The Unique Purpose of John: The Gospel of the Eternal Son Who Reveals the Father
Mark L. Strauss’s article 4 years ago today Anyone who takes the time to read through the first three Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—will instantly realize how similar they are to one another. The three of them relate many of the same stories, often in exactly the same words, and they all follow the same fundamental plot thread. Because of their resemblances, these three gospels are collectively referred to as the “Synoptic Gospels” (synoptic literally means “a shared perspective”). While ninety percent of Mark’s stories are found in either Matthew or Luke, ninety percent of the Fourth Gospel—the Gospel of John—is unique to that gospel alone.
John’s Unique StyleContent
Chronological and geographical movement differences are present. According to the Synoptics, the initial portion of Jesus’ public career takes place in Galilee, where he teaches, cures, and comes into confrontation with the religious authorities on a number of occasions. In the following weeks, Jesus travels south to Jerusalem for the Passover festival, where he confronts the religious authorities and is eventually caught and tried before being executed and resurrected. If we relied just on the Synoptics, we may conclude that Jesus’ mission lasted less than a year.
It is estimated that Jesus’ career lasted between two and a half and three years based on the number of Passovers mentioned in the Bible (John 2:13, 6:4, 11:55) and the number of other festivals mentioned (John 5:1, 7:2, 10:22).
- The Synoptic Gospels are typically composed of short episodes, known as pericopes (pronounced per-ko-ps), which are strung together in a loosely chronological fashion in order to tell a narrative story.
- Each of them is a pericope, which is a semi-independent narrative that is thematically related to the others.
- One example is Jesus’ talk with Nicodemus in Chapter 3; others are miraculous tales that are followed by a long back-and-forth dispute between Jesus and his religious opponents (e.g., in Chapter 4).
- When it comes to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus’ fundamental message is about the arrival of the kingdom of God (Mark 1:13–14).
- People are urged to repent and believe in the good news of the kingdom of heaven and of the earth.
- Jesus uses parables of the kingdom to convey the nature of the kingdom.
- Jesus’ teaching is far more focused on his personal identity as well as his one-of-a-kind relationship with the Father.
Knowing the Father via the Son is the only way to find salvation.
Throughout the Synoptics, Jesus’ identification as the Messiah occupies a central position.
The apostle John’s portrayal of Jesus is less concerned with his messiahship and more concerned with his actual humanity and authentic god.
Despite the fact that these are major disparities, they serve to portray Jesus in a complimentary rather than a conflicting manner.
(John 1:51, 3:13).
In both the Gospel of John and the Synoptics, Jesus talks of the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 3:5).
In the Synoptics, redemption is depicted as more than just admittance into the kingdom; it is also described as the gift of eternal life (Mark 10:17, 10:30). As a result, the distinctions are mostly a matter of emphasis rather than substance in nature.
John’s Context and Setting
So, how can we account for the variations between the two cases? The most plausible explanation is that the Gospel of John was written in a different setting and at a different period than the Synoptics, most likely around the end of the first century. When John speaks, he is addressing topics that are important and concerning to the church of his day. When the Synoptics were published in the 1950s–1970s, the burning issue for the church was to demonstrate that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, and hence the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and covenants.
John is writing during a later time in the church’s history, when the church was facing various obstacles.
Some are calling into question Christ’s Godhead, contending that he is only a part of God.
John’s opening lines affirm both the full deity and the true humanity of Jesus: “The Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1); “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14); “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:15); “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:16).
Near the close of his Gospel, John makes a clear statement about his mission: There were several additional signs that Jesus did in the presence of his disciples that were not reported in this book. However, these have been written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may come to have life in his name (John 1:12). The purpose of John’s writing is to elicit trust in Jesus, which will result in eternal life. “In order for you to believe” might alternatively be interpreted as “in order for you to continue to believe.” According to what we know about John, he is writing both to urge unbelievers to trust in Jesus and to bring encouragement to those who are struggling in their faith.
John answers by proving that Jesus, via his teaching and his “signs” (see below), demonstrated that he actually came from the Father in order to deliver eternal life to those who believe in him and his message.
The Gospel of John may be divided into four portions, which are as follows: a preliminary Prologue (John 1:18-26); a major body consisting of two sections: (4) A concluding Epilogue; (2) The Book of Signs (John 1:19–12:50); (3) The Book of Glory (John 13:1–20:31); (4) A concluding Epilogue (ch. 21).
