NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC) – Old Testament | Reviews, Purpose, Volumes

Reviews of the NIV Application Commentary Series

“The NIV Application Commentary series promises to be of very great service to all who preach and teach the Word of God.”
~ J. I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College

“This series promises to become an indispensable tool for every pastor and teacher who seeks to make the Bible’s timeless message speak to this generation.”
~ Billy Graham, American evangelist

“The NIV Application Commentary is an outstanding resource for pastors and anyone else who is serious about developing “doers of the Word.”
~ Rick Warren, pastor, Saddleback Valley Community Church

“If you want to avoid hanging applicational elephants from interpretive threads, then the NIV Application Commentary is for you! This series excels at both original meaning and contemporary significance. I support it one hundred percent.”
~ Howard G. Hendricks, professor, Dallas Theological Seminary

“The NIV Application Commentary meets the urgent need for an exhaustive and authoritative commentary based on the New International Version. This series will soon be found in libraries and studies throughout the evangelical community.”
~ D. James Kennedy, founder, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church

“The NIV Application Commentary series helps pastors and other Bible teachers with one of the most neglected elements in good preaching—accurate, useful application. Most commentaries tell you a few things that are helpful and much that you do not need to know. By dealing with the original meaning and contemporary significance of each passage, the NIV Application Commentary series promises to be helpful all the way around.”
~ James Montgomery Boice, former pastor, Tenth Presbyterian Church

“Here, at last, is a commentary that makes the proper circuit from the biblical world to Main Street. The NIV Application Commentary is a magnificent gift to the church!”
~ R. Kent Hughes, senior pastor emeritus, College Church, Wheaton, IL

Purpose of the NIV Application Commentary Series

From the General Editor: “The primary goal of the NIV Application Commentary Series is to help you with the difficult but vital task of bringing an ancient message into a modern context. The series not only focuses on application as a finished product but also helps you think through the process of moving from the original meaning of a passage to its contemporary significance. These are commentaries, not popular expositions. They are works of reference, not devotional literature.”

Author Interviews from the NIV Application Commentary series on Best Bible Commentaries

Leviticus and Numbers – Roy Gane

Preview: “The whole writing project personally edified me and drew me closer to Christ, first as I saw the loving character of God reflected in the sacrifices foreshadowing the sacrifice of Christ and in the way he reached out to his people and interacted with them as close as he could get from his sanctuary residence among them.”

Hebrews – George Guthrie

Preview: “As I came to the climax of the christology in Hebrews, particularly 9:11-10:18, the decisiveness of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins really impressed me and has continued to be a cornerstone of my own faith.”

NIV Application Commentary – Old Testament Volumes

Links go to Amazon. Text is from Zondervan (used by permission).

Genesis by John H. Walton

The Bible begins and ends with a revelation of God that gives redemption its basis. From the first verse of Genesis, the book of origins, we encounter a God of personality, character, purpose, and activity. Only in the light of what he shows us of himself as the Creator of our world and the Interactor with human history does the salvation story assume its proper context. Genesis sets things in order: God first, then us. In the words of the general editor’s preface, “Especially after the Tower of Babel it became evident that people had forgotten who God was. They needed reminding. The moves God made were essentially concerned with putting himself in front of the world’s peoples.” Today, perhaps more than ever, we need God to put himself in front of us—to remind us who he is, and that he is. With characteristic creativity and uncommon depth, John H. Walton demonstrates the timeless relevance of Genesis. Revealing the links between Genesis and our own times, Dr. Walton shows how this mysterious, often baffling book filled with obscure peoples and practices reveals truth to guide our twenty-first-century lives.

Exodus by Peter E. Enns

Dr. Peter Enns (PhD. Harvard University) is a biblical scholar and teaches at Eastern University. He is author of several books including Exodus (NIV Application Commentary), Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, and The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins.

