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1-3 John

series: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

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"[An] expert, stimulating, and astutely pastoral reading of the Epistles of John. . . . Not least in its lively and very considered analysis and translation of the Greek texts, Yarbrough's commentary offers something worthwhile at every turn."--John G. Lodge, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

Robert Yarbrough, coauthor of the leading New Testament survey text Encountering the New Testament, here offers a historical and theological commentary on the Johannine Epistles. The commentary explores the relationship between John's Epistles and Jesus's work and teaching, interacts with recent commentaries, reviews the history of interpretation, and seeks to relate these findings to global Christianity. Yarbrough looks at the Johannine Epistles from several perspectives--sociological, historical, and theological. The result is a guide that clearly and meaningfully brings 1-3 John to life for contemporary readers.

About the series: The Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT) series provides commentaries that blend scholarly depth with readability, exegetical detail with sensitivity to the whole, and attention to critical problems with theological awareness. All BECNT volumes feature the author's detailed interaction with the Greek text and are specifically designed with students and pastors in mind. The user-friendly design includes shaded-text chapter introductions summarizing the key themes of each thought unit. Chapter outlines and overviews allow easy entry into the discussion and aid comprehension and recall. With extensive research and thoughtful chapter-by-chapter exegesis, these commentaries will be valued by students, professors, and pastors alike.


"By attempting to read 1-3 John in a fresh way, uncoerced by (though not uninformed by) scholarly tradition, Yarbrough offers a helpful and often different perspective on the Johannine Epistles, some of the most interpretively complex material in the New Testament. I find especially helpful his illuminating engagement with the history of interpretation, his careful attention to textual questions, and his quite insightful appeal to the language of the Greek version of the Old Testament (the background John and his audience shared)."--Craig S. Keener, F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary

"These greatly loved epistles are often only mined for spiritual sound bites. Now we have a commentary that emphasizes their great value as letters. Despite the author's modesty, there is no other commentary like it on these epistles; it relates the Johannine Letters to aspects of Jesus's work or teaching and brings into play ancient texts--Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Schlatter, for example--as well as the latest scholarly research. Yarbrough also writes as a seasoned scholar with a pastor's heart and deep cross-cultural concerns. This rigorous yet very readable commentary is for students and pastors alike to guide their study and enhance their preaching."--Graham H. Twelftree, academic dean, London School of Theology

"The latest addition to the BECNT series by Robert Yarbrough is not narrowly exegetical but is intended to help preachers and general readers apprehend the message of 1-3 John for today. It offers a meticulously detailed study of the Greek text (including special attention to textual variants) that will provide students with ample information on every aspect of the argument of the letters. This commentary well maintains the standards that we have come to expect from this series."--I. Howard Marshall, honorary research professor of New Testament, University of Aberdeen

"Yarbrough's exposition of the Johannine letters is a model of evangelical scholarship. His thorough interaction with the literature, informative treatment of the biblical text, and clarity of articulation combine to make this commentary one that anyone interested in these New Testament writings will need to consult. Moreover, at the most strategic points, he adeptly facilitates the necessary conversation between the biblical author and present-day churches. This is a significant contribution to the Baker Exegetical Commentary series!"--Philip H. Towner, Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship, American Bible Society

"Dr. Yarbrough's fine volume on the Letters of John is a refreshing and well-crafted commentary that is marked by perceptive theological exegesis and a sensitivity to the pastoral and social dimensions of these three New Testament epistles. As he carefully grapples with important and difficult issues within these texts, Yarbrough draws on a wide range of authors from the early church to the present. I appreciate his informed discussions of the meanings and uses of Johannine terms, his overall canonical approach to these documents in his exegesis, and his concern to address the wider theological implications of the biblical text. This edifying and stimulating commentary encourages the reader to approach the text reverently and to respond positively to the word of God."--Peter T. O'Brien, Moore College, Sydney, Australia (emeritus)

Praise for the series:
"This series has set a new standard in reader-friendliness with its attractive presentation that combines detailed exegetical comment on the Greek text with accessibility for those who have little or no knowledge of the original language of the New Testament."--I. Howard Marshall, University of Aberdeen

The Author

  1. Robert W. Yarbrough

    Robert W. Yarbrough

    Robert W. Yarbrough (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He lectures internationally and is the author, editor, or translator of numerous books, articles, and reviews.

    Continue reading about Robert W. Yarbrough


"In this age of unprecedented proliferation of biblical commentary series, it is an outstanding accomplishment for the Baker Exegetical series consistently to have produced what with only rare exceptions have become the best available commentaries on the Greek text of the New Testament book or books treated. This new volume on the Epistles of John . . . certainly falls into this category. Some of the key distinctives of this volume include sustained interaction with older, classic commentaries as well as the expected flurry of recent works, stress on linguistic parallels with the teaching of Jesus, especially in John's Gospel, and with the Septuagint, concern for Majority World application and a fuller than normal treatment of textual variants. . . . In addition, Yarbrough has clearly labored at writing well, with frequent turns of phrase that are truly literary in quality. Charts and tables of the kind not found in other volumes in this series also help clarify complex issues. . . . This is an astonishingly erudite, thorough, convincing and timely commentary that should be on every Bible preacher's or teacher's shelves and well used."--Craig Blomberg, Denver Journal

"This Evangelical series is dedicated to bringing solid biblical scholarship to seminarians, students, and pastors. . . . While he gives close attention to the text itself, Yarbrough's explicit interest is in drawing out the message of the text for the sake of Christian proclamation."--Donald Senior, CP, The Bible Today

