Background on the Gospel of John


The Gospel of John is one of the most intriguing books of the Bible. Within this Gospel is the most profound expressions of the deity of Jesus Christ and the most concrete statements on the humanity of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the most poetic and philosophical writing in the New Testament.


The Gospel of John presents a unique perspective on Jesus. In this Gospel there is no explanation of His physical birth, no direct description of His baptism, nothing of His temptations or of the Last Supper. The words of Jesus are unique in this Gospel. There are no parables in the Fourth Gospel. Jesus speaks in lengthy passages. Many passages are highly symbolic.


The author of this work and the dates of its writing are open to speculation. There is no internal evidence that would tell us in any definitive way who wrote this Gospel. The traditional viewpoint has been that it was written by the Apostle John in Ephesus around the year 100 AD when he was a very old man. The text itself does not mention this particular apostle. Many have had the opinion that this is a strong argument that it was written by the Apostle John, an argument from omission. On the other hand, there is the "beloved disciple," mentioned several times toward the end of the Gospel. Many have identified the beloved disciple with the author and, in turn, with the Apostle John. I do find it difficult that a post-crucifixion apostle would refer to himself as "the beloved disciple," as though Christ loved him above others. The term seems to be used to imply a knowledge and relationship that was different from that of the Twelve Apostles. On the other hand, there is no conclusive reason why the Apostle John could not have written this work and the early evidence from the Church Fathers points consistently toward him.


What we are more clear about, more clear than any other biblical text, is the purpose of this Gospel. In 20:30-31, it is written, "20:30Therefore Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; 20:31 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." The purpose of this work is that the reader might believe and find life.


While much can be written about who the author may or may not be, or the style in which this work is written, nothing should distract from this purpose. It will be my goal as we proceed through this work to keep this purpose always before us. We shall seek for the life that is in the name of the Son of God, Jesus, the Christ.



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