John: Introduction

John seems so different from the other gospels because it is.  Much of the material in John is not shared with the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. The content focuses on themes of light and darkness, Jesus as a cosmic phenomenon called The Word or Logos.  Signs to Jesus transcendent identity are arranged with growing intensity in the text and Jesus’ words are recorded with incredible detail.  Is this because they were made up after the fact, are these the fanciful creations of a playwright who wants to entertain with a story on a par with a primitive Jesus Christ Superstar?  The text leads us to believe that John wrote the book with is named after him.  There are similarities in style with John’s epistles and with the Revelation of John.  John was one of the inner group of disciples who was privy to much of Jesus’ personal thoughts and reflections.  He was ideally positioned to write a book like the gospel of John which covers many details not related already.

The question of inspiration is an important one here.  Did the Holy Spirit lead John to remember what he had heard in this great detail?  Unlike us, many ancient people developed their ability to memorize.  We have technology like books and computers which help us record what we have seen and heard, in the ancient near east a pencil case or a computer would be impossible to find.  Jesus’ disciples would have memorized large sections of the Old Testament, they would have memorized local stories, and they would have memorized much of Jesus’ teaching.  It also seems as though Jesus repeated his teachings with slight variations according to his audience, so the idea that John and others memorized so much is not out of the question.  However, there is the problem of how John recalls such detail of a private prayer made by Jesus shortly before he died.  John may have been present, but whether he was or wasn’t, for centuries Christians have believed that God can inform people supernaturally of the truths he wants them to communicate.  By faith we accept that the book of John is a contrasting perspective to the other gospels, but it is none the less true.

Why do we have this book?  We have it so that we might believe.  Christians can gain insight into the author and perfecter of their faith, Jesus.  Their faith grows with knowledge and depth of insight.  Those who do not know Christ are introduced to him through the eyes of one of his closest disciples and in so doing might come to a new faith.  This is why the gospel of John is often handed to those who do not know God or who are new to the faith.

Prayer

Help me to love you in a similar way to the author of this book.  Help me to walk in a vibrant way that shows I have a growing faith.  Grow my faith through the inspired words of your servant.

Questions

  1. How many times have you read John?
  2. What are some of the things you remember about John’s gospel?
  3. Read an introduction in a study Bible – what is new to you?
  4. What do you expect to gain from reading John’s gospel?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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21 Responses to John: Introduction

  1. Janice Lee says:

    1. I have read John at least 10 times.
    2. I remember that John’s gospel records a more intimate account of the life of Jesus, so he refers to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” His target audience is for all people, Jew and Gentile. John declares that Jesus is the Son of God.
    3. After reading the introduction to John from the NIV Study Bible, I learned that Cana is not mentioned in writings before John focuses on the signs of Jesus’ identity and mission.
    4. I expect to fall deeper in love with Jesus and that my trust in Him will be strengthened from reading John’s gospel and recalling God’s great restoring love.

  2. Jenna says:

    1. I’ve only ready John’s Gospel in its entirety once (for NT Survey), so I’m excited to study it again!
    2. I remember many stories in John that aren’t in the other gospels, such as the story of Jesus turning water into wine or raising Lazarus from the dead. Also, I remember that most of the stories in John’s Gospel aren’t found in the other Gospels, and that John was written much later than the others.
    3. My study Bible emphasized that John is about “God in the Flesh;” I’d never though of that as being a large theme in John, but I can see how it would be, based on 1:14.
    4. I had actually planned on studying John this semester in my personal devotions, so its amazing that we’ll be doing them in our devotions for class as well! I know that a key word in the book of John is the word “believe,” and I look forward to learning more about Christ and what belief in Him looks like!

  3. Karas says:

    I’ve read John several times, and what stands out to me is the wonder he seems to have towards Jesus and what God did through Him. The part in the Study Bible intro that I really liked said that John is written not as a biography, but as a theological argument in which John tries to convince us that Jesus is God. I hope to gain similar to what is mentioned in the prayer – a greater love for God like John evidently has. It’s possibly my favorite gospel (:

  4. Amy McCashen says:

    I have read the book of John at least ten times.
    I remember John being different than the other three Gospels. I remember John specifically focusing on Jesus being the Son of God. John tries to explain how Jesus is the Word and that the Word has always been. The concept is quite confusing and abstract that every time I read this passage, I have to slow down and think about it carefully. Even so, I think John’s Gospel is the easiest of the four Gospels to read and understand.
    One thing that stood out to me was the mention of Jesus’ seven “I am” statements. I knew Jesus revealed himself using the statement “I am” several times throughout the New Testament, but I didn’t know there were seven specific ones listed in John.
    I am really excited to read through the book of John and to study the life of Jesus through John’s words. I expect to learn more about my Savior and God and, as a result, fall deeper in love with him this semester. I can hardly wait!

