Posted in bible study, commentaries, discernment

Commentary author recommendation: Roy Gingrich

Dr Roy Gingrich, source Faithlife

We study the Bible because we love Jesus and want to know more about Him. The only place where we can reliably learn more about our Savior is in His word, which is THE authoritative word. We ladies like to learn theology, so we read God’s word.

I cut my teeth on the Old Testament, loving it from the beginning even as a babe in Christ. I spent the first years of my salvation reading all the Old Testament Prophets. They’re hard, though, complicated at times and filled with symbolism, idioms, and long history which requires understanding for context. The Holy Spirit is the main help to us, because scripture teaches scripture. He illuminates the word to us as we study and pray. Psalm 119:18 says,

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

Ephesians 1:17-18 says

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you …

However, for information regarding the histories or interpretations of other difficult passages, we also use commentaries. God has raised up men before us who wrote down explanations and comments regarding the books of the Bible. In researching the book of Jeremiah, for example, I found few sermons, and fewer commentaries (which were available to me or reasonably priced enough to access).

Some people look down their noses at using commentaries, saying “I just use scripture.” Really? you don’t also listen to your pastor who stands there week after week explaining the scriptures to you? In his essay 20 Tips on How to Use Bible Commentaries, Professor and Pastor David Murray quotes Spurgeon,

It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others. My chat this afternoon is not for these great originals, but for you who are content to learn of holy men, taught of God, and mighty in the Scriptures. It has been the fashion of late years to speak against the use of commentaries…A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might have saved many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences” (C H Spurgeon).

The essay linked above with HOW to use commentaries, because there is a right way and a wrong way. Just as you study alone, you learn from your pastor, and listen to online sermons, definitely read commentaries also. Do use them.

On my Logos 6 software, I learned of a theologian called Roy Gingrich. I had not heard of him before and yet I was intrigued. He has commented on all the Bible and some Bible topics besides. He lived relatively recently and most of his writing was finished in the latter part of his life, in the 1970s to the ’90s and even into the 2000s.

The bio at the Faithlife (Logos) wiki states,

Roy Gingrich was an American pastor and author best known for his comprehensive commentary series. He was born to Arthur and Arista Gingrich on February 3, 1920 in Ozark, Illinois, the youngest of four children. Roy received God’s call to enter the Christian ministry in 1941. After intensive preparation and pastoral stints in Illinois and Indiana, he became pastor of Faith Bible Church in Memphis, Tennessee, where he remained for over 40 years.

In 1963, Gingrich graduated cum laude from Victory University (formally Mid-South Bible College) and soon thereafter joined the teaching staff. Gingrich began writing conservative Bible commentaries in 1964. Roy Gingrich’s Commentaries in Outline Form (100 vols.) includes 60 different commentaries on the books of the Bible, and 40 additional commentaries on major Bible themes.

In 2001, Dr. Gingrich retired from a long and fruitful ministry, but continued to revise his commentaries and lecture at colleges and churches in the US. In 2003, he was inducted into the Crichton College Hall of Fame.

Here is one revoew of one of the commentaries. Of Dr Gingrich’s Commentary on Isaiah, fellow Professor of Theology Paul M. Davidson at Mid-South Bible College wrote in 1977 in the preface to Gingrich’s Commentary on Isaiah,

The book of Isaiah is named for its author, the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah means “Jehovah is salvation” or “Salvation is of Jehovah.” He is rightly called “the Evangelical Prophet of the Old Testament.” By common consent, he ranks among the great literary geniuses of all time and his book is recognized as a part of the world’s great literature. 

According to tradition, Isaiah was martyred, sawn asunder, Hebrews 11:37. Just so, in the hands of destructive modern critics his book has suffered, being cut up into many parts. Consequently, liberal Biblical scholars today deny the unity as well as the Isaiah an authorship of this great work. They affirm that it is the product of various authors, writing at different times, long after Isaiah’s death. Then an unknown redactor combined the various elements into the book that we know today as Isaiah. 

In view of the above errors, it is refreshing to read Mr. Gingrich’s thoroughly orthodox, expanded, analytical outline of Isaiah. His exposition comes from a balanced and responsible conservatism which gives the work an abiding value. Like his other books, this one begins with a full general introduction, treating such topics as authorship, unity, historical background, importance, etc. This is followed by a succinct exegesis and explanation of the text. Both the layman and the busy preacher can use this commentary and quickly come to the heart of a passage and receive much help. For the greatest profit, this outline should be both read and studied with an open Bible. It is designed for both personal and group use.

