Commentaries on the Book of 1 John

On this page you will find Bible commentaries on the New Testament book of 1 John. The commentaries listed first are those that have received the best reviews. You will also find options for commentaries on 1 John that help pastors, teachers, and readers with application of the text, commentaries that approach the Scripture verse-by-verse, classic Christian commentaries, and much more. See more about the scholars, pastors, ministries, and schools whose commentary reviews are being utilized.

Top Reviewed Commentaries on 1 John



1-3 John (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) by Robert Yarbrough


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Reviews and Accolades:

D.A. Carson: a “best buy” on 1 John, “he writes with color and verve…he combines good exegesis, theological reflection”

Craig Blomberg, etal: a “priority: commentary on 1 John

Tom Schreiner: recommended, “a very fine exposition of the Greek text”

Keith Mathison: #2 ranked commentary on 1 John, “Yarbrough, like Kruse, is an accessible author. If you can get two commentaries on John’s letters, start here with Kruse and Yarbrough.”

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the Publisher: “The chief concern of the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT) is to provide, within the framework of informed evangelical thought, commentaries that blend scholarly depth with readability, exegetical detail with sensitivity to the whole, and attention to critical problems with theological awareness. We hope thereby to attract the interest of a fairly wide audience, from the scholar who is looking for a thoughtful and independent examination of the text to the motivated lay Christian who craves a solid but accessible exposition.” See more about the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series.



The Letters of John (The Pillar New Testament Commentary) by Colin G. Kruse


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Reviews and Accolades:

Desiring God: a Top 2 recommended commentary on 1 John

D.A. Carson: a “best buy” on 1 John, “this is the place to start for pastors with little to no Greek”

Craig Blomberg, etal: a “priority: commentary on 1 John

Keith Mathison: #1 ranked commentary on 1 John, “This work on the Epistles of John is thorough and accessible. It should be on the desk of every pastor and teacher.”

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “Designed for serious pastors and teachers of the Bible, the Pillar commentaries seek above all to make clear the text of Scripture as we have it…[the authors’] ideal is a blend of rigorous exegesis and exposition, with an eye alert both to biblical theology and the contemporary relevance of the Bible.” See more about the Pillar New Testament Commentary series.



The Letters of John (Tyndale New Testament Commentary) by John Stott


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Reviews and Accolades:

Desiring God: a Top 2 recommended commentary on 1 John

D.A. Carson: a “best buy” on 1 John, “packed with both exegetical comments and thoughtful application”

Tom Schreiner: recommended: “reliable as always and accessible to the busy pastor”

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: This series is “designed to help readers understand what the Bible actually says and what it means…[each commentary] examines the text section by section, drawing out its main themes. It also comments on individual verses and deals with problems of interpretation. The aim throughout is to get at the true meaning of the Bible and to make its message plain to readers today.”



1, 2, and 3 John (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) by Karen H. Jobes


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Reviews and Accolades:

2015 Christian Book Award

Craig Blomberg, etal: a “priority: commentary on 1 John

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “The idea for this series was refined over time by an editorial board who listened to pastors and teachers express what they wanted to see in a commentary series based on the Greek text…We arrived at a design that includes seven components for the treatment of each biblical passage”: Literary Context, Main Idea, Translation and Graphical Layout, Structure, Exegetical Outline, Explanation of the Text, and Theology in Application.”



1, 2, and 3 John (Word Biblical Commentary) by Stephen S. Smalley


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Reviews and Accolades:

Tom Schreiner: recommended, “an insightful exposition of the Greek text”

Keith Mathison: #4 ranked commentary on 1 John, “[Smalley’s] commentary on the Epistles of John is a valuable contribution to the literature.”

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “WBC series delivers the best in biblical scholarship, from the leading scholars who share a commitment to Scripture as divine revelation. It emphasizes a thorough analysis of textual, linguistic, structural, and theological evidence. The result is judicious and balanced insight into the meanings of the text in the framework of biblical theology.”



