Encountering the New Testament, 4th Edition

A Historical and Theological Survey

series: Encountering Biblical Studies


7. The Gospel of John

Chapter Intro Video

Chapter Objectives

  • Contrast John with the other Gospels
  • Present the evidence for John’s authorship of this Gospel
  • Demonstrate John’s emphasis on the divine glory of Christ
  • Illustrate how the challenge to Jesus’s humanity is met in the Gospel of John
  • List the beliefs a follower of Christ should have
  • Identify the individuals John notes as having held these beliefs

Chapter Summary

  1. The Gospel of John differs from Matthew, Mark, and Luke because 90 percent of it has no direct parallel with these three: it postulates a ministry of three years rather than one, it focuses on different parts of Jesus’s teachings, and it emphasizes Jesus’s ministry in a different manner.

  2. John, the son of Zebedee, wrote the Gospel of John in the AD 90s in Ephesus.

  3. The fact that Jesus is God incarnate in human flesh is found in passages that (a) emphasize his divine qualities, (b) focus on Jesus as God’s unique divine representative, and (c) show Jesus as the fulfillment of Israel’s and all humanity’s hopes.

  4. John emphasizes Jesus’s human nature in many incidents, including (a) traveling with his mother and brothers, (b) asking for a drink of water in Samaria, (c) crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat, (d) spitting on the ground to make mud for the blind man’s eyes, (e) weeping over Lazarus’s death, (f) washing his disciples’ feet, and (g) dying and being buried.

  5. John represents the principle of faith in his Gospel and makes clear that only those who believe in Christ will receive the gift of eternal life.

  6. John notes many people who believed in Christ, starting with John the Baptist.

  7. The Gospel of John has many themes but all flow out of the basic truth that Jesus is a divine and human savior who was sent by God for us to believe in and follow.

Study Questions

  1. How is the Gospel of John different from the Synoptics?

  2. Why are Irenaeus’s reflections on his childhood important for understanding John?

  3. How does John emphasize Jesus’s divine essence?

  4. How did Jesus fulfill Israel’s hopes?

  5. How is Jesus’s humanity emphasized in John?

  6. What is the importance of “faith” in John’s Gospel?