The Prologue (1:1–18)
John’s wonderful prologue includes the most elevated Christology (description of Christ) in the Bible. Jesus is referred to be God’s “Word” in the Bible (logos). This Greek term has a long and illustrious history, both in Greco-Roman philosophy and in Jewish thought. When used in Greek philosophy, the term logos might refer to divine reason, which is the power that imparts unity and order to the universe. To the Jews, God’s Word symbolized the dynamic power of God to bring about his will in the world.
- He has the ability to condemn and destroy with a single word, as well as redeem and save with another.
- “With God,” as opposed to God the Father, the Word, according to John, was both “with God” and “was God” (fully God).
- Despite being totally divine, Jesus came into human life when “the Word became flesh and established his residence among us,” according to the Bible (John 1:14).
“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is God in his own right and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” John 1:18 is the climax of the Prologue: “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” Jesus, who is both completely human and fully divine, makes the unseen God apparent to the world.
The Book of Signs (1:19–12:50)
In addition to the prologue, the first half of John’s Gospelis referred to as the “Book of Signs,” since it chronicles seven “signs,” or miracles, that Jesus performs during his ministry. They are termed signs because they not only display Jesus’ power, but they also point to who Jesus is and instill trust in those who witness them. The signs are frequently associated with Jesus’ teachings in some way. Examples include Jesus feeding a crowd with loaves and fish before teaching them that he is the actual “manna from heaven,” or “food of life.” The Seven “Signs” of Jesus’ divinity are:
- The transformation of water into wine (John 2:1–11)
- The healing of a royal official’s son (John 4:46–54)
- The healing of a disabled man (John 5:1–15)
- The feeding of 5,000 (John 6:1–14)
- Walking on water (John 6:16–21)
- The healing of a man born blind (John 9:1–12)
- The raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1–43)
- The raising of Lazarus from the dead (John
The first sign, the transformation of water into wine at Cana of Galilee (John 2:1–12), demonstrates the significance of their mission. The miracle, which occurs at a wedding reception, has symbolic importance because of its timing. According to the Old Testament, God’s redemption will be celebrated as a huge party—the “messianic feast” that God would hold for all of humanity. According to Isaiah, there will be “a feast of aged wine—the greatest of foods and the finest of wines,” signifying God’s final deliverance, when “he will demolish the shroud that enfolds all peoples” and “he will swallow up death forever” (Isa 25:6–8; see also Revelation 19:9).
- The author cites this as “the first of the signs by which he displayed his glory; and his followers believed in him” at the conclusion of the narrative (John 2:11).
- The resuscitation of Lazarus from the grave is the eighth and last indication of the end of time (ch.
- This symbol has two significant purposes in the Gospel of Matthew.
- They understand that if they “let him to continue in this manner, everyone will believe in him.” As a result, they determine that they must eliminate him.
- In his final words to Martha before reviving Lazarus, Jesus declares, “I am the resurrection and the life.
- All who believe in Jesus’ resurrection will experience the same resurrection life that he did.
The seven signs of the zodiac demonstrate the significance of symbolism in the Gospel of John. Additionally, this use of symbols may be observed in the seven metaphors, or “I am” statements, that Jesus makes to characterize himself. Sayings that begin with “I am”
- John 2:1–12 explains the significance of the first sign, the transformation of water into wine at Cana of Galilee. It is significant that the miracle occurs at a wedding celebration, as it happens in many cultures. According to the Old Testament, God’s redemption will be celebrated with a huge party—the “messianic feast” that God would host for all of humanity. It will be “a feast of aged wine—the greatest of meals and the finest of wines,” signifying God’s ultimate deliverance, when “he will dissolve the shroud that enfolds all peoples” and “he will swallow up death forever” (Isa 25:6–8
- Cf. Rev 19:9). Jesus implies that God’s final deliverance is on its way by his words and acts when he transforms water into wine. The author refers to this as “the first of the signs by which he displayed his glory
- And his followers believed in him” at the conclusion of the narrative (John 2:11). In order to expose Jesus’ greatness and inspire confidence in him, the sign must be performed. The resurrection of Lazarus from the grave is the seventh and last sign (ch. 11). When it comes to the Gospel, this symbol serves two critical tasks. First and foremost, it is the triggering incident that prompts the religious authorities to take action against Jesus and his disciples. They understand that if they “let him to continue in this manner, everyone will believe in him. Consequently, they resolve to eliminate him. Second, the miracle acts as a preview and prediction of the most significant sign of all—the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which takes place three days later. Martha is told by Jesus before Lazarus is raised that “I am the resurrection and the life.” “Whoever has faith in me will live, even if they die” (John 11:25). All who believe in Jesus’ resurrection will experience the same resurrection life. When it comes to symbolism in John’s Gospel, the seven signs demonstrate its significance. Seven metaphors, or “I am” statements, that Jesus employs to describe himself are other examples of this usage of symbols: Quotes that begin with “I am”
In addition to these seven, Jesus refers to himself in an absolute sense as “I am,” which appears to be a reference to the divine name Yahweh on at least one of the occasions in question. When the Jewish leaders jokingly inquire if Jesus is bigger than Abraham, Jesus says, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). (John 8:58). The use of the absolute “I am” (eg eimi) by Jesus appears to be a reference to the burning bush narrative in Exodus 3, in which Yahweh informs Moses that his divine name is “I am who I am” (meaning “the self-existent one” and a play on the divine name Yahweh), which is a play on the divine name Yahweh.
