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John Overview

According to John 20:21 & 24, this gospel was written by “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” From the early church onward, it has been believed that this was John, the brother of James, and son of Zebedee.

The church father Irenaeus taught that John wrote the Gospel while residing in Ephesus (A.D. 66-98).

John is also a member of the 50-chapter club, having written exactly 50 chapters of the Bible: this gospel, 3 letters, and the book of Revelation.

Matthew’s gospel was primarily directed to the Jews; Mark’s to Romans; Luke’s to Gentiles. John’s perspective was to all!

Writing after the other gospel writers, John’s gospel contains much that is not in the synoptic gospels, and even takes a different approach.

From the beginning, John’s gospel is theologically centered history; in other words, he interprets and teaches even as he reports.

In the first 12 chapters Jesus is clearly testified about as the Eternal Creator who has become a man to save humans from their sins.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created.                  -John 1:1-3

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory of the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.            -John 1:14

No one has ever seen God, the One and Only Son- the One who is at the Father’s side – He has revealed Him.   -John 1:18

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.      -John 3:16-17

The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.   -John 3:36

Unless you believe that I Am, you will die in your sins.    -John 8:24

I and the Father are One.           -John 10:30

This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent – Jesus Christ. I have glorified You on the earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. Now Father, glorify Me in Your presence with that glory I had with You before the world existed.         -John 17:3-5

John includes just 7 miracles that show Jesus is omnipotent, omniscient, and through the Spirit omnipresent. He is Lord over the moral realm, physical realm, and spiritual realm.

The first is Jesus changing water into wine, showing He can change one thing into another!

One of them includes Him being in one place while healing someone at another physical location!

The last of these is the resurrection of Lazarus, prefiguring His own coming resurrection.

John also includes 23 “I Am” statements that equate Himself with YHWH, the “Great I Am” Moses spoke to at the burning bush.

These statements include 7 memorable metaphors:

“I Am the Bread of Life.”                    -John 6:35, 41, 48, 51

I am the living bread that came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever.

“I Am the Light of the World. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”             -John 8:12

“I Am the Door of the Sheep. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved.”                    -John 10:7, 9

“I Am the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. I know my own sheep, and they know Me.”                    -John 10:11, 14

“I Am the Resurrection and the Life, the one who believes in Me will live even if they die.”   -John 11:25

“I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by Me.”  -John 14:6

“I Am the True Vine, you are the branches; if you abide in Me, you’ll bear much fruit, but without Me you can do nothing.”                        -John 15:1, 5

John has many memorable instances of Jesus reaching out with God’s love to non-Jewish people and outcasts of society.

The Samaritan woman in chapter four, who is much quicker to receive Him than Nicodemus the Jewish leader was.

The Roman Official’s son

The blind man!

As Jesus continued to teach these things about Himself as God and the only way to experience eternal life, the religious establishment grew in their hostility toward him.

A key passage is John 5, where Jesus refers them to four witnesses to Himself.

Do you remember what they were?

John the Baptist     (John 1:29)

His miracles

The Father

The Prophecies of Old Testament Scriptures

We also get key information in John’s gospel to understand the difference between Jesus’ first and second coming.

That comes by reconciling a couple of seemingly contradictory statements.

John 3:17 told us that the Son came not to judge but to save.

But verses like John 5:22 tell us indeed that Jesus has been granted the right to pass judgment.

How do we reconcile those two?

First Coming – salvation mission, die as an atoning sacrifice!     John 1:29

Suffering Servant

Second Coming – set up earthly kingdom!

Conquering King

Of course, it is in rejection of Jesus that the judgment is built in---

If anyone hears My words and doesn’t keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who reject Me and doesn’t accept My sayings has this as his judge: the word I have spoken will judge him on the last day.           -John 12:47-48

John’s gospel also helps us reflect on the incarnation of Jesus, and what it meant for God to be in Heaven and on earth at the same time.

Some of the cults make Jesus less than God because of the statements He makes in John’s gospel about being subordinate to the Father.

Then Jesus replied, “I assure you, the Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way.”     -John 5:19

Now think about how difficult it is to explain a mystery like God in flesh, fully God and fully man at the same time. Words almost escape us.

It certainly won’t work to grab a verse out of context that illustrates only part of what was going in Jesus’ time on earth, like His submission to the Father, and use that to reject His deity and claim He did not share in divine glory in eternity past when other verses say He did before He came, and does again now in Heaven!

Let me draw this out for you…

My Drawing:

Eternal Son of God                                        Eternal Son of God, Son of Man


                                                                      Exalted Flesh                   Judge, Ruler


                                        Son of Man (Model life, Savior from sin)

                                        Phil 2:5-11 

Another great mystery John gives us to appreciate is God’s initiative and man’s response in salvation.

