|Common Name: John (Gospel According to John)
|Book Number: 43 of 66 (Old Testament has 39 Books, New Testament has 27 Books)
|Why Written: To show us Jesus the Son of God, the Word of God made flesh (fully God and fully human) who provides salvation for all who call and believe on Him.
|When Written: 80-95 A.D. Roman Period
|Key Phrase: Eternal Life Through His Name
|Key People: Jesus, Holy Spirit, God the Father, Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist, Caiaphas, Pontius Pilate, Mary Magdalene, Herod, Peter (Surname was Simon), Andrew (Peter’s Brother), James (Son of Zebedee), John (Son of Zebedee, younger brother of James), Phillip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, Judas (brother of James, also called Thaddeus), James (the younger), Simon the Zealot (who was a Canaanite), Judas Iscariot the traitor
|Key Idea: Jesus the Son of God
|Where Written: Asia Minor
|Key Verse: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
New Christians and those seeking to understand the Christian faith.
Who wrote the book?
Not surprisingly, the gospel of John never provides the name of its author. Such identifications were not made in any of the other three biblical gospels either. However, two significant factors point to the identification of John as the author. First, the book itself identifies the author as the disciple whom Jesus loved. This description likely pointed to John for three reasons: the author had to be one of the twelve disciples because he was an eyewitness to the events in the gospel (John 21:24); he was probably one of the inner circle of three disciples (James, John, and Peter) because he was among the first Mary told of the resurrection (20:1–10); and this disciple is distinguished from Peter in the book, while James died too soon after the resurrection to be the author.
The second significant evidence for John’s authorship is the unanimous testimony of early Christians, among them the second-century Christian Irenaeus, who declared that John was the disciple who laid his head on Jesus—the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (13:23)—and the author of the gospel.
Where are we?
In Christian tradition, John’s gospel has always been referred to as the fourth gospel, meaning it was composed after the other three. Polycarp, a second-century Christian martyr who knew John personally, told Irenaeus that John had written the book during the apostle’s time serving the church in Ephesus. These factors suggest that John wrote the book between AD 85 and AD 95.
The setting for the Gospel of John is central Palestine or modern day Israel. We learn of several cities as Jesus travels from town to town healing and performing miracles. Some of the cities include Bethlehem, Nazareth, Bethsaida, Genesaret, Tyre and Sidon, Bethany and Jerusalem to name a few. While all the Gospels speak of Jesus’ life, events and divinity John’s Gospel speaks to the divinity of Jesus Christ. At the time John wrote his Gospel he would have been aware of the other Gospels; however he wanted to provide additional information regarding the spiritual significance of Jesus life.
Why is it so important?
John did not include the nativity story in his gospel; instead, he introduced his book by going back even further into history. Invoking the “in the beginning” language of Genesis 1:1, John made a direct link between the nature of God and the nature of the Word, Jesus Christ. The emphasis on the deity of Christ is a striking quality of John’s gospel. It also comes through clearly elsewhere in the book, particularly in John 8:58 when Jesus claimed the divine name—“I am”—for Himself, which led an angry mob of Jews to try and kill Him for blasphemy.
What’s the big idea?
While the other three gospels portray Jesus as the King, the Servant, and the Son of Man, John portrays Jesus as the Son of God. John stated his theme more clearly than any of the other gospel writers. He wrote so that his readers might “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,” so that they may have life in His name (John 20:31). To accomplish that goal, John presented a riveting and distinctive picture of Jesus Christ, one in complete unity with the portraits in the other three gospels, but one that also adds significantly to the Bible’s revelation of Jesus Christ, the God-man.
John used a variety of techniques to communicate to his readers the nature of Jesus. These include his citation of Jesus’s seven “I am” statements, in which Jesus spoke of Himself in terms such as “the Light of the world” (8:12), “the resurrection and the life” (11:25), and “the way, and the truth, and the life” (14:6). Much of John’s gospel (chapters 2–12) might be called the Book of Signs, as it recounts Jesus’s performing of seven different miracles—such as the turning water to wine at Cana and raising Lazarus from the dead at Bethany. These miracles illustrate His identity as the Son of God.
How do I apply this?
Jesus’s identity as the divine Son of God sets Him apart from any other man who ever lived. He carries with Him the transcendence that comes only with God Himself. Therefore, His work on our behalf makes our salvation sure. Because He is God, His sacrifice on the cross has eternal implications, unlike the limited effect of the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament. Jesus, the God-man, has atoned for our sins. We can place our confidence in Him because of His divine nature.
For readers of John’s gospel, the question is a simple, though significant, one: Do you believe that Jesus is Lord? If you believe, you will receive eternal life, claiming the truth that you will one day live in the presence of God in a place with no more pain, no more tears, and no more death.