The Gospel of John has changed lives for over 2,000 years and can also change yours. Understanding what John teaches about Jesus Christ will strengthen your faith, transform your mind and heart, and minister to your doubts and fears. Bible commentaries on John will help you understand the Gospel.
The Bible instructs Christians to seek wisdom (Prov. 1:7, James 1:5), and who better to learn from than pastors, theologians, and professors who have been studying and teaching John for decades?
10 Best John Commentaries
The best John commentaries are listed below. The recommendations include commentaries for every reading level and purpose, including individual Bible study, small groups, Sunday school, preaching, and teaching. The “Top 10” list is based on aggregate reviews.
Readers are encouraged not to use commentaries to replace prayer, the Holy Spirit, and the individual’s diligent study of Scripture. Nevertheless, a list based on aggregate reviews will likely point you in the right direction to find the right resource for your purposes.
Please use the list below as a starting point for learning about commentaries on John. It’s not intended as the “final word” on the topic but merely a “helpful word.”
#1: The Gospel According to John by D.A. Carson (PNTC)
D.A. Carson is a prominent figure in biblical studies and New Testament scholarship. He has made significant contributions to the academic study of the Bible, particularly in biblical theology, hermeneutics, and the New Testament.
The best-reviewed John commentary is evangelical and conservative
Keith Mathison (Ligonier Ministries) ranks Carson’s John as #1, describing it as “conservative evangelical scholarship at its best.” Desiring God (John Piper) also calls it the best commentary on the fourth Gospel. Bible scholar Thomas Schreiner says it’s “the first choice for pastors.”
Carson is one of the most reputable evangelical scholars of his generation. He is also known for his Matthew commentary in the REBC series, considered the best commentary on Matthew.
The Pillar New Testament Commentary series is designed for a wide range of readers, including scholars, pastors, Bible teachers, and serious students of the Bible. It provides in-depth, verse-by-verse analysis and interpretation of the New Testament texts.
Please also see Best Commentary Series: The Top 50 based on aggregate reviews.
#2: The Gospel of John (2 vol.) by Craig Keener (Stand Alone)
Craig Keener is a renowned New Testament scholar, theologian, and author. He is known for his extensive academic work in biblical studies, particularly in New Testament background, the historical Jesus, miracles, and biblical interpretation.
Keener’s commentary is the most in-depth
D. A. Carson says, “Despite the sheer quantity of material, the writing is accessible… [it’s] indispensable for the serious student.” Mathison ranks it second best behind Carson, writing, “Those who are doing an in-depth study of John cannot afford to be without this outstanding work.”
Bible scholar Craig Blomberg refers to Keener’s commentary as a priority resource on John. Keener is evangelical, Arminian, and associates with denominations and churches in the Pentecostal tradition. He also wrote one of the best Revelation commentaries for the NIVAC series.
This is a stand-alone commentary, meaning it’s not part of any series. The publisher notes that Keener “explores the Jewish and Greco-Roman settings of John more deeply than previous works.”
Also, see the best one-volume bible commentaries based on aggregate reviews.
#3: The Gospel of John by Herman Ridderbos (Stand Alone)
Herman Ridderbos (1909-2007) was a prominent Dutch Reformed theologian and New Testament scholar. He is best known for his contributions to biblical theology, particularly in New Testament studies. He played a significant role in developing and shaping Reformed theology in the 20th century.
Theology is important to John and to Ridderbos
Carson calls Ridderbos’ commentary “theologically richer than most commentaries.” Mathison calls it “a valuable and insightful commentary.” Schreiner says it’s “theological insightful.”
Ridderbos is widely known for his contributions to New Testament scholarship, particularly in Pauline studies. He was influential in developing the New Perspective on Paul, which sought to reexamine traditional understandings of Paul’s theology and his relationship to Judaism.
This commentary is a stand-alone. The publisher notes that in this volume on the fourth gospel, “Ridderbos presents John in its distinctively apostolic character and includes important criteria for the literary and homiletical exegesis of the Fourth Gospel.”
