A Journey Through John (Introduction & Background)


  • Wouldn’t a title page be nice?
  • Some may answer that it doesn’t really matter that much since the “true author”. However, “in the case of a gospel which is a record of events, the historical reliability and eye witness credentials of the author are necessarily important considerations (Bruce Milne.¬†The Message of John. 15).”
  • When considering the authorship of New Testament writings, scholars consider the internal and external grounds.
  • Internal
    • Written by a Jew. – multiple references to Jewish customs, geography & landmarks, and history. Doesn’t really focus on Gentile issues within the church at the time of it’s writing. The style of Jesus’ teaching also points to a Jewish author.
    • Written by a Palestinian Jew. – the author gives the impression of personal acquaintance with the scenes of Jesus’ ministry.
    • Author was an eyewitness of what he describes. -the author gives vivid highlights and intimate reactions of Jesus and the disciples.
    • Writer was an apostle. – The author was present at events only the apostles attended (See John 19:35; i.e. the last supper, the cross, the empty tomb)
    • Author is the Apostle John. – although he never states his name, the writer refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” or “the beloved disciple”. How convenient? A close associate of Jesus. This disciple is not Peter (20.2-8), but is closely associated with him. Also, the author goes out of his way to avoid using references to John in the gospel, save 21.2. Which is ironic considering everyone else is freely mentioned by name. The author is regarded as having church authority and in 19.35 and 21.24, which coincides with John’s leadership in the early church.
  • External
    • Irenaeus a follower of Polycarp, who was a follower of John, noted John as the author in the 2nd century and that it was written from Ephesus.
    • The church held John to be the ¬†author without question from it’s outset, the fact that the gospel was so universally accepted by the church despite it being quoted by the heretical gnostics ads to this support. The gospel is drastically different in style from the other 3 as well. Despite these differences, the early church accepted it as an authentic gospel from John.

John and the Synoptics

  • What’s a gospel?
    • A biography is the entire life and teachings of Jesus.
    • A gospel tells the story of Jesus in such a way to highlight the person and work of Jesus in order to impact the reader, seeking to encourage them to pursue belief in Jesus as the Christ.
  • Similarities
    • John the Baptist as forerunner.
    • The call and instruction of the disciples
    • Feeding of 5000
    • Jesus’ voyage with disciples on the Sea of Galilee
    • Peter’s confession of faith
    • Triumphal entry
    • Jesus’ remarkable claims and acts of power
    • Developing hostility of religious leaders
    • Cleansing of temple
    • The last supper
    • Gethsemane arrest
    • Trial, condemnation, and crucifixion
    • Resurrection
    • Resurrection appearances and commission
    • Specific common sayings appear in all 4 gospels
  • Differences
    • It is best to understand John’s gospel as a complement, not a replacement of the other gospels. He chose specific events to highlight what he was attempting to communicate about Jesus.
    • Why does Jesus’ teaching style vary in John when compared to the synoptics? Understanding the difference in audience is the key. The synoptics concentrate on Christ’s ministry in the region of
      Galilee where they have less knowledge of scripture. John concentrates on Jesus’ ministry around Jerusalem at the time of the feasts where people were extremely theologically inclined. Hence, John is more theological in nature than the others.
    • The outline of the gospel is drastically different as well. Selected stories (signs) with specific points to highlight Jesus authenticity are used. More teaching, less anecdotal.


  • When was it written? probably prior to the destruction of the temple (AD 70) and John’s statement about the pool of Bethesda places dating in the late 60’s. Early church tradition places the writing in the early 80’s. Some place it in the 90’s or even second century (liberal).

7 Signs & 7 I ams

The gospel’s content is largely communicated through what John calls the 7 signs (significant events or actions explaining the nature of Christ) and the 7 “I ams” (significant statements of Jesus noting his identity).

  • 7 Signs
    • Turning water into wine (2.1-11)
    • Cleansing the temple (2.12-17)?
    • Healing the nobleman’s son (4.46-54)
    • Healing the lame man (5.1-15)
    • Feeding the multitude (6.1-15)
    • Walking on water (6.16-21)*
    • Healing the blind man (9)
    • Raising Lazarus (11)
  • 7 I ams
    • The bread of life (6.35, 48, 51)
    • The light of the world (8.12; 9.5)
    • the door of the sheep (10.7,9)
    • the good shepherd (10.11, 14)
    • the resurrection and the life (11.25)
    • the way, the truth, the life (14.6)
    • the true vine (15.1)


  • Why did John write his gospel? John 20.30-31. It is evangelistic and apologetic.