Preaching Tools: Jonah

A call from God. A disobedient prophet. A great fish. A miraculous repentance. The biblical story of Jonah is familiar to pre-schoolers and adults alike. A powerful picture of God’s great love for the world, its simple yet powerful storyline captures attention and brings clear application to believers today.

Register for Southwestern’s one-day Advanced Expository Preaching Workshop on Jonah for only $25.

Each fall, Southwestern Seminary’s preaching faculty holds an Advanced Expository Preaching Workshop, which focuses in on a specific book or section of the Bible. Past workshops have included Parables in Luke, Psalms, Hebrews, Genesis 1-11, the Sermon on the Mount, Revelation, and more. This fall, on Oct. 6, Southwestern’s Advanced Expository Preaching Workshop will focus on Preaching the Book of Jonah.

To help you preach through the book of Jonah, here’s an excerpt from David Allen’s Preaching Tools: An Annotated Survey of Commentaries and Preaching Resources for Every Book of the Bible.

Click here to get FREE ebook versions of Preaching Tools and two other books by signing up to receive emails from Theological Matters.



Exegetical Commentaries

Sasson, Jack. Jonah. AB. New York: Doubleday, 1990.

Bauer says it is the most detailed and comprehensive analysis available. It is a meticulous interpretation of each verse.

 Stuart, Douglas. Hosea-Jonah. WBC. Dallas: Word, 1987.

One of the best on the Minor Prophets, according to Longman. A must buy for all who preach. Amillennial perspective.

Expository Commentaries

Alexander, T. D., David Baker & B. Waltke, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah. TOTC. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2008.

Allen, Leslie. The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah. NICOT. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976.

Moo considers this work excellent both in scholarship and homiletical value.

Baldwin, Joyce. “Jonah.” The Minor Prophets. Thomas McComiskey, ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009.

McComiskey’s three-volume work is a must for studies in the Minor Prophets.

Bruckner, James. Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah. NIVAC. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004.

Helpful basic exposition and application for preachers.

Burn, Samuel. The Prophet Jonah. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1981 reprint.

Barber considers it one of the best for preachers.

Feinberg, Charles Lee. Jonah: God’s Love for all Nations. New York: American Board of Missions to the Jews, 1951.

Brief but valuable, according to Barber.

Fretheim, Terence. The Message of Jonah: A Theological Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1977.

Moderately conservative but a good theological analysis. A helpful volume for preaching Jonah.

Smith, Billy and Frank Page. Amos, Obadiah, and Jonah. NAC. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1995.

A basic, workmanlike, treatment helpful to pastors.

Walton, John. Jonah. REBC 8. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008.

Exegetical sensitivity, according to Longman.

Click here to get FREE ebook versions of Preaching Tools and two other books by signing up to receive emails from Theological Matters.

Devotional Commentaries

Banks, William. Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet. Chicago: Moody, 1966.

Barber says Banks “blends historic data with Hebrew word studies and a devotional emphasis.”

Exell, Joseph. Practical Truths from Jonah. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1982 reprint [1874].

This book qualifies as an expositional commentary since the author works his way through the book verse by verse explaining the meaning of the text. However, his focus is on application, which makes this a very helpful volume for the preacher. Wiersbe says it contains “rich veins of gold that others have ignored or neglected.” Exell was the compiler of the massive, multi-volume Biblical Illustrator and edited both The Pulpit Commentary and the Preacher’s Homiletical Commentary.

Fairbairn, Patrick. Jonah: His Life, Character, and Mission. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1964.

When this work had been in print for more than 50 years, Spurgeon called it “by far the ablest English treatise on this subject.” It qualifies as an expository commentary as well.

Ferguson, Sinclair. Man Overboard: The Story of Jonah. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2008.

Helpful preaching material from this Reformed pastor and former professor of Systematic Theology at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas.

Kirk, Thomas. Jonah: His Life and Mission. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1983.

This work will repay the preacher many times over who reads it. Don’t miss Kirk’s two appendices at the end where he critiques the parabolic view of the book and argues for Jonah as an eighth-century prophet and author of the book that bears his name.

Martin, Hugh. The Prophet Jonah: His Character and Mission to Nineveh. London: Banner of Truth, 1958 reprint.

Martin was a Scottish preacher in the middle of the 19th century. An excellent devotional work. Spurgeon said of it: “No one who has it will need any other.”


Hooper, John, “An Oversight and Deliberation upon The Holy Prophet Jonah; made and uttered before the King’s majesty, and his most honourable council, by John Hooper, in Lent last past:  comprehended in seven sermons, A.D. 1550,” Writings of Dr. John Hooper, vol. 5 in the set, The British Reformers, pp. 83–192.

Special Studies

Overduin, Jan. Adventures of a Deserter. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965.

English translation of a Dutch work by a pulpit orator well-known in his day. During the German occupation of the Netherlands, Overduin spent time in four prisons and two concentration camps, including Dachau. He views Jonah as having a style and tone “of an extended, beautifully realized sermon.” Preachers looking for insight and help with descriptive language in a sermon will find plenty here!

Register for Southwestern’s one-day Advanced Expository Preaching Workshop on Jonah for only $25.