The Bible really is a wonderfully exciting Book. It’s not just a ‘book’… it is the Word of God. While all the Gospels are intended to be “redemptive” in their recording of the life of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of John takes a direction unlike the others. The writer sets out plainly his purpose in John 20:30 “… these things are written that you might believe, and that believing you might have life…” He is not (seems to me) writing with the idea of chronology, but rather infallible, un-get-over-able proofs intended to convince the reader that Jesus is who he says he is… the “Son of Man,” the Son of God. Such a purpose in writing surely grabs the attention of any who read. Comparing this gospel with the other three, one is also impressed by the things included which are not mentioned by the other Gospel writers, without which we would be missing so much in the over-all picture and story of the life and times of Jesus the Son of Man, Son of God. I hate to think of a Bible without the Gospel message of John.
The more one studies this Gospel, the more one finds. The more one finds, the more one is referred to other passages which relate in principle and given a ‘richer’ understanding.
This study will not be an ‘Exhaustive Commentary.’ It is a devotional study which includes questions for thinking and study. I will be including some notes from dad’s devotional study on John which he did while living in the “Eastside Village Estates” in Lake City, Florida. I will also be using William Barclay’s “The Daily Study Bible” Devotional Commentary, and a few times the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries “The Gospel of john” by R. V. G. Tasker. However, I will be doing a lot of my own thinking while using (for the most part) the New International Study Bible.
Let’s begin then our Devotional Study Class of this amazing Gospel written by the apostle John. As Barclay says, “It is an amazing book. It can be read and loved without any commentary at all. Throughout the generations simple people have fed their hearts and nourished their souls on it with nothing but the text of the Authorized Version in their hands” (pg. ix). My goal in writing and teaching is to grow in grace right along with you.
Amazing things left out of this Gospel:
1.) The Birth of Christ
2.) The Baptism of Jesus
3.) The Temptation of Christ in the wilderness
4.) The Healing of those possessed by Devils and Evil spirits
5.) The stories and parables of Jesus
6.) The Last Supper
8.) The Ascension of Christ after His resurrection
The other Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke do include these things. Actually this may be a bit surprising to many, but the Gospel writers are different, and write with different audiences in mind. (It’s the same with writers today.) Keep always in mind, John writes with the Greeks (Gentiles) in mind, and his purpose is simple… “THAT YOU MIGHT BELIEVE. (John 20:30-31)”
Things included in John’s Gospel:
1.) The Marriage Feast (2)
2.) The conversation with Nicodemus (3)
3.) The Woman of Samaria (4)
4.) The Resurrection of Lazarus (11)
5.) The Washing of the Disciple’s Feet (13)
6.) The extensive teaching on the Comforter (Holy Spirit) (14-17)
7.) Thomas (11)(14)(20)
8.) Andrew (1)(6)
9.) Phillip (6)(14)
10.) Judas (12)
Keeping John’s audience and purpose in mind will do a couple of things: 1.) It will force you to stay on topic instead of going off in all directions, 2.) It will make you think!
A couple of good rules to keep in mind are: 1.) Context is king, 2.) The “plainest thing is the mainest thing,” 3.) Find out how the intended readers understood what John wrote “there and then,” before applying it “here and now.” 4.) Dig into the culture of the day.
Why are there differences in the Gospel accounts? 1.) The main reasons seem to be because of the different audiences to which the four Gospels were written. This helps in understanding the different styles of writing.
Matthew writes largely to the Jewish reader.
Mark is written with the Roman mind in view. The Romans would seem to be a people who would be interested in the ACTION (miracles and teaching) of Jesus rather than a lot of arguments and details which would appeal to the Jewish mind. Mark is to the point… and a ‘let’s move on’ type writer.
Luke (a doctor, (Colossians 4:14), seems to write to Gentile readers with great historical details (while addressing his work specifically to Theophilus, (Luke 1:3).
John writes with the Greek mind in view. He uses terms they are acquainted with, like “logos” (word) (John 1:1). He uses this and leads his readers to a comparison unexpected, as he says Christ is the eternal “Word”. My opinion is that John’s audience believed that ‘the gods spoke’, but John takes their word, and says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. HE WAS WITH GOD IN THE BEGINNING” (John 1:1-2). This “Word”, “became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14a). The New International Version Study Bible (Notes on John 1:1) says, “(The) Greek “logos”, a term Greeks used not only of the spoken word, but also the unspoken word, the word still in the mind – the reason. When they applied it to the Universe, they meant the rational principle that governs all things.”
In either case, John has gotten the attention of his readers, starting straight out the gate with dealing with the Deity of Jesus Christ!
One foundational teaching you will find in the book of John is THE DEITY OF JESUS CHRIST. Just take a look at the following verses…
1.) Jesus speaks of His ‘pre-existence’, (John 8:58).
2.) Jesus speaks of the “glory” He had before the world was created, (John 17:5).
3.) Jesus speaks of His “coming down” from heaven as “the bread of God”, (John 6:32f) 4.) Jesus speaks of being “sent from the Father”, (John 8:42).
5.) Jesus speaks of Himself as the “I AM” (Eternal God), (John 8:58).
(Compare Exodus 3:14)
Another foundational teaching is often called the “I AM’s” of Jesus…
1.) “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35).
2.) “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).
3.) “I am the gate” (John 10:9).
4.) “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11)
5.) “I am who I am” (John 13:19).
6.) “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:11).
7.) “I am the true vine” (John 15:1).
All of these speak of how Jesus not only ‘saw’ Himself, but in reality was…. Each of these speaks of a special ‘picture’ if you please, as THE ONE AND ONLY ANSWER TO MANKIND’S LOST CONDITION. Without Jesus, we would be totally without hope!
We are almost finished with this introduction, which is obviously a bit detailed… I hope you will stay with me in this because it is important to understand at least a bit as to the background of the book being studied.
“For 70 years, John thought about Jesus.” “Time reveals so very much….
1.) John wrote WHAT Jesus meant – not just about words which Jesus spoke.
2.) John remembered Jesus’ words, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:12-13).
3.) John also remembered what Jesus said, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).
4.) John remembered and reflected on the Resurrection power of His Lord being raised from the dead… It was amazing!!! (John 20:17-23).” (“Dad’s Class Notes” “Introduction”)
It must have been wonderful, as John would drift off to sleep with thoughts of Jesus… His hands pierced, His feet pierced, His side pierced… but ETERNALLY ALIVE!!! Jesus is more than words on a page to be studied for an hour or two each week as a part of religious obligation. Heaven forbid… Jesus is the Word, and He is the hope of the world. We cannot learn too much about Jesus. We cannot be accused of being “Bible worshippers” for we are not. We love and worship Jesus, the Son of God. The “Lamb of God”, the anti type of the serpent, raised up in the wilderness for the healing of all mankind (John 3). (“Amen walls!”)
Just some final details…. John’s Gospel was (traditionally) written towards the end of the first century (85-90AD), while some say he wrote around 50AD. Written (traditionally) from Ephesus where a congregation of the Lord’s people had been established (“Dad’s Notes” Introduction).
Now as we begin our study, just understand that God’s word is inspired of God. God’s word does not change… but the purpose of His word is to CHANGE US.
Again, this brief “Devotional Study of John” is not meant to be exhaustive… and it sure isn’t perfect. I just want to grow in grace and help you grow as well.