Some Facts About the Gospel of John

From the MacArthur Study Bible

This page provides some information about The Gospel of John for you.  It was written by John the Apostle, the younger brother of James and the disciple whom Jesus loved. John also wrote the three epistles that bear his name and the book of Revelation.

Tradition has it that it was written around A.D. 80-90. In the last verses of the twentieth chapter John states the purpose of the Gospel is that ”…you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

One interesting fact about the Gospel of John is that it's not the same as the other three gospels. The first three gospels are similar in the following manner:

• The material is arranged in a similar fashion.

• Each casts the life of Jesus within the framework of a Galilean ministry that extended from Jesus' baptism to His death.

• An emphasis on His final days in the flesh.

• And they recount many of the same incidents or teachings.

Is the Gospel of John a Synoptic Gospel?

According to Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, the other three gospels are so similar in arrangement, content, and wording, they are called the synoptic gospels (from the Greek word synopsis, which means "a seeing together").

On the other hand, the Gospel of John is different from the other three which portray mainly what Jesus did and how He taught. John’s Gospel is different in the following manner:

  • It moves beyond the obvious facts of Jesus' life to deeper, more profound meanings
  • Events and miracles are kept to a minimum; they are used as springboards or "signs" for lengthy discussions that reveal important truths about Christ
  • It expresses spiritual ideas in spiritual language

MacArthur's Study Bible also gives us

the following facts about the Gospel of John:

1. It is the only Gospel that contains a precise statement of its purpose.

2. It supplies a large amount of unique material.

3. It often supplies information that helps to understand the synoptic gospels.

4. It is the most theological of the gospels, for example:

- It has a heavy prologue (verses 1-18).
- It has a large amount of instructional and discourse material in relation to narrative.
- It has the largest amount of teaching on the Holy Spirit.

The first 18 verses of the Chapter One are often called a prologue and can be outlined in the following manner:

The incarnation of the Son of God (1:1-18)

A. His Eternality (1:1-2)

B. His Pre-Incarnate Work (1:3-5)

C. His Forerunner (1:6-8)

D. His Rejection (1:9-11)

E. His Reception (1:12-13)

F. His Deity (1:14-18)

In this prologue of the Gospel of John, there is an introduction of several of the major themes of John and especially the main theme that Jesus Christ is the son of God. In the gospel as a whole several key words are repeated which also appear here in the prologue, specifically - life, light, glory, and witness.

The rest of the gospel develops the theme of the prologue as to how the Word of God, Jesus the Messiah, became flesh and ministered among men so that all who believe in Him would be saved. John wrote the prologue with the simplest of vocabulary in the New Testament yet the truths of these 18 verses are profound.

There are six basic truths about Jesus Christ as the son of God featured in the prologue. They are:

  • Verses 1-3 The Eternal Christ
  • Verses 4-5 The Incarnate Christ
  • Verses 6-8 The Forerunner of Christ
  • Verses 9-11 The Unrecognized Christ
  • Verses 12-13 The Omnipotent Christ
  • Verses 14-18 The Glorious Christ

Some Deep Thoughts About the Gospel of John

To expand that line of thinking, one can say that the prologue states the following fourteen truths about Jesus Christ:

14 Truths About Jesus Christ

In summary, the Gospel of John recounts how Jesus Christ became a man who came from the Father and made him - the Father - known to us.

Our study is provided to us from God through the writings of:

  • the younger son of Zebedee and Salome
  • a Galilean fisherman from Bethsaida
  • a hotheaded man who along with his older brother James were nicknamed Sons of Thunder by Jesus Christ
  • an eyewitness of Jesus Christ’s life on earth
  • the disciple whom Jesus loved
  • the disciple to whom Jesus Christ entrusted the care of his mother
  • the writer who also gave us first, second and third epistles of John and the Book of Revelation.

John’s life was interesting, but what we learn about the Gospel of John is that John shows us real life as he presents to us Jesus - the Christ - and by knowing Jesus, we know God the Father.

We pray that you have been blessed to learn about the Gospel of John.

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