Top Commentaries on 1 John

Bible commentaries on the New Testament book of 1 John are listed below. 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 Bible, 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.)


Best Reviewed Bible 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.”

Theology, Audience, and Purpose: Yarbrough takes an evangelical approach to Scripture. He is Reformed. Those who have been trained in Greek will maximize this commentary. This volume is well-reviewed for its exegesis and theological reflection. Yarbrough also wrote the 1-2 Timothy commentary in the PNTC series. The publisher notes that the BECNT series provides “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.” See more about the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series.

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The Letters of John (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.”

Theology, Audience, and Purpose: Kruse takes an evangelical approach to Scripture. He teaches at the Melbourne School of Theology in Australia. This commentary is best for expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, and experienced Bible readers. Kruse also wrote the Romans commentary in the same series. The publisher notes that the PNTC series combines “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.

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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”

Theology, Audience, and Purpose: Stott takes an evangelical approach to Scripture. He was Anglican and Reformed (d. 2011). This commentary is best for expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, and experienced Bible readers. This volume is well-reviewed for pulpit help. Stott also wrote the Acts commentary in the same series. The publisher notes that the TNTC series “examines the text section by section, drawing out its main themes. It also comments on individual verses and deals with problems of interpretation.” See more about the Tyndale New Testament Commentary series.

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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

Theology, Audience, and Purpose: Jobes takes an evangelical approach to Scripture. She teaches at Westminster Theological Seminary and teaches at Wheaton College and Graduate school. This commentary is best for expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, and experienced Bible readers. This volume is noted for its exegesis and for the Theology in Application sections. Jobes also wrote the 1 Peter commentary in the BECNT series. The publisher notes that the ZECNT 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.” See more about the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series.

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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.”

Theology, Audience, and Purpose: Smalley takes an evangelical approach to Scripture. He is Anglican. This commentary is best for expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, and experienced Bible readers. This volume was revised in 2007. Smalley also a well-reviewed Revelation commentary. The publisher notes that the WBC series “delivers the best in biblical scholarship, from the leading scholars who share a commitment to Scripture as divine revelation.” See more about the Word Biblical Commentary series.

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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”

Theology, Audience, and Purpose: Marshall takes an evangelical approach to Scripture. He was Arminian (d. 2015). Marshall was a Scottish New Testament scholar. This commentary is best for expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, and experienced Bible readers.  Marshall writes with pastors in mind. Marshall also wrote the Luke commentary in the NIGTC series. The publisher notes that NICNT series gives readers “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.

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The Letters of John (NIV 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.”

Theology, Audience, and Purpose: Burge takes an evangelical approach to Scripture. He is Reformed. This commentary is best for expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, and experienced Bible readers. This volume, like others in the series, is well-reviewed for it application. Burge also wrote the John commentary in the same series. The publisher notes that the NIVAC series “helps you think through the process of moving from the original meaning of a passage to its contemporary significance.” See more about the NIV Application Commentary series.

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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.”

Theology, Audience, and Purpose: Witherington takes an evangelical approach to Scripture. He is Arminian. This commentary is best for expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, and experienced Bible readers. Witherington also wrote the Mark commentary in the same series. The publisher notes that in the SRC series “the New Testament is interpreted within the context of the world in which it was written and read.” See more about the Socio-Rhetorical commentary series.

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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

Theology, Audience, and Purpose: Akin takes an evangelical approach to Scripture. He is currently the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. This commentary is best for expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, and experienced Bible readers. The target audience for this series is pastors. The publisher notes that the NAC series “has been designed primarily to enable pastors, teachers, and students to read the Bible with clarity and proclaim it with power.” See more about the New American Commentary series.

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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”

Theology, Audience, and Purpose: Brown takes a critical approach to Scripture. He was Roman Catholic (d. 1998). Those who have been trained in Greek will maximize this commentary. This volume is 800 pages. The publisher notes that the Anchor 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.” See more about the Anchor Bible Commentary series.

