The Book of Acts

The book of Acts is woefully underserved by commentaries these days. In fact, I intend to wait a good while before preaching on this book precisely for this reason. According to Jeremy Pierce, the following important commentaries will be coming out in the next five years or so: Joel Green in NICNT, Craig Keener (stand-alone), Richard Pervo (Hermeneia), David Peterson (Pillar), Stanley Porter (NIGTC), Eckhard Schnabel (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary), and Steve Walton (Word Biblical Commentary). I will not preach on Acts until at least some of these exegetical riches become available. Right now, we are limited to the following (admittedly excellent) commentaries: Bock (BECNT), Longenecker (EBC, rev.), Marshall (Tyndale), Barrett 1 and Barrett 2 (both in the ICC), Fernando (NIVAC), Johnson, Bruce (NICNT), Witherington, and Alexander. For help in preaching, there are some more resources in Boice, Calvin, Hughes, and Stott.

However, what I really want to draw attention to is the printing (for the first time!) of Lloyd-Jones on Acts. Currently six volumes are available: volume 1, volume 2, volume 3, volume 4, volume 5, and volume 6. The series currently goes through at least chapter 8 of Acts. I am not sure whether Lloyd-Jones finished the whole book or not, but at the current rate (if he did finish it), there will be approximately 21 volumes. This will surely be the most complete set of sermons ever published on Acts. One cannot beat the price at WTS bookstore on these volumes. If one adds these and the volumes mentioned (including the forthcoming commentaries) to Calvin’s commentaries (the sermons are not the same), Matthew Henry, Matthew Poole’s Synopsis (whenever they get around to translating Acts), and the early church fathers, one will have a fairly complete library on Acts. Then one should preach Acts!



  1. Paul M. said,

    September 6, 2008 at 11:23 am

    I’d also add Witherington to your list.

  2. greenbaggins said,

    September 6, 2008 at 11:32 am

    You’re absolutely right. It was oversight on my part. However, what is strange is that WTS does not carry this volume. I will correct the post.

  3. donaldkim said,

    September 6, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Just wanted to say that MLJ’s series in Acts are currently being produced by Lady Elizabeth Catherwood, his daughter, who is transcribing the Doc’s sermon notes into book form. So more on the way for sure.

  4. September 6, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    I heard that! ;-) Just shot Micah, my Eerdman’s buyer, an email to get the Witherington volume added to our lineup. Thanks for the tip!

    Westminster Bookstore

  5. greenbaggins said,

    September 6, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Thanks, Mark. You should definitely carry that volume.

  6. greenbaggins said,

    September 6, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Thanks, Donald. Any idea if MLJ finished the whole book?

  7. greenbaggins said,

    September 6, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Hey, Mark, I just noticed that if I click your name to get to the bookstore, my tag is on the end of it! You guys really take care of your blog partners, that’s for sure. :-)

  8. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    September 6, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Is there any plans for a Reformed Expository Commentary on Acts?

  9. Rick Phillips said,

    September 6, 2008 at 4:02 pm


    The REC commentary on Acts will be out in about two years. The author is Derek Thomas. I think the manuscript either has been submitted or will be soon, and with our editorial process it takes about two years to come out. Upcoming volumes are: Matthew-Doriani, 2 vols. (late this year); Luke-Ryken, 2 vols. (early next year); Ephesians-Bryan Chapell (next summer); Jonah/Micah-Phillips (early 2010); followed by Acts-Thomas (mid 2010). Phil Ryken, Dan Doriani, and I are also putting out an REC book later this year titled, “The Incarnation in the Gospels,” commenting on the birth narratives of our Lord in Matthew, Luke, and John.

  10. September 6, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    I am definitely looking forward to Pervo’s Hermeneia volume. For those of you not familiar with Pervo, beyond being an excellent Christian Origins scholar (though I certainly have my share of disagreements with him), he dates Acts to the early-mid 2nd century. While you wait for the commentary you can read his 500 page book Dating Acts.

    His commentary will be a sustained and detailed contextualization (reading) of Acts as such a 2nd century document—within the world of developing Christianities and their struggles to forge identities as Pervo understands them.

    For you, Lane, and others here—especially those of you who preach regularly—what will be the value of such a commentary for you? I especially ask this as I imagine few, if any, of you will accept Pervo’s dating and specific understanding of Acts’ ideological functions. Is such a commentary helpful for you in preparing sermons?

    I mean these as serious question, not as veiled jabs (it is sad I feel the need to say such here).

  11. greenbaggins said,

    September 6, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Rick, thanks for the update. I had forgotten that Derek was doing that volume.

    FTH, the value for me in such commentaries is always in grammatical analysis and the occasional theological insight that comes despite the author’s liberal slant.

  12. Rick Phillips said,

    September 6, 2008 at 8:55 pm


    For my part, I try to read everything I can. As Lane points out, you can sometimes get excellent insights in the worst books (and sometimes by reflecting on why they are wrong). But undoubtedly, most conservative preachers who have less opportunity to read widely would find very little use in such a commentary.

  13. September 6, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    The Book of Acts originating in the second century? Well, there’s a commentary I can skip…Life is too short (especially when you’re almost 56, like me) to waste time on books that don’t take the text seriously.

  14. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    September 7, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you very much Rev. Phillips. Look forward to seeing you here in Pittsburgh in October.

  15. G.C. Berkley said,

    September 7, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Is Rey like the internet version of “The Church Lady” from the old SNL skits?

  16. GLW Johnson said,

    September 8, 2008 at 7:47 am

    I personally do not have a very high opinion of Joel Green’s work on the atonement and cannot help but think that this badly skews his theological analysis. ‘rey’ ,on the other hand, is badly in need of some time in the corner.

  17. David Gadbois said,

    September 8, 2008 at 9:50 am

    I vaguely recall that Guy Waters is working on a commentary on Acts. Or am I thinking of something else?

  18. greenbaggins said,

    September 8, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Gary, I think if we all view Rey as a source of entertainment, then we don’t have to do anything about him. I suggest that no one really take him all that seriously. I have seriously laughed at his comments many times, and find them hilarious.

  19. greenbaggins said,

    September 8, 2008 at 10:00 am

    David, I am fairly confident that Guy is working on either Acts or Romans for a commentary. I can’t remember which one. I would much prefer, of course, for him to do Romans, with his expertise in 2TJ (done under Sanders himself, no less!).

  20. September 8, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Rick and Lane,

    Thanks for your thoughts.

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