The Epistles of John (New International Commentary on the New Testament) by I. Howard Marshall


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Reviews and Accolades:

D.A. Carson: a “best buy” on 1 John, “the book is simply written and ably brings together a good deal of previous scholarship without getting bogged down in minutiae”

Tom Schreiner: recommended: “a clear and brief exposition for the busy pastor”

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “Written for scholars, pastors, and lay readers alike…undertaken to provide earnest students of the New Testament with an exposition that is thorough and abreast of modern scholarship and at the same time loyal to the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God.” See more about the New International Commentary on the New Testament series.



The Letters of John (New International Version Application Commentary) by Gary M. Burge


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Reviews and Accolades:

Craig Blomberg, etal: a “priority: commentary on 1 John

Keith Mathison: #5 ranked commentary on 1 John, “Pastors, Bible Study leaders, and other teachers will find Burge’s commentary in the NIVAC series a helpful tool, particularly as they seek insight on how to apply the timeless truth of God’s Word in these letters to the contemporary context in which we live.”

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the General Editor: The primary goal of the NIV Application Commentary Series is to help you with the difficult but vital task of bringing an ancient message into a modern context. The series not only focuses on application as a finished product but also helps you think through the process of moving from the original meaning of a passage to its contemporary significance. These are commentaries, not popular expositions. They are works of reference, not devotional literature.” See more about the NIV Application Commentary series.



Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians (A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Titus, 1-2 Timothy and 1-3 John) by Ben Witherington III


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Reviews and Accolades:

Keith Mathison: #3 ranked commentary on 1 John, “It is a helpful work that should be consulted by those doing in-depth study of these letters.”

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “Using sociorhetorical criticism, the New Testament is interpreted within the context of the world in which it was written and read—the rhetorical method makes use of ancient or classical writings and strategies of communication, while the social science method notes issues of cultures and customs.”



1, 2, 3 John (New American Commentary) by Daniel L. Akin


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Reviews and Accolades:

Craig Blomberg, etal: a “priority: commentary on 1 John

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “The New American Commentary is introduced to bridge the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This new series has been designed primarily to enable pastors, teachers, and students to read the Bible with clarity and proclaim it with power.”



The Epistles of John (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries) by Raymond E. Brown


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Reviews and Accolades:

Tom Schreiner: recommended: “a massive commentary by a famous Roman Catholic scholar – for technical research”

Best for: students, pastors, teachers, professors, and scholars with training in Hebrew who can follow a technical commentary

Purpose: From the publisher: “The Anchor Yale Bible Series, previously the Anchor Bible Series, is a renowned publishing program that for more than 50 years has produced books devoted to the latest scholarship on the Bible and biblical topics.” The series “vigorously pursues the goal of bringing to a wide audience the most important new ideas, the latest research findings, and the clearest possible analysis of the Bible.”



More Commentaries with Application Help for Pastors



1-3 John (Reformed Expositional Commentary) by Douglas Sean O’Donnell


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Best for: individual study, devotional reading, Bible studies, adult Sunday school classes

Purpose: The REC series has “four fundamental commitments. First, these commentaries aim to be biblical…Second, these commentaries are unashamedly doctrinal…Third, these commentaries are redemptive-historical…Fourth, these commentaries are practical…” All authors are “pastor-scholars.” See more about the Reformed Expository Commentary series.



Exalting Jesus in 1, 2, and 3 John (Christ-Centered Exposition) by David L. Akin


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Best for: individual study, devotional reading, Bible studies, adult Sunday school classes

Purpose: From the publisher: This series “takes a Christ-centered approach to expositing each book of the Bible. Rather than a verse-by-verse approach, the authors have crafted chapters that explain and apply key passages in their assigned Bible books. Readers will learn to see Christ in all aspects of Scripture, and they will be encouraged by the devotional nature of each exposition presented as sermons and divided into chapters that conclude with a “Reflect and Discuss” section, making this series ideal for small group study, personal devotion, and even sermon preparation. It’s not academic but rather presents an easy reading, practical and friendly commentary.”



1-3 John: Fellowship in God’s Family (Preaching the Word) by David L. Allen


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Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “For years, Crossway’s Preaching the Word commentary series has helped pastors, preachers, and anyone who teaches God’s Word to better interpret and apply the message of the Bible. Under the careful editorial oversight of experienced pastor and best-selling author R. Kent Hughes, this series is known for its commitment to biblical authority, its pastoral tone and focus, and its overall accessibility.”