#4: John by Gary M. Burge (NIVAC)
Gary M. Burge is a prominent biblical scholar specializing in the New Testament and the broader context of the Bible. He has significantly contributed to biblical studies, particularly in the Gospels, the book of Acts, and the New Testament’s historical and cultural background.
The best John commentary for applying the Gospel
Blomberg calls Burge’s John commentary a priority resource on the fourth Gospel. Burge has taught at Wheaton College and has been a professor of New Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary.
The NIV Application Commentary series follows a three-step interpretive process. First, it seeks to understand the original meaning of the biblical text in its historical and literary context.
Second, it explores the bridging contexts, which involve identifying the timeless theological principles and themes within the text.
Finally, it offers contemporary application by connecting the principles to the modern-day context and addressing the implications for faith, life, and the church.
#5: John by Edward W. Klink (ZECNT)
Edward W. Klink III is the senior pastor of Hope Evangelical Free Church in Roscoe, Illinois. He previously served as associate professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University.
Klink’s commentary is conservative and relevant
Klink’s John commentary is a massive one-volume all-in-one resource. For every passage in the Gospel, he exegetes the original Greek, provides interpretations of the text, explains the theological implications, and makes application suggestions.
The commentary is thorough, conservative, and practical. Klink’s experience as a professor at Biola and a senior pastor is evident in this volume, and pastors everywhere will benefit from it.
Volumes in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series are structured to guide readers through the text, emphasizing its original meaning and implications for theology and application.
The ZECNT commentaries are designed to be highly accessible, with clear organization, charts, tables, and other visual aids to assist readers in understanding the text.
#6: John by Andreas Kostenberger (BECNT)
Andreas J. Kostenberger is a prominent New Testament scholar, theologian, and author. He has significantly contributed to biblical studies, particularly in New Testament theology, hermeneutics, and biblical interpretation.
Kostenberger is well-reviewed for his exegesis
Kostenberger’s John commentary received some of the best reviews of any resource related to the fourth Gospel. However, after its publication, he discovered a few shortcomings regarding citations. As a result, the publisher pulled the commentary from stores and libraries.
Kostenberger acknowledged and apologized for the mistakes. Today, he maintains a high and well-earned reputation among Bible scholars. Kostenberger continues to write and publish books.
Mathison called it “a solid, thorough, and practical work that will be of benefit to students and pastors.” Schreiner described it as “an excellent work on the Greek text.” Blomberg called it a priority resource.
The commentaries in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series follow a verse-by-verse format, providing detailed explanations. They address textual criticism, translation choices, and theological themes, aiming to deepen the reader’s understanding.
#7: The Gospel of John by J. Ramsey Michaels (NICNT)
J. Ramsey Michaels (1940-2019) is a respected biblical scholar specializing in the New Testament. He has made notable contributions to biblical studies, particularly in commentaries, characterized by careful attention to the biblical text, theological analysis, and a commitment to academic rigor.
One of the best John commentaries for pastors
Carson says, “The writing style is superb, and insights abound on just about every page.” Blomberg categorizes it as a priority commentary on John.
Published in 2010, Michaels’ commentary is acclaimed for its exegesis, literary analysis, and theological insights into John. He engages with the original Greek text while addressing the Gospel’s historical, cultural, and theological aspects. This volume replaced Morris in the NICNT series (see below).
The publisher notes that the New International Commentary on the New Testament series provides “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.”
#8: The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris (NICNT)
Leon Morris (1914-2006) was a highly esteemed biblical scholar and theologian known for his contributions to New Testament studies. He held teaching positions at several theological institutions, including Ridley College and Moore Theological College in Australia.
Morris was a conservative evangelical
Mathison lists Morris as #3, calling it “a standard of conservative evangelical scholarship on [John].” Schreiner describes it as a “thorough and reverent exposition.” Michaels’ commentary on John replaced Morris’ in the NICNT series in 2010, yet people can easily find the latter on secondary markets.
Morris’s scholarship was characterized by his commitment to orthodox Christian beliefs and his meticulous exegetical analysis. He is also known for his Romand commentary in the PNTC series, considered one of the best Romans commentaries available today.
