Order of Contents
The Best Commentaries on John
Devotional & Practical
“This is the Gospel of the Divine Life of Jesus… It soars. It holds fellowship with the Throne. Its eyrie is in the Heart of God. And yet, in one of its aspects, this Gospel is as much the record of the Man Christ Jesus, as of the Only-begotten son; and for this it is of inestimable worth to all who desire to follow in His steps.” – Meyer, Preface
Pink, A.W. – Exposition of the Gospel of John 1900’s
“An extensive, enriching devotional study. Ideal for those who intend to preach a series of sermons on this Gospel.” – Cyril J. Barber
*** – ‘Excellent; beyond all praise. It is a full-stored treasury of sound theology, holy thought, and marrowy doctrine.’ – Spurgeon
“Vast in scope, rich in background information, and warm in devotional emphasis. May well be described as a pastor’s commentary on this Gospel.” – Cyril J. Barber
Tholuck, Augustus – Commentary on the Gospel of John 1859 460 pp.
*** “More spiritual than is usual with German theologians, and quite as scholarly as the best of them.”
Van Doren – Suggestive Commentary on John, vol. 1 (ch. 1-9), 2 1872
*** “If men who read this volume do not preach the better for so doing, it is not Mr. Van Doren’s fault; they must be Van Dolts by nature, though they may ignore the family name.” – Spurgeon
The series is “designed for serious pastors and teachers of the Bible… the scholars writing these volumes interact with the most important informed contemporary debate, but avoid getting mired in undue technical detail. Their ideal is a blend of rigorous exegesis and exposition, with an eye alert both to biblical theology, and the contemporary relevance of the Bible, without confusing the commentary and the sermon.”
Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John Buy
“In-depth studies on introductory topics in keeping with the scholarly tradition of the Cambridge triumvirate of Lightfoot, Westcott and Hort. All the writings of Morris are of the utmost value!” – Cyril J. Barber
“A monumental work by a great theologian and an able defender of the faith. Thorough and exhaustive without being elaborate and verbose.” – Cyril J. Barber
Ridderbos, Herman N. – The Gospel According to John: a Theological Commentary (1987) 670 pp. ToC
“This scholarly commentary is valuable both for the insights it contains from a noted scholar and for the information it brings to non-Europeans about European scholarship…. Ridderbos argues against those who maintain that much of John is unreliable…” – Leon Morris
“Although Riddebos engages some recent scholarship on John, the bulk of his attention is devoted to a theological exposition of the Fourth Gospel… the words… are not so much designed to sidestep contemporary issues as to place primary emphasis where it belongs–on unpacking the meaning of the text as it stands. The result is quality exposition…” – D.A. Carson
Commentaries on John
ed. Farmer, Craig – Reformation Commentary on Scripture: John 1-12 Buy
Marlorat (1506-1562) was reformed. His commentaries are particularly valuable as they are compendiums of block quotes from some of the best reformed divines of his day on the passages of that particular Biblical book. See here for an excerpt from this work.
On his commentary on Matthew: ** – “Marlorate was an eminent French reformer, preacher and martyr. His commentaries contain the cream of the older writers, and are in much esteem, but are very rare. He wrote on the whole New Testament, but we have in English only the Gospels [2-3 John] and Jude [and Revelation 1 & 13].” – Spurgeon
Traheron, Bartholomew – An Exposition of a Part of St. John’s Gospel made in sundry readings in the English Congregation… and now published against the wicked enterprises of new stirred up Arians in England d. 1558
** “A little quaint old book. Not intrinsically worth the price, nor a tenth of it.” – Spurgeon
Devotional, Practical & Simple
Anderson, Robert – A Practical Exposition of the Gospel of John, vol. 1, 2 1841
** “By an evangelical clergyman: sound, but not very original.” – Spurgeon
** “The character of this commentary is practical and devotional. There are often very exquisite devotional passages, and a vein of earnest piety runs through the whole work.” – Spurgeon
** “Good evangelical sermons.”
Speer, Robert – John’s Gospel: the Greatest Book in the World 1915 210 pp.
“Brief suggestions for individual study.” – Cyril J. Barber
Morgan, G.C. – The Gospel According to John (Revell, 1933)
Morgan was reformed and was the predecessor to Martyn Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel in London.
