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Bible Study Helps: The Minor Prophets

Sep 15, 2018

In this series on study tools on the entire Bible we now come to the final twelve Old Testament books – the Minor Prophets. These prophetic books are certainly not minor in terms of importance, but only in terms of their length – they range between one chapter each (Obadiah), to 14 chapters each (Hosea and Zechariah).

These 12 books are an important part of the OT. Some deal exclusively with God’s people, some with foreign nations, and some with both. Like the Major Prophets, they offer both words of judgment and wrath as well as words of grace and forgiveness.

They span a period of some 400 years, ranging from books like Jonah and Joel in the Eight Century BC or thereabouts to Malachi in the Fourth Century BC. They cover various themes and topics, and give us the last revealed words of God until the New Testament revelation occurs.

What follows is a short overview of each book along with a number of commentaries which are worth consulting for much more detail and help on understanding these books. As usual, they are mostly from a conservative and/or evangelical point of view.

Commentaries and devotional/expository studies of all 12 Minor Prophets include these four helpful works:

Achtemeier, Elizabeth, Minor Prophets 1 (NIBC, 1996)
Goldingay, John and Pamela Scalise, Minor Prophets II (NIBC, 2009)
Boice, James Montgomery, The Minor Prophets, 2 vols. (Baker, 1983, 1986)
Craigie, Peter, Twelve Prophets, 2 vols. (DSB, 1984, 1985)
McComiskey, Thomas, ed., The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository Commentary, 3 vols. (Baker, 1992, 1993, 1998)

Hosea

Hosea deals with the apostasy and idolatry of Israel, using strong imagery, including that of an unfaithful spouse. To illustrate the spiritual adultery of the people Hosea was even commanded to marry an adulterous woman (Hos. 1-3). While wrath and judgment are clearly depicted, so too is God’s great love and compassion for Israel. 

The deep love that God has for his people is especially found in Hosea 11. It contains some of the most moving language depicting Yahweh’s broken heart over Israel. See more on this here: billmuehlenberg.com/2011/03/07/the-love-of-god/

Andersen, Francis and David Freeman, Hosea (AB, 1980)
Dearman, J. Andrew, The Book of Hosea (NICOT, 2010)
Garrett, Duane, Hosea, Joel (NAC, 1997)
Hubbard, David, Hosea (TOTC, 1989)
Kidner, Derek, The Message of Hosea (BST, 1981)
Mays, James, Hosea (OTL, 1969)
McComiskey, Thomas, Hosea (in McComiskey)
Smith, Gary, Hosea, Amos, Micah (NIVAC, 2001)
Stuart, Douglas, Hosea – Jonah (WBC, 1987)
Wood, Leon, Hosea (EBC, 1985)

Joel

The day of the Lord is the major theme in this book, with divine judgment on Judah and the nations the main emphases. The book contains the famous word about a locust plague which speaks to both judgment and future restoration (Joel 2:25). It also has the grand promise of God’s spirit being poured out on all flesh (Joel 2:28-32) which Peter runs with at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-21).

Allen, Leslie, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah & Micah (NICOT, 1976)
Baker, David, Joel, Obadiah, Malachi (NIVAC, 2006)
Crenshaw, James, Joel (AB, 1995)
Dillard, Raymond, Joel (in McComiskey)
Garrett, Duane, Hosea, Joel (NAC, 1997)
Hubbard, David, Joel & Amos (TOTC)
Patterson, Richard, Joel (EBC, 1985)
Prior, David, The Message of Joel, Micah, Habakkuk (BST, 1998)
Stuart, Douglas, Hosea – Jonah (WBC, 1987)

Amos

The faithlessness of Israel, and various societal injustices committed by her are denounced in this book. It includes the famous passage, “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-falling stream” (Amos 5:24). Both words of judgment and restoration are given by Joel. Judgment oracles on the nations are also found in this prophetic volume.

Hubbard, David, Joel & Amos (TOTC, 1989)
McComiskey, Thomas, Amos (EBC, 1985)
Mays, James, Amos (OTL, 1969)
Niehaus, Jeffrey, Amos (in McComiskey)
Smith, Billy and Frank Page, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah (NAC, 1995)
Smith, Gary, Hosea, Amos, Micah (NIVAC, 2001)
Stuart, Douglas, Hosea – Jonah (WBC, 1987)

Obadiah

This very brief prophetic book (the shortest book of the Bible) deals with the pagan nation of Edom. The prophet also predicts the restoration of the house of Jacob. God (and Israel’s) enemies will be judged, while God’s people will find eventual deliverance and renewal.