  5. zacbodine says:

    1. In depth I have read John three times.

    2. I remember John’s use of language. It’s abstract at times and then comes back into the realm of narrative. It’s the type of abstract language that makes the artist wish he created it and the theologian wishes he invented it. It marries faith and art and story in ways that no one has been able to do since.

    3. In the NLT Study Bible it says, “In Christ we see the glory of God in human being. Even though Jesus was persecuted, tried, and crucified, the light cannot be extinguished.” That is a statement that I may know in the back of my mind, but never truly acknowledge. We serve the light that never goes out even when people try their hardest to eliminate it.

    4. I expect to gain a deeper and more intimate look at the light. It will be like seeing the sun at a time of day that I normally don’t get to see.

  6. Nick says:

    1. I’ve read John around 5 times.
    2. What I remember about the Gospel of John is how different it is from the other three Gospels.
    3. That John’s purpose of writing the book was for people to find a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
    4. Further and deeper insight into Jesus’ life and saving work as the Messiah.

  7. Bekah says:

    1. I have read John a few times when i was a child
    2. I remember that there is a record of Jesus’ life from birth to death.
    3. Maybe the Gospel of John is more interesting that I thought. The Gospel of John’s purpose seems to be for the readers to come to salvation. That should be something I should want to read. After reading and listening to all the stories about the life that Christ lived since I first came into Sunday School, John has gotten quite old. But perhaps, there is something more. I hope to find everything in this book that I so commonly flip passed.
    4. A defined and describable way to understand Salvation.

  8. Sara Cavitt says:

    1. I’m not sure how many times I have read John, but for the past few years, my family has read through the entire Bible in a year. Also, I know I have also read the book several times before we started the yearly reading of the Bible.
    2. The first thing that comes to mind is one of my favorite verse, John 14:6, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” This book is centered on the gospel and offers the truth of the eternal life offered through Jesus Christ.
    3. After reading the introduction, I learned that the audience for the book was for non-Jewish believers and seeking unbelievers.
    4. I hope that my heart will be softened towards those who are not followers of Christ and that I will have a burden to bring them the gospel.

  9. Kathleen says:

    1. I have read John several times. I am pretty sure it was the first book of the Bible I read completely through when I first became a Christian.
    2. I remember that John gives a detailed description of Jesus washing the disciples feet. I also like how the book ends by saying that the world could not contain the amount of books it would take to record everything Jesus did.
    3. I like how my study Bible says that John is written with evangelical intent but it is also for readers who want to grow into a rich and well-informed faith.
    4. I am excited to be reminded of the wonderful works of Christ on earth. I desire to fall more deeply in love with my creator.

  10. tim pruiett says:

    How many times have you read John? I probably have read it 5 or 6 times
    What are some of the things you remember about John’s gospel? John likes to hone in on the ideas of truth and love and what they really mean to a believer
    What do you expect to gain from reading John’s gospel? A better grasp on Jesus the Man and what He was like. I hope to better understand what Jesus emphasized about truth and aspire to learn how to apply that into my own life.

  11. Rachel says:

    1. I have read John around 5 times.
    2. Things that stuck out to me about John were it’s simplicity and easiness to read. I remember it being my favorite gospel in High School.
    3. I learned from the study Bible that John is considered the most theological of the gospels because of it’s emphasis on Jesus and the meaning of faith.
    4. I expect to have a better overview of Jesus’ ministry on Earth and another glimpse into Christ’s life and person.