“An expository treatment intelligible to the ordinary laymen and of value to the preacher.” – Cyril J. Barber
“Just as visitors to London in bygone days went hear Spurgeon and Parker, so visitors flocked to Glasgow to listen to Dr. Morrison preach during his 26-year pastorate at the Wellington United Free Church. He also once served as an assistant to the famous Alexander Whyte.” – AMG Publishers
“Brief, suggestive sturdies. Devotional.” – Cyril J. Barber
Brief expository studies stressing the experiential aspects of this Gospel.” – Cyril J. Barber
Henry, Carl – ‘John’ in The Biblical Expositor: The Living Theme of the Great Book with General and Introductory Essays and Exposition, vol. 3 Buy ed. Carl Henry 1960
This little known commentary set by leading evangelicals (many of which were reformed) is brief (think airplane view) but helpful.
“Expounds the Gospel of John from a Biblical viewpoint. Devotional.” – Cyril J. Barber
Brown, George – Lectures on the Gospel According to St. John, Forming a Continuous Commentary, vol. 1, 2 (1863)
** “The plan of this work will prevent its being widely used; but its execution strikes us as being uncommonly able. It is a gathering up of other men’s materials and an amalgamation of them. It is intensely Episcopalian, even to Baptismal Regeneration, yet it brings a good deal of light to bear on the Gospel of John, and, if to be met with at a very low figure, it is not to be passed by.” – Spurgeon
Reith, George – The Gospel According to St. John, with Introduction and Notes, vol. 1 (1-8), 2 (8-21) n.d. in Hand-Books for Bible Classes, ed. Dods & Whyte
Thomas, David – The Genius of the Fourth Gospel, St. John, Exegetically and Practically Considered, containing 102 Homiletic Sketches and 51 Germs of Thought, vol. 1 (chs. 1-13), 2 (14-21) 1885
Tittmann, Karl C. – Sacred Meditations, or, An Exegetical, Critical, and Doctrinal Commentary on the Gospel of St. John, vol. 1, 2 Pre (Thomas Clark, 1844) in The Biblical Cabinet
** “Horne, in speaking of this work in the German, without endorsing all Tittmann’s opinions, declares it to be the most valuable commentary on John extant in so small a form. Our judgment is less commendatory.” – Spurgeon
“A worthwhile treatment, but one which has been out of print for many years.” – Cyril J. Barber
Hendriksen, William – Exposition of the Gospel According to John, vol. 1 (1-6), 2 (7-21) in New Testament Commentary (Baker, 1954)
“A thorough treatment based on the original text, and representative of the finest evangelical scholarship.” – Cyril J. Barber
Tenney, Merrill C. – John, the Gospel of Belief: an Analytic Study of the Text (1948; Eerdmans, 1953) 320 pp. ToC
“Says Wilbur M. Smith: ‘This volume is for those who really wish to make a study of John’s Gospel, to know the deeper veins of its great message, and to understand more thoroughly the conflict between belief and unbelief.” – Cyril J. Barber
“More reliable than his work on Matthew. Handles the Gospel in sections (rather than verse-by-verse) and includes additional notes on points of particular interest and importance.” – Cyril J. Barber
Hengstenberg was a conservative German scholar.
“The author is fully conscious of his own weakness; but he has striven earnestly, with a firm faith in the Word of God, as granted him through Divine grace, to penetrate deeply into the meaning of this important part of it…” – Preface
** “Like others of this author’s works: solid, but dry.”
Luthardt (1823–1902) was an orthodox, Lutheran, German professor in Leipzig.
St. John, the Author of the Fourth Gospel 1875 390 pp. trans. Caspar Gregory of Leipzig
The translator was a student of Charles Hodge of old Princeton Seminary and dedicated the translation to him.
“An extensive treatment of the authorship of St. John’s Gospel.” – Cyril J. Barber
Meyer, H.A.W. – Commentary on John
Liberal, but an irreplaceable, nearly-exhaustive resource. Focused especially on the grammatical-historical method of interpretation.
** ‘A very learned Commentary, of which Bishop [Charles] Ellicott speaks in the highest terms. Meyer must be placed in the first class of scholars, though somewhat lower down in the class than his admirers have held. Apart from scholarship we do not commend him. Alford was certainly no very rigid adherent of orthodoxy, yet he says of Meyer that he is not to be trusted where there is any room for the introduction of rationalistic opinions. Whatever credit may be due to him for accurate interpretation, this is a terribly serious drawback. It is well to be warned.’ – Spurgeon
Plummer, Alfred – The Gospel According to St. John 1st ed. 1882 478 pp. in the Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges. Reprinted by Baker in the Thornapple Commentary series
Plummer (1841–1926) was a Church of England clergyman, biblical scholar and a liberal.
