In his booklet Shepherd the Flock, Donald Norbie summarizes the qualifications of an elder, one of which is being “able to teach” (1 Tim 3:2).
The elder should be able to teach God’s Word, but to do that, he must become a man of the Book, which takes time and discipline:
This means he will discipline himself to spend hours studying God’s Word. He will build a helpful library with aids to help him in this life-long study of the Bible. A good exhaustive concordance, Bible dictionary and an [sic] one volume commentary will start him on the path of building a library (p. 23).
Donald Norbie says that potential elders should start by building a library. He recommends starting with a concordance, a Bible dictionary, and a one-volume commentary. What specific titles should you buy? Here are my recommendations.
Concordance: Instead of a book, I most often use the concordance feature at BibleHub.com. That site also has a Bible dictionary. I used to use The Englishman’s Greek Concordance by George V. Wigram (which you can buy used copies of very cheaply), but online searches are so much easier.
The Treasury of Scripture Passages is also a helpful resource for discovering parallel passages for every verse.
Dictionary: Again, I would recommend BibleHub, but if you need a physical book, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words is good.
Commentaries: While I do all my concordance and dictionary work online, I still prefer to read a physical commentary. I find that Warren Wiersbe’s two volume commentary is the most helpful for zeroing in on the pastoral “take-away” of a Bible passage. I tend to be very intellectual and Wiersbe helps keep me down to earth. I would say Wiersbe is not Free Grace, but I think he is mostly Free Grace friendly. (However, a reader wrote me to say he found Wiersbe to be more Lordship Salvation friendly). Buy Wiersbe for the pastoral application.
I recommend our Grace New Testament Commentary both as a general commentary and as a resource for focusing on the grace of God in eternal salvation and knowing what the NT teaches about living a rewardable life of discipleship.
And Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament is the best OT commentary I have. It is out of print, but worth finding and buying.
Tony Evans’s new one-volume Bible Commentary looks very promising and is more Free Grace than Wiersbe’s.
Bibles: Lastly, though Norbie does not mention it, I would recommend you get a good Bible with margins large enough to make notes. You should invest in a “premium” Bible that will last for decades. Goatskin covers are the best (see here or here or here). Or you can have your current Bible rebound (see here or here or here).
Paul said, “If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work” (1 Tim 3:1). If that’s your desire, then start preparing yourself for the good work ahead.