Commentaries on 1 John

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Bible Commentaries

2 Peter  ⇐ ⇒  2 John

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For more great commentaries on 1 John, be sure to check:
Commentaries on All the Letters of John,
Commentaries on the General Epistles, Commentaries on All the Epistles, New Testament Commentaries
Whole Bible Commentaries

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Order of Contents

The Best Commentaries  6
Commentaries  7
Early Church  2
On 1 John Generally  1
Chapters in 1 John

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The Best Commentaries on 1 John

1500’s

Calvin, John – Commentary on 1 John

*** – Spurgeon

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1600’s

Cotton, John – A Practical Commentary, or an Exposition with Observations, Reasons, and Uses upon the First Epistle General of John  Ref  PoD  1652

***  “Calamy puts his imprimatur upon this book, and speaks of the author’s name as ‘deservedly precious among the saints of God.’  In doctrine and experience he is a noble teacher.”

“A Puritan work first published in 1657. So extensive that the reader can virtually develop a systematic theology from its contents.” – Cyril J. Barber

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Intermediate, 1800’s

Candlish, Robert – The First Epistle of John Expounded, vol. 1 (1-3:9), 2 (3:10-End)   This has been reprinted by the Banner of Truth in the Geneva Commentary Series.

Candlish was a leader in the Free Church of Scotland.

***  “We set great store by these lectures.  A man hardly needs anything beyond Candlish.  He is devout, candid, prudent and forcible.” – Spurgeon

Morgan, James – Exposition of 1 John  1866  540 pp.

Morgan (1799–1873) was an Irish presbyterian minister in Belfast.  He was a joint editor of ‘The Orthodox Presbyterian’ and was known for, amongst other writings, his exposition of the 51st Psalm, ‘The Penitent’. 

***  “Dr. Candlish says that this is a work ‘of great practical interest and value,’ and that had it appeared at an earlier date, ‘he might have abstained from issuing’ his own lectures on this Epistle.  We are glad to possess both works.” – Spurgeon

Pierce, Samuel – An Exposition of 1 John, in 93 Sermons, vol. 1 (1-3), 2 (4-5)  1835

Pierce (1746–1829) was an English, calvinistic baptist.

***  “This devout author was highly Calvinistic, but withal full of spiritual power and unction.  He loved the deep things of God, and wrote upon them in a gracious manner.” – Spurgeon

Stock, John – Exposition of 1 John  1865  480 pp.

***  “Written by a well-instructed man of God.  For spiritual teaching the work is second to none.  Dr. Candlish prized it greatly.”

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Commentaries on 1 John

Middle Ages

Tyndale, William – The Exposition of the First Epistle of St. John  80 pp.

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Intermediate

1800’s

Law, Robert – The Tests of Life: a Study of the First Epistle of St. John  1909  450 pp.  being the Kerr Lectures for 1909  Reprinted by Baker in the Thornapple Commentary series.  Has some untranslated Greek words in the main part of the text.

Law was a minister in Edinburgh, Scotland.

“Out of print and unobtainable for nearly sixty years, this unique contribution covers a major portion of the first epistle, provides timely discussion on theological and Christological themes, and includes the doctrine of sin, the account of propitiation, and the tests of righteousness, love and belief.” – Cyril J. Barber

Neander, J.A.W. – The First Epistle of John Practically Explained  1852

Neander was a German liberal, church historian.

**  “Mrs. Conant in her preface says: ‘The treasures of genius and learning which enrich his more scientific works, here seem vivified by a new element, and melt, under the fervor of his inner spiritual life, into a glowing stream of eloquent practical instruction.'” – Spurgeon

Patterson, Alexander S. – Commentaries, Expository and Practical, on the First Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians, the Epistle of James, and the First Epistle of John  1857

Patterson was a minister in the Free Church of Scotland.

**  “Notes of discourses, with much in them.  Hints may be gleaned here in abundance by students who open their eyes.” – Spurgeon

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1900’s

Clark, Gordon – First John  Buy

Clark is usually a good commentator, but here advocates for his unique tenets of Sandemanianism (that faith consists only of comprehension and assent, and not trust) and a Scripturalist epistemology (that one can only know the contents of Scripture and what is necessarily derived therefrom).

In response to the first tenet, see the Westminster Confession of Faith, ch. 14, ‘Saving Faith’.  In response to the second tenet, see The Westminster Standards on Natural Law.

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Advanced

Graham, W. – The Spirit of Love, or a Practical and Exegetical Commentary on 1 John  1857  400 pp.

The work originated as lectures in the German city of Bonn.

**  “Graham is sound and vigorous, and does not mince matters in dealing with semi-skeptics; hence he brings upon himself violent reviews from opponents.  The Literary Churchman denounces his book as containing ‘controversy without argument, criticism without proof, citation without reference, a show of scholarship without the fruits of it, and denunciation without decorum.’  To say the least of it, this review is far too severe.” – Spurgeon

Lias, John James – The First Epistle of St. John, with Exposition and Homiletical Treatment  Buy  1887  448 pp.  This was reprinted by Klock & Klock.  Has some untranslated Greek words in the main part of the text.

Lias was an Anglican.

“A conservative and scholarly exposition defending the genuineness of the epistle and containing some valuable exegetical insights.” – Cyril J. Barber

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The Early Church on 1 John

Compilation

Bray, Gerald – Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude  Buy

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Individual Father

Augustine – Homilies on the First Epistle of John

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On 1 John Generally

Lloyd-Jones – Children of God and Fellowship with God: Studies in 1 John  Buy

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1 John 1-2

1600’s

Binning, Hugh – Fellowship with God, or, 28 Sermons on 1 John 1 & 2:1-3, wherein the true ground and foundation of attaining, the spiritual way of entertaining fellowship with the Father and the Son and the blessed condition of such as attain to it, are most succinctly and dilucidly explained  1653, in Works, p. 271 ff.

Binning was a Scottish covenanter.

***  “Milk for babes, and meat for men; calls to backsliders, and comforts for mourners.  ‘There is no speaking,’ says Durham, ‘after Mr. Binning; truly he had the tongue of the learned, and knew how to speak a word in season.” – Spurgeon

Hardy, Nathanael – The First General Epistle of St. John Unfolded and Applied  d. 1670  385 pp.  This is only on the first two chapters only, being 59 sermons.

Hardy (1618-70) was reformed and was a puritan.

***  “The Editor of Nichol’s Edition says, ‘This Exposition is only a fragment.  It was intended to consist of five parts, corresponding generally with the five chapters of the Epistle; but only two of them were accomplished.  In matter, the sermons are purely evangelical; in spirit, they are earnest and affectionate; in manner, they are eloquent and impressive.’  This is rather too ardent a commendation.” – Spurgeon

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1800’s

Anonymous – Apostolic Instruction, Exemplified in the First Epistle of John  1840  This is upon the first two chapters only.

***  “Upon two chapters only, but thoroughly good, and full of sweetness and light.” – Spurgeon

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1 John 3

Manton, Thomas – Sermons upon 1 John 3:1-4, 3:5-24  32 Sermons in Works, vols. 20-21

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1 John 5

Cotton, John – Christ the Fountain of Life: or, Sundry choice sermons on part of the 5th chapter of the first Epistle of St. John  Ref  1651

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John’s “gospel and first epistle, taken together, make a good apologetical manual.  His epistle gives the philosophy of the gospel.”

John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan

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Related Pages

Whole Bible Commentaries

Old Testament Commentaries

New Testament Commentaries