The Best Commentary on Romans

Editor’s Choice

  • This is an in-depth commentary on Romans
  • It is the best technical Romans commentary
  • Provides a solid, balanced representative of mainline critical scholarship

Best Overall

  • This is a very comprehensive commentary
  • It provides more detailed scholarship than MacArthur
  • It packs a lot of additional exegetical details in its footnotes

Budget-Friendly

  • The most popular in the award-winning BECNT series
  • It has more than 25,000 copies sold
  • Has been praised as a great preaching commentary 

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the best commentary on Romans is, then I’d recommend The Epistle to the Romans by Douglas Moo as the best one.

The book of Romans contains Paul’s letter to the Romans that we Christians use as a guide. Paul’s letter is often quoted in the development and study of Christian theology. But, sometimes, studying the book alone may be difficult for most of us. This is why commentaries on Romans are very useful. Supplied with the Bible, commentaries help teach us its spiritual and personal application.

Through this article, we will learn about commentaries on Romans. We’ll list down why we must read them and how we could enjoy studies on Romans.

Here are the Best Commentaries on Romans we will be reviewing:

What is the Best Commentary on Romans?

The best commentaries on Romans offer an unbiased insight, illustration, and historical background. Commentaries are not to stand alone but should be partners with your Bible when you study them. These books should help the reader to understand the central message of Romans so that they may grow a deeper relationship with God.

Importance of Studying Commentary on Romans

Salvation

In the first few chapters of Romans, Paul reminds us that God knows of humankind’s sins. Paul then teaches us that there is only one way to get salvation. God’s salvation is only through Christ Jesus.

Sovereignty of God

By accepting Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we receive salvation. And through redemption, we heal our broken relationship with God and start anew. By reconciling with God, we are free from our sins and now have everlasting life.

Judgment

Proper judgment only comes from God. This reason is why Paul tells us that our good deeds are not enough to save us from our sins. Our hope for salvation can only be through the cross of Jesus.

Spiritual growth

Living according to the spirit, as Paul calls it, is setting our minds and hearts to the desires of God. By setting aside our preferences and judgment, we let the people around us feel God’s love. As Christians, the moment we receive salvation through Christ, our lives are not our own. We are now a part of a more significant calling.

Righteousness of God

As we are now anew, God does not guarantee us a life that is without suffering. We should expect more struggles and temptations to come our way. But do not fret; God will and is always with us in our efforts. We must hold firm in God’s grace because the struggles we face are what draw us closer to God.

Types of Commentary on Romans

Devotional Commentaries

Devotional commentaries focus on the application of the Bible to daily life. This type often discusses the chapter or book as a whole. Devotional commentaries do not include the original language of the book. But they do a great job of explaining Biblical terminologies so that it is easy to understand.

Mid-level Commentaries

Mid-level commentaries are more advanced than devotional commentaries. You should have a basic understanding of the original language and Biblical research. This type of commentary is the most popular kind. Pastors favor using mid-level analysis to study and help them with their sermons.

Technical Commentaries

Technical commentaries are the most detailed of the three. These commentaries go through every detail with the use of the original language. This type of commentary is much harder to understand. Authors of this type often assume that their readers have the same academic standing. Scholars and academics often use technical articles.

Purpose of Using Commentary on Romans

Commentaries on Romans give us an in-depth explanation of the book. Thus we can have a deeper understanding of Romans. Together with the Bible, commentaries assist readers in studying the book of Romans.

Studying Romans would then lead to having a deeper connection with God and God’s word. Commentaries also have different viewpoints of the book of Romans. We also learn about the cultural and historical background of that period. By doing this, we can now focus on the symbolism and true meaning of the book of Romans.

Benefits of Using Commentary on Romans

Though we are all sinners, there is hope for salvation through Jesus Christ

Paul starts by reminding us of the weight of our sins, but he gives us hope of obtaining salvation. By putting our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we receive salvation. By following Christ can no longer receive the ultimate punishment of our sins, which is death.

God’s presence is always with us

Although we have salvation through Jesus Christ, we are not immune to trial and suffering. But, God promises that He will always be with us, no matter the circumstance. In our problems and struggles, God’s presence will always be in our midst.

It shows us how we to live a new quality of life in Christ

Paul urges us to live a life dedicated to serving God. For us to do this, Paul gives instructions to turn our focus on the truth of God’s word. God also commands us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. In this way, we convey God’s unconditional love to others.

