Best Commentaries on Paul, with Nijay Gupta: Colossians

Colossians is an underappreciated jewel in the Pauline corpus, often sidelined from academic conversations because of its debated authorship. It is a beautifully-crafted meditation on the cosmic-and-crucified Christ.


Markus Barth (AB) [Authentic]. Barth has written several excellent technical commentaries. He has a knack for blending textual and historical analysis with theological reflection. 

James D.G. Dunn (NIGTC) [Other]. Dunn is a seasoned commentary writer, with Romans as his most well-known volume (WBC). He brings the same attention to detail to Colossians, combined with penetrating theological analysis. In this commentary, Dunn proposes that perhaps someone else (like Timothy) wrote Colossians at Paul’s behest.

David Pao (ZECNT) [Authentic]. Pao has written on Luke-Acts, the use of the Old Testament in the New, and the theme of “thanksgiving” in Paul. Pao is a careful and fair-minded scholar who represents well the state of evangelical scholarship.

Robert McL Wilson (ICC) [Pseudonymous]. Wilson was a widely-respected scholar of early Christianity. Like other ICC volumes, this is primarily a scholar’s resource for detailed discussion of textual questions, relationship to comparative literature, and history of interpretation.

Own it: Dunn 


Gregory Beale (BECNT) [Authentic]. Beale is most well-known as a scholar of the book of Revelation, but has written thematically on biblical theology, and has published other Pauline commentaries. What he brings to the study of Colossians is his extensive knowledge of early Jewish and Christian eschatology.

Douglas J. Moo (PNTC) [Authentic]. Moo is recognized widely as an expert on Romans, and here he offers his detailed exposition of Colossians. 

Scot McKnight (NICNT) [Authentic]. McKnight has a masterful way of both analyzing the text carefully, as well as drawing out theological ideas that aims to shape the church today. 

Marianne Meye Thompson (THNT) [Authentic]. Thompson’s book was the inaugural volume of the THNT series, which attempts to bridge biblical studies and theology. In the “theological horizons” section of the commentary, Thompson relates Colossians to Paul’s theology more generally, especially his Christology and eschatology.

Own It: McKnight or Thompson


Michael F. Bird (NCCS) [Authentic]. Bird, a respected New Testament theologian, offers a readable “state-of-the-discipline” exposition of Colossians.

David Garland (NIVAC) [Authentic]. As is to be expected of his work in general, Garland offers a richly rewarding study of Colossians with a view towards personal spiritual formation and application today.

Own it: Garland

Hidden Gems

Andrew Lincoln has distinguished himself as a leading scholar on Ephesians, so—given its literary relationship—it is natural he would have many insights on the study of Colossians (NIB; [pseudonymous]). It is a bit hard to track down Lincoln’s commentary as it is packaged together with other Pauline letters in a multi-contributor volume.

N. T. Wright published a concise commentary on Colossians (TNTC)—it is extraordinarily insightful despite its modest size.

Bookmark the rest of Nijay’s Best Commentaries on Paul series, only on the Academic Blog.

Written by
Nijay Gupta

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

View all articles

Your email address has been added

Written by Nijay Gupta