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I am the Pastor/Teacher of Rivers of Joy Baptist Church in Minford, Ohio since August 2008.  I am married to Charity since June 14, 1969.  I have four grown children.   Having served in the local church for over forty years as Pastor/Teacher, Asso., Youth Pastor, Minister of Education, Building Upkeep, Camp Director, Sunday School Teacher, etc. Also I have worked in the public place for as many years as I have preached. Charity and her sister are co owner of Union Mills Conf. (Bakery) in West Portsmouth Ohio


Should preachers/teachers use commentaries to learn what a passage of scripture means?

For some reason we believe that we should as preachers be able to read a text from scripture and have a understanding of the passage. Is this correct thinking?

The group of preachers who were in my life the last sixty years, have pride themselves on the idea that they don't need commentaries to understand the meaning of the Word of God. They simply use the KJV 1611. And in most cases that is all they use. You can tell.

So should we use commentaries and use what we call technical resources books?

Quoting Charles Spurgeon:

  • "The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own."


  • "Speaking of exegesis, how do you do it? Do you cobble together bits and pieces from various commentaries into some explanation of the preaching portion? Or do you do the hard work of figuring out for yourself what the passage says, using various commentaries to help you? Between these two approaches to the text, there is a large difference. That for which you have worked will come through in your preaching as authentic. That which has been cribbed from some commentator who did the work, will come through as inauthentic (unless, of course, you are an astute actor). Hard work requires using a goodly number of sources to help you come to valid decisions about a passage. But it doesn’t mean abusing them by mere copying. Are you guilty of this sin, preacher? If so, repent, and begin to do the right thing that you know, down deep, you ought to be doing. Rightly handling the Word of God is not only work, but a great responsibility."

So what do you do? Is it cheating to read what Charles Spurgeon says about a text? Is it cheating what John MacArthur says? It is cheating to read what Lloyd-Jones says about a text? No.

I was so shock in 1983 after going to the Shepherd's Conference and learning there were commentaries and technical books. (example: Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament). I believed Oliver B. Greene and John R. Rice were the best men to understand the text. I didn't know there were any other men, except Charles Spurgeon.

I was so dump founded to learn that the KJV was a translation from the Greek and Hebrew. And that the KJV that I had was not really a 1611 edition, that knowledge really floored me, really, dumb isn't it.? I was always taught that the KJV was self explanatory, and you didn't need anything else, except maybe a Webster dictionary.

Jay says "How do you do exegesis?" I didn't know what that meant? I didn't know you were to understand what a verse really meant, that was not how preaching was done. Preaching was never about the verses you read. You were not preaching or teaching the verses, you were preaching what you wanted to say. It really didn't occur in thought that you were to explain what the verses were saying. Really.

So should one who believes he has been called, or he desires to preach the Word of God, learn how to preach and learn the Word of God?

How should one learn how to preach? How should one learn what the Bible is saying? Should one do exegesis? Should one even study at all?

What I didn't know until 1983, (that it would be okay to believe them) there was another whole group of men who had another whole approach to preaching and teaching the Bible. I was so shock that John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther, John Gill, John Bunyan, John Owen, and many others were okay to read and study.


Charles E. Whisnant


This article was written at GoogleDoc. Then saved, and then sent to my blogger. Isn't that amazing. Its not 11:20 p.m. Google published the document here.