Earlier this week I mentioned that I was preaching/teaching through the book of Acts. Here is a list of resources that I’ve found helpful. You might notice I don’t have any online resources to suggest; you’ll have to do that work on your own. I have to admit I do very little online research since I don’t have time to research much beyond my own library. And, it’s easy to waste time on internet rabbit trails. If you get a handful of commentaries you won’t need to go online much (unless you use scholarly journals there). Anyway, here is a list of the main resources I’m using/recommending for Acts. (Note: you’ll also want a good Bible atlas to keep track of all the cities and regions found in Acts.)
Luke Timothy Johnson’s The Acts of the Apostles in the “Sacra Pagina” series. This is probably my favorite. He gives a translation, talks about exegesis, and then comments on each section.
Dennis Johnson’s The Message of Acts. You’ll need this one to get a great redemptive historical focus on Acts – how the OT is found all over in Acts. Johnson also focuses well on the gospel and how the apostles preached the good news.
William Willimon’s Acts in the “Interpretation” series. This commentary is an exciting read. I don’t always agree, but Willimon pushes and prods and pokes. Get this one.
F. F. Bruce’s The Book of Acts in the NICNT series. This is a standard commentary. It is pretty dry, but a good starting point.
Zondervan’s “Acts” Biblical Backgrounds Commentary. I really like this to get a cultural/historical background of the 1st century. If you don’t get this background commentary, I’d suggest getting something to help consider the 1st century culture.
J. Fitzmyer’s The Acts of the Apostles in the Anchor Bible Commentary series. I haven’t used this as much as I would like, but it is good.
Clinton Arnold’s Powers of Darkness. This is a helpful resource for those stories in Acts where the apostles face sorcery and magic.
There are tons of commentaries on Acts. I had a tough time choosing! Here’s my advice: don’t get more than one or two Reformed/evangelical commentaries. In my experience they all sound roughly the same. Instead, save some of your money to get commentaries from other traditions (even liberal and critical) – this will really force you to engage the text itself. Don’t stress out about the commentaries you could have, just get what you can afford and use them well.
Finally, don’t put too much hope in commentaries. They are very helpful sometimes; other times they are quite disappointing. Treat them like a tool. Of course, study the Greek and consult other resources like Systematic Theology and Biblical Theology. Pray much and do the hard work yourself!
Feel free to comment on Acts resources that you’ve found helpful.