John – An Introduction

This is the “skeleton” of the introduction to John’s Gospel, which we started in the Evening Service last night. If you were there this might help … if not … well, not so much. Hope to see you next Sunday 🙂 

A: GENERAL

An Overview

John’s Gospel is made up of:

  • Prologue (1:1-18)
  • Jesus’ Work in the World (1:19 – 12:50)
  • Jesus’ Return to the Father (13 – 20)
  • Epilogue (21:1-25)

Distinctive Features

  • The only Gospel to use the concept of the Logos (Word of God)
  • Jesus’ message is presented in terms of eternal life and resurrection
  • Jesus’ teaching is presented in long conversations
  • Extensive teaching about the person and work of the Holy Spirit
  • Unique in that only 8% of its content has parallels in the other Gospels

Authorship

The author is John, the “Beloved Apostle”. How do we know this?

  1. External Evidence from the earliest Christian tradition; e.g. Bishop Papias of Hierapolis (AD60-140); Clement of Alexandria (AD150-215); Bishop Polycrates of Ephesus (writing in AD190 – a letter preserved by the ancient historian Eusebius); The Muratorian Canon (AD180-200); Irenaeus; and Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria (died AD265)
  2. Internal Evidence:
    • John 21:20-24 says that the Gospel was written by “the disciple whom Jesus loved”;
    • This “name-tag” is used throughout the Gospel to avoid naming the author;
    • Jesus’ closest disciples were Peter, James and John – it must be one of them
    • Peter is clearly named in John’s Gospel – so it’s not him.
    • When James and John are central to an event in the Gospel of John, they are named only as “the sons of Zebedee”.
    • James was martyred very early on (Acts 12) before any Gospel was written – so it’s not him.
    • That leaves John – which confirms the early External Evidence

John’s Purpose is to lead people to faith

  • The author says so in John 20:31 “These (things) are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
  • The content emphasises belief – as we will see throughout the Book – through both (a) Jesus’ teaching and (b) the accounts of those who came to believe.
  • The “editor(s)” say so in 21:24

 

THEOLOGICAL

The following are the main Theological themes in the Gospel which we will delve into through this Study:

  • God the Father (1:12-13)
  • Jesus, God the Son (8:58)
  • God, the Holy Spirit (7:37-39)
  • A “Realised Eschatology” (5:24)
  • Salvation as Eternal Life (17:3)
  • Witness to the Truth (19:35)
  • Faith and Signs (4:48 and 10:38 show the complexity)
  • Love (for God) and Obedience (15:10)
  • Love (for people) (15:12-13)
  • The Church as relational (10)
  • Sacramentalism (6:51-59)
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