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DATE: 85-90 AD
The writer of this gospel is identified only as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (21:20, 24). By reasoning, it is determined to be John the youngest of the apostles and one of Jesus’ “inner circle” (Peter, James, and John). The book reveals the author to be a Jew and a close eyewitness of the events of Jesus’ life (John 2:6; 13:26; 21:8, 11). The book also records customs of the Jews (7:37-39; 18:28) and information about the land of (John 1:44, 46; 5:2). John, as one of Jesus’ inner circle, was determined to be the author of this book by eliminating the other two disciples who were part of the inner circle. James had been martyred before the time of the writing of this book (Acts 12:1-5) and Peter is named in the book as being present with “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23-24; 20:2-10), the writer of this book.
John the Apostle was the son of Zebedee and Salome and the younger brother of James. He was a Galilean Jew from an apparently well-to-do family (Mark 15:40-41). He and his brother James were known as the “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). John had an important part in the early church in Jerusalem (Acts 3:1; 8:14; Gal. 2:9), but later went to Ephesus. He was later exiled to the island of Patmos (Rev. 1:9) and returned to Ephesus upon his release and stayed there until his death.Distinctive Approach This is the most theological of the Four Gospels. It deals with the nature and person of Christ and the meaning of faith in Him. John’s presentation of Christ as the divine Son of God is seen in the titles given Him in the book: “the Word was God” (1:1), “the Lamb of God” (1:29), “the Messiah (1:41), “the Son of God” and “the King of Israel” (1:49), the “Savior of the world” (4:42), “Lord and . . . God” (20:28). His deity is also asserted in the series of “I am . . .” claims (6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). In other “I am” statements Christ made implicit and explicit claim to be the I AM-Yahweh of the Old Testament (John 4:24, 26; 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19). These are the strongest claims to deity that Jesus could have made.
This Gospel differs from the other three. It is the most theological and the most beautiful revelation of Jesus. While Matthew presents Jesus as the King of the Jews, Mark as the Suffering Servant, and Luke as the Son of Man in His humanity, John presents Jesus as the Son of God, in all His divinity. The book reveals the nature and person of Christ and the depths of a relationship with Him. John’s presentation of Christ as the divine Son of God is seen in the titles given Him in the book: “the Word was God” (John 1:1), “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29), “the Messiah (John 1:41), “the Son of God” and “the King of Israel” (John 1:49), the “Savior of the world” (John 4:42), “Lord and . . . God” (John 20:28). Jesus’ deity is asserted in a series of “I am . . .” claims (John 6:35; John 8:12; John 10:7, 9, 11, 14; John 11:25; John 14:6; John 15:1, 5), and Jesus claimed to be the I AM-Yahweh of the Old Testament in these “I am” statements, John 4:24, 26; John 8:24, 28, 58; John 13:19.
The structure and style of the Gospel of John is different from those of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). There are no parables, only seven miracles (five of which are not recorded elsewhere), and many personal interactions recorded. The author emphasizes Jesus’ hunger, thirst, weariness, pain, and death, showing Him to be fully human as well as fully divine and thereby giving a defense against the Gnostics of the day who believed Jesus only appeared as a man.
The Rylands Papyrus, also known as the “St John’s fragment”, contains parts of seven lines from the Gospel of John 18:31–33, in Greek. This Papyrus is dated about A.D. 135 and it is reasoned that it would have taken several decades for the original writing to have been copied and circulated as far as Egypt where the fragment was found. The Gospel was apparently being circulated between 89 and 90 AD, and is therefore thought to have been written prior.
John’s statement of the purpose of his writing is found in John 20:30-31. This Gospel is sometimes called The Book of the Seven Signs, since seven signs/miracles are recorded to reveal the person and mission of Jesus:
- the turning of water into wine (2:1-11)
- the cure of the nobleman’s son (4:46-54)
- the cure of the paralytic (5:1-18)
- the feeding of the multitude (6:6-13)
- the walking on the water (6:16-21)
- the giving of sight to the blind (9:1-7)
- the raising of Lazarus (11:1-45)
Other important themes in the book include the Holy Spirit (14:26; 15:26; 16:7-14), Satan and the world (8:44; 12:31; 17:15), the Word (1:1-14), and the new birth (3:1-12).
OUTLINE OF JOHN
I. Incarnation of the Son of God, 1:1-18
II. Presentation of the Son of God, 1:19-4:54
A. By John the Baptizer, 1:19-34
B. To John’s Disciples, 1:35-51
C. At a Wedding in Cana, 2:1-11
D. At the Temple in Jerusalem, 2:12-25
E. To Nicodemus, 3:1-21
F. By John the Baptizer, 3:22-36
G. To the Samaritan Woman, 4:1-42
H. To an Official of Capernaum, 4:43-54
III. Confrontations with the Son of God, 5:1-12:50
A. At a Feast in Jerusalem, 5:1-47
1. The miraculous sign, 5:1-9
2. The reaction, 5:10-18
3. The discourse, 5:19-47
B. At Passover Time in Galilee, 6:1-71
1. The miraculous sign, 6:1-21
2. The discourse, 6:22-40
3. The reactions, 6:41-71
C. At the Feast of Booths in Jerusalem, 7:1-10:21
1. Debate #1–the discourse, 7:1-29
2. The reactions, 7:30-36
3. Debate #2–the discourse, 7:37-39
4. The reactions, 7:40-53
5. Debate #3–the discourses, 8:1-58
6. The reaction, 8:59
7. Debate #4–the miraculous sign, 9:1-12
8. The reactions, 9:13-41
9. Debate #5–the discourse on the Good Shepherd, 10:1-18
10. The reactions, 10:19-21
D. At the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, 10:22-42
1. The discourse, 10:22-30
2. The rejection, 10:31-42
E. At Bethany, 11:1-12:11
1. The miraculous sign, 11:1-44
2. The reactions, 11:45-57
3. The anointing by Mary, 12:1-8
4. The reactions, 12:9-11
F. At Jerusalem, 12:12-50
1. The triumphal entry, 12:12-19
2. The teaching, 12:20-50
IV. Instruction by the Son of God, 13:1-16:33
A. Concerning Forgiveness, 13:1-20
B. Concerning His Betrayal, 13:21-30
C. Concerning His Departure, 13:31-38
D. Concerning Heaven, 14:1-14
E. Concerning the Holy Spirit, 14:15-26
F. Concerning Peace, 14:27-31
G. Concerning Fruitfulness, 15:1-17
H. Concerning the World, 15:18-16:6
I. Concerning the Holy Spirit, 16:7-15
J. Concerning His Return, 16:16-33
VI. Crucifixion of the Son of God, 18:1-19:42
A. The Arrest, 18:1-11
B. The Trials, 18:12-19:15
1. Before Annas, 18:12-23
2. Before Caiaphas, 18:24-27
3. Before Pilate, 18:28-19:16
C. The Crucifixion, 19:17-37
D. The Burial, 19:38-42
VII. Resurrection of the Son of God, 20:1-21:25
A. The Empty Tomb, 20:1-9
B. The Appearances of the Risen Lord, 20:11-21:25
1. To Mary Magdalene, 20:10-18
2. To the disciples, Thomas absent, 20:19-25
3. To the disciples, Thomas present, 20:26-31
4. To seven disciples, 21:1-14
5. To Peter and the beloved disciple, 21:15-25
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