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The Gospel of John

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New Believers Study
An Overview of the New Testament 
by Pastor Ron Beckham

Second Study:

The Gospel of John
 

The author of the Gospel of John, was John, the son of Zebedee, brother of James, and the two of them were called "Sons of Thunder" in Mark 3:17.  Their mother, Salome, was part of the group that followed and served Jesus in Galilee, and she was present when He was crucified (Mark 15:40-41).

John apparently was one of the Galileans who followed John the Baptist until he was called to follow Jesus, along with others, at the start of His public ministry (John 1:19-51).  John was one of the twelve who were selected to be "apostles" ("sent ones") Luke 6:12-16).

He became one of the leaders of the Church, after Jesus ascended, along with James and Peter (Galatians 2:9).  James (not his brother James) was the actual leader of the Church at Jerusalem.  John later went to Ephesus and was then exiled to the Island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9).

The author of the Book of John is called the disciple "Jesus loved" (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 20).  The author had an extensive knowledge of the geography and Jewish customs of Palestine, indicating he was a Palestinian Jew, and his attention to detail strongly suggests he was an eyewitness of the events in this Book.  The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) name the inner circle of Jesus as Peter, James and John - the writer of this Gospel was one of those in that inner group.  The Early Church identified John the Apostle as the author of the Book of John, including Irenaeus, who was a disciple (student) of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John the Apostle.

Irenaeus, in "Against Heresies", said John the Apostle was the writer of this Book, also stating that John lived until the time of Emperor Trajan ( A.D. 98-117).  There were others who identified John as the author, including Clement of Alexandria, Theophilus of Antioch, and Origen.

The earliest recorded title of this Book was "Kata Ioannen," or "According to John."  The word "Gospel" (Good News) was added later.  For years, it was thought that John was written much later than during the lifetime of John the Apostle, but then "John Rylands Papyrus 52" was found in Egypt, which contained portions of John 18:31-33, 37, 38.  The fragment was dated at about 135 A.D., indicating a very early date for this Book.

This Book was written AFTER the other Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke).  The Gospel of John was written BEFORE John's three letters (I, II and III John) and the Book of Revelation, so the date for the writing of the Book of John, was between 60 and 90 A.D.

John would have been one of the last eyewitnesses of the Lord, His death, and His resurrection.  John wrote this Gospel, according to early tradition, while he was in the city of Ephesus.

John wrote this Gospel for a purpose:  "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life in His name" (John 20:31).  He specifically and purposefully, as led by the Holy Spirit of God, selected statements of Jesus and events surrounding Him, that were overlooked or not emphasized by writers of the other Gospels.

He did not give us an all-inclusive biography of Jesus’ life on this earth.  We know that from John 20:30, where he said, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which as not written in this book.”  And further, “There are so many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25).

As stated in relation to the Synoptic Gospels, there are excellent websites where you may visit, and copy or print the writings of some truly remarkable theologians from past centuries.  A good, simple to use “search engine” for that purpose is called “Google,” where you can enter words like “Bible Commentaries” and “Search” for some really great Bible commentaries from the past, including the following suggested locations:

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Go to Google as a Search Engine.  (Try others but these materials came from Google).  Look up Bible Commentaries (there is no cost to download or copy much of the material)

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A suggested address is http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries

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Another is http://bible.christiansunite.com/commentary.shtml

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And http://www.gospelcom.net/eword/comments/

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You might try our Commentary on the Book of John for Youth and Those New to the Lord at www.fridaystudy.org

 Questions

  1. Did Jesus Christ live before His birth?  In what manner?

  2. What is the significance of John the Baptist?  Who is this man of the desert?

  3. Why did Jesus heal different people differently?

  4. Why was Jesus Christ baptized?

  5. What does the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness mean to you?

  6. Discuss the following: Is Jesus Christ God to you?  In what way?

  7. Why did so many of the religious rulers oppose Jesus?

  8. Did some of them follow Him?  Why?

  9. Are there less parables in John than the other Gospels?  Why?

  10. What does Jesus mean, when He calls Himself the "Bread of Life?"

  11. What is "Living Water"?  How does this relate to your life?

  12. Why did Jesus leave this earth?

  13. Will He come again?  Under what circumstances?

  14. What does He mean, in the Lord's Prayer of John 17, that we are to be "one"?

  15. Was Jesus both God and man?  How do you see this in the Book of John?

The Gospel of John

As with the other Gospels, you’ll have to prayerfully READ 21 Chapters of this Book, to get a feeling for it, and its best to read it many times.  If I had to choose just ONE Book that I would be allowed to take, if I were arrested and sent to prison, this would very likely be the one.

The freshness of this Gospel is wonderful.  We were in Israel, during the year 2000, and saw many of the places John described in great detail, and “detail” is one of the strong elements of this Book.  He SAW the places and events written in the Book he wrote.

He noted there were FIVE porches near the Sheep Gate (John 5:2), which has been archeologically confirmed in recent times.  He saw SIX water jars (John 2:6).  It was “three or four miles” (John 5:19), “one hundred yards” (John 21:8), “153 fish” (John 21:11).  He added names he had heard spoken, such as Nathanael (1:45), Nicodemus (3:1), and Malchus (18:10) - the excellent comments of an eye witness with a good memory.

John consciously supplemented the Synoptic Gospels.  He WANTED us to know more of what happened, and because of what we learn, trust in the Jesus He personally knew.  This was the man who saw Jesus die, saw the empty tomb, spoke to the Risen Jesus after the resurrection, touched Him and saw His face, hands and feet.

We know from John’s Gospel that there were at least three and probably four Passovers during the public ministry of Jesus, so from this Book, we understand the ministry lasted more than two years and probably as much as three and a half years.

If you have questions or comments, write to Ron@FridayStudy.org or utilize the Discussion Forum at www.FridayStudy.org.

 

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