The Gospel of John - an Introduction

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An Introduction to the Gospel of John
The Gospel of John is believed to be the last of the four Gospels in the New Testament to be written. While the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are similar in their common view, the book of John is distinct. In contrast, none of the parables are recorded in John, and only seven of the miracles are featured. Instead, John delivers the meaning of Jesus by giving the readers a deeper insight and a deeper understanding of Him. He establishes that Jesus Christ is the Jewish Messiah that was prophesized in the Old Testament, who was sent to earth by God in human flesh, gives his life on the cross, and then returns to the Father – all with the view that we may believe in him and receive eternal life. According to Hahn (2010), the Gospel of John, “very quickly became the favorite gospel of most Christians and has long been the most influential Gospel and one of the most influential books of the New Testament”. Author

The author is not stated, but is traditionally attributed to John the Apostle, brother of James and son of Zebedee. Content of the Gospel and early church tradition were both considered when determining the author. From the scripture, we can presume the following about the gospel of John and its author (Gaebelein, 1981, p. 6-7): * it was written by a Palestinian Jew who knew Jewish opinions and customs; * he was a disciple and was one of the sons of Zebedee (John 21:2; Matthew 4:21; 10:2); * he personally witnessed the events he described (John 1:14; 19:35; 21:24-25); * he was part of the inner circle of disciples, and knew of Jesus’ inner consciousness (John 6:6, 61, 64; 13:1-3, 11; 18:4); * it was not written by Peter, because it frequently mentions him in third person; * it was not written by James, the son of Zebedee because he died prior to A.D. 44 (Acts 12:2), which is believed to be prior to when the Gospel of John was written. It is evident that someone who knew Jesus personally and followed him throughout his ministry wrote the Gospel of John. Gaebelein (1981) confirms that, “by process of elimination, it seems reasonably certain that this anonymous disciple and author must have been John the son of Zebedee” (p. 7). Date and Place of Origin

The Gospel of John was the last of the four gospels in the New Testament to be written. According to Keener (1993), “tradition holds that the Gospel was written in the 90s of the first century; that it could have been written no later (against some nineteenth-century scholars’ views) has been confirmed by a manuscript fragment of the Gospel dating to the early second century” (p. 260). There is really no evidence that would give a clear indication of where the Gospel was written, but the tradition of the early church was that John was written from Ephesus. John settled in Ephesus after leaving Palestine and based on statements from Irenaeus (Against Heresies 3.1), John wrote from Ephesus (Gaebelein, 1981, p. 10). Recipients

The Gospel of John was directed toward Christian Gentiles and not Jews. This is seen when he continually references “the Jews” in a derogatory manner and as enemies of Christ. John frequently explained customs and often described places in Palestine. Wallace (1999) suggests that the author uses “many explanations, interpretations, and asides which would be unnecessary if the audience were Jewish” (p. 9). Some examples of these can be found in John 1:38, 41-42, and John 5:2.

Purpose
The Gospel of John has the clearest purpose of all four Gospels: to portray Jesus Christ as God and to confirm or strengthen Gentile believers in their faith. This is most evident in John 20:31 (English Standard Version): “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name”. Morris (1971) insists this statement clearly indicates that John is out to show Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God and...
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