Commentaries on John

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For more great commentaries on John, be sure to check:
Commentaries on All the Four Gospels, The Life & Times of Christ, New Testament Commentaries & Whole Bible Commentaries.

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Order of Contents

The Best Commentaries  9
Commentaries  29+
Early Church  6
Medieval Church  1
Jewish Background to  1
On John Generally  2
The Life & Theology of John  10+
Chapters in John
John 17  14+

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The Best Commentaries on John

Devotional & Practical

Meyer, F.B.

The Life and Light of Men: Expositions of John 1-12  251 pp.

“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

Love to the Uttermost, Expositions of John 13-21  293 pp.

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

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Intermediate

Puritan

Hutcheson, George – An Exposition of John  Buy  1657

*** – ‘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

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1800’s

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

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1900’s

Carson, D.A. – The Gospel According to John  Buy  1991  690 pp.  in The Pillar New Testament Commentary

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.”

Morris, Leon

The Gospel According to John  Buy  1971

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

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Advanced

Godet, Frederick – Commentary on John, vol. 1, 2  1864

“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 – The Gospel of John: a Theological Commentary  Buy  1987  670 pp.

“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

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Commentaries on John

1500’s

ed. Farmer, Craig – Reformation Commentary on Scripture: John 1-12  Buy

Marlorat, Augustin – A Catholic and Ecclesiastical Exposition of the Holy Gospel after St. John, gathered out of all the singular and approved divines (which the Lord has given unto his Church)  ToC  1575

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  ToC  d. 1558

**  “A little quaint old book.  Not intrinsically worth the price, nor a tenth of it.” – Spurgeon

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Devotional, Practical & Simple

1800’s

Anderson, Robert – A Practical Exposition of the Gospel of John, vol. 1, 2  1841

**  “By an evangelical clergyman: sound, but not very original.” – Spurgeon

Besser, Rudolph

Christ the Light of the World: Biblical Studies on the First Ten Chapters of John  1861-2

Christ the Life of the World, Biblical Studies on John 11-21

**  “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

Fawcett, John – An Exposition of the Gospel According to St. John, vol. 1, 2, 3  1860

**  “Good evangelical sermons.”

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1900’s

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  Buy

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

Morrison, George H. – Morrison on John, vol. 1, 2  Buy  d. 1928

“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

Scroggie, William Graham – St. John, Introduction and Notes  Buy  1931

“Brief, suggestive studies. Devotional.” – Cyril J. Barber

Macaulay, Joseph – Devotional Studies in St. John’s Gospel  Buy  1954

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.

Hobbs, Hershel – An Exposition of the Gospel of John  Buy  1968

“Expounds the Gospel of John from a Biblical viewpoint. Devotional.” – Cyril J. Barber

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Intermediate

1800’s

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  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

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1900’s

Smith, Jonathan Ritchie – The Teaching of the Gospel of John  Buy  1903 410 pp.

“A worthwhile treatment, but one which has been out of print for many years.” – Cyril J. Barber

Hendriksen, William – Gospel of John  Buy

“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  Bu 1948

“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

Tasker, Randolph V.G. – The Gospel According to St. John  Buy  1960  in Tyndale New Testament Commentaries 

“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

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Advanced

Conservative, 1800’s

Hengstenberg, E.W. – Commentary on the Gospel of St. John, vol. 1 (1-10), 2 (11-21)

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, Christoph 

St. John’s Gospel, Described and Explained according to its Peculiar Character, vol. 1 (chs. 1-4), 2 (5-21)

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

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Liberal

1800’s

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

The Revelation of the Father: Short Lectures on the Titles of the Lord in the Gospel of St. John  1904  210 pp.

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1900’s

Barrett, Charles K. – The Gospel According to St. John  Buy  1975

“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  Buy  1966 

“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  Buy  1969  in Black’s New Testament Commentaries 

“An important work which is fully abreast of current New Testament study.” – Cyril J. Barber

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The Early Church on John

Compilation

ed. Elowsky, Joel – Ancient Commentary on Scripture: John, vols. 1 (1-10), 2 (11-21)  Buy

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Individual Fathers

Origen – Commentary on the Gospel of John  100 pp.  in Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 9, pp. 297-410

Cyril of Alexandria – Commentary on John  Buy

Chrysostom –  Homilies on John, vols. 1, 2

**  ‘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

Augustine 

Homilies on the Gospel According to St. John, vol. 1 (chs. 1-8), 2 (9-21)

**  “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

Sermons 67-97 on the Gospel of John  in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, vol. 6, pp. 458-545  These are different than the above.