Leviticus, Numbers by Roy Gane

Leviticus/Numbers…helps readers learn how the message of Leviticus and Numbers can have the same powerful impact today that they did when they were first written.insight into how the Israelite’s story of covenant experience with God becomes our story today Leviticus and Numbers tell of an epic journey to freedom, while illuminating and challenging modern conceptions of God. Vivid imagery of rituals, laws addressing tough issues, and narratives ranging from exultant to gut-wrenching show what it means to interact with the Lord and how to live according to his holy principles as part of a redeemed community of faith.

Deuteronomy by Daniel I. Block

Arranged as a series of sermons, the book of Deuteronomy represents the final major segment of the biography of Moses. The sermons review events described in earlier books and challenges Israel to faithful living in the future. The theological significance of Deuteronomy cannot be overestimated. Few books in the Bible proclaim such a relevant word of grace and gospel to the church today. At its heart, Deuteronomy records the covenantal relationship between God and his people. God graciously has chosen Israel as his covenant partner and has demonstrated his covenantal commitment to them. Moses challenges the Israelites to respond by declaring that Yahweh alone is their God and by demonstrating unwavering loyalty and total love for him through obedience.

Daniel Block highlights the unity between the God depicted in Deuteronomy and Jesus Christ. Christians who understand the covenantal character of God and who live under the grace of Christ will resist the temptation to retreat into interior and subjective understandings of the life of faith so common in Western Christianity.

Joshua by Robert L. Hubbard, Jr.

Reading Joshua can be, frankly, a jarring experience. Serious, troubling questions about God’s attitude toward his created peoples arise, questions with no easy answer. But the book of Joshua presents itself, warts (and wars!) and all, and asks readers to let it tell its story from its point of view and out of its ancient context. It asks them to give it the benefit of the doubt and permit it to speak to them. This commentary aims to give its voice a clear hearing — to translate its ancient cultural form in such a way that it freely speaks about the life of faith today. Basically, the book of Joshua tells how biblical Israel navigated a major historical transition early in its national life. The book shows that guiding these changes is Israel’s God, Yahweh, through his chosen servant, Joshua. The introductory sections to follow set the scene for entering the book of Joshua and the ancient world about which it reports.

Judges, Ruth by K. Lawson Younger

The concept of judgment is at odds with today’s culture, which considers it a sin to suggest there is such a thing as sin. Perhaps that is partly because we have seen all too clearly the fallibility of those who judge. What many of us long for is not judgment but righteousness and deliverance from oppression. That is why the books of Judges and Ruth are so relevant today: Judges, because it reveals a God who employs very human deliverers but refuses to gloss over their sins and the consequences of those sins; and Ruth, because it demonstrates the far-reaching impact of a righteous character. Exploring the links between the Bible and our own times, Dr. K. Lawson Younger Jr. shares literary perspectives on the books of Judges and Ruth that reveal ageless truths for our twenty-first-century lives.

1 and 2 Samuel by Bill T. Arnold

Why do the books of Samuel pack such broad appeal? Taken together as a single narrative, they certainly offer something for everyone: kings and prophets, great battles and greater heroes, action and romance, loyalty and betrayal, the mundane and the miraculous. In Samuel, we meet Saul, David, Goliath, Jonathan, Bathsheba, the witch of Endor, and other unforgettable characters. And we encounter ourselves. For while the culture and conditions of Israel under its first kings is vastly different from our own, the basic issues of humans in relation to God, the Great King, have not changed. Sin, repentance, forgiveness, adversity, prayer, faith, and the promises of God—these continue to play out in our lives today. Exploring the links between the Bible and our own times, Bill T. Arnold shares perspectives on 1 and 2 Samuel that reveal ageless truths for our twenty-first-century lives.

1 and 2 Kings by August H. Konkel

Readers of 1 and 2 Kings commonly approach these books as a straightforward chronology of post-Davidic Israel: the inauguration of Solomon’s reign, the division of the kingdom following his death, and Israel’s and Judah’s ensuing kings, conflicts, captivities, and overarching spiritual decline. In reality, however, the books of the Kings fall into the collection known as the Former Prophets, and their true story and underlying theme center on such striking personalities as Nathan, Elijah, Elisha, and other divinely appointed spokesmen. It is God’s interaction with his people by way of his prophets and their kings—his pleadings, his warnings, and the fulfillment of his words—that comes across again and again with forcefulness and clarity. God speaks; now will his people hear, believe, and respond? The question is as relevant for us today as it was for the ancient Israelites. Bridging the centuries, August Konkel connects past context to contemporary circumstances, helping us grasp the meaning and signifance of 1 and 2 Kings and take to heart their message for us today.