The Book of Glory (13:1–20:31)
It takes place during Jesus’ last days in Jerusalem and constitutes the second major portion of John’s Gospel. It includes the Last Supper, during which Jesus washes the disciples’ feet (John 13:1–17) and predicts their betrayal (John 13:18–38); Jesus’ farewell address to his disciples, which focuses on the promise of the Holy Spirit and the need to remain connected to Jesus as a vine to its branches (ch. 14–16); his arrest, trial, and crucifixion (ch. 18–19); and the resurrection narrative (ch.
This part is referred to as the “Book of Glory” because Jesus’ redemptive work—his death, resurrection, and exaltation—is referred to as his “glorification” (John 7:39, 8:54, 11:4, 12:16, 12:23, 13:31, 14:13, 17:1, 17:4–5) on a number of occasions (John 7:39, 8:54, 11:4, 12:16, 12:23, 13:31, 14:13, The events of John 13:31, 14:3, 17:1, 17:4 are referred to as “the glorification of God” because they bring glory to God (John 13:31, John 14:3, John 17:1, John 17:4), restore the glory to the Son that he had prior to the incarnation (John 8:54, 11:4, 12:16, 12:23, 17:1, 17:5), and result in our glorification/salvation (John 8:54,
The Epilogue (ch. 21)
After the conclusion of John’s Gospel, there is an Epilogue, which appears to have been inserted after the author’s death. Its purpose is to bring all loose ends together. There is also a second resurrection appearance, as well as a miraculous catch of fish (John 21:1–14), the restoration of Peter after his denial of Jesus (John 21:15–19), and the identification of the author as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20–25), a character who has appeared numerous times in the story (John 13:23, 19:26–27, 20:2, 21:2, 21:7).
This makes sense, given that the Gospel of John refers to him as one of Jesus’ closest disciples, alongside Peter (John 13:24, 18:15, 20:2–7, 21:7, 21:20–25), and that he is associated with Peter as one of Jesus’ closest disciples.
Because James died at a young age (Acts 12:2), John is the most likely contender to take his place.
The apostle John saw his position as standing firm for the truth in the face of those who would reject it (see 1 John 1:1–3, 2:18–27). He stayed devoted to proclaiming the One who was “the way, the truth, and the life” (see 1 John 1:1–3, 2:18–27). (John 14:6).
Gospel According to John
There is an Epilogue at the end of John’s Gospel, which was apparently inserted after the author’s death. In order to complete the task, it must tangle all loose ends. This section includes another resurrection appearance and a miraculous catch of fish (John 21:1–14), the restoration of Peter after his denial of Jesus (John 21:15–19), and the identification of the author as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20–25), a character who has appeared numerous times in the story (John 13:23, 19:26–27, 20:2, 21:2, 21:7, 21:8).
- That this is the case is understandable given that the Gospel of John refers to him as one of Jesus’ closest disciples, alongside Peter (John 13:24–25, 18:15–20), and that he is associated with Peter as one of Jesus’ closest disciples (John 20:2–7).
- James died at an early age (Acts 12:2), which means that John is the most likely contender to be the next king.
- This is according to church tradition.
- He stayed devoted to proclaiming the One who was “the way, the truth, and the life” (see 1 John 1:1–3, 2:20–27).
