Book Review – CBC Zechariah (Andrew Hill)

It’s time for my another review from volume 10 of the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary.


Zechariah is one of the longer minor prophets, and despite being easy to date, offers a number of challenges to commentators due to the variety of hermeneutical approaches that could be taken to the visions and “proto-apocalyptic” material. Hill briefly describes four options (preterist, futurist, historicist and idealist), and in the commentary he (very) briefly summarises what the preterist and futurist interpretations of the passage in question are. He hints that he views many of these prophecies as having a dual fulfilment.

The introduction is slightly longer than some others in this series, allowing Hill to discuss the relationship of chapters 9-11 and 12-14 to the rest of the book. Hill considers it entirely plausible that they were written by Zechariah at a later stage of his life.

Zechariah and Haggai were prophesying in the same period, and while Haggai exhorted the people to rebuild the temple, Zechariah’s focus was on a call to repentance and spiritual renewal. His central theme is encouragement although the book also includes rebuke and exhortation. Zechariah’s theological concerns include right relationship with God, covenant renewal, social justice, restoration of divine presence and the enabling of the Spirit. Zechariah portrays God as a covenant-making and a covenant-keeping God.


As promised in the introduction, Hill does not lay out a variety of possible interpretations of the visions in the first section of the book. Space would not permit it in a commentary series of this type in any case. Instead, he focuses on explaining the meaning of the Biblical text, and highlighting the key theological truths that come out of the passage. The brief sentences at the end of each section outlining the preterist and futurist views tend to leave you with more questions than answers.

In Zechariah the translation choices of the NLT often require a little more explanation in the commentary. For example, “I am jealous … with great jealousy” in Zech 1:14 is translated as “My love is passionate and strong”, or in Zech 1:6 the NLT smoothes over an ambiguity concerning who is speaking, which more literal translations such as the ESV retain. But the NLT does make the reader’s job a lot easier, particularly when dealing with the vivid imagery found in Zechariah.

In several places, Hill highlights messianic titles (e.g. ‘servant’, ‘branch’) and pictures (e.g. priest, king, shepherd), and shows the way in which Jesus fulfils them (at least partially) in his first advent and (eventually completely) in his second advent.

In the latter part of Zechariah (chapters 9 onwards), the centre of gravity shifts slightly, with the ‘Notes’ section more detailed, and the ‘Commentary’ section being used to pick out key theological or application points. So for example, the commentary section for chapter 12 only really touches on Zech 12:1 and Zech 12:10. Over the course of the book, these theological reflections manage to cover a broad range of topics, and do a good job of showing how Zechariah builds on the prophetic hope held forth by Jeremiah and Ezekiel.


Overall I found this a helpful guide to Zechariah’s message. One of the big strengths of the Cornerstone series is the attention to finding links with the message of other books, both in the Old and New Testaments. Hill may not have explained everything in Zechariah, but he has taken us a step in the right direction by connecting the main points of the prophet’s message with the big picture of the whole Bible’s teaching.

Book Review – The Message of Zechariah (Barry Webb)

Brief Summary

A 186 page commentary / exposition of the book of Zechariah. It is part of the Bible Speaks Today series which generally follows an expositional format – not just explaining the Scriptures but applying it.  The subtitle is “Your Kingdom Come” and the whole exposition of the book takes a kingdom perspective.

The Introduction

The introduction is a fairly generous 30 pages, and Webb shows that the structure of the book is eight visions followed by two oracles. He sums up the main theme by saying “it is a book about the future coming of the kingdom of God, and the need to live now in the light of it”. He also points out sub-themes of repentance and cleansing as well as an key theme of the Messiah running through the book. He puts Zechariah’s prophecy into its historical context, but also is very careful to show how his message is directly applicable to us, as we have the same concern to see God’s kingdom come. He highlights how regularly the NT writers draw from the book of Zechariah.

The Commentary

The commentary itself is able to devote a couple of pages to each small section of Zechariah which gives enough space to explain and apply the text adequately. Webb generally avoids detailed discussions of historical context or Hebrew grammar, and is cautious in offering his interpretations of some of the more obscure visions.

He shows how there is a progression in the visions of the first six chapters that culminate in God’s judgment and rule over all the earth. He acknowledges that chapter 7 marks a new beginning, but argues that it is not unrelated to what had gone before. In chapters 10 and 11, he draws out a major theme of leadership – true shepherds are those who trust in God and lead others to do the same.

… it is impossible to be in relationship with God unless we are prepared to be ruled by him.

When he comes to chapter 13, he explains the links to Jesus, and there is also a brief excursus that deals in more detail with the use of Zechariah in the New Testament. He argues that the Old Testament prophecies concerning the kingdom of God are fulfilled in the events of Jesus’ life – his birth, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension and return. Hence there are elements of kingdom prophecy in Zechariah yet to be fulfilled.


For me, the great strength of this volume is how he consistently draws us to the Christological and New Covenant implications and interpretation of the book. He takes what can be a perplexing book, and brings out a very challenging and practical message of the kingdom of God.


Nothing to complain of. It was the right length. It obviously isn’t an academic treatment of Zechariah, and also those looking for detailed and speculative explanations of every last detail of the visions will be disappointed. But it ranks as one of my favourites in the BST series.

Why Buy It?

As with pretty much all the BST volumes, this is ideal if you are personally studying or planning to preach or teach on the book of Zechariah.