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Verse-by-Verse Expository Commentaries


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


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Theology, Audience, and Purpose: O’Donnell takes an evangelical approach to Scripture. He is Reformed. This commentary is best for individual study, devotional reading, Bible studies, and adult Sunday school classes. O’Donnell also wrote the Matthew commentary in the Preaching the Word series. The publisher notes that 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.

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


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Theology, Audience, Purpose: Schuchard takes an evangelical approach to Scripture. He is evangelical and Lutheran. While not technical, the volumes in the Concordia Commentary series reflect seminary-level scholarship. The target audience is pastors, professors, and teachers. The target audience is pastors, professors, and teachers. According to the publisher, authors in the Concordia series “fully affirms the divine inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture as it emphasizes ‘that which promotes Christ’ in each pericope.”


1-3 John (Understanding the Bible Commentary Series) by Thomas F. Johnson


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Theology, Audience, and Purpose: Johnson takes an evangelical approach to Scripture. This commentary is best for expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, and experienced Bible readers. The publisher notes that the UCBS series offers “section-by-section exposition of the biblical books with key terms and phrases highlighted…” See more about the Understanding the Bible Commentary Series.

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


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Theology, Audience, and Purpose: This commentary is best for expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, and experienced Bible readers. Thompson also wrote the Colossians commentary in the Two Horizons series. The publisher notes that IVPNTC series is “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.” See more about the IVP New Testament Commentary series.


I, II, III John (New Testament Library) by Judith Lieu


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Theology, Audience, and Purpose: This commentary is best for expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, and experienced Bible readers. The publisher notes that the NLT series “offers authoritative commentary on every book and major aspect of the New Testament, providing fresh translations based on the best available ancient manuscripts, critical portrayals of the historical world in which the books were created, careful attention to their literary design, and a theologically perceptive exposition of the biblical text.” See more about the New Testament Library commentary series.

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


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Theology, Audience, and Purpose: Jackman takes an evangelical approach to Scripture. This commentary is best for expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, and experienced Bible readers. Jackman also wrote the Joshua commentary in the Preaching the Word series. The publisher notes that “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.” See more about the Bible Speaks Today commentary series.

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1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, 3 John, Jude (Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Revised) by Tom Thatcher


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Theology, Audience, and Purpose: Thatcher takes an evangelical approach to Scripture. This commentary is best for expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, and experienced Bible readers. The publisher notes that the REBC series is “committed to the divine inspiration, complete trustworthiness, and full authority of the Bible.” See more about the Expositor’s Commentary Series.

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The Epistles of John by Joel Beeke


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Theology, Audience, and Purpose: Beeke takes an evangelical approach to Scripture. He is Reformed. This commentary is best for expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, and experienced Bible readers. The publisher notes, “in this rich, practical exposition of the epistles of John, Joel Beeke brings out the message of John’s letters in their historical context as well as their timeless truths that are as applicable today as when John first wrote them.”


1, 2, and 3 John: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition (New Beacon Bible Commentary) by Rick Williamson


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Theology, Audience, and Purpose: This commentary is best for expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, and experienced Bible readers. The publisher notes that the NBBC series was “written from the Wesleyan theological perspective, it offers insight and perceptive scholarship to help you unlock the deeper truths of Scripture and garner an awareness of the history, culture, and context attributed to each book of study.”

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Classic Christian Commentaries


1 John (Geneva Series of Commentaries) by Robert Candish


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Synopsis: “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.'”


1, 2, and 3 John (Crossway Classic Commentaries) by John Calvin and Matthew Henry


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Synopsis: From the publisher: “For hundreds of years Christendom has been blessed with Bible commentaries written by great men of God highly respected for their godly walk and their insight into spiritual truth. The Crossway Classic Commentaries series presents the very best work on individual Bible books, carefully adapted for maximum understanding and usefulness for today’s believers.” See more about Crossway Classic Commentaries.

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Are you a pastor?

On the page 1 John Commentaries for Pastors you find commentaries that uniquely designed for pastors in that they focus on application and spend less time on technical discussions.


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Compare 65 different commentary series on the Bible Commentary Series Comparison Chart