Wesley’s 'Explanatory notes upon the New Testament'


The first edition of John Wesley’s Explanatory notes upon the New Testament.

The book

Explanatory notes upon the New Testament is both a Biblical commentary and a work of translation by John Wesley, the leader of the movement within the Church of England which came to be known as Methodism.. Unusually, Wesley chose to make around 12,000 changes to the King James Version of the Bible, partly in an attempt to modernise the language. Many of these changes were incorporated into the Revised Version and other modern translations of the Bible. The verse by verse notes that Wesley includes on the text are concise and focus mainly on providing a historical context for the Gospel, alongside interpretation and critical commentary. The work is based on four previous commentaries written by Calvinist theologians. Wesley differed from them by being an Arminian, which means his teachings and theological beliefs were based on the works of Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609). Calvinism emphasises the sovereignty of God whereas Arminianism emphasises the responsibility of man.

Why is it important?

Wesley states in the preface that the book is intended to ‘assist serious persons who have not the advantage of learning, in understanding the New Testament’. It gives us a great deal of insight into his theology and way of thinking, as well as setting out the evangelical doctrines that the Methodist Church still follows today. These notes were not intended to detail a formal theology but to set up standards of preaching and beliefs. Interestingly, the idea of Christian perfection, which is such an important part of Wesleyan theology, is not highlighted in this volume.

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Full title:
Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament. By John Wesley. [With the text and with a portrait.]
1755, London
Printed book
John Wesley
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

Full catalogue details

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