#9: John by Colin G. Kruse (TNTC)
Colin G. Kruse is a respected biblical scholar and author specializing in the New Testament. He has made significant contributions to biblical studies, particularly in the areas of Pauline epistles, the book of John, and biblical exegesis.
A Reformed commentary for pastors
Schreiner calls Kruse’s commentary “a solid exposition for pastors.” Kruse is recognized for his expertise in exegesis and biblical interpretation. This commentary is highly regarded for its scholarly depth and accessibility to many readers.
Kruse has made significant contributions to biblical scholarship through his writings and research. His works often engage with historical and literary aspects of the biblical text, offering insights into their theological themes and practical application.
The Tyndale New Testament Commentary series is a renowned collection of biblical commentaries that aims to provide insightful and accessible explanations of the books of the New Testament.
#10: John by George R. Beasley-Murray (WBC)
George R. Beasley-Murray (1916-2000) was a highly regarded British New Testament scholar and theologian. He made significant contributions to the field of biblical studies, particularly in the areas of the Gospel of John, the book of Revelation, and the theology of the New Testament.
Beasley-Murray is helpful for those who know Greek
This comprehensive commentary provides a detailed analysis and interpretation of the text, engaging with its historical, literary, and theological aspects.
Beasley-Murray’s commentary combines meticulous attention to the Greek text of John with a keen awareness of the historical, cultural, and theological contexts in which the Gospel was written. He explores the Gospel’s literary features, themes, and theological motifs.
The WBC series aims to engage with the original languages, historical context, literary features, and theological themes of biblical books. Each commentary in the series is authored by a renowned biblical scholar or a team of scholars specializing in the book being covered.
10 More Commentaries on the Gospel of John
Why are the John commentaries below not in the “Top 10”? It’s not because they have received poor reviews or people haven’t found them helpful. The reasons vary.
Some are relatively new and haven’t been widely reviewed, read, or used. Others haven’t been broadly distributed, so getting enough information to aggregate is difficult. And others may be outdated in relation to biblical scholarship or out of print and difficult to acquire.
The “Top 10” list is reviewed annually. Readers are encouraged to consider the volumes in this section before purchasing a John commentary. These ten are not in any particular order.
John (2 vol.) by Richard D. Phillips (REC)
Richard D. Phillips is a prominent biblical scholar, pastor, and author. He has contributed significantly to biblical studies, particularly in the area of pastoral theology and the interpretation of Scripture. Phillips has served as a minister in various Presbyterian churches.
A Reformed, expository John commentary
Richard D. Phillips is known for his clear and accessible writing style, making his works beneficial for pastors and laypeople. While his focus is primarily on pastors, his writings often engage with biblical interpretation and theology, aiming to provide practical guidance and spiritual edification.
The publisher notes that the REC series has four 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…”
The Gospel According to John by C.K. Barrett (Stand Alone)
C.K. Barrett (1917-2011) was a highly esteemed British New Testament scholar and theologian. He made significant contributions to the field of biblical studies, particularly in the areas of the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and the Book of Revelation.
A critical approach to John’s Gospel
This volume on the fourth gospel was first published in 1955. It has been well-reviewed for its Greek exegesis. It is not part of a series. Schreiner calls it an “excellent exposition.”
The publisher notes “C. K. Barrett’s Commentary on the Greek text of the Gospel of John has long been recognized as a major contribution to theological studies and has become the standard work in the field.”
John (2 vol.) by Gerald L. Borchert (NAC)
Gerald L. Borchert is a notable Bible scholar. He has made significant contributions to the field of biblical studies, particularly in the areas of New Testament exegesis and hermeneutics.
A two-volume Baptist perspective
Borchert has written two volumes of commentary on the Gospel of John in the New American Commentary series. These commentaries provide detailed analysis of the text, historical background information, and theological insights.
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.”
The Gospel of John by Frederick Dale Bruner (Stand Alone)
Frederick Dale Bruner (1931-2018) was a renowned American biblical scholar and theologian. He served as a professor at Whitworth University and Fuller Theological Seminary, and his writings have significantly impacted biblical studies.