“Brief expository notes.” – Cyril J. Barber
Westcott , B.F.
The Gospel According to St. John: The Authorized Version with Introduction and Notes (1881) 416 pp. in The Speaker’s Commentary
“Part of the Speaker’s Commentary, but later reissued separately because it made a unique contribution to the study of this Gospel. Remains one of the best exegetical studies.” – Cyril J. Barber
Barrett, Charles K. – The Gospel According to St. John: an Introduction with Commentary & Notes on the Greek Text 2nd ed. (Westminster Press, 1975) 655 pp. ToC
“A combination of solid learning and balanced judgment for serious students of the New Testament who have a thorough knowledge of Greek.” – Cyril J. Barber
Brown, Raymond – The Anchor Bible: The Gospel According to John: Introduction, Translation & Notes (Doubleday, 1966) 690 pp. ToC
Brown (1928–1998) was a Romanist scholar.
“An important, modern treatment by a Roman Catholic writer. Of particular value to serious and discerning students of the NT. Brown’s moderate historiography ably complements Barrett’s scholarly volume. One of the better volumes in this series.” – Cyril J. Barber
Sanders, J.N. – The Gospel According to St. John ed. B.A. Mastin in Harper’s New Testament Commentaries (Harper, 1969) also in Black’s New Testament Commentaries
“An important work which is fully abreast of current New Testament study.” – Cyril J. Barber
The Early Church on John
Ford, James – The Gospels, Illustrated (Chiefly in the Doctrinal & Moral Sense) from Ancient & Modern Authors, vol. 4 (Jn) (London: Masters, 1872) 730 pp. no ToC
*** “Those who wish to see what the Fathers said upon the Gospels, and to read the choicest sayings of the early Anglican bishops, cannot do better than consult Ford, who has made a very rich collection. Some of the extracts do not materially illustrate the text, but they are all worth reading.”
Dunwell, Francis Henry – The Four Gospels, as Interpreted by the Early Church… (London: Clowes, 1876) 931 pp. no ToC Fathers
Tatian (120-180 AD) was a Syrian Christian writer. This was his attempt at a harmony of the Gospels.
Origen (c. 185 – c. 253)
Fortunatianus of Aquileia – On John (chs. 1-2:11) in Commentary on the Gospels trans. H.A.G. Houghton in CSEL Extra Seriem (De Gruyter, 2017), pp. 100-16
Fortunatianus (c. 300 – c. 370) was an African, Christian poet and bishop of Aquileia in the mid-fourth century during the reign of Constantius II. He is best known for this commentary.
Ambrosiaster – Questions & Answers on John (chs. 1, 3, 5-12, 14, 16-17, 19-20) at Patristic Bible Commentary
Ambrosiaster (c. 366-384)
Chrysostom (c. 347–407)
** ‘Enough of solid truth and brilliant utterance will be found here to justify this father’s title of ‘Golden Mouth’; but still all is not gold which fell from his lips, and to modern readers Chrysostom is not so instructive as he was to his own age [A.D. 349-407].’ – Spurgeon
Commentary on St. John the Apostle & Evangelist, vol.1 (Homilies 1-47), 2 (Homilies 48-88) in The Fathers of the Church (Catholic University of America Press, 2010) ToC 1, 2
Theodore (c. 350 – 428) was a Christian theologian and Bishop of Mopsuestia. He is the best known representative of the middle Antioch School of hermeneutics.
Sermons 67-97 on the Gospel of John in Sermons on Selected Lessons of the Gospels in Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, vol. 6, pp. 458-545
Homilies on the Gospel According to St. John, vol. 1 (chs. 1-8), 2 (9-21) in A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1848) ToC 1, 2
** “To the wise a mine of treasure. Augustine is often fanciful; but even his fancies shows a master-mind. Much that passes for new is stolen from this prince of theologians.” – Spurgeon
John Gospel Harmony at Patristic Bible Commentary
Cyril of Alexandria
Commentary on the Gospel according to St. John, vol. 1 (1-8), 2 (9-21) in A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: James Parker, 1874) ToC HTML
Cyril (c. 376 – 444)
‘Commentary on John’ in Norman Russell, Cyril of Alexandria in The Early Church Fathers Pre (Routledge, 2000), pp. 96-129
Nonnus (fl. 5th century)
The Medieval Church
Gregory the Great
Forty Gospel Homilies ed. David Hurst Ref (Cistercian Publications, 1990) 389 pp.
