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Introduction to the Books of the Bible

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John's Gospel



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.



Brief Synopsis:

•  The baptism & temptation of Jesus and then the three years of ministry leading up to his death and resurrection.
•  John's Gospel appears to appeal particularly to the Church and to the world at large.



Outline :


1:1-18 Prologue
1:19-51 Beginnings of Jesus' Ministry
1:19-34 The Ministry of His Forerunner
1:35-51 Jesus' Introduction to Some Future Disciples
Ch.2-11 Jesus' Public Ministry: Signs and Discourses
2:1-11 Changing Water to Wine
2:12-25 Cleansing the Temple
3:1-21 Interview with Nicodemus
3:22-4:3 Parallel Ministry with John the Baptist
4:4-42 Journey through Samaria : The Woman at the Well
4:43-54 Healing of the Official's Son
Ch.5 Trip to Jerusalem for an Annual Feast
Ch.6 The Feeding of the 5,000 and the Sermon on the Bread of Life
Ch.7-8 Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles
Ch.9 Healing of the Man Born Blind
10:1-21 Parable of the Good Shepherd
10:22-39 Debating at the Feast of Dedication
10:40-42 Ministry in Perea
Ch.11 The Raising of Lazarus
Ch.12-19 The Passion Week
12:1-11 The Anointing of Jesus' Feet
12:12-19 The Triumphal Entry
12:20-36 The Coming of the Greeks
12:37-50 Continued Jewish Unbelief
Ch.13-17 Farewell Discourses
Ch.13-14 Discourse at the Last Supper
Ch.15-16 Discourse on the way to Gethsemane
Ch.17 Jesus' prayer of intercession
18:1-12 Jesus' Betrayal and Arrest
18:13-19:15 The Trials of Jesus
19:16-42 The Crucifixion and Burial
20:1-29 The Resurrection
20:30-31 The Statement of Purpose
Ch.21 Epilogue



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?"


General healings

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."


General healings

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


John's summary

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



Concluding Comments


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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