Nowhere in scripture is there a greater concentration of “whosoever will” type verses.

-Receive Him, you get to become a child of God. Believe, you have eternal life.-

But John also makes clear that If anyone ever is truly saved, it is because of God’s initiative in their life.

In John 3 Jesus told Nicodemus he had to born again, born from above, born by the mysterious working of the Holy Spirit.

The good news in this is that if a person is truly born again, something supernatural has happened to them, and they will never lose that salvation.

Read John 10:26-29

Later Peter wrote, “Make every effort to make your calling and election sure.”

Another key passage is John 7:38-39, that helps us understand how to interpret the Old and New Testaments, and lets us know that believers in Jesus now receive the indwelling Holy Spirit!

Each gospel is divided into two main parts.

The first part of each gospel establishes his credentials as God the Son, the long- awaited Messiah who has come to earth.

Each gospel shows how Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, shows Him doing miracles that demonstrate His power and authority, and giving teaching that clarifies what God expects of mankind.

Jesus is shown to be the Lord over the physical realm, the moral realm, and the spiritual realm.

And then each gospel takes a turn and highlights what we call Jesus’ passion week, when He dies in the place of sinners on the cross, fulfilling Old Testament passages like Isaiah 53 that foretold the Messiah’s substitionary atonement.

The reason it is called the passion week is because the word passion means,   “an outburst of strong emotion or feeling,” and describes the passion with which Christ embraced the call to suffer and die to save repentant sinners.

In Matthew, Christ’s passion week is 25 % of the gospel (chapters 21-28).

In Mark, Christ’s passion week is 44 % of the gospel (chapters 11-16).

In Luke, Christ’s passion week is 25 % of the gospel (chapters 19-24).

In John, Christ’s passion week is 48 % of the gospel (chapters 12-21).

Here are a few of the things that are unique to John’s gospel.

John’s gospel is the only one that has the stirring account of Jesus washing the disciples feet!

Read John 13:1-7            Jesus was secure enough to serve!

He knew who He was in relationship with the Father, so He didn’t think Himself in any way demeaned by serving their basic needs!                 Mark 10:45

He did this to model for us what He expects of us:

Read John 13:12-17        You also ought to wash one another’s feet!

We are to serve one another in love, just as Jesus did for us!

Basic Christianity, modeled for us by our Lord and Savior!

John’s gospel clearly teaches some of the greatest doctrines of our faith, but also makes clear that doctrine is not enough!

“I spend half my time teaching that doctrine is vital, and the other half teaching that doctrine is not enough.”       -Martin D. Lloyd-Jones

After Jesus washes their feet, Judas leaves the presence of the disciples to go out and betray Jesus.

And then John remembered the stirring words that Jesus shared after that.

John is the only gospel that has Jesus’ Upper Room discourse where Jesus gives the most concise teaching in ALL of the Bible on what Jesus wants from His followers.

In Matthew 5-7 Jesus had given the summary of how He wanted His followers to live ethically and morally.

In the Olivet Discourse recorded in the Synoptic gospels, Jesus tells His disciples He expects them to live in a readiness mindset before He comes back for them.

But in the Upper Room, Jesus intimately portrays for disciples of all time the great themes He wants to characterize their lives.

Great themes of the Christian life presented in the Upper Room Discourse (John 14-17):

Jesus wants our lives to be characterized by love (13:34-35)

Jesus wants our lives to be characterized by belief in the Triune God (14:1-9)

Jesus wants our lives to bear fruit for the glory of God (14:12; 15:8)

Jesus wants us to pray in His name, according to His will of kingdom advance (14:13)

Jesus wants us to obey His commands, what is taught us in the Bible (14:15)

Jesus wants us to live the Spirit directed life (14:16-18)

Jesus wants us to abide in our relationship with Him (John 15:5)

Jesus wants us to persevere amidst suffering and persecution (15:18-20; 16:1-4; 16:33)

Jesus wants them to begin experiencing eternal life NOW (17:1-5)

John’s gospel is the only one that contains Christ’s High Priestly prayer for all who will ever believe (John 17)

Read 17:20-26

John’s gospel lets us know that Nicodemus probably became a child of God!

Read 19:38-42

John’s gospel has the restoration of Peter and the call to feed Christ’s sheep!

Read 21:15-19

The exchange about John!

Read 21:20-25

John’s gospel wonderfully highlights the essentials:

Read John 20:30-31

Jesus is God!

If you believe in Him you’ll receive eternal life.

Eternal life is characterized by a growing relationship with Jesus.

Go out into the world and love others in acts of service and words of truth.

Feed God’s sheep as you withstand troubles together and await Christ’s return!