Homilies on the Gospel of John (chs. 1, 4, 8, 10, 14-15, 20-21) at Patristic Bible Commentary
Bede (672/3 – 735)
Hildegard (c. 1098 – 1179)
Golden Chain (Catena Aurea): John at Isidore
Commentary on the Gospel of St. John This is different than his Catena Aurea.
Gregorius the Syriac – On the Four Gospels in A Clear & Learned Explication of the History of our Blessed Savior Jesus Christ, Taken out of Above Thirty Greek, Syriac, and Other Oriental Authors, by Way of Catena (Dublin )
Gregory Bar Hebraeus (1226–1286) was a Chief bishop of Persia of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the 13th century. He is noted for his works concerning philosophy, poetry, language, history, and theology; he has been called “one of the most learned and versatile men from the Syriac Orthodox Church.”
‘Selections from the Commentary on John’ in Essential Sermons, Commentaries, Treatises, & Defense trans. Edmund Colledge (NY: Paulist Press, 1981), pp. 122-76
Eckhart (c. 1328)
‘Commentary on Jn. 14:8’ in Meister Eckhart: Teacher & Preacher ed. Bernard McGinn (Paulist Press, 1986), pp. 182-206
Jewish Background to
Lightfoot, John – Commentary on John from the Talmud & Hebraica
Lightfoot was a mid-1600’s reformed divine who was invited to the Westminster Assembly. He mined the Jewish writings for anything and everything that may be of help in understanding the New Testament. Here are his results. This is the only work of its kind in English; the scholarly, more complete work (vol. 1, Mt; vol. 2, Mk-Jn) that has improved, in some ways, upon Lightfoot, done in the early 1900’s by H. Strack and P. Billerbeck, has still not been translated out of the German.
If one is interested in seeing the results of the use of the Jewish writings in relation to the gospel accounts, see Edersheim’s Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, who thoroughly makes use of them from his encyclopedic knowledge of the Jewish writings from his orthodox Jewish upbringing his life’s work as a scholar.
Farmer, Craig S. – The Gospel of John in the Sixteenth Century: the Johannine Exegesis of Wolfgang Musculus (Oxford University Press, 1997) 260 pp. ToC
On John Generally
Robertson, A.T. – The Divinity of Christ in the Gospel of John 1916 180 pp.
“Thematic studies which survey the manifestation of the Messiah to His people, the growing hatred of the Jews for Jesus, the teaching of Christ in the upper room, the scorn of Christ’s enemies, and His vindication.” – Cyril J. Barber
Harrison, E.F. – The Son of God Among the Sons of Men: Studies in the Gospel according to John (Wilde, 1949) Also published with the title: Meditations on the Gospel of John
“Meditations which center around the personalities in John’s Gospel and show the uniqueness of our Lord’s ministry as He met the deepest needs of the human heart.” – Cyril J. Barber
On Chapters in John
Luther’s Works, ed. Pelikan Buy (Concordia)
Beith, Alexander – Christ our Life, or Expository Discourses on John, being a Series of Lectures on the First Six Chapters of John, vol. 1 (chs. 1-3), 2 (4-6) (1857)
Beith was one of the original ministers of the Free Church of Scotland who came out during the Disruption.
** “Discourses which must have been very profitable to the hearers. Students will do better with works which are more condensed.” – Spurgeon
Arrowsmith, John – Theanthropos, or, God-Man: being an Exposition upon the First Eighteen Verses of the First Chapter of the Gospel according to St. John. Wherein, is most accurately & divinely handled, the divinity & humanity of Jesus Christ; proving Him to be God & man, co-equal & co-eternal with the Father: to the confutation of several heresies both ancient & modern (1660) 311 pp. ToC
Dyke, Daniel – Six Evangelical Histories of Water Turned into Wine, the Temple’s Purgation, Christ & Nichodemus, John’s last Testimony, Christ, and the woman of Samaria, the ruler’s son’s healing, contained in the 2nd, 3rd & 4th Chapters of St. John’s Gospel: Opened & Handled… (London, 1617) 352 pp. ToC
Gouge, William – An Exposition upon the 3rd of John, verses 29-34 in An Exposition on the whole Fifth Chapter of John’s Gospel, also Notes on other Choice Places of Scripture (London: 1630)
Gouge was an English puritan and Westminster divine.
