Best Commentaries on Paul, with Nijay Gupta: 1-2 Thessalonians

The Thessalonian correspondence has become of more interest to scholars in recent years for several reasons. First Thessalonians is considered one of the earliest—if not the earliest—extant documents of the New Testament. Also, both letters emphasize early Christian interest in eschatology. Several excellent commentaries on the Thessalonian letters have been produced over the years, but the last decade has seen a notable surge of strong scholarship on these texts.


Technical

F. F. Bruce (WBC) [2 Thess = authentic]. While this is a bit of an older commentary (1982), Bruce has a remarkable grasp of Greco-Roman and Jewish literature. He offers a careful exegetical analysis of both letters.


Gordon D. Fee (NICNT) [2 Thess = authentic]. This commentary offers the expected blend of careful exposition, penetrating theological engagement, and wise application to ministry that is the trademark of a “Gordon Fee” commentary. 


Abraham Malherbe (AB) [2 Thess = authentic]. Malherbe spent a career making significant academic contributions on 1-2 Thessalonians, especially in relation to the Greco-Roman world. 


Charles Wanamaker (NIGTC) [2 Thess = authentic]. Wanamaker offers one of the more in-depth Greek commentaries. He argues for and applies rhetorical criticism to the Thessalonian correspondence. Wanamaker’s commentary is not as widely acclaimed as Malherbe or Fee, partly because Wanamaker argues that canonical 2 Thessalonians was written by Paul first (thus canonical 1 Thessalonians would be the later letter). 


Jeffrey Weima (BECNT) [2 Thess = authentic]. Normally I put the BECNT volumes in the semi-technical category, but Weima is a leading expert in Thessalonian scholarship and brings significant depth to his commentary.


Own It: Weima

Semi-Technical

Gene Green (PNTC) [2 Thess = authentic]. Green’s strengths lie in a close reading of the Greek text and his mastery of the socio-historical setting of ancient Thessalonica. 


Andy Johnson (THNT) [2 Thess = authentic]. Johnson brings a Wesleyan perspective to the study of 1-2 Thessalonians. His exposition of these letters is excellent. In the “Theological Horizons” section of the commentary he addresses the oft-neglected themes of holiness, mission in biblical theology, and eschatology.


Ben Witherington [2 Thess = authentic]. Witherington applies his “socio-rhetorical” method to the Thessalonian epistles. 


Own it: Johnson

Non-Technical

John Byron (SoGBC) [2 Thess = authentic]. Byron represents cutting-edge scholarly wisdom in this accessible commentary, but the strength of the SoGBC series is how it connects the ancient text to Christian theology and life today. Byron makes connections between the Thessalonian letters and the lives and writings of figures like Luther, Bonhoeffer, and Mother Teresa.


Beverly Gaventa (Interpretation) [2 Thess = pseudonymous]. Gaventa masterfully provides a theological exposition of these letters. She gives special attention to the maternal imagery in these texts (and in Paul in general) and she also addresses Paul’s eschatology more broadly. 


Michael Holmes (NIVAC) [2 Thess = authentic]. Holmes is a textual criticism expert, but offers here a well-rounded, devotion- and application-oriented commentary for laypeople. 


Own it: Gaventa or Byron


Editor’s Note

Nijay Gupta (NCCS). While he was too humble to include it himself, the Editors would like to make a special mention of Gupta’s own exceptional contribution to the recent commentaries on 1 & 2 Thessalonians. It speaks for itself, even if he defers.

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Nijay Gupta

Nijay Gupta is Associate Professor of New Testament at Portland Seminary, George Fox University.

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Written by Nijay Gupta