For many years, Mr. Roy Gingrich has been pastor of Faith Bible Church, Memphis, Tennessee. He is a graduate of Mid-South Bible College, where he is presently a much loved and respected professor. He is truly a humble man of God and a diligent, tireless student of the Word. The reader of these pages has before him the fruit of many hours of prayerful research and the insights of six or seven of the most outstanding and scholarly commentaries on Isaiah.

Heartily and without reservation, I encourage pastors, teachers, and lay persons desiring a thorough grasp of Isaiah to study carefully this analytical outline, this outline being an interesting and effective aid to an understanding of this portion of the Scriptures.

The really interesting thing about Dr Gingrich’s approach to writing commentaries, is that they are all outlines. I love me some Matthew Henry but in accessing his Whole Commentary on the Bible through Logos, sometimes it takes me a long time of reading before I get to the single nugget I want. Mr Gingrich wrote all his commentaries, including the Prophets, as an outline, with a one or two clear, concise sentences for each verse. It’s very helpful. Here is an example of a page from his commentary on Zechariah.

I have not read all of his commentaries, obviously. Just last night I completed downloading the final commentary on the major and minor prophets, to that end, my set is now complete. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far of Dr Gingrich’s work and I especially love he outline form. They are great for small group, too. If you are looking for an alternative to long, complicated commentaries which seem to be orthodox and best of all, affordable, please consider Dr Gingrich’s outlines. They have proved invaluable.

Most of his outlines are available as a download through Logos 6 or Kindle or other method. There are paperback copies available through Amazon also.

Available from

Available at Amazon


Further Reading

20 Tips on How To Use Bible Commentaries

Posted in brethren, commentaries, encouragement, gift

Look what came all the way from California today! Updated

I like to study the Bible. I like history, culture, commentaries, natural history, dictionaries, Greek and Hebrew lexicons…anything to help me understand God’s word better.

Of course, there is no substitute for studying God’s word directly in submission to the Spirit who illuminates it…in prayer and in a spirit of truth and repentance.

I found two large boxes leaning against my door.
So glad I am on vacation and could retrieve them immediately.
There is no covering or porch to deliver them to and weather is a factor.

However God raised up men throughout each age to help us. Some were preachers, some were scholars, some were professors, some were students…but God raises up men to help us learn His word. We are grateful to the Apostles, Augustine, Hus, Calvin, Luther, Edwards, Clarke, Gill, Henry, Spurgeon, Warfield, S. Lewis Johnson and many, many more who have left behind a written legacy of a lifetime of depth in God’s scripture. We know we benefit from their evangelical and pastoral labors, but we also benefit from their scholarly labors too.

One of these men God has raised up for this generation is John MacArthur. After 35 years of writing and a decade beyond that of preaching, Dr MacArthur completed his New Testament Commentary Series. Upon completion of verse-by-verse explanations of each book of the NT, he and his team have made the commentary available for an incredible price for a limited time.

A lot of books!

A dear, generous brother in the faith contacted me and offered to subsidize part of the sale price, and after thinking about it and prayer, I said yes. Otherwise I’d never have been able to purchase this resource for my own study.

It arrived today, 33 volumes, 3 feet 4 inches of towering knowledge. I live in a 400 square foot apartment and my four bookcases are full. When I ordered the set, I figured I’d cross that bridge when I came to it, and now that day is here. After pondering and looking around and re-arranging, I will later install these wonderful books onto my bookshelves, readily accessible and waiting to be absorbed into my daily studies.

The brother who sent me the donation said it was an investment. We are a body, united through Christ and His blood, death, and resurrection, our old men have been put to shame and death and the new man is growing in each of us. When we all use our gifts to the good of the Body and the glory of Christ, we all benefit. He believed it would benefit the body to ensure I had access to this study aid. How encouraging to be thought of. How wonderful to be given a gift.

I’m humbled by this, and I also take the responsibility seriously. I’m grateful for the opportunity to deepen my study and to be reminded every day when I look at the books, that we are not alone, none of us. What one person does affects us all, to the bad and to the good. I pray I use this gift wisely to the good and glory of the Name who made it possible to be in His body at all, and to have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Sorry kitties, your hidey-hole has got to go.
I need the space now


It took some doing and a bit of culling but I fit it all. I moved several bookcases of books around and had to put away my rocks, gems, geodes and fossils that had been displayed on the shelves of a smaller bookcase. That was not too sad because I’d had to put them all in jars anyway and push them to the back of the shelf because in the wee hours Murray flung them off their decorative dishes and bashed them all around the house. A fossil shell survived the Flood but not the cat. I put them up until he gets older. That freed four shelves and it was just enough.