  12. Mary says:

    1. I have read the book of John several times, and like anything else I read more than once, there seems to be new things in it every time I read it.
    2. The last time I read John’s gospel what stood out to me was all the names that Jesus uses for himself as well as what others call him, such as: “the Word”, “light of the world”, “lamb of God”, “teacher” (or “rabbi”), “Son of God”, “king of Israel”, “Messiah”, “Christ”, “bread of life”, “I am”, “prophet”, “good shepherd”, “the resurrection and the life”, “Son of Man”, “the way, the truth and the life”, “the true vine”.
    3. In the NIV Life Application Study Bible Intro what I found interesting and somewhat new is that of the 8 miracles recorded, 6 of them are unique to the book of John, and that over 90% of the content in John is unique to his gospel.
    4. I expect from reading John’s gospel to be refreshed in my faith and to once again see something new in the pages of Scripture.

  13. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. How many times have you read John?
    I know for a fact I have read the book of John once for NT Survey class, but I am sure over my life as a believer, I have read it maybe once more in totality.

    2. What are some of the things you remember about John’s gospel?
    John clearly gives his purpose in writing this book. It is commonly known, as written about in this blog, that it is not one of the synoptic gospels. The information shared in much different than that of the other gospels. At the moment, I cannot remember specific examples of such information.

    3. Read an introduction in a study Bible – what is new to you?
    The book of John seems to indicate to us that John had an extensive knowledge of the geography of the Holy Land. Also, John focuses more on the miracles of Jesus than any other book. Lastly, there are two major different views on the date of the writing of John, but it is widely accepted that John is indeed the writer of this book,
    4. What do you expect to gain from reading John’s gospel?
    I expect to gain a greater knowledge of the person of Jesus Christ; the chronology of his time on earth, his “I Am” statements, etc…

  14. After reading a short intro to the Book of John, I realized that Leon Morris’ comment captures the intent behind the book: it is like “a pool in which a child may wade and an elephant can swim. It is both simple and profound. It is for the beginner in the faith and for the mature Christian. Its appeal is immediate and never failing.” John delivers vivid snapshots of the One whom I serve.

  15. nataliaria says:

    While I am unsure how many times I have read through the book of John, one of the more recent times through was while taking the Gospel of John with Dr. Peterman. Something that stood out to me during that class, and has remained with me still, is the intimate level in which Jesus is revealed throughout the book. Through focused study of the verses, as well as the chapters as a whole, I came to know Jesus as the Son of God on a deeper level than ever before, and I loved it.

    In following along and participating in this study of John’s account, I hope to rediscover and continue to develop the vivid realness of Christ that I experienced during my last study, and become more like the One who was with God in the beginning.

  16. Austin Brose says:

    I’ve read John around 7 or 8 times. What I remember about Johns gospel is that there is much more dialogue from Jesus and more interactions with his personhood. I also recall there being many of the miracle stories. I learned that John’s gospel is full of narrative from/about Jesus that emphasizes his divinity, and that this gospel includes the basics of Jesus’ ministry and death. I hope to gain a new perspective on the ministry of Christ through the interpretation of John.

  17. Bethany says:

    1) I have read the Gospel of John twice
    2) I remember that love is a major theme and there many stories in this Gospel that are not in the others. Also, John’s Gospel is directed towards everyone.
    3) By reading the introduction to the book of John, I realized how important the theme of light in this Gospel.
    4) I expect to gain a further understanding of the Gospel of John and the love that he has for God, which I envy. I also expect to see how different this Gospel is from the others.

  18. Ashley says:

    1. I have probably read John about 7 times.
    2. John’s gospel is one that describes Jesus in a very tangible way. It is a powerful account of the God-man and shows Jesus’ loving interactions with those he pursues.
    3. In my study Bible it is mentioned that John probably wrote this book between A.D. 70 and A.D. 100, which was the reputed end of John’s life. As John was writing this book in his last days, I am impressed with the thought that these words, inspired by God, are also precious because they are some of John’s last words.
    4. I expect to be refreshed in learning about Jesus’ life and love.

  19. Beth Coale says:

    Read it.

  20. Michael Huber says:

    I have read John about 7 times. I remember it being highly theological in nature and containing different information from the synoptics.

  21. Plymothian, I loved the art work on John. I hope it is okay that I used it on CityKirken’s Sunday school teaching of John 1-5 and also our event welcoming Facebook photo. Credit is given to you. Let me know if it is not okay and I will take it down ASAP.
    Regards,
    Prayson

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