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Let’s Study the Letters of John

By Ian Hamilton
August 2009 | Review by David Campbell


Ian Hamilton's concise commentary provides a warmly pastoral explanation of John's timeless message, pointing the reader to the Word made flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the answer to all problems in the church, whether in the first or the twenty-first century.

  • Publisher: Banner of Truth
  • ISBN: 978-1848710139
  • Pages: 144
  • Price: £1.07
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Book Review

The title of this book is an invitation – I encourage you to accept it and use this book to help you as you do so. It is a first-class aid to studying the letters of John.

Right at the end (this is going to be a rather back-to-front kind of review!) there is a Group Study Guide. It contains thirteen studies, each of which has a stated aim followed by a number of questions.

Study 2, for example, has as its aim, ‘To grasp the richness of salvation in Christ and the relationship between law and gospel’. There follow such questions as, ‘What does it mean for Jesus to be our advocate with the Father?’ and ‘Why does a failure to keep God’s commandments reveal that the truth is not in us?’ That is typical fare.

The final two studies cover 2 John and 3 John respectively. How much, it might be asked, do these two small letters shape believers’ thinking and piety? Probably, to nothing like the degree that they ought. Here is one great incentive to accept the title’s invitation: 2 and 3 John will receive welcome attention.

It is possible, however, to ask helpful study questions and yet fail to provide adequate study materials. Ian Hamilton does not let us down in this regard. His exposition of the letters is lucid, accurate, succinct and practical. Many of his chapters are short and would make excellent daily readings.

The bulk of the exposition is, of course, devoted to 1 John. Its background, broad themes, theology and abiding lessons are all taken up and helpfully addressed. A repeated note of the commentary is the necessarily transforming impact of the gospel. A single quote must suffice: ‘The New Testament is insistent that wherever the gospel takes saving root it will reveal itself unmistakably’ (p.46)

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