First, Second, and Third John (Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching) by D. Moody Smith


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Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “This series of commentaries offers an interpretation of the books of the Bible. It is designed to meet the need of students, teachers, ministers, and priests for a contemporary expository commentary. These volumes will not replace the historical critical commentary or homiletical aids to preaching. The purpose of this series is rather to provide a third kind of resource, a commentary which presents the integrated result of historical and theological work with the biblical text.”



1, 2, and 3 John (The Story of God Bible Commentary) by Constantine R. Campbell


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Best for: individual study, devotional reading, Bible studies, adult Sunday school classes

Purpose: From the publisher: “The Story of God Bible Commentary is a new commentary for today’s world. It’s the first commentary series to explain and illuminate each passage of Scripture in light of the Bible’s grand story. This “story-centric” approach makes SGBC a fruitful resource for pastors, students, Sunday school teachers, and everyday readers.”



More Verse-by-Verse Commentaries



The Gospel of John, 1-3 John (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary) by Philip W. Comfort and Wendell C. Hawley


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Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “The Cornerstone Biblical Commentary series provides students, pastors, and laypeople with up-to-date, accessible evangelical scholarship on the Old and New Testaments. Presenting the message of each passage, as well as an overview of other issues relevant to the text, each volume equips pastors and Christian leaders with exegetical and theological knowledge so they can better understand and apply God’s Word.”



1-3 John (The IVP New Testament Commentary) by Marianne Meye Thompson


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Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “Each volume, informed by the best of up-to-date evangelical scholarship, presents passage-by-passage commentary based on the NIV along with background information on authorship, setting, theme and various interpretive issues… Preachers, teachers, students and other individuals who want to dig deep into the heart of the New Testament will find an indispensable companion in the IVP New Testament Commentary Series.”



1-3 John (A Continental Commentary) by Bruce G. Schuchard


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Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “A Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture is written to enable pastors and teachers of the Word to proclaim the Gospel with greater insight, clarity, and faithfulness to the divine intent of the biblical text.”



The Message of John’s Letters (The Bible Speaks Today) by David Jackman


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Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: The “the three distinctives of The Bible Speaks Today series are (1) “BST authors are committed to a serious study of the text in its own integrity,” (2) that “expositors should not be antiquarians, living only in the remote past” but suggest application for living, and (3) “each book is intended to be both readable in style and manageable in size.”



James, First, Second, and Third John (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture) by Daniel Keating


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Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “Supported by leading Catholic scholars as well as popular Bible teachers, the series offers a unique level of commentary for Catholic students of the Bible. Its attractive packaging and accessible writing style make it a series to own–and to read! Drawn from the best of contemporary scholarship, series volumes are keyed to the liturgical year and include an index of pastoral subjects.”



Classic Christian Commentaries for Bible Study



1-3 John (MacArthur New Testament Commentary) by John MacArthur


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Best for: individual study, devotional reading, Bible studies, adult Sunday school classes

Purpose: From the publisher: “If you’re familiar with John MacArthur’s in-depth Bible teaching, you have an idea of what you’ll find in The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. The commentary takes you deep into each passage, verse by verse—sometimes word by word. It’s like having a Bible teacher sitting next to you as you study Scripture.”



1 John (Geneva Series of Commentaries) by Robert Candish


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Best for: individual study, devotional reading, Bible studies, adult Sunday school classes

Purpose: “Candlish’s exposition of 1 John was the ripe fruit of years of careful and loving study of the great themes in Johannine teaching. His aim was not so much to produce a detailed technical commentary after the fashion of much exegesis in the new German tradition, but to set on display the heights and depths of the theology of John’s letter: ‘it can be studied aright exegetically, only when it is studied theologically.'”



First John (Thru the Bible Commentary Series) by J. Vernon McGee


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Best for: individual study, devotional reading, Bible studies, adult Sunday school classes

Purpose: From the publisher: “Radio messages from J. Vernon McGee delighted and enthralled listeners for years with simple, straightforward language and clear understanding of the Scripture. Now enjoy his personable, yet scholarly, style in a 60-volume set of commentaries that takes you from Genesis to Revelation with new understanding and insight.”


Also see:

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