Jude, two books which very much qualify as ‘lesser spotted Scripture’, here are my top five commentaries on them.
Bauckham is an expert in ‘lesser spotted Scripture’. In particular, he is well versed in apocalyptic literature and Jewish inter-testamental literature. This makes him a good candidate for writing a commentary on 2 Peter and Jude which both reference extra-canonical books with which the Jews would be more than familiar with.
It must be confessed that the Word Biblical series of commentaries is imposing to look at, there is much discussion on scholarly issues and many references to the original languages. However, in gaining a correct understanding of Jude’s quotation of Enoch we must not cut corners. While this is not a commentary to be read for 15 minutes before switching of the light at night-time, it is a commentary which will bring the letters of 2 Peter and Jude to life. Bauckham’s writing style, while academic, is highly readable too.
The Pillar series has quickly become a must-have commentary in the evangelical Pastor’s study and Davids contribution on 2 Peter and Jude is certainly a commendable addition to this series. Aesthetically speaking, the layout and type-face of the Pillar series is much more attractive than the Word Biblical. Nevertheless, in my opinion Bauckham is more helpful and clearer than Davids on many instances.
While Davids and Bauckham’s commentaries do cover much of the same ground, Davids offers some contradictory opinions which are worth considering. In addition, Davids has much more of an emphasis on applying the technical arguments he sets forth, and in this way, is helpful for the preacher and teacher.
Moo is a quality Bible commentator. I am yet to be disappointed by any of his publications. Even so, there are two reasons why this publication does not come top of this list. First, this is not his area of expertise. Moo has devoted much effort into the Pauline epistles, and Romans in particular. That makes him something of a surprise candidate for this volume. Second, there is a dearth of exegetical detail. While this is necessary to a degree for a commentary of this style, other volumes clearly possess it in the background (such as the volume on Luke by Darrell Bock).
That being said, Moo has a perceptive eye with respect to applying Scripture. There are few, if any, of my sermons which did not benefit from Moo’s application of these difficult letters to the everyday life of a Christian and the Church. Indeed, Moo is a scholar who loves the church, and thus writes for the church. Therefore, time in this commentary will be rewarded in the pulpit.
Charles certainly displays an aptitude with the literature of 2 Peter and Jude, as well as the scholarly debates. However, as is often the case with whole Bible commentaries, there is a shortage of detailed argumentation to support assertions. Even so, Charles has an attractive writing style which often summarises what Bauckham or Davids said in a very quotable way. Moreover, his structuring of the passages are helpful with respect to sermon structure too.
In all honesty, this is a commentary which was referenced only periodically throughout sermon preparation. Additionally, it shouldn’t really make it onto this list because it does not treat 2 Peter, except in similarities to Jude at certain points. However, it is well worth flagging up as the Puritans always force us to think differently about Scripture because the speak from a different era. This commentary does this – linking these ‘lesser spotted Scriptures’ to other pieces of Scripture which are better known; drawing clear lines from these awkward books to the message of the gospel; and forcing us to pause, dwell and meditate on the glorious truths of Scripture. These things are a helpful corrective for one who delights in the scholarship of Scripture.
Two other commentaries worth a mention are Dick Lucas and Christopher Green’s volume in The Bible Speaks Today series and Michael Green’s contribution to the Tyndale New Testament Commentary series. I used both of these commentaries profitably while preaching through the difficult letters of Jude and 2 Peter.
I trust you too will endeavour to explore some ‘lesser spotted Scripture’ and if you do that some of the above will aid your study.