The Story Of The Storytellers – The Gospel Of John
Among the four canonical gospels, the so-called “spiritual gospel,” which portrays Jesus as a “Stranger from Heaven,” distinguishes apart from the others. authored by Marilyn Mellowes “Beginning with the creation of the Word, and with God from the beginning of time, the Word became God. He was there in the beginning with God, and it was through him that all things were created.” The first lines of the fourth gospel’s prologue give a clue as to the nature of this work: it is distinct from the other three synoptic gospels in that it is written in Greek.
- If Matthew’s Jesus resembles Moses, and Luke’s Jesus like a Greek philosopher or a semi-divine hero, John’s Jesus resembles the Jewish ideal of heavenly Wisdom, and Matthew’s Jesus resembles the Jewish ideal of heavenly Wisdom.
- This Wisdom, who is shown as a lovely lady, dwelt beside God and took part in the process of creation.
- However, she was rejected, and as a result, she returned to God.
- This is a unique characteristic of the Bible.
- In the gospel of John, there are recurring themes of light and darkness: they are not only literary tactics, but rather methods that provide information about the society for whom John’s gospel was written.
- As shown by the gospel itself, its adherents were at odds with the disciples of John the Baptist and were going through a difficult process of separating themselves from Judaism.
- Traditionally, the authorship of the fourth gospel has been attributed to John, the son of Zebedee and an apostle of Jesus, according to tradition.
According to tradition, the city of Ephesus was the site of its composition, while lower Syria or Lebanon are more plausible sites.
The concept of ascension and decline serves as the major motif of this work.
“The Stranger from Heaven,” as Wayne Meeks has described him, is a fictional character.
The believers in John’s community have the ability to look into this spiritual and redemptive universe, whilst their adversaries do not.
The author of John purposefully writes a narrative that may be viewed on two different levels at the same time.
The conflicts between John’s group and its contemporaneous Jewish opponents are purposefully paralleled in this play.
They frequently inquire as to “where you are from?” and “where you are heading.” They believe that Jesus wants to depart overseas, so he reacts by declaring that they are unable to accompany him where he is going.
This narrative explains that the Jews are unable to understand because they are from the darkness, but Jesus and his disciples are from the light: “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this universe, I am not of this universe.” (8:23) The crucifixion of Jesus brings together these ideas of light and darkness, knowing and not knowing, knowledge and not knowing.
- As with the other gospels, the conclusion is not the conclusion.
- Thomas continues to have questions about whether or not the man in front of him is indeed Jesus.
- “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe,” Jesus says in a revealing allusion to people who trust in him.
- He also provides them with reassurance: “Now, in addition to the signs that Jesus performed in the presence of his followers, which are not recorded in this book.
According to Paula Fredriksen’s writing, “They were able to view themselves as they saw their Savior: alone in the darkness, yet the light of the world.
Why the Gospel of John Is Unique
The Gospels are the first four books of the New Testament, and the majority of individuals who have a general comprehension of the Bible are aware of this. Most people also understand, at least on a general level, that the four Gospels each describe a tale of Jesus Christ, including His birth, ministry, teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection, as well as His death and resurrection. What many people are unaware of, however, is that there is a significant distinction between the first three Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which are collectively known as the Synoptic Gospels – and the Gospel of John, which is the fourth Gospel.
In comparison to the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John has several similarities and significant variances.
No one can dispute that John’s Gospel is a marked departure from the other three in terms of tone and substance, as well as content.
It is difficult to understand why John would have produced a chronicle of Jesus’ life that is so dissimilar from the other three Gospels.
Timing Is Everything
There are a number of plausible explanations for the significant discrepancies in substance and style between John’s Gospel and the other three Gospels of the New Testament. The first (and by far the most straightforward) explanation is based on the dates on which each Gospel was written down. The majority of current Bible scholars think that Mark was the first to write his Gospel, which took place between A.D. 55 and 59, according to historical evidence. It is for this reason that the Gospel of Mark presents Jesus’ life and career in a somewhat quick-moving fashion.
- Modern scholars aren’t certain that Mark’s Gospel was followed by either Matthew or Luke, but they are certain that both of those Gospels used Mark’s work as a foundational source for their own works.
- Whichever came first, it’s probable that both Matthew and Luke were written somewhere between the late 50s and early 60s A.D, depending on the source.
- is what this informs us about their composition.
