Friday, 29 November 2013

Gospel of John:

This book was written by John. Not John the Baptist, but one of the 12 disciples. He was the brother of James, the son of Zebedee, and a nephew of Mary the Mother of Jesus, so that makes John, and his brother James, first cousins of Jesus.

John was the only one of the disciples to die a natural death. Judas committed suicide, and history tells that the other 10 were all martyred. Not only that but it turns out that he was the last of the twelve to die; he was probably way over 90 when he died.

As well as this book John also has 4 other books in the New Testament, the book of Revelation and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. The common theme in all the books is the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Gospel is a factual look back telling just a tiny amount of Jesus life and ministry. The three letters of John were written to deal with ongoing issues in church life, and Revelation is looking to the future.  So John is also the only Biblical writer to write books in the past, present, and future tenses.

It’s likely that John wrote his Gospel in Ephesus around about 85-90 A.D., before he was sent by the Romans to the isle of Patmos. The church at Ephesus had young Timothy as its Pastor and as well as John, they would have had Jesus mother Mary in the congregation.

John’s Gospel is very different from the others in that it shares only a tiny amount of their content. Obviously John would have been pretty familiar with Matthew, Mark and Luke’s books.

The other Gospels were all written decades before and share a lot of the same information, albeit, they were written with different focus.  

Just for a bit of wider background it’s probably worth us spending a minute or two looking at how Matthew, Mark, and Luke, (collectively called the synoptics) are different to John’s Gospel.

·         John has his focus on Jesus’ ministry in the Southern area of Israel known as Judea, and a lot of the action is in Jerusalem, where the synoptics  have a focus on Jesus’ ministry in the Northern region of Galilee.

·         John contains lots of long sermons, while the synoptics, have shorter saying and parables

·         The Passover is mentioned once in the synoptics, but John mentions 3 Passovers, which give us a clue to the fact that Jesus’ public ministry was about 3 or 3½ a half years

Purpose of the synoptic authors:

·         Matthew: to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the King of Israel

·         Mark: written first for a Roman audience (from Peter’s perspective)

·         Luke: written to give a reliable and precise record of the history of Jesus Christ's life. Also likely to have been used by Paul’s lawyer in court…


But what was John writing for?

The word BELIEVE is used 101 times and Jesus is the I AM 31 Times In John’s Gospel.


John’s Gospel is both full of heavy in theological ‘stuff’, and easily understood. It’s been said that John’s gospel is “shallow enough for babies to wade in, but deep enough for elephants to drown in.

Whilst the synoptics focus on the facts of Jesus’ ministry. John digs into what His ministry means, he’s interested in application. And as well as that, John is seriously  wanting to get the message out, he’s very evangelistic.


The key verses in understanding the whole of this book are:

John 20:30-31
The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.


And in his opening verses he lays out just what it was that God did:


John 1:14
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

John was a fiery character in early life and he and his brother, James, were known as the “sons of thunder,” They’re even recorded as wanting Jesus to call fire down from heaven on their enemies. But this young, passionate idealist, was transformed into the mature, patient, valued ‘apostle love’. John stressed the love of God more than any other writer in the bible.

Jesus love transformed John personally and it’s still a love that can transform us today as we meet Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John.