Theodore of Mopsuestia – Commentary on the Gospel of John  Buy

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The Medieval Church

Aquinas, Thomas – Commentary on the Gospel of St. John  This is different than his Catena Aurea on the four gospels.

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Jewish Background to

Lightfoot, John – Commentary on John from the Talmud and 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. 

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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. – Meditations on the Gospel of John  Buy   1962  Also reprinted with the titles: The Son of God Among the Sons of Men & Jesus and his Contemporaries

“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

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The Life & Theology of John

Life & Theology of John  10+

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John 1-16

Luther, Martin 

Works  Buy

Vol. 22: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John – Chapters 1-4
Vol. 23: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John – Chapters 6-8
Vol. 24: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John – Chapters 14-16

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John 1-6

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

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John 1

Arrowsmith, John – Theanthrōpos, 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 and divinely handled, the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ; proving Him to be God and man, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father: to the confutation of several heresies both ancient and modern  ToC  1660

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John 3

Whyte, Alexander – Nicodemus  in Bible Characters  d. 1921 

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John 4

Hildersham, Arthur – 108 Lectures upon John 4  1632

***  “A mass of godly teaching; but rather heavy reading.”

MacDuff, J.R. –  Noontide at Sychar; or the Story of Jacob’s Well.  A New Testament Chapter in Providence and Grace  1869  268 pp.

“An extensive devotional treatment of John 4. A rare example of exemplary exposition and fin application of spiritual truth.” – Cyril J. Barber

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John 5

Gouge, William – An Exposition on the whole Fifth Chapter of John’s Gospel, also notes on other choice places of Scripture  1630, the other notes of scripture exposited are: John 3:29-34; Mark 1:25-2:14; Luke 3:19-20; James 4:7; Gen. 2:9,23; Ex. 12:8,11,14-16; Ps. 30:2; Eph. 5:22-33; 6:4-15

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John 6

Brenz, Johannes – A Very Fruitful Exposition upon the Sixth Chapter of St. John divided into 10 Homilies, or Sermons  1550

Clagett, William – A Paraphrase with Notes, and 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

Clagett (1646-1688) was an Anglican.

Turner, Samuel – Essay on our Lord’s Discourse at Capernaum, Recorded in John 6  1851

*  “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

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John 11

M’Cheyne, Robert M. – Bethany, or, the Sickness, Death and Resurrection of Lazarus on Jn. 11:1-46  94 pp. 

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John 12-21

Drummond, D.T.K. – The Last Scenes in the Life of our Lord and Savior, or a series of Practical Expositions on the Last Nine Chapters of John  1841

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John 13

Fuller, Andrew – ‘Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet’ on Jn. 13:1-38  in Works, vol. 1, pp. 656-58

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John 13-17

Bernard, Thomas D. – The Central Teaching of Christ: a Study of John 13-17  Buy  1892  444 pp.

“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, Charles – The Inner Sanctuary: an Exposition of Jn. 13-17  Buy  rep. Banner of Truth

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

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John 14-16

Patterson, John – Illustrations Expository and Practical of the Farewell Discourse of Jesus, being a Series of Lectures on John 14-16  1859

**  “Solid discourses, containing much though happily expressed.  Yet withal somewhat laborious reading.” – Spurgeon

MacLaren, Alexander – The Holy of Holies: Sermons on Fourteenth, Fifteenth and Sixteenth Chapters of the Gospel of John  1890  390 pp. 

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John 14-17

Swete, Henry Barclay – The Last Discourse and Prayer of our Lord: a Study of John 14-17  1913  205 pp.

“A careful study of John 14-17.” – Cyril J. Barber

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John 14-21

Rollock, Robert

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

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John 17

Expositions of John 17

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John 20-21

Moule, H.C.G. – Jesus and the Resurrection: Expository Studies on St. John 20 & 21  Preview  Buy  1898

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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

Bible Commentaries

The Life & Times of Christ

Whole Bible Commentaries

Old Testament Commentaries

New Testament Commentaries