1 and 2 Chronicles by Andrew E. Hill

The Chronicles are more than a history of ancient Israel under the ascent and rule of the Davidic dynasty. They are a story whose grand theme is hope. Great battles are fought, heroes and tyrants vie for power, Israel splits into rival kingdoms, and the soul of God’s holy nation oscillates between faithlessness and revival. Yet above this tossing sea of human events, God’s covenant promises reign untroubled and supreme. First and Second Chronicles are a narrative steeped in the best and worst of the human heart—but they are also a revelation of Yahweh at work, forwarding his purposes in the midst of fallible people. God has a plan to which he is committed. Today, as then, God redirects our vision from our circumstances in this turbulent world to the surety of his kingdom, and to himself as our source of confidence and peace. Exploring the links between the Bible and our own times, Andrew E. Hill shares perspectives on 1 and 2 Chronicles that reveal ageless truths for our twenty-first-century lives.

Ezra (no volume)

Nehemiah (no volume)

Esther by Karen H. Jobes

Karen H. Jobes (PhD, Westminister Theological Seminary) is the Gerald F. Hawthorne Professor of New Testament Greek and Exegesis at Wheaton College and Graduate school in Wheaton, Illinois. The author of several works, she is also involed in Bible translation. She and her husband, Forrest, are members of Immanuel Presbyerian Church, an EPC church in Warrenville, Illinois.

Job by John H. Walton

The title character of the book of Job suffers terribly, but we should not mistakenly think that this book is just about Job. It is about all of us, and ultimately about God. Many have thought that the book simply restates the perennial questions that plague humankind in a world full of suffering. But often our questions are too limited, and we must learn to ask better questions so that we might find more significant answers. The book of Job answers our original questions obliquely, letting these answers prompt deeper questions, and leading us to discover the wealth that the book has to offer. Most people assume that the book of Job deals with the question of why righteous people suffer. Instead, John Walton suggests that the book is about the nature of righteousness, not the nature of suffering. As we learn to deepen our questions, God will transform how we think about his work in the world and about our responses in times of suffering.

Psalms, Vol. I by Gerald H. Wilson

Perhaps more clearly than any other part of the biblical canon, the Psalms are human words directed to God. Yet, through the Holy Spirit, these honest, sometimes brutal words return to us as the Word of God. Their agonies and exaltations reflect more than the human condition in which they were created. Within the context of the canonical Psalter, they become the source of divine guidance, challenge, confrontation, and comfort. However, it is possible to misapply them. How can we use the Psalms in a way that faithfully connects God’s meaning in them and his intentions for them with our circumstances today? Drawing on over twenty years of study in the book of Psalms, Dr. Gerald H. Wilson reveals the links between the Bible and our present times. While he considers each psalm in itself, Wilson goes much further, examining whole groups of psalms and, ultimately, the entire Psalter, its purpose, and its use from the days of Hebrew temple worship onward through church history. In so doing, Wilson opens our eyes to ageless truths for our twenty-first-century lives.

Psalms, Vol. II by W. Dennis Tucker, Jr. and Jamie A. Grant

Psalms, Volume 2, which is part of the NIV Application Commentary Series, helps readers learn how the message of the Psalms can have the same powerful impact today that it did when they were first written. The majority of Bible commentaries take readers on a one-way trip to the world of the Bible. But they leave them there, assuming that they can somehow make the return journey on their own. They focus on the original meaning of the passage but don’t discuss its contemporary application – the job is only half done! The NIV Application Commentary Series helps bring both halves of the interpretive task together. This unique, award-winning series shows readers how to bring an ancient message into our postmodern context. It explains not only what the Bible meant but also how it speaks powerfully today.