- In other words, because a complete generation had gone since the important events of Jesus’ life occurred, Mark, Matthew, and Luke were under pressure to document them because eyewitness reports and other sources would soon be limited.
- Every one of them was created with the purpose of consciously publicizing the life of Jesus for a specific audience before the time came to do so.
- As early as the early 90s A.D., John composed his narrative of Jesus’ life, more than a generation after the Synoptic writers had recorded their works—perhaps even more than a generation after the Synoptic authors had recorded their works.
- To put it another way, while Matthew, Mark, and Luke were successful in legally codifying Jesus’ tale, John did not feel the need to retain a complete historical record of Jesus’ life because this had already been completed by the other three.
Instead, John was given the freedom to write his own Gospel in a way that represented the many demands of his own time and society.
Purpose Is Important
Secondly, John’s uniqueness among the Gospels may be explained in terms of the key goals for which each Gospel was written and the major themes examined by each Gospel writer, as well as the significant topics addressed by each Gospel writer. When the Gospel of Mark was written in the first century AD, it was largely for the goal of conveying the story of Jesus to a generation of Gentile Christians who had not been there during the events of Jesus’ life. That is why the identification of Jesus as the “Son of God” is a central subject of the Gospel, and it is one of the Gospel’s most important themes (1:1;15:39).
- The Gospel of Matthew was written with a different aim and with a different audience in mind than the other gospels of the Bible.
- In Matthew’s Gospel, one of the most important topics is the connection between Jesus and the Old Testament prophesies and predictions surrounding the coming of the Messiah.
- The Gospel of Luke, like the Gospel of Mark, was originally written largely for a Gentile audience – probably in part because the author himself was a Gentile – and was written in the first person.
- Luke’s Gospel is the first of the New Testament canon (Luke 1:1-4).
- He sought to establish that Jesus’ tale was true.
- In order to give credibility and staying power to the foundation of the fledgling church, the writers wanted the story of Jesus to be told by those who had witnessed it.
- 70, the fledgling church existed largely in the shadow of Jerusalem and Jewish faith.
- In particular, John’s Gospel was written after the destruction of Jerusalem.
- Certainly, the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersal of the church served as one of the impetuses that eventually compelled John to write down his Gospel.
- A similar situation arose with the growth of Gnosticism and other erroneous beliefs associated with Christianity, which provided a chance for John to explain a number of theological principles and ideas through the lens of the account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
The variations in goal between John’s Gospel and the Synoptics go a long way toward explaining the disparities in style and focus between the two gospels.
Jesus Is the Key
Three reasons for the uniqueness of John’s Gospel can be attributed to the various ways in which each Gospel writer concentrated exclusively on the person and activity of Jesus Christ. For example, in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is predominantly shown as the Son of God who is authoritative and capable of performing miracles. When Mark wrote his gospel, he intended to establish Jesus’ identity in the context of a new generation of disciples. As shown in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is seen as a fulfillment of both the Law of Moses and the prophesies of Ezekiel.
In contrast to Matthew’s Gospel, which highlighted Jesus’ position as the long-awaited deliverer of the Jewish people, Luke’s Gospel emphasized Jesus’ role as the Savior of all mankind.
Luke presents Jesus not just as a strong Messiah, but also as a supernatural friend of sinners who came specifically to “seek and rescue the lost,” as the gospel of Luke explains (Luke 19:10).
John, on the other hand, is more concerned with theology than with demography in his picture of Jesus.
All of these disagreements served as a springboard for important discussions and councils in the third and fourth centuries (such as the Council of Nicaea, the Council of Constantinople, and so on) – many of which centred around the enigma of Jesus’ character as both wholly divine and fully human.
What was His personality like?” The early perceptions of Jesus saw Him as a highly nice guy, but not as God in the traditional sense.
Although Jesus speaks of the kingdom 47 times in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the phrase is only spoken by Jesus five times in the Gospel of John, which is a curious fact to consider.
The Book of John is devoted entirely to Jesus’ explanation of His own nature and purpose in the universe.
To put it another way, John went to great lengths to make it very apparent that Jesus was, in fact, God manifested in human form.
The four Gospels of the New Testament are perfect as four pieces of the same tale, and they are all written in the same style. Although the Synoptic Gospels are similar in many respects, the distinctiveness of John’s Gospel adds to the whole account by providing extra information, fresh concepts, and a more completely explained description of Jesus Himself.