In this addition to the acclaimed BECNT series, Robert Yarbrough offers a historical and theological commentary on the Johannine Epistles. The commentary explores the relationship between John’s Epistles and Jesus’ 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.
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“To ‘sin unto death’ is to have a heart unchanged by God’s love in Christ and so to persist in convictions and acts and commitments like those John and his readers know to exist among ostensibly Christian people of their acquaintance, some of whom have now left those whom John addresses.” (Page 311)
“But the meaning of ἐθεασάμεθα often appears to be something like fully seeing, contemplating, and drawing a particular inference from, witnessing, beholding.” (Page 37)
“The love’s greatness lies in its effect: it makes people τέκνα θεοῦ (tekna theou, children of God).” (Page 175)
“The answer may lie in a shift of perspective. First John 3:20 assumes a reader who is convicted of sin regarding love for the fellow believers. This reader has a tortured or at least troubled soul. First John 3:21 seems to assume that the afflicted person has now availed himself or herself of the assistance latent in acknowledging God’s greatness and benevolent omniscience (3:20). With those uplifting truths in view, believers can move from a defensive or defeatist mode to a positive one.” (Page 212)
“John puts his finger on perhaps the oldest syndrome of human fallenness in all of Scripture, and certainly one of the grimmest: claiming spiritual or moral high ground when from God’s viewpoint we languish in some pit.” (Page 55)
[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
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, professor of New Testament, Palmer Seminary