But in so doing I had an opportunity to re-group my books by subject and size. (Yes, I’m that way). I also cleaned the bookcases since they were emptied. Amazing how much dust collected. All my theological and bible books are together and grouped by subject. I know I’m going on about this but change is hard, even for a good thing. I sit in my wing chair sometimes and simply look at my books on the shelves. (Yes, I’m that way).

Of the half shelf of new MacArthur Commentaries I could fit all my older commentaries on the rest of the shelf. I’ve got commentary on Ecclesiastes, three on Revelation, Daniel, Corinthians, Peter and a few others. Here is how it looks now.

The top shelf is Italy, Renaissance, Art and poetry. The rest is given over to theology, dictionaries, and Christian/missionary biographies.

On my other shelves I’ve got Native American and Border issues, Mythology, classics such as The Peloponnesian war, Socrates, and Tacitus, some medieval diaries and castle stuff, and half a shelf on natural history including field guides to mammals and shells, Stephen Jay Gould and Farley Mowat. A few novels round out the newly freed up shelves with some favorites including “How Proust Changed My Life”, Isabel Allende, etc.

Spring break is here, but summer’s coming! Plenty of time to read and study. Time Enough at Last

Posted in bible, challies, commentaries, discernment, macarthur, matthew henry, spurgeon, teaching

Sayings and mottos that sound pious but aren’t. #2: "I don’t use commentaries because they’re men’s wisdom. I only use God’s Word when I study."

Part 1 of the series, Sayings and mottos that sound pious but aren’t. #1: “Let Go and Let God”
Part 3 of the series “I’m too humble to think that I could ever know what the Bible really means”
Part 4 of the series  Pray Big Because We Have a Big God
Part 5 of the series He’s so heavenly minded he’s no earthly good


Some sayings sound legitimate on their surface. They sound pious. They sound biblical. Like this one: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Only problem is, that one isn’t in the bible. At all.

It is sometimes hard to tell what truly is Christian and what merely sounds Christian. Charles Spurgeon wisely said, “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.” So what is right, and what is almost right (AKA ‘wrong’) about the following sayings which have become such cliches?

Some of these mottoes are:

  1. “Let go and let God”
  2. “I don’t use commentaries because they’re men’s wisdom. I only use God’s Word when I study.”
  3. “We can’t know for certain what the bible means, I’m not that smart”
  4. “Pray big because we have a big God.”
  5. “He’s so heavenly minded he’s no earthly good”

In part 1 we looked at “Let go and let God.” Now let’s look at #2,

“I don’t use commentaries because they’re men’s wisdom. I only use God’s Word when I study.”

“It has been the fashion of late years to speak against the use of commentaries…A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might have saved many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences.”
CH Spurgeon
Beth Moore says this a lot. It sounds like she’s being diligent and pious, doesn’t it? The phrase actually has a legitimate root. It’s called biblicism. GotQuestions defines biblicism as “Biblicism: a high regard for and obedience to the Bible as the ultimate authority” and this is a good thing.

However, many people take biblicism to an unintended end by rejecting all supportive works recognized as legitimately helpful by the Christian historical record.

It is less than pious to reject the wisdom of the faithful men God has raised up for our learning. God took time to mold men, justify them, install the Spirit in them, educate them, and empower them for good works. When we say “I don’t need commentaries” what we’re saying is that though we believe we have all the power necessary to learn all we need from the bible, (and we do, by the Spirit) it means we also totally reject God’s work in these men. It’s like saying, “I don’t need to listen to my pastor’s sermons because they are a man’s wisdom. I only need God’s Word” and then cover your ears in the pew and go la la la the entire sermon.

Jonathan Edwards

Who doesn’t need to read Jonathan Edwards’ sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God? Who isn’t blessed in reading SPurgeon’s sermon on God’s Providence? Who doesn’t need to listen to Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermon series on the Great Biblical Doctrines? Who can’t use a Matthew Henry or a John MacArthur commentary? Do the people who make this impious claim really understand what they are saying? More to the point, do they realize what they leave themselves open to? Solid biblical and theological scholarship that comes from seminaries and universities or from church fathers obviously in the Spirit (such as Spurgeon who never went to college OR seminary) who remain adherent to God’s word, is teaching that actually guards us against heresy and helps us to remember of the hard lessons of church and martyrdom history.