It reminds us of God’s commandment to love our neighbors

Through our faith in God’s grace, we have received salvation from our sins. God’s goodness and love should show through our works now that we have a new life in Christ. This means that we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. As God has loved us, as His people, we must convey His great love to others as well.

How to Choose the Best Commentary on Romans?

Pick an academic commentary

An academic commentary has an in-depth explanation of the Biblical texts. They contain interpretations from the original language, Biblical literature, and manuscripts. These materials support the author’s interpretation. Plus, more literature helps the reader understand the book of Romans. But do not worry; there are academic commentaries for the general public. You won’t need to have extensive knowledge of the Greek language.

Choose one that examines the book of Romans verse by verse

The best commentaries on Romans will have a verse by verse examination. This should give you a detailed analysis of the book of Romans without bias. Plus, verse by verse analysis would save you from reading a commentary incorporating the author’s preference.

It should interact with extra-Biblical literature

Look for a commentary on Romans that use extra-Biblical literature. Authors that use materials such as ancient texts and manuscripts give a more detailed analysis. These commentaries will have information that will support the texts written in the Bible. They also teach us about the historical and cultural aspects practiced in that time.

The author should be competent with the original language

The original language holds the true meaning of the book of Romans. When the author knows the original language, then they can unlock the true meaning of every verse.

Famous Commentaries on Romans

Douglas Moo 

Dr. Douglas J. Moo is known for his work, An Introduction to the New Testament and The Epistle to the Romans. He imparts his knowledge and research on Romans, Pauline theology, and environmental theology. His love and dedication to writing commentaries translate into his works. He has published detailed expositions used as study material for scholars, pastors, and students alike.

Thomas R. Schreiner 

Thomas R. Schreiner is an American New Testament scholar who has written many commentaries; one of those is on Romans. His writing on Romans had a significant revision from the first edition. The second edition is an exegetical work with the latest scholarship on Paul’s letter to the Romans.

John Stott 

John Stott had a considerable contribution to evangelism. He wrote over 50 books that are accessible in different languages. The Message of Romans helps the reader understand Paul’s words and arguments in his letter. Through this commentary, the author addresses the power of the Gospel and the righteousness of God and how we can apply it today.

Henry Alford 

This commentary by Henry Alford is four volumes long, but it is pervasive. The New Testament for English Readers offers a complete article on all the books of the New Testament. Henry Alford’s incredible work gives the reader a verse by verse analysis of each book with an interpretive approach.

C.E.B. Cranfield 

Charles Ernest Burland Cranfield’s two-volume technical commentary is an in-depth study of the book of Romans. Although it requires a working knowledge of the Greek language, this is one of the most thorough commentaries.

John Murray 

John Murray’s exposition of the book of Romans is an extensive text that is accessible for all. Murray gives a verse by verse analysis that addresses the difference between the old and new translations. This commentary is continually used as a scholarly resource in the study of the book of Romans.

J. D. G. Dunn 

This commentary shows the book of Romans on modern historical and cultural studies. James D. G. Dunn insists that readers read Romans with Paul’s historical and cultural background in mind.

The Epistle to the Romans by Douglas Moo

This commentary is a comprehensive guide to the book of Romans. The Epistle to the Romans by Douglas Moo is an academic commentary that combines extra-Biblical literature. The author does a fantastic job of laying down all the points and perspectives and explaining why he prefers one. He also presents the readers with questions that will make them think deeper about the book of Romans.

As you read through the book, each chapter has a summary and a verse by verse commentary. The author uses the Greek language, but it would not intimidate the reader. This book is at a college level of reading, so there is no need for extensive knowledge of the Greek language.

Pros:

  • This is a very comprehensive commentary
  • It provides more detailed scholarship than MacArthur
  • It packs a lot of additional exegetical details in its footnotes
  • With over 1000 pages long
  • Offers a classic section on the debate of a regenerate vs. unregenerate person
  • You do not need extensive knowledge of the Greek language

Cons:

  • There are some points in the commentary that the author contradicts himself

Romans (Baker Exegetical Commentary) by Thomas Schreiner

This commentary offers an analysis of the book of Romans for all, from scholars to pastors and even students. Romans is an academic commentary that incorporates extra-biblical literature. This guides the reader in the study of the book of Romans. Suppose you want an article that gives a critical explanation, along with a theological and practical insight into the book of Romans. This is the commentary that I would recommend for you.