Alexander, Desmond, David Baker and Bruce Waltke, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah (TOTC, 1988)
Allen, Leslie, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah & Micah (NICOT, 1976)
Armerding, Carl, Obadiah (EBC, 1985)
Baker, David, Joel, Obadiah, Malachi (NIVAC, 2006)
Block, Daniel, Obadiah (ZECOT, 2013)
Bridger, Gordon, The Message of Obadiah, Nahum and Zephaniah (BST, 2010)
Niehaus, Jeffrey, Obadiah (in McComiskey)
Smith, Billy and Frank Page, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah (NAC, 1995)
Stuart, Douglas, Hosea – Jonah (WBC, 1987)

Jonah

This famous book may be known for a famous fish swallowing up a famous prophet, but it contains much more, including major theological truths. Divine sovereignty, repentance, forgiveness and God’s concern for pagan lands (in this case Ninevah) are among the points emphasised here.

Alexander, Desmond, David Baker and Bruce Waltke, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah (TOTC, 1988)
Allen, Leslie, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah & Micah (NICOT, 1976)
Baldwin, Joyce, Jonah (in McComiskey)
Bruckner, James, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (NIVAC, 2004)
Ellison, H. L., Jonah (EBC, 1985)
Nixon, Rosemary, Jonah (BST, 2003)
Phillips, Richard, Jonah & Micah (REC, 2010)
Smith, Billy and Frank Page, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah (NAC, 1995)
Stuart, Douglas, Hosea – Jonah (WBC, 1987)

Micah

Yahweh must punish sin, and that he does, but he also shows forgiveness and mercy. Various social ills are highlighted here, resulting in divine punishment. A key text is Mic. 6:8: “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” Yahweh is a judge who must judge his wayward people, but he is also a Shepherd who seeks to restore them.

Alexander, Desmond, David Baker and Bruce Waltke, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah (TOTC, 1988)
Allen, Leslie, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah & Micah (NICOT, 1976)
Barker, Kenneth and Waylon Bailey, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (NAC, 1999)
Dempster, Stephen, Micah (THOTC, 2017)
Kaiser, Walter, Micah – Malachi (MTOT, 1993)
McComiskey, Thomas, Micah (EBC, 1985)
Phillips, Richard, Jonah & Micah (REC, 2010)
Prior, David, The Message of Joel, Micah, Habakkuk (BST, 1998)
Smith, Gary, Hosea, Amos, Micah (NIVAC, 2001)
Smith, Ralph, Micah-Malachi (WBC, 1984)
Waltke, Bruce, Micah (in McComiskey)
Waltke, Bruce, A Commentary on Micah (Eerdmans, 2007)

Nahum

God’s judgment on the evil Assyrians and their capital Nineveh make up the focus of this brief book. While the end of Nineveh is predicted (occurring in 612 BC), the restoration of God’s people is also promised.

Armerding, Carl, Nahum, Habakkuk (EBC, 1985)
Baker, David, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (TOTC, 1988)
Barker, Kenneth and Waylon Bailey, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (NAC, 1999)
Bruckner, James, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (NIVAC, 2004)
Kaiser, Walter, Micah – Malachi (MTOT, 1993)
Longman, Tremper, Nahum (in McComiskey)
Robertson, O. Palmer, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah (NICOT, 1990)
Smith, Ralph, Micah-Malachi (WBC, 1984)

Habakkuk

The prophet questions God’s justice in the face of so much evil and the enemies of God seeming to flourish and go unpunished. As he famously asks in 1:3, “How long, O Lord, must I call for help but you do not listen?” Questions of theodicy are dealt with here (why do the wicked flourish) while the justice of God is affirmed.

Andersen, Francis, Habakkuk (AB, 2001)
Armerding, Carl, Nahum, Habakkuk (EBC, 1985)
Baker, David, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (TOTC, 1988)
Barker, Kenneth and Waylon Bailey, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (NAC, 1999)
Bruce, F. F., Habakkuk (in McComiskey)
Bruckner, James, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (NIVAC, 2004)
Kaiser, Walter, Micah – Malachi (MTOT, 1993)
Prior, David, The Message of Joel, Micah, Habakkuk (BST, 1998)
Robertson, O. Palmer, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah (NICOT, 1990)
Smith, Ralph, Micah – Malachi (WBC, 1984)

Zephaniah

Both Israel and the nations are covered here, with words of warning about judgment to come mingled with words of hope and restoration. Judah must face God’s punishment, but so too do various pagan peoples. The “Day of the Lord” is a major theme found here.