Proverbs by Paul Koptak

What is wisdom? Does occupying the top of life’s heap mean you have it? Does being near the bottom mean you don’t? Wisdom can certainly help you acquire wealth, influence people, or succeed at your career, yet it involves more than knowledge alone. It’s also a matter of understanding God’s perspectives in applying what you know and having the character to act accordingly. That is why true wisdom—the kind that begins with fear of the Lord—frequently runs counter to what our culture values and applauds. This is the wisdom the book of Proverbs teaches. Proverbs deals with the relationship between heaven and earth on a practical level that covers the broad swath of human activity. We could all use more wisdom in our lives; the book of Proverbs was designed to guide us into it. Proverbs is far from monolithic. It has multiple authors and employs diverse styles. But its goal remains simple: to equip us for living in a way that succeeds first and foremost in God’s eyes. Exploring the links between the Bible and our own times, Paul Koptak shares perspectives on Proverbs that reveal ageless truths for our twenty-first-century lives.

Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon by Iain Provan

Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs have always presented particular challenges to their readers, especially if those readers are seeking to understand them as part of Christian Scripture. Ecclesiastes regularly challenges the reader as to grammar and syntax. The interpretation even of words which occur frequently in the book is often unclear and a matter of dispute, partly because there is frequent word-play in the course of the argument. The argument is itself complex and sometimes puzzling and has often provoked the charge of inconsistency or outright self-contradiction. When considered in the larger context of the OT, Ecclesiastes stands out as an unusual book, whose connection with the main stream of biblical tradition seems tenuous. We find ourselves apparently reading about the meaninglessness of life and the certainty of death in a universe in which God is certainly present but is distant and somewhat uninvolved. When considered in the context of the NT, the dissonance between Ecclesiastes and its scriptural context seems even greater; for if there is one thing that we do not find in this book, it is the joy of resurrection. Perhaps this is one reason why Ecclesiastes is seldom read or preached on in modern churches.

The Song of Songs (also known as the Song of Solomon) has been read, historically, by Christians, in two primary ways—as a text which concerns the love and sexual intimacy of human beings and as a text which uses the language of human love and intimacy to speak of something else—the relationship between Christ and the church. Christians have often felt that they must choose between these options—that a text about human love and sexual intimacy could not be at the same time a spiritual text. It is one of the challenges of reading the Song to explore how far this is necessarily true and how far Christian readers have been influenced in their reading more by Platonism and Gnosticism than by biblical thinking about the nature of the human being and of human sexuality. Another challenge is to discover whether the Song is really one “song” at all, or simply a haphazard collection of shorter poems cast together because of their common theme of love; and still another is to gain clarity on what, precisely, is the connection between the Song and Solomon. This commentary sets out to wrestle honestly with all the challenges of reading these biblical books—the challenges of reading the texts in themselves, and the challenges of reading them as intrinsic parts of Christian Scripture.

Isaiah by John N. Oswalt

A unique commentary that explores each passage from three vital perspectives: original meaning, bridging context, contemporary significance. Isaiah wrestles with the realities of people who are not convicted by the truth but actually hardened by it, and with a God whose actions sometimes seem unintelligible, or even worse, appears to be absent. Yet Isaiah penetrates beyond these experiences to an even greater reality. Isaiah sees God’s rule over history and his capacity to take the worst of human actions and use it for good. He declares the truth that even in the darkest hours, the Holy One of Israel is infinitely trustworthy.

Jeremiah, Lamentations by J. Andrew Dearman

The books of Jeremiah and Lamentations cannot be separated from the political conditions of ancient Judah. Beginning with the righteous king Josiah, who ushered in a time of glorious but brief religious reform, Jeremiah reflects the close tie between spiritual and political prosperity or disaster, between the actions and heart of Judah and her kings and their fortunes as a nation. While few of us today have any firsthand understanding of what it means to live in a theocracy, the central theme of Jeremiah and Lamentations remains clear and still holds true: God first, politics second. The words, prayers, and poems of “the weeping prophet” serve to realign us with God’s priorities, turning us from evil and encouraging us to pursue God and his ways. With emotion and spiritual depth, these prophetic writings beckon us toward a spiritual integrity that can still affect the course of individuals and nations today.

