Summary: Introduction to John's gospel
In the Beginning
How I first read John’s gospel
Right after reading Matt, Mark, Luke - I noticed lots of repetition in the first three (synoptic)
John was new, different. Different stories, different teachings, different characters.
Synoptics events occur mostly in Galilee, John’s are mostly in Judea
Synoptics record Jesus' parables, John has none
Synoptics have Jesus primarily teach in sermons, John has Jesus teach primarily in conversations
Synoptics talk about the apostles, naming them - John never mentions the word apostle, never names Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alpheaus, Simon the Zealot - nor James and John.
John spends more time developing the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit.
Unlike Matt, Mk. Lu. Jesus is more than willing to performs signs to authenticate His divinity. John has Jesus telling extensive stories about His true nature - seven times he referred to Himself with the name reserved for God “the famous I AM statements” - The Bread from Heaven, the Vine, The Way, The Truth, the Life - I am the light of the world, the good shepherd - I am the Resurrection!
You’ll find no stories about Satan, demons or exorcisms, no predictions of end times, no Sermon on the Mount, and no ethical or apocalyptic teachings.
Last written, perhaps to fill in the blanks or to speak against false beliefs and gnosticis, 90% of John is new stuff not found in the synoptic gospels, details about the night before his crucifixion are different from the other gospels where Jesus washes the disciples' feet but does not institute communion
Who wrote the gospel of John? - we honestly don't know, the text itself states only that the Gospel was written by an anonymous follower of Jesus referred to as the Beloved Disciple. Traditionally we have believed that to be the Apostle John, who is thought to have lived at Ephesus towards the end of his life. Eusebius of Caesarea (church historian at time of canonization of the Bible) thought it written by John the elder- but an earlier authority and church father - Irenaeus (d. about 202), Bishop of Lyons - said that Polycarp told him personally he knew John and claimed John’s Gospel was his work. Comparable with the oldest person I ever knew personally knew someone who fought in the civil war.
Who was John the Evangelist?
Assuming John refers to Apostle John - he and his brother James were the sons of Zebedee and Salome. They were fishermen and business partners with Peter and Andrew (Luke 5:10). They were both called to be apostles - Herod ended James life by the sword. John’s death is not recorded.
John was part of an inner circle of three with Jesus, Peter James and John. Together they witnessed the raising of Jairus' daughter, the transfiguration, and Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Acts tells about a healing a lame man at the gates of the temple - immortalizing the famous words “Silver and gold have I none - but what I have I give to you!”
The early apostles were not academically schooled - they were inspired by a higher authority - HS.
AC 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
James and John were bold and brash as young men - Boanerges - sons of thunder - “let us be seated on right and left.” - and at another time they wanted to squash the competition:
LK 9:49 "Master," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us."
It is believed by many that in addition to the 4th gospel, John wrote 1st, 2nd, 3rd John, and Revelation.
When was it written? Last book in the NT Bible - Written late 80’s to mid 90’s 50-60 years after the resurrection. Chapter 21 written later to explain confusion about the John’s death.
Image - Rylands P52 - the oldest fragment of the New testament contains lines from the Gospel of John 18:31-33, in Greek, and the back contains lines from verses 37-38. - it dates to 125-160 AD based on the script style. The oldest complete copy of John’s gospel is in the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus - the current NT along with the Epistle of Barnabas and The Shepherd of Hermas
Not only the latest but the most theologically refined gospel.
Not meant to be read primarily as a history book but as a Gospel - Good News - story with a point.
How did the authors remember? - HS Comforter bring to remembrance, not precisely historically because history is not the pinnacle of revelation - but by the quickening of the human soul, revealing and anointing. We must get over the love affair that modern mind has with science and the historical method as somehow supreme communicators of truth. It’s all about the Holy Spirit. Word for word is never as useful as truth for truth. Power of the HS to reveal and confirm truth in community. Canon