"In dealing with the text Yarbrough breaks it up into small sections and quite frequently, into smaller sub-sections. It is helpful that these sections are introduced by comments on a shaded background that highlight the salient points to be made. Yarbrough then gives his own translation of the verses to be discussed. This is followed by exegesis and exposition. At the end of each section there are additional notes which deal with more technical points. It is therefore relatively easy for the reader to pick up the aspects of the commentary that are of most interest to him/her."--Donald A. Bullen, Theological Book Review

"Humility, rejection of mere novelty, and clear commitment to the faith come through clearly. Accordingly, this commentary will be a very useful tool for preachers. . . . The commentary works with the Greek text and does so in a readable way, moving to the theology of the text."--Ray Van Neste, Preaching

"The format of the commentary and the presentation of Yarbrough's material are well done. . . . Yarbrough interprets syntactical, lexical, theological, and translational issues with great skill. . . . Yarbrough's commentary is an excellent tool for those seminary students learning exegesis and for those pastors trained in the exegetical method of interpretation."--Herbert W. Bateman IV, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"A welcome and substantive commentary on the Johannine letters. . . . Yarbrough's thorough commentary will be a fitting choice as a text in exegesis courses at the graduate level and perhaps in advanced undergraduate courses as well. Informed readers will appreciate Yarbrough's attention to detail on exegetical, expository, theological, and textual matters, his wry sense of humor evident at various points throughout, and his desire to contextualize the message of these three letters cross-culturally. . . . [This reviewer] has found [Yarbrough's commentary] detailed in scope, impressive in breadth, and penetrating in exegetical and theological insight and accordingly recommends it to the widest possible audience."--James P. Sweeney, Trinity Journal

"An editor of the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Robert Yarbrough has now contributed his own expert, stimulating, and astutely pastoral reading of the Epistles of John. . . . Yarbrough guides the reader carefully, beginning each major section with a look back and a look ahead. His clear indications of the context (including a running outline at the top of the page) are a boon to those who will be dipping into this commentary as well as those who read from beginning to end and who want a sense of deepening insight and coherence as they proceed. . . . Again and again Yarbrough connects the world of the texts with our world. . . . Not least in its lively and very considered analysis and translation of the Greek texts, Yarbrough's commentary offers something worthwhile at every turn."--John G. Lodge, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"[Yarbrough] discusses the original text accurately, clearly, and meaningfully for contemporary readers. Several distinctive features mark this work. First, it relates John's statements in these epistles with the life and work of Jesus as revealed in the Gospels more than many other commentaries have done. Second, it makes linguistic connections between John's epistles and the Septuagint, through the use of computer aids, more than has been true in most earlier commentaries. Third, the author has commented on every textual variant in John's epistles found in . . . the Nestle-Aland text. Fourth, the author has interacted with most of the exegetical commentaries on the Johannine Epistles that have been published in the last two decades. . . . Fifth, he has drawn on the insights of older commentators as well. . . . Sixth, the writer's ministry in Muslim Africa and Eastern Europe has given him interesting insights into the Johannine letters. . . . Yarbrough's explanations are reasonable, balanced, and articulate. . . . This is a fine exegetical commentary that most students, preachers, and teachers of the Johannine Epistles will appreciate as a beneficial addition to their library of resources."--Thomas L. Constable, Bibliotheca Sacra

"[A] stellar [volume]. . . . This series has established itself as a top tier set of commentaries on the New Testament, and Yarbrough's volume on the Johannine epistles is a credit to the others. . . . Yarbrough has given us what is, in my opinion, the best commentary on the Johannine epistles available. . . . This will be the first one I turn to and the first I recommend."--James M. Hamilton Jr., Southern Baptist Journal of Theology

"Yarbrough is an accomplished exegete centered in informed Evangelical thought. His attention to the details of the text that are of exegetical significance is exemplary. His discussion of the manuscripts and every textual variant of possible exegetical significance in John's letters is distinctive of the commentary. His summary on the text of John's letters and titles of the letters extant in the manuscripts presented in the introduction offers valuable information not easily found elsewhere. The author also presents several distinctive emphases in his commentary. Especially refreshing, he relates the Johannine letters to the life and teaching of Jesus, especially as presented in the Fourth Gospel, a perspective that is largely absent in many recent commentaries. . . . The strengths of the commentary include the depth of its author in the Evangelical tradition of Johannine scholarship, his pastoral sensitivities, and his ability to explain clearly the theological message of John's letters."--Karen H. Jobes, Bulletin for Biblical Research

"Yarbrough is attentive to connections between John's epistles and the teachings of Jesus, as well as connections to the Gospel of John. . . . He uses a variety of interpreters, ancient and modern, to inform his study of John's epistles. His work therefore points us to insights from previous interpreters and gives a sense that he has not isolated himself in the midst of contemporary scholarship. . . . His engagement with biblical and systematic theology . . . adds a helpful and welcome dimension to his treatment of John's teachings at certain points. . . . Yarbrough's commentary is a useful and welcome addition for those who appreciate his emphases. . . . It provides good examples of interpretive work that resists isolation from theological concerns and from the helpful contributions of a range of previous interpreters."--Paul M. Hoskins, Southwestern Journal of Theology

Praise for the series:

"In this age of unprecedented proliferation of biblical commentary series, it is an outstanding accomplishment for the Baker Exegetical series consistently to have produced what with only rare exceptions have become the best available commentaries on the Greek text of the New Testament book or books treated."--Craig Blomberg, Denver Journal

"Rigorous exegesis by seasoned scholars with explicit evangelical commitments. This is also one of the best-designed, easy-to-read series as it includes intro matters, then each commentator's translation, commentary, and textual notes for every passage. Very reliable."--Bruce Riley Ashford and Grant Taylor, Between the Times blog