Bruner appeals to early church fathers for insight
This commentary similarly delves into the literary and theological aspects of John’s Gospel, offering valuable insights for readers. Bruner is Reformed, a theology reflected throughout his commentary on the gospel. Bruner became a Christian under the teaching of Henrietta Mears.
The publisher notes that “rather than relying primarily on recent scholarship, Bruner honors and draws from the church’s major John commentators throughout history, including Augustine, Chrysostom, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Bultmann, Barrett, and many more.”
John Through Old Testament Eyes by Karen H. Jobes
Karen H. Jobes is a respected Bible scholar, author, and professor who has made significant contributions to the field of biblical studies, particularly in the areas of New Testament Greek and the Gospel of John. She has expertise in linguistics, biblical interpretation, and textual criticism.
Jobes commentary highlights the Old Testament in the Gospel
Jobes works are known for their thorough research, careful analysis, and clear communication. She has been involved in academic institutions and taught Greek, biblical interpretation, and New Testament studies courses.
The Message of John by Bruce Milne (BST)
Bruce Milne (1939-2020) was a respected Bible scholar, pastor, and author known for his contributions to evangelical theology and biblical studies. He served as the pastor of First Baptist Church in Vancouver, Canada, for over 30 years and was involved in pastoral ministry and teaching throughout his career.
A commentary for laypeople and pastors
This commentary delves into the historical and theological aspects of the Gospel, offering insights into its message and significance. His writings reflect his commitment to biblical authority and his desire to present the truths of Scripture in a relevant and applicable way.
The Bible Speaks Today (BST) series is a renowned collection of biblical commentaries that aims to make the message of the Bible accessible and applicable to contemporary readers.
John by Robert Mounce (EBCR)
Robert H. Mounce (1921-2019) was a highly regarded Bible scholar and theologian known for his contributions to biblical studies, particularly in the field of New Testament studies. He made significant contributions through his academic work, writing, and teaching.
A conservative scholar contributes to an excellent series
Robert Mounce’s works are known for their scholarly rigor, clarity, and accessibility. He combined his expertise in Greek language and New Testament studies to produce resources valued by students, pastors, and scholars alike.
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Revised Edition) is a comprehensive and widely used commentary series on the books of the Bible. It is an updated version of the original Expositor’s Bible Commentary series, which was first published in the 1970s.
John by Craig S. Keener (ZIBBC)
Keener (see #2 above) is a highly respected biblical scholar known for his expertise in New Testament studies and his extensive contributions to the field. He has conducted thorough research and produced significant works that have profoundly impacted biblical scholarship.
This Keener volume is introductory and highly visual
The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary is a commentary series that aims to provide readers with a deeper understanding of the historical, cultural, and social background of the biblical text.
The commentary series covers both the Old and New Testaments and is edited by John H. Walton, Craig S. Keener, and Lynn H. Cohick. Each volume in the series is authored by biblical scholars who specialize in the particular biblical book being covered.
John by Rodney A. Whitacre (IVPNTC)
Rodney A. Whitacre is a prominent biblical scholar known for his expertise in the New Testament and Greek language. He has made significant contributions to the field of biblical studies through his research, writing, and teaching.
The IVPNTC is comparable to the NIVAC series
The IVP New Testament Commentary series is a collection of commentaries that provides clear and accessible explanations of the books of the New Testament. It’s designed to be helpful for pastors, students, and general readers who want to understand the New Testament texts.
The IVP New Testament Commentary series is respected for its commitment to evangelical theology, its engagement with biblical scholarship, and its focus on the relevance of the New Testament for Christian life and ministry.
John by Andrew T. Lincoln (BNTC)
Andrew T. Lincoln is a renowned biblical scholar known for his contributions to the field of New Testament studies. He has focused primarily on the study of the Gospels, particularly the Gospel of John, as well as the Pauline epistles.
Lincoln is an expert on the Gospel of John
The Black’s New Testament Commentary series, also known as the Black’s Commentary series, is a collection of commentaries on the books of the New Testament.
Each volume provides a detailed analysis of the biblical text, exploring its historical, literary, and theological aspects. The commentaries engage with the original Greek text and often address critical issues and scholarly debates.
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