Whyte, Alexander – Nicodemus in Bible Characters d. 1921
Hildersham was an English puritan.
*** “A mass of godly teaching; but rather heavy reading.” – Spurgeon
MacDuff, J.R. – Noontide at Sychar; or the Story of Jacob’s Well. A New Testament Chapter in Providence and Grace (1869) 268 pp. ToC
“An extensive devotional treatment of John 4. A rare example of exemplary exposition and fin application of spiritual truth.” – Cyril J. Barber
Gouge, William – An Exposition of the 5th of John in An Exposition on the whole Fifth Chapter of John’s Gospel, also Notes on other Choice Places of Scripture (1630)
Gouge was an English puritan and Westminster divine.
Brenz, Johannes – A Very Fruitful Exposition upon the Sixth Chapter of St. John Divided into 10 Homilies, or Sermons (1550) 315 pp. ToC
Brenz was a Lutheran.
Clagett, William – A Paraphrase with Notes, & a Preface upon the Sixth Chapter of St. John: showing that there is neither good reason, nor sufficient authority, to suppose that the Eucharist is discoursed of in that chapter, much less to infer the doctrine of transubstantiation from it (d. 1688) 52 pp. no ToC
Clagett (1646-1688) was an Anglican.
Turner, Samuel – Essay on our Lord’s Discourse at Capernaum, Recorded in John 6 (NY: Anson, 1851) 175 pp. ToC
* “Written with the immediate view of combating the errors of Dr., afterwards Cardinal, Wiseman, who appeals to this chapter for proofs of ‘the real presence.'” – Spurgeon
M’Cheyne, Robert M. – Bethany, or, the Sickness, Death & Resurrection of Lazarus on Jn. 11:1-46 (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication) 94 pp. no ToC
Drummond, D.T.K. – The Last Scenes in the Life of our Lord & Savior, or a Series of Practical Expositions on the Last Nine Chapters of John (London: Seeley: 1841) 380 pp. no ToC
Fuller, Andrew – ‘Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet’ on Jn. 13:1-38 in Works (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1845), vol. 1, pp. 656-58
Bernard, Thomas D. – The Central Teaching of Christ: a Study of John 13-17 (1892) 444 pp. ToC
“Thomas Dehany Bernard (1815-1904) was an English Clergyman. He graduated from Exeter College, Oxford, and after several notable pastorates ministered at Wells Cathedral, ultimately becoming its Chancellor… Thomas Bernard was noted for his strong evangelical convictions… he remained… uncompromising in his adherence to the integrity of the Word of God.” – Cyril J. Barber
Ross (1831 1892) was a Free Church of Scotland minister.
“This exposition of John 13-17 may well be regarded as a classic.” – Cyril J. Barber
Goodwin, Thomas – The Work of the Holy Ghost in our Salvation, bk. 1, ch. 1, Some General Observations Premised out of Jn. 14-16 in Works, vol. 6
Goodwin was an English, congregationalist puritan.
** “Solid discourses, containing much though happily expressed. Yet withal somewhat laborious reading.” – Spurgeon
MacLaren, Alexander – The Holy of Holies: Sermons on Fourteenth, Fifteenth & Sixteenth Chapters of the Gospel of John (1890) 390 pp. ToC
Maclaren was a Church of Scotland minister.
Swete, Henry Barclay – The Last Discourse & Prayer of our Lord: a Study of John 14-17 (1913) 205 pp. ToC
“A careful study of John 14-17.” – Cyril J. Barber
25 Sermons upon the Last Sermon and Conference of our Lord Jesus Christ with his Disciples Immediately before his Passion, contained in the 14th, 15th, and 16th chapters of the Gospel of St. John, as also upon that most excellent prayer, contained in the 17th Chapter (d. 1599)
Lectures on the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ from John 18-21, containing a perfect harmony of all the four Evangelists for the better understanding of all the circumstances of the Lord’s death and Resurrection (d. 1599)
John’s “gospel and first epistle, taken together, make a good apologetical manual. His epistle gives the philosophy of the gospel.”
John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan