I just completed teaching a Sunday School cycle on the Beatitudes. These were the resources that I used week-by-week.
Gregory of Nyssa, The Lord’s Prayer, The Beatitudes. Ancient Christian Writers. Edited by Johannes Quasten and Jospeh C. Plumpe. Translated by Hilda C. Graef. New York: Paulist, 1954.
Gregory of Nyssa, along with Irenaeus, has become one of my favorite church fathers to read. While he has the typical weaknesses of patristic interpreters, he also is an insightful and practical reader of Scripture. Even at points where I didn’t follow his exegesis, I was often stimulated to work through the passage from an angle I hadn’t thought of before. On a previous occasion I’d worked through the section on the Lord’s Prayer. It too is well worth reading.
Augustine of Hippo. Commentary on the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount with Seventeen Related Sermons. The Fathers of the Church. Edited by Hermigild Dressler. Translated by Denis J. Kavanagh. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1951.
This is an early commentary by Augustine, and it is very brief. It could be skipped.
John Chrysostom. “Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople on the Gospel according to St. Matthew.” In Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series. Edited by Philip Schaff. Translated by George Prevost and M. B. Riddle. New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888.
Brief comments, moderately helpful. I’d still make Gregory of Nyssa my go-to patristic commentator.
Simonetti, Manlio, ed. Matthew 1–13. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001.
I typically don’t use this series because I’d rather have a full patristic commentary with all of the context rather than snippets chosen by an editor. However, I had this at hand, and I did find selections form an anonymous unfinished commentary on Matthew to be valuable at certain points.
Luther, Martin. The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat. Luther’s Works. Edited by Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999.
Luther’s comments were usually helpful. He works through difficult problems carefully, and even when I came out at a different point, I found his perspective worth considering.
Calvin, John. Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Translated by William Pringle. 1845; Reprinted, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996.
Calvin’s comments on the beatitudes are brief. They are fine, but I found more help from the Puritan authors.
Perkins, William. “A Godly and Learned Exposition of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount .” In The Works of Willima Perkins. Volume 1. Edited by Joel R. Beeke, Derek W. H. Thomas, and J. Stephen Yuille. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2014.
This is a phenomenal exposition. It lives up to its title. It is a learned exposition. There were points were its definition of key terms in the Beatitudes could not be bettered. And it is a godly exposition. Perkins provides not only exegesis but application, and his application is helpful even at the present. I wouldn’t want to teach the Sermon on the Mount without this volume.
Watson, Thomas. The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-10. 1660; Reprinted, Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2014.
If Thomas Watson has written it, read it. This may have been the most helpful of all the resources that I drew on for this study. I didn’t always agree with Watson’s exegesis, but I often did. Watson also exemplifies the Puritan familiarity with the entire Bible and the Puritan method of categorizing. For instance, on “Blessed are they who mourn,” Watson ransacks the entire Bible for references to mourning and categorizes various kinds of sinful mourning and various kinds of righteous morning. He also gives searching applications of the passages.
Broadus, John A. Matthew. American Commentary. Edited by Alvah Hovey. 1886; Reprinted, Valley Forge: Judson Press, n.d.
I like Broadus, but I didn’t find him especially helpful for this particular study.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. 1937; Reprinted, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
I looked at this resource more to familiarize myself with Bonhoeffer and less as a resource for this study. I didn’t find him especially helpful.
Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959, 1960.
These are printed sermons, so the coverage is a bit uneven. Often the description of the blessed people receives more coverage than the blessings. But this is a helpful resource worth consulting.
Carson, D. A. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World: An Exposition of Matthew 5-10. 1978, 1987; Reprinted, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999.
I find this a helpful resource to read alongside Carson’s Matthew commentary. Since he’s focused on a section of Matthew and since these are published sermons there is a helpful expansion beyond what is given in the commentary.
Guelich, Robert A. The Sermon on the Mount: A Foundation for Understanding. Waco: Word, 1982.
Guelich has a host of critical assumptions that I don’t share. And the format of this commentary is akin to that of the Word Biblical Commentary, so that one has to flip to various sections to find all of his comments on a particular verse. Nonetheless, I found his lexical discussions and his treatment of parallel passages in both the OT and NT helpful.
Carson, D. A. “Matthew.” in Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Volume 8. Edited by Frank E. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984.
This study confirmed my previous impressions that Carson’s commentary on Matthew is among the very best Matthew commentaries. He is concise, but he was again and again the most helpful recent commentator on each beatitude. He also makes connections with OT passages that Jesus was alluding to. If I were to use only one modern commentary on Matthew for this study, this would be it.
Stott, John R. W. The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7): Christian Counter-Culture. The Bible Speaks Today. Edited by John R. W. Stott. Leicester; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985.
Stott’s exposition is on point and helpful. If I hadn’t been drawing on Perkins and Watson as much, I probably would have drawn on Stott more. This would be a good commentary to recommend if someone was wanting to read a brief commentary along with Sermon.
Blomberg, Craig L. Matthew. New American Commentary. Edited by David S. Dockery. Nashville: Broadman, 1992.
I’ve regularly found Blomberg to have unique and valuable insights in this commentary despite its brevity. However, though I often agreed with his interpretations of the Beatitudes, he was so brief that he wasn’t giving me anything that I hadn’t already picked up from other sources.
Morris, Leon. The Gospel according to Matthew. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Edited by D. A. Carson. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992.
Morris’s commentary is fine. But I typically find that though he is more verbose than Carson, he ends up saying less.
Allison, Dale C. The Sermon on the Mount: Inspiring the Moral Imagination. New York: Herder & Herder, 1999.
I couldn’t afford the three volume ICC set by Davies and Allison this time around, so I picked up this slim volume by Allison instead. Allison writes from a critical perspective, but he is also interested in the history of interpretation. I found him helpful at several points.
Nolland, John. The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Edited by I. Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005.
I’ve had a poor opinion of this commentary based on brief encounters flipping through it in bookstores. But in this study of the Beatitudes, I’d rank him right up with Carson as one of the most helpful modern commentators. I thought his interpretations were typically on point, and his connections with OT material that lay behind Jesus’s sermon were helpful.
France, R. T. The Gospel of Matthew. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Edited by Gordon D. Fee. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.
I was expecting France to be among the most helpful recent commentators. He did have a superb discussion of what “blessed” means. But his discussions of the individual beatitudes were not as helpful as Carson, Nolland, or Luz.
Luz, Ulrich. Matthew 1–7. Revised edition. Hermeneia. Edited by Helmut Koester. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2007.
Though not conservative, Luz is helpful in providing cross references and surveys of the history of how the verses have been interpreted.
Turner, David L. Matthew. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Edited by Robert W. Yarbrough and Robert H. Stein. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008.
I’m routinely disappointed by this commentary. For its size it doesn’t say much.
Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009.
Keener’s treatment of the beatitudes is fairly brief. I expect he’ll be more helpful on other passages in Matthew.