The most major component I find in my spiritual life is the discipline of Bible Study. While I do this both professionally and academically, there is a need for it to be done for a personal purpose. No matter how you study the Bible, as Christians we must remember that our goal is ultimately to learn more of God. After all, we claim to have a relationship with God, how can we say that if we are not paying attention to the actual words we have of Him. Because of this, I believe it is foundational here at the HMB that we have fairly regular Bible studies. Starting today we will begin our study of the Gospel of John. This week will be an overview of the Gospel and some general ideas. Starting next week we will be working through the book a chapter at a time, week-by-week.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” — 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Traditionally, the Gospel of John was understood to be written by the Apostle/Disciple of the same name. This comes from the writing style being fairly similar to that of other books we know to have been written by John (1, 2, 3 John and Revelation). The Gospel was written sometime in the later part of the first century AD to the early part of the second. This would put it at the end of the Apostle’s life who died at the turn of the century.
“In the beginning was the Word…” — John1:1
As with all of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke), the Gospel of John tells the life of Christ, however, John has some major differences in the way Jesus’ life is told. For instance, the Synoptics start with Jesus’ human life and John starts with Jesus’ divinity. I believe that this difference sets up the way that this Gospel is very different from the others. They Synoptics all start with Either Jesus’ family or the beginning of his ministry, where he begins the work of “proving” himself. However, John takes a different approach. John begins with testimonies over who Jesus is. It really is not until you get to chapter 4 that we find the narrative go away from testimonies and focus on Jesus’ miraculous ministry. First, we hear of John the Baptist’s testimony about /the baptism of Jesus/. There are a few stories of Jesus beginning his ministry in Galilee, but ultimately this beginning section sets up how the Gospel will function as a testimony of who Jesus was.
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” — John 8:31-32
In John’s Gospel, he has Jesus make three distinct trips to Jerusalem. I personally like to notice this point. In the Synoptics, Jesus only goes to Jerusalem to be crucified yet he is still shown to be a good, Law abiding Jew. If this last point is true about Jesus, he would have had to go to Jerusalem at least three times during his three-year ministry as it was required of Jews to make annual pilgrimages to the Temple to participate in festivals. In this way, John is making the same claim of Jesus following the Law but is more subtle about it than his counterparts.
Quite a bit of John’s Gospel takes place during Holy Week, beginning with chapter 12 and ending in 19, but his final trip to Jerusalem actually begins in chapter 7 (making this the vast majority of his Gospel). If what someone spends the most time with shows their priorities, clearly, John believed this was the most important point of Jesus’ life. Ultimately, John seeks to show that Jesus is in fact divine through many testimonies, which culminates in the events of Holy Week.
“Therefore many other sign Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” — John 20:30-31
Next Thursday we will be taking a look at the first chapter of John. Over the next week, consider at least reading that chapter if not the entire Gospel. Good Bible study uses lots of resources. So sit down with your Bible, commentary, concordance, or a cup of coffee and join me as go through the Gospel of John.
Questions, Comments, Concerns? Leave a comment or send me a message.