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Book of John


Authorship and Origin:

The fourth gospel, authored by John the Apostle ("the disciple whom Jesus loved"), tells us who Jesus was, what He is, and what He can mean to those who love Him. Produced about 110 A.D., it is attested to by Irenaeus as having been hand received from Polycarp who directly interfaced with John. This gospel has powerfully influenced Christians across the centuries. The gospel encourages an ever-deepening search for meaning. Jesus is not related as simply the Jewish messiah (as in the synoptic gospels), but as the Messiah to the whole world, it's Light and Saviour. John is also a mystic, in that Christ is experienced internally as part of the heart, mind and soul. This gospel searches into the mystery of Christianity.

John was a son of Zebedee and the brother of James. A fisherman by trade, he was called the Beloved Disciple. At the time of the crucifixion, Jesus committed His mother to John's care. Tradition says he was banished to the island of Patmos after being a bishop at Ephesus for many years. He also is considered the author of the Letters of John and the book of Revelation. John probably dictated this gospel at an old age.

Overview and Significant sections

This gospel is arranged not in chronological order, but more in the order of increasing signs of who Jesus was, what He testifies to, and what this means to us. This gospel contains more than the other gospels about the stories of Lazarus, Nicodemus, Jesus' trial, crucifixion, and resurrection. It also contains more detail about Andrew, Philip and Thomas.

The purpose of the book is clearly stated: "that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name". Clement of Alexandria considered this gospel to be a 'spiritual gospel' and not synoptic or biographic in nature. Instead of history, John gives us theological interpretation.

The structure of the book has been called a 'spiral' method of exposition. Words and phrases are introduced, and then taken up later and developed in new combinations. The book can be viewed in this outline form:

  • Chapter 1: Introduces various titles and interpretations of Jesus to be used later.
  • Chapter 2-11: Narratives of a series of 'signs' pointing to the death/resurrection theme to be developed later. Also contains various discourses and discussions/teachings by Jesus.
  • Chapter 12-20: the Passion and Resurrection narrative. Jesus' long discourse and prayer to the disciples and the Last Supper prayer.
  • Chapter 21: An appendix - presenting Christ to the world.

For more detailed study:
Read Chapter 1. (the entire book is available here.)
The Concise Matthew Henry Commentary on this book. study of this book.
the World Wide Study Bible has Dictionary, Commentary, Scripture and sermons available on this book.