It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others. ~Charles Spurgeon

In almost every book or Bible study since Breaking Free, when Moore began to depart from the bible, Moore relates experiences of direct revelation from God or conversations with God. This is what will tend to happen as one rejects solid teaching supplements, begins to slack off in personal study, and fall into the trap of mystical intuition. We need as much help as we can get to remain on the right side of sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1)

“The best commentators are those who have written upon only one book. Few men can comment eminently well upon the whole Bible.” Charles SpurgeonAnd there are also a few logical facts to consider…

In and of ourselves, we aren’t the end of all wisdom about God’s Word. So sometimes we need a little help. That’s what commentaries are for, to help us understand the Bible better. Now, of course studying the bible alone is preferable. It is THE starting point. But it shouldn’t be the only method. Be discerning. But don’t neglect the historical wealth of God’s work in good men.

Martin Luther

In this issue of the student magazine, The Encourager, the author William J. Brown wrote, “To say the written wisdom of Spurgeon, Whitefield, Wesley, Calvin, Luther, Augustine and others have no bearing on our lives shows a bit of arrogance on our part. All we have left of these men is what they wrote. Their pastoral voices cry from the pages of ink-stained books. These men were wise (in many ways much wiser in their times than we are in ours.) We need to listen to these men and the things they desire to teach us about God’s Word.

One caution: Do not allow commentaries, sermons, books, or other notes to dictate to you about what the bible says and means. Begin with the Word of God itself and allow the Spirit room to work in illuminating it to your mind.

Here are some resources for you:

John MacArthur essay: How to Enjoy Bible Study

Kay Arthur’s study “Titus…Living with Integrity in a Hostile Culture” begins with an explanation about

Kay Arthur

inductive bible study- what it means and how to do it. [note: link is to .pdf]

How to Use Bible Commentaries

In keeping with Spurgeon’s exhortation that the best commentaries are ones where the author focused his heart, mind and attention on one book, the standout which comes to mind is Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ exposition on Romans. As The Banner of Truth explains, “All over the world in the most diverse situations are to be found Christian men and women who owe an incalculable debt to the ministry of Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones who for thirty years was the minister of Westminster Chapel, London. His longest series of expositions was this 14 volume set of Romans, the greatest of New Testament Epistles.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones sermons on Romans (free)
Martyn Lloyd-Jones commentary on Romans, 14-volume set for purchase

Pastor & book reviewer Tim Challies often makes recommendations on good commentaries. This link leads you to his page titled Best Commentaries on Each Book of the Bible

Wiki Commons, Amish housewife

To be sure, we strike a delicate balance between relying on the Spirit to illuminate the scriptures to us and consuming work the Spirit previously did in other men. We acknowledge that while He is all-sufficient for leading us into all truth (John 6:13), He is always working (John 5:17) and His work includes illuminating the meaning of scripture in others, too, who wrote it down for us.

Ultimately, the important thing is to actually read the bible. One may be surprised at how few people actually read it. I understand lives are busy. There’s a tendency to rely on one’s intuition, or at the other extreme, other people’s commentaries. Reading the bible is hard. Moms are busy, Dads are tired. Satan wants us to set daily reading aside ‘just for today.’ Soon you realize it has been two months.

When you begin, sometimes the text itself is hard to read. I just finished 1 & 2 Kings, and man, it was rough going. I hardly understood anything. The history was unfamiliar to me, the names were difficult to read and pronounce, the list of kings was confusing. I wanted to revert to the Prophets so many times, texts I love! But it’s important to just keep reading. Next time I read something from 1 or 2 Kings, it will be a bit easier. I needed to break that trail.

And now for something completely different, I think I’ll read Galatians next.

I use commentaries after I read a text, Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, old and new maps (I love seeing where these things are taking place), natural histories (if animals are mentioned or if the topography is important to the story), a Lexicon, Strong’s concordance, parallel verses, and more. I want to understand as much as possible about the text after I read it.

For example, it was helpful to know a simple thing like when I read “A Psalm of Ascents” to hear Phil Johnson explain that when the Israelites had to go to Jerusalem for a feast, it was uphill all the way. So they sang these song as they ascended. I looked up the topography and now I can better hear their singing in my mind and feel the dust under their feet and their tired legs as they ascend. Or when Elijah fled Jezebel from Mt Carmel to Beersheba to Mt Horeb, to see where he ran to and how far it was on a map.

Rely on scripture as your authority to learn the word of God and His revealed nature, and use supporting texts to expand your understanding for context and historical meaning. Don’t be abusive with them but don’t be ashamed, either. But above all, read the bible.

Commons, Photo by Savio Sebastian