We are going to start studying the Gospel of John in our 20s & 30s class starting tomorrow. I will probably end up posting a few things on it as we go. There are a couple of things that stand out from the very beginning. The biggest thing, of course, is the differences between John and the synoptic gospels (Matthew ,Mark, & Luke). John leaves out many of the main stories of the other three gospels (Jesus’ baptism and subsequent wilderness temptations, Peter’s confession, the Last Supper. He leaves out many of the miracles and even the parables.
Mark leads up to the revelation that Jesus is indeed the Son of God halfway through his Gospel. Up to that point, Jesus urges people not to talk about him as the messiah. John hits us with it in the very first sentence – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” Surprise! Without this piece of knowledge on the front end, the reader would left to struggle through Jesus’ teachings from that point on. Jesus makes no bones about it – he is divine.
I am also struck by the simplicty of John’s words (his Greek is among the simplist in the NT) and the complexity of his meaning. Several of John’s major themes and words are used in several different ways. There is also a lot of confusion over Jesus teaching as Jesus shifts the meaning of his teaching from earthly things (water at the well or being born again) to the heavenly things (living water or born of water and of Spirit).
What has stood out to you about the Gospel of John?
Im so glad you are doing a class through John. When I got my first preaching job we spent the first few months I was there going through the John’s Gospel. It is my favorite of all of the accounts of the life of Jesus because it was written by one of his closest friends, it really emphasizes love, and it really delves into the deep questions about the identity of Christ.
I also love the way Eugene Peterson interprets John 1, He says that God became man and moved into the neighborhood. How beautiful is that? Not only did God make a visit to earth, but he actually met us where we were, lived in our circumstances, faced our problems. dealt with our needs and wants, and really lived among the people that he loved so much.
I pray blessings on this study, as John’s Gospel has impacted me as much as any book in the bible.
John 6:66 is a pivotal point in the Gospel … From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. Thus begins the journey to the cross in a more vivid way … and a revelation of the fickle hearts of men … I always think of this as a turning point in the story and I remember that it is a turning point in my own story too many times.
The first words of John (the “Prologue”) are deceptively simple, and of course they have become some of the most battled-over in debate. Was “John” saying that the Word (Logos) was God, or “divine,” or as the JWs have it, “a god”?
I do not think anyone can understand these words or really understand “John” without a knowledge of Philo of Alexandria, who stated that there is a “second” God — an emanation of the first. That is precisely what the Greek of John is saying:
“In the beginning was the LOGOS and the LOGOS was with TON THEON (God, the “High God,” the “Father”) and THEOS was the LOGOS.”
The Greek here makes a distinction between the “first” God of Philo, “TON THEON,” the “High God” who is invisible (“no man has seen God at any time” and the Logos, the “second” God who is the visible “image of the Father,” and who is GOD by nature but still not the “Father.” All this is obscured in English grammar and its upper and lower case letters, but in Greek the whole thing, including the statement that the Logos created all things, is right out of Philo.
In the New Testament, and to many of the early Christians, Jesus was Yahweh — the God of Israel, the “Angel of the Lord” but not the unmanifested, invisible “High God,” not the “Father.”
Again, I don’t think anyone can really understand John without Philo.
Personally, I think a study of the Synoptics and of their their relationship to John is a conclusive argument against biblical infallibility. Matthew and Luke are just Mark with some revision and a prologue and epilogue (which mutually disagree) added. And John goes his own way.
I love the depth of the intro; that this is not just a once upon a time kind of story. It begins at the very beginning, and reaches far past our imagination can truly take us. I love the polarity of the book (light/darkness). I also really love the eyewitness point of view that John speaks from. Blessings in your study.
Mark, I have three main reasons that I like John’s Gospel.
First, he deals so much with major concepts: love, life, truth, belief, light, and unity, among others. These recur throughout the Gospel, making it very cohesive.
Second, he focuses so much on the intimate relationships between Jesus and individuals: the Samaritan Woman, Nicodemus, the Man Born Blind, the Paralyzed Man at the Pool of Bethesda. These show us how Jesus relates to us, and how we should relate to others.
Third, the Farewell Discourse and Jesus’ Prayer fot he Disciples have so much theological meat in them concerning the Holy Spirit, our life in Christ, assurance of heaven, and so many other fundamental issues.
Gary Hollaway has an excellent book on JOhn and Jeff walling has a wonderful book on the last half of the book of John; I can’t remember the title right now because the book is over in the office. But is a fantastic book over the part of John where it is just Jesus and the disciples talking about what is to take place. When I find out I’ll let you know the name if you don’t get the name of the book before I give it to you. I love the book of John it is an excellent study. One of my faves. I know you are going to enjoy it as well as your group of 20’s and 30’s.
Keeping you and your family in my prayers always.
I just remembered the title of the Jeff Walling book, “Until I Return”