Ezekiel by Iain M. Duguid

Iain M. Duguid is professor of religion at Grove City College in Grove City Pennsylvania, and the author of Ezekiel and the Leaders of Israel.

Daniel by Tremper Longman III

Tremper Longman III (PhD, Yale University) is a distinguished scholar and Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. He is on the advisory council of the BioLogos Foundation, and is the Old Testament editor for the revised Expositor’s Bible Commentary and general editor for the Story of God Bible Commentary Old Testament, and has authored many articles and books on the Psalms and other Old Testament books.

Hosea, Amos, and Micah by Gary V. Smith

Scratch beneath the surface of today’s culture and you’ll find we’re not so different from ancient Israel. True, our sophistication, mobility, and technology eclipse anything the Israelites could have imagined. Our worship is far different, to say nothing of our language and customs. Yet if the prophets Hosea, Amos, and Micah were to visit us today, we might be shocked to see how little their messages would differ from the ones they delivered 2,800 years ago. For human hearts are still the same–and so is God. Injustice, oppression, and political corruption anger him as much as ever. Apostasy still grieves him. His judgment of sin remains as fierce as his love is strong. And the hope God extends to those who turn toward him is as brilliant now as at any time in history. Revealing the links between Israel eight centuries B.C. and our own times, Gary V. Smith shows how the prophetic writings of Hosea, Amos, and Micah speak to us today with relevance and conviction.

Joel, Obadiah, Malachi by David W. Baker

These three short prophetic books of the Old Testament each contain a dual message. On one hand are messages of impending judgment—for all peoples on the Day of the Lord, for an enemy of Israel, and for Israel herself. On the other hand are messages of great hope—of the pouring out of God’s Spirit, of restoration and renewal, and of a coming Messiah. Placing judgment and hope together in such a manner may seem paradoxical to a contemporary mindset. But the complete message of these prophets gives a fuller picture of God—who despises and rightly judges sin and rebellion, but who also lovingly invites people to return to him so that he might bestow his wonderful grace and blessings. It is a message no less timely today than when these books were first written, and David W. Baker skillfully bridges the centuries in helping believers today understand and apply it.

Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah by James Bruckner

The prophetic books Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah are brief but powerful. They comfort us with the assurance that, when nothing in this life makes sense, God is still in control. They toughen our faith in the face of the world’s ugly realities. And they reveal the complexities of humans in relation to God. Jonah ran from his divine commission. Habakkuk questioned God concerning his ways. Repenting under Jonah’s message, the city of Ninevah ultimately backslid and reaped the doom prophesied by Nahum. And Zephaniah’s “remnant” depicts a faith that remains faithful. We needn’t look too hard to find our own world and concerns mirrored in these books. Exploring the links between the Bible and our own times, James Bruckner shares perspectives on four of the Minor Prophets that reveal their enduring relevance for our twenty-first-century lives.

Haggai, Zechariah by Mark J. Boda

The setting: Jerusalem. Recently returned from Babylonian captivity, the Jews are occupied with personal pursuits while the temple of Yahweh lies in ruins. To the prophets Haggai and Zechariah falls the task of calling God’s people to their forgotten priority: rebuilding his house. Heeding prophetic admonition, the people overcome the obstacles that face them and prosper in their work––thanks largely to the vision and encouragement of the prophets. The books of Haggai and Zechariah represent a golden period in Old Testament history, but they are often overlooked. Yet these two minor prophets speak a major message to the church today. It is one that calls us, as a community of faith, to the priority of God’s house, and inspires us with glimpses of its future glory. Exploring the links between the Bible and our own times, Mark J. Boda shares perspectives on Haggai and Zechariah that reveal their enduring relevance for our twenty-first-century lives.


Also see:

Bible Commentary Series (index)

New Testament commentaries (index)

Old Testament commentaries (index)