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Commentary on the Johannine Epistles by Johann Ebrard

I have been unable to find further information about this commentary on the Greek text of the Johannine Epistles or its author Johann Ebrard. It is not mentioned in any of the commentary surveys I have to hand (Carson, Evans or Rosscup), so if anyone can provide any background information, please do so in the comments.

My thanks to Book Aid for making a copy of this public domain work available for digitisation.

Johann Heinrich August Ebrard [1818-1888], Biblical Commentary on the Epistles of St. John in Continuation of the Work of Olshausen with an Appendix on the Catholic Epistles. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1890. Hbk. pp.423. [Click hereto visit the download page]


  • St John the Apostle and his Writings
  • The First Epistle of John. Introduction
    1. The Epistolary Form
    2. Identity of Author and Evangelist
    3. Genuineness of Epistle
    4. Its Relation to the Gospel
    5. Time and Place of Composition, and Circle of Readers
    6. Diction and Spirit of the Epistle
    7. Literature
  • Exposition
  • The Second and Third Epistles of John
    1. Introduction
    2. Exposition of the Second Epistle
  • The Third Epistle of John. Exposition
  • Translation of the Two Epistles
  • Appendix on the Catholic Epistles
  • Index
    1. Greek Words and Phrases Explained
    2. Passages of Scripture incidentally Explained or Illustrated
    3. Principal Matters

St John the Apostle and His Writings

St John occupies a place so peculiar and prominent, among the disciples of our Lord as a person, and among – the New-Testament writers as an author – and the writings which bear his name have always been the object of such various and conflicting discussion-that a comprehensive exhibition of his personal character, his life, his labours, and his literary activity may well be regarded as one of the most difficult undertakings. If, in the brief limits here prescribed to us, we are to succeed, we must enter upon the subject not analytically, but synthetically; that is, we must set out with the collective picture of the Apostle and his writings given in the New Testament, and then pass on to a general view of all the critical questions arising out of it. The personality of the Apostle himself, and the character of his writings, and their adjustment in the extant cycle of New-Testament literature, must first of all be viewed as a thesis; and upon that we may found a universal review of the critical questions which have been raised in relation to those writings.

Three of our Lord’s Apostles stand out prominently from the general circle: St John, St Peter, and St Paul. The last was not in the number of the Twelve. Among them St James, the son of Zebedee and brother of St John, had been singled out by Christ to be the companion of St John and St Peter in the special distinction of witnessing His transfiguration and His deepest humiliation (Mark v. 37; Matt. xvii. 1, xxvi. 37); but St James soon followed his Master in a death of martyrdom (Acts xii. 2), and on that account is less known to us than the rest.

As compared with St Peter, St John exhibits to us a calm and reflective nature, with a preeminent receptivity: every word of his beloved Master, which tends to solve to his heart the mystery which he pondered, he apprehends in his deepest soul, and holds it fast, and meditates upon it, blessedly losing himself in the contemplation of the glory of the Son of Man.

Pages v-vi.

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  1. Comments received via Facebook:

    From Sam Loveall:

    Wikiepdia article (in German): https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Ebrard

    From John Percival:

    Schaff’s History of the Christian Church has it listed under Johannine Literature commentaries as this: “OLSHAUSEN (1832, 4th ed. by EBRARD, 1861)”

    ISBE has him listed in the commentaries article under Modern Period > Germany > Conservative School: “One of the ablest of the Lutheran Confessionalists was Luthardt (d 1892), whose works include a comm. on St. John’s Gospel, Ebrard (d 1888), as stoutly confessional on the Reformed side, has an esteemed comm. on Hebrews.” (1:740)

    Stott’s TNTC interacts with Ebrard’s commentary

    Berkhof says: “An evangelical reaction against the subjective Tübingen vagaries also made its appearance in Ebrard…” (NT Intro, p16)

  2. The commentary was of course written in German:
    Die Briefe des Johannis. Nebst einem Anhang über die katholischen Briefe. Erklärt von Joh. Heinr. Aug. Ebrard (= Biblischer Commentar über sämmtliche Schriften des Neuen Testaments; Bd. 6: Die Briefe des Jakobus, Petrus, Judas und Johannis; Abth. 4). Unzer, Königsberg 1859.
    Besides his theological works he published on legal subjects, topics of physics, and politics. Furthermore he wrote belletristic
    works under different pseudonyms. Even today he is still considered as one of the most important reformed theologians of the 19th century.
    He is described as being a very multi-facetted author. Two points are clearly important in his writings: the topic of predestination and questions relating to the Lord’s Supper. He deals with the question of freedom of the will in people; and with the union of Reformed Christians in relation to the Lord’s Supper.The theme of the “free will” becomes his life’s theme. He criticises the doctrine of predestination but is never really free from it.

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