Baker, David, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (TOTC, 1988)
Barker, Kenneth and Waylon Bailey, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (NAC, 1999)
Bruckner, James, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (NIVAC, 2004)
Duguid, Iain and Matthew Harmon, Zephaniah, Haggai, Malachi (REC, 2018)
Kaiser, Walter, Micah – Malachi (MTOT, 1993)
Motyer, J. Alec, Zephaniah (in McComiskey)
Robertson, O. Palmer, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah (NICOT, 1990)
Smith, Ralph, Micah-Malachi (WBC, 1984)
Walker, Larry, Zephaniah (EBC, 1985)

Haggai

The last three of the Minor Prophets are post-exilic prophets. Here, in two short chapters encouragement is given for God’s people to rebuild the temple now that they have returned from captivity. The people live in fancy dwellings while God’s house remains unfinished.

Alden, Robert, Haggai (EBC, 1985)
Baldwin, Joyce, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (TOTC, 1972)
Boda, Mark, Haggai, Zechariah (NIVAC, 2004)
Duguid, Iain and Matthew Harmon, Zephaniah, Haggai, Malachi (REC, 2018)
Fyall, Robert, The Message of Ezra & Haggai (BST, 2010)
Hill, Andrew, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (TOTC, 2012)
Jacobs, Mignon, The Books of Haggai and Malachi (NICOT, 2017)
Kaiser, Walter, Micah – Malachi (MTOT, 1993)
Motyer, J. Alec, Haggai (in McComiskey)
Petterson, Anthony, Haggai, Zechariah & Malachi (AOTC, 2015)
Smith, Ralph, Micah – Malachi (WBC, 1984)
Taylor, Richard and E. Ray Clendenen, Haggai, Malachi (NAC, 2004)
Verhoef, Pieter, Haggai and Malachi (NICOT, 1987)

Zechariah

Returned exiles and the rebuilding of the temple along with prophecies about the nations are found here. The prophet encourages the returned remnant to complete their work in rebuilding God’s house. Also, some great messianic promises are found here, including that of a king riding on a donkey (Zech. 9:10).

Baldwin, Joyce, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (TOTC, 1972)
Barker, Kenneth, Zechariah (EBC, 1985)
Boda, Mark, Haggai, Zechariah (NIVAC, 2004)
Boda, Mark, The Book of Zechariah (NICOT, 2015)
Hill, Andrew, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (TOTC, 2012)
Kaiser, Walter, Micah – Malachi (MTOT, 1993)
Klein, George, Zechariah (NAC, 2008)
McComiskey, Thomas, Zechariah (in McComiskey)
Petterson, Anthony, Haggai, Zechariah & Malachi (AOTC, 2015)
Phillips, Richard, Zechariah (REC, 2007)
Smith, Ralph, Micah – Malachi (WBC, 1984)
Webb, Barry, The Message of Zechariah (BST, 2003)

Malachi

A major theme in this book is the importance of covenant relations and obligations. The wayward remnant must return to Yahweh. Also found here are promises of what is to come in some 400 years: “See, I will send my messenger who will prepare the way before me” (Mal. 3:3)

Adam, Peter, The Message of Malachi (BST, 2013)
Alden, Robert, Malachi (EBC, 1985)
Baker, David, Joel, Obadiah, Malachi (NIVAC, 2006)
Baldwin, Joyce, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (TOTC, 1972)
Duguid, Iain and Matthew Harmon, Zephaniah, Haggai, Malachi (REC, 2018)
Hill, Andrew, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (TOTC, 2012)
Hill, Andrew, Malachi (AB, 1998)
Jacobs, Mignon, The Books of Haggai and Malachi (NICOT, 2017)
Kaiser, Walter, Micah – Malachi (MTOT, 1993)
Petterson, Anthony, Haggai, Zechariah & Malachi (AOTC, 2015)
Smith, Ralph, Micah-Malachi (WBC, 1984)
Stuart, Douglas, Malachi (in McComiskey)
Taylor, Richard and E. Ray Clendenen, Haggai, Malachi (NAC, 2004)
Verhoef, Pieter, Haggai and Malachi (NICOT, 1987)

Happy reading and study.

[1830 words]

One Response to Bible Study Helps: The Minor Prophets

  • Thank you, Bill, for these brief explanations of what each minor prophet, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wanted us to understand and learn from. Also, thanks for the books you’ve recommended. Yep, they may be called “minor” for the brevity of their books, but so very much can be learned from reading their writings.

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