Introduction to the Books of the Bible
BOOK : John
Description : Last of the four Gospels
Author: The apostle John
Date written : Probably somewhere about 95AD
Chapters : 21
Rider: Accuracy of dating, authorship etc.
Depending on which scholar you read, when they wrote, and so on, dates and opinions about authors will vary because the truth is that we do not know these things definitely. Therefore hold the dates lightly although they will probably only vary a few years one way or another. As far as authorship is concerned we have tended to go along with ancient tradition, what the Early Church Fathers (senior leaders in the centuries following Christ) said. For more detail on each of these Gospels, please go to the INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPELS page.
Some Key Verses:
John's philosophical descriptions of Jesus
1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men
1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The heart of what this book is all about
3:16,17 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
The enormity of what was taking place in those three years
20:30,31 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name
21:25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written
John's View of Jesus' Miracles
John has a unique perspective in respect of the miracles Jesus performed:
Water into wine a sign
2:11 This, the first of his miraculous si gns, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee . He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
Even then doubt
2:18 Then the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?"
2:23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name
Expectations of those from God signposted
3:2 "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."
6:2 a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.
Feeding of the five thousand a sign
6:14 After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world."
The ruling council see these signs as a problem
11:47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. "What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs.
The raising of Lazarus a sign
12:17,18 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him.
These signs were ignored
12:37 Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him
20:30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book
John, as he reflected from afar on what had happened in those three wonderful years, realised that for anyone with eyes to see, this constant stream of miracles that appears to have continued throughout that whole three year period, pointed to one conclusion God was in their midst in the form of Jesus Christ.
The sign of Lazarus being raised from the death, just a few weeks before Passion Week, was possibly THE thing that stirred the crowd for him on one hand and the authorities against him on the other, and which resulted in his death.
Miraculous signs they certainly were but even miracles will not convince those who are spiritually blind and committed to their own self-centred and godless way of life.
The I AM Sayings
In John there are 7 sayings of Jesus that all start, I am which he used to convey specific truths through graphic means. In Ex 3:14 God had named Himself to Moses as I Am who I Am or very simply I AM the I AM. I am' speaks of the present and thus God was saying, I am the ever present One. When Jesus used the formula I Am the Jews knew that he was claiming divinity.
On another occasion Jesus said, My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (Jn 5:17,18) Sometimes he made it very clear and other times less clear. At another time he said to his disciples, Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father . (Jn 14:9) These I Am sayings were another way of subtly saying, I am God.
Jesus said, I am the bread of life. (Jn 6:35) satisfying spiritual hunger
Jesus said, I am the light of the world. (Jn 8:12) lighting the way
Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life. (Jn 11:25,26) overcomes fear of death
Jesus said, I am the way the truth and the life. (Jn 14:6) provides direction and meaning
Jesus said, I am the gate for the sheep. (Jn 10:7) the way in to Gods presence
Jesus said, I am the good shepherd. (Jn 10:11) the one who guard, guides and cares for us
Jesus said, I am the true vine. (Jn 15:1) the one from whom life flows and in whom we grow
There is so, so much more that could be said about this Gospel that it is very difficult to know where to stop. However this page is supposed to be a mere introduction to John (together with the Introduction to the Gospels page) and our goal is simply to simulate interest and whet the appetite so that the reader will go on to read and study the book for themselves. With that as an apology we will add no more here (for the time being at least).
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