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.