Gospel of John

Author: John 21:20-24 describes the author as "the disciple whom Jesus loved," and for both historical as well as internal reasons this is understood to be John the Apostle, one of the sons of Zebedee (Luke 5:10).

Date of Writing: Discovery of certain papyrus fragments dated around A.D. 135 require the book to have been written, copied, and circulated before then. And while some think it was written before Jerusalem was destroyed (A.D. 70), A.D. 85-90 is a more accepted time for its writing.

Purpose of Writing: John 20:31 cites the purpose as follows: "but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." John was not only seeking to strengthen the faith of second-generation believers as well as bring about faith in others but also sought to correct a false teaching that was spreading. John emphasized Jesus Christ as "the Son of God," fully God and fully man, contrary to that false doctrine which saw the "Christ-spirit" as coming upon the human, Jesus, at His baptism and leaving him at the crucifixion.

Key Verses: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1,14).

"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'" (John 1:29).

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

"Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent'" (John 6:29).

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

"And I give them everlasting life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:28).

"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?'"(John 11:25-26).

"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me'" (John 14:6).

"Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, "Show us the Father"?'" (John 14:9).

"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17).

"So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit" (John 19:30).

"Jesus said to him, 'Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed'" (John 20:29).

Brief Summary: The Gospel of John selects only seven miracles as signs to demonstrate the deity of Christ and to illustrate His ministry. Some of these signs and stories are found only in John. His Gospel is the most theological of the four Gospels and often gives the reason behind events mentioned in the other Gospels. He shares much about the approaching ministry of the Holy Spirit after His ascension. There are certain words or phrases that John frequently uses that show the repeating themes of his Gospel: believe, witness, Comforter, life - death, light - darkness, I am... (as in Jesus is the "I Am"), and love.

John's Gospel introduces Christ, not from His birth, but from "the beginning" as "the Word" (Logos) Who as Deity is involved in every aspect of creation (1:1-3) and Who later becomes flesh (1:14) in order that He might take away our sins as the spotless, sacrificial Lamb (John 1:29). John selects spiritual conversations that show that Jesus is the Messiah (4:26) and to explain how one is saved by His vicarious death on the cross (3:14-16). He repeatedly angers the Jewish leaders by correcting them (2:13-16); healing on the Sabbath, and claiming characteristics belonging to God (5:18; 8:56-59; 9:6,16; 10:33). Jesus prepares His disciples for His coming death and for their ministry after His resurrection and ascension (John 14-17). He then willingly dies on the cross in our place (10:15-18), paying our sin debt in full (19:30) so that whoever trusts in Him as their Savior from sin will be saved (John 3:14-16). He then rises from the dead, convincing even the most doubting of His disciples that He is God and Master (20:24-29).

Practical Application: John's Gospel continues to fulfill its purpose of containing much useful information for evangelism (John 3:16 is likely the best known verse, even if not properly understood by many) and is often used in evangelistic Bible studies. In the recorded encounters between Jesus and Nicodemus and the woman at the well (chapters 3-4), we can learn much from His modeling of personal evangelism. His comforting words to His disciples before His death (14:1-6,16, 16:33) are still of great comfort in the times death claims our loved ones in Christ. And, John's teachings concerning the deity of Christ (1:1-3,14; 5:22-23; 8:58; 14:8-9; 20:28, etc.) are very helpful in countering the false teachings of some of the cults who see Jesus as being less than fully God.

Recommended Resources: John, NIV Application Commentary by Gary Burge.
The Gospel According to John, New International Commentary on the New Testament by Leon Morris.
John, Holman New Testament Commentary by Kenneth Gangel.

Related Topics:

Gospel of Matthew

Gospel of Mark

Gospel of Luke

Book of Acts

Book of Romans

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