If you do not know anything about the Greek language, this commentary is a good choice for you. Although the author does his translation, he wrote it simple enough for the layman to understand.

Pros:

  • This commentary interacts with other works and literature to build on his analysis
  • Romans is an academic commentary
  • The author does his translation of the Greek language
  • It is in a conversational style of writing

Cons:

  • Reading this book can get confusing because there are no references on which verse is examined in a particular paragraph
  • The organization for each section is a little messy

Introduction and Commentary on Romans by C.E.B. Cranfield

This is the shorter version of the original two-volume commentary. The technical notes on Romans and Greek language materials in this version are absent for anyone to read. But this version still has an in-depth study of the book of Romans. The author presents issues without any bias, and he encourages the readers to think.

Though this commentary is dated, it is still applicable today. The author’s comments on different points in the book of Romans are constructive and insightful. The author lists and describes the dilemma of different interpretations then gives his analysis and reasons for his conclusions.

I’d recommend this shorter version because it is focused more on the book of Romans. This academic commentary is for the consumption of the general public.

Pros:

  • This is an in-depth commentary on Romans
  • It is the best technical Romans commentary
  • Provides a solid, balanced representative of mainline critical scholarship
  • The way the ICC commentary is laid out on the page with the Greek is very, very helpful
  • The author’s judgments were in general really worth considering
  • This version is for those who do not need detailed exegetical information

Cons:

  • There are many untranslated Greek phrases
  • You should get both versions for more in-depth analysis

Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans by Charles Hodge

If you’re looking to study Romans’ book, this commentary is a good reference book with your Bible. This commentary on Romans is abundant in exegetical and theological insight; it would help those who want to study Romans seriously.

The format of the book includes analysis, commentary, doctrine, and remarks. In each section, the author gives a clear explanation and his stand but without undermining the opinions of others. The author is mature, careful, and interacts with other commentators. His years of studying the book of Romans show in the content of this commentary.

For those who want to read this commentary, I recommend reading this slowly and savor each explanation and analysis.

Pros:

  • This commentary has a good presentation and insights
  • This commentary is rich in exegetical and theological insight
  • This commentary offers a good mix of academic and pastoral insight

Cons:

  • Opt for the physical copy; the e-book version has poor formatting
  • The author uses three different languages besides English in this commentary

Romans Exegetical Commentary 2nd Edition by T. Schreiner

This second edition evangelical commentary on Romans has a detailed interaction with the Greek language. The author’s comment is on point with Paul’s flow of thought in the book of Romans. This reworked commentary has an updated bibliography; his discussions are clear and a better organization of the materials. With the inclusion of recent scholarships, this reworked commentary has a balance of depth and broadness.

The Romans is shorter compared to other commentaries on the book of Romans, but it still packs so much substance. Even if you do not have the same academic background, you can still appreciate this commentary. The author gives you clear points in the passages where it is most important.

Pros:

  • The most popular in the award-winning BECNT series
  • It has more than 25,000 copies sold
  • Has been praised as a great preaching commentary 
  • The new edition reflects the author’s mature thinking on various interpretive issues
  • It features the author’s detailed interaction with the Greek text

Cons:

  • Some of the author’s arguments can be confusing and hard to understand

Conclusion

The book of Romans is such a delight to study. Paul’s letter to the Romans captures God’s love and mercy towards humankind through the resurrection of Christ. Reading the book of Romans humbles us and helps redirect our focus to God’s faithfulness and grace. Through studying our Bibles and commentaries on Romans, we get a deeper understanding of the book.

This is why the best commentary on Romans is The Epistle to the Romans by Douglas Moo. This commentary provides a profound insight into Romans for pastors, students, and scholars, alike. The author gives a verse by verse analysis and different possible perspectives. By doing this, they can present to the reader all the points of interest and help them think critically about the book of Romans. Another advantage of this commentary is although the author uses the Greek language, it would not intimidate you. The book is at a college reading level, so you would not need extensive language knowledge.

Alex Shute
AUTHOR
Alex Shute
Alex is a family man and entrepreneur based in Los Angeles. His passion is to serve the global Church and bring people of diverse backgrounds together to learn & grow. In his free time, he enjoys perfecting pour-over coffee, smoking meats, and discovering new cycling routes around Southern California.