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John Wesley's Notes on the Whole Bible

John Wesley's Notes on the Whole Bible


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Evangelist, preacher and Anglican Cleric, John Wesley, along with his brother Charles, is credited with founding the Methodist movement in the 18th century. He followed the example of George Whitefield in taking God's Word to the people of his day through open-air evangelistic meetings. His emphasis was on Christian perfection in the earthly life. Christian perfection, according to Wesley, is “purity of intention, dedicating all the life to God” and “the mind which was in Christ, enabling us to walk as Christ walked.” His notes on the Old and New Testament are a verse-by-verse glimpse into his thoughts and teachings on the Bible text.

Wesley originally published his Explanatory Notes on the New Testament to "...assist serious persons, who have not the advantage of learning, in understanding the New Testament."

Unlike other writers of his day, he "...endeavored to make the notes as short as possible that the comment may not obscure or swallow up the text: and as plain as possible, in pursuance of my main design, to assist the unlearned reader..." His notes tend toward the practical and the application of God's Word to your life as that was Wesley's message -- not just to "learn and understand" but to "live and do" what the Scriptures tell us.

In response to the popularity of his New Testament notes, he was asked to write notes for the entire Old Testament a task which he resisted for many years before deciding to start with and abridge Matthew Henry's Old Testament comments. He considered there to be a need for a briefer edition of Mr. Henry's work that was more affordable for the average person. "But I apprehend this valuable work may be made more valuable still, by making it plainer as well as shorter. Accordingly what is here extracted from it, (which indeed makes but a small part of the following volumes) is considerably plainer than the original."

However, Wesley's Old Testament notes are more than a simple abridgement: "I do not therefore intend the following Notes for a bare abridgment of Mr. Henry's exposition. Far from it: I not only omit much more than nineteen parts out of twenty of what he has written, but make many alterations and many additions, well nigh from the beginning to the end."

From the Preface is no part of my design, to save either learned or unlearned men from the trouble of thinking. If so, I might perhaps write Folios too, which usually overlay, rather than help the thought. On the contrary, my intention is, to make them think, and assist them in thinking. This is the way to understand the things of God; Meditate thereon day and night; So shall you attain the best knowledge; even to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. And this knowledge will lead you, to love Him, because he hath first loved us: yea, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. Will there not then be all that mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus? And in consequence of this, while you joyfully experience all the holy tempers described in this book, you will likewise be outwardly holy as He that hath called you is holy, in all manner of conversation.

If you desire to read the scripture in such a manner as may most effectually answer this end, would it not be advisable,

  1. O set apart a little time, if you can, every morning and evening for that purpose?
  2. At each time if you have leisure, to read a chapter out of the Old, and one out of the New Testament: if you cannot do this, to take a single chapter, or a part of one?
  3. To read this with a single eye, to know the whole will of God, and a fixt resolution to do it? In order to know his will, you should,
  4. Have a constant eye to the analogy of faith; the connection and harmony there is between those grand, fundamental doctrines, Original Sin, Justification by Faith, the New Birth, Inward and Outward Holiness.
  5. Serious and earnest prayer should be constantly used, before we consult the oracles of God, seeing "scripture can only be understood thro' the same Spirit whereby "it was given." Our reading should likewise be closed with prayer, that what we read may be written on our hearts.
  6. It might also be of use, if while we read, we were frequently to pause, and examine ourselves by what we read, both with regard to our hearts, and lives. This would furnish us with matter of praise, where we found God had enabled us to conform to his blessed will, and matter of humiliation and prayer, where we were conscious of having fallen short. And whatever light you then receive, should be used to the uttermost, and that immediately. Let there be no delay. Whatever you resolve, begin to execute the first moment you can. So shall you find this word to be indeed the power of God unto present and eternal salvation.

About the Author(s)

John Wesley, (1703-1791) - Father of Methodism, renowned evangelist and one of the hardest working men in history. As the fifteenth of 19 children, he barely escaped a parsonage fire at age six. After some early religious activity at Oxford ("Holy Club"), he tutored there (1729–35), then went to Georgia in America, along with 26 German Moravians (1735–37). He returned to London where he was converted on May 24, 1738 at a Moravian meeting at St. Paul's on Aldersgate Street. John began to preach and organize "societies" wherever he went, throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland. On June 25, 1744, the first Methodist Conference in London was held. He kept a daily diary for over 50 years (longest on record). His February 18, 1751 marriage to Mary Vazeille (1710–1781) was an unhappy one. She left him in 1776. He organized Methodist societies (1740) which officially left the Church of England (1784). He founded the Arminian Magazine (1778). As an evangelist, he traveled over 250,000 miles on horseback and preached 40,000 sermons, and wrote over 200 works. His favorite Bible verses were Mark 12:34 and Romans 8:1–2. He is buried in City Road Chapel, London. (taken from Chronological Encyclopedia of Christian Biographies.

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Laridian, PocketBible, and MyBible are registered trademarks of Laridian, Inc. DailyReader, Memorize!, PrayerPartner, eTract, BookBuilder, VerseLinker, iPocketBible, DocAnalyzer, Change the way you look at the Bible, and The Bible. Anywhere. are trademarks of Laridian, Inc. Other marks are the property of their respective owners.

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