Book of John 约翰福音

THE GOSPEL OF JOHN

INTRODUCTION


I.    Background

    A.    Author

1.    It is generally accepted that the author of the Gospel of John was the apostle John, the son of Zebedee and brother of James.  The Gospel itself, however, does not name its author.  The only reference in the book to the author is the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (21:20, 24).

2.    The apostle John is usually believed to be the author because the Gospel contains many signs of being written by someone who was an eyewitness to the life and ministry of Jesus.


    B.    Purpose for Writing

1.    John included a more precise statement of purpose in his Gospel than the other Gospel writers did.

2.    From John’s statement in 20:31, we see:

a.    He was selective.  His Gospel suggests that much more could have been written regarding Jesus, but only selected events are recorded.

b.    His Gospel is evangelistic.  John wanted others to believe in Jesus Christ and receive eternal life.

c.    His Gospel focuses strongly on the identity of Jesus.  Jesus is not only Israel’s Messiah, He is the Word of God – the Son of God.


C.    Date of Writing

1.    Most interpreters have concluded that the Gospel of John was the last of the four Gospels to be written.

2.    Most likely, it was written between A.D. 60 and 90.


D.    Recipients

1.    It is not completely clear who John’s recipients were.  Some believe he wrote to Jewish Christians.  Others believed he wrote to the Jews who had been driven out of Palestine by persecution and scattered to various parts of the world.

2.    John’s Gospel could have addressed early Christians as they worshiped and witnessed.  Some believe it was not really written to any specific group but to the world at large.

3.    Therefore, looking at all three possible target audiences – Jewish, Gentile, and Christian – and all three time frames – past, present, and future – the Gospel of John  was sent out into the world to convince people that Jesus Christ was God’s Son, the Savior, and to challenge them to faith in Him.


E.    Theological Significance of John’s Gospel

1.    From the Gospel of John we learn much about God as Father.  We are indebted to John for our habit of referring to God as “the Father.”

2.    The Gospel of John focuses on Jesus Christ throughout.  It is clear that God has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.  God is active in Christ, the Savior of the world, bringing about the salvation He has planned (4:42).

3.    John’s Gospel tells us more about the Holy Spirit than the other Gospels. The Spirit is active at the start of Jesus’ ministry (1:32), but the Spirit’s full work was to begin after Jesus completed His ministry on earth and went to be with the Father (7:37-39).  The Spirit brings life (3:1-8), a life of the highest quality (10:10), and leads believers in the way of truth (16:13).  In this way, the Spirit multiplies Jesus’ ministry for and through Christians of all times.


G.    Ethical Significance of John’s Gospel

1.    In response to the work of God in their lives, Christians are to be characterized by love (13:34-35).  

2.    Christians owe all they have to the love of God, and it is proper that they respond to that love by loving God and other people.


H.    Basic Outline

        1.    Introduction (1:1-2:11)

        2.    Jesus’ Public Ministry (2:12-4:54)

        3.    Opposition to Christ (5:1-12:50)

        4.    Final Words and Deeds of Christ (13:1-21:25)



I.    What Is a “Gospel”?

1.    The word gospel comes from the Anglo-Saxon word godspell, which literally means “good news.”  It is a story of the good news of Jesus Christ.

2.    Within the New Testament, the Greek word which is translated gospel always refers to oral communication, never to a document or piece of literature.

3.    Not until the beginning of the second century and the writings of the church fathers do references to gospels – written documents – occur.

4.    Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the “synoptic” Gospels.  The word synoptic means “to see with one eye.”  They are called this because their view of Jesus is similar.  They share much of the same content, order, and wording while having marked differences.


II.    Introduction


    A.    The Meaning of the Term Word to John’s First Readers:

1.    To the Jews the term word referred to “power.”  It was the Word of God that “spoke” the world into being.

2.    To the Greeks it referred to “principle.”  It was the rational principle or rational mind that rules the universe.

3.    To the Christians the “Word” was a “proclamation.”  It referred to the preaching of the Gospel.


    B.    “The Word was God” (vv.1-3)

1.    No other book in the Bible has an introduction as openly theological as does the Gospel of John.

a.    First, John makes a clear and decisive statement regarding the nature of Jesus: “The Word was God.”  John wanted it known that Jesus Christ is fully God in human form.  “The Word” here is more than reason, more than mere word; it is more than wisdom personified.  The term designates a Person, distinct from and yet co-eternal and identical in essence with God.  In other words, when John says that the Word “was” God, he means that there never has been a time when this was not true.  Jesus has existed as God from eternity past and into the eternal future.  

b.    And yet, John makes it clear that while he equates the Word with God, the Word is distinct from the Father.  This fact is described for most Christians with the word “Trinity,” which refers to the teachings in the Bible that God is Three in One; He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This doctrine exists because the Bible teaches this truth, yet it truly is impossible fully to understand with our present mental abilities.  If God could be fully understood by human beings, He would not truly be God.


    C.    The Purpose of the Word (vv. 4-5)

1.    Christ, the Word, brings life, a life that serves as the “light” for all people.  The life that Christ offers is not temporal; it is eternal.  It is of God.  The questions and concerns of this world that find no ultimate answers are met by the Light that pierces all darkness with the brilliance of truth; yet this truth has been rejected.

2.    John expresses two purposes with the concepts of light and life:

a.    Jesus Christ came into the world to reveal the person and character of God.

b.    Christ came to redeem people.

3.    The Word that existed prior to creation has now become human in a person, Jesus Christ.  The Word is now living among mankind, displaying the glory of God and shining the Light of life in a dark, sinful world.


    D.    The World and the Word (1:6-18)

1.    Jesus as the Light.  The Word has come into the world as a Person.  The witness to that Person will be given by another person.  That witness is a man sent by God – John the Baptist.  His purpose is to lead people to believe in the Light, who is Jesus (1:35-37).  Jesus’ Light is a witness to all people.  Those who respond to His witness will become children of God by divine creation (1:12-13).

2.    The Word becomes flesh (v. 14).  In verse 14 we have one of the most profound statements in all history.  The Word who created everything became a human being – lived in a particular place and time in history.  This Word dwelled among us.  


    E.    John the Baptist’s Role (1:19-28)

1.    John now explains the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.  John the Baptist was sent from God (1:6), but John was not himself the light (v. 8).  He came as a witness to Christ (vv. 7, 15).

2.    John the Baptist offered the words of the prophet Isaiah about the nature of his identity: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’” (See Isa. 40:3).  John denied being either Isaiah or Elijah, as some proposed.  

3.    In the Gospel of John we see a threefold purpose for John’s testimony:

    a.    To fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3

    b.    To call people to repentance

  c.    To draw people’s attention toward the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.


    F.    The Lamb of God (1:29-34)

1.    John the Baptist’s confession upon seeing Jesus – that here was “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (v. 29) – was of great significance.  Jesus is the true sacrificial Lamb; His death would serve as the deliverance of God’s people from their sins.

2.    John the Baptist then gave testimony that he saw “the Spirit come down and remain” on Jesus (v. 32).  This confirmed to John that Jesus was the Messiah.  Then he declared: “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God” (v. 34).


    G.    Jesus Calls His Disciples (1:35-51)

      1.    Andrew and Another Disciple (vv. 35-42)

a.    The calling of Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was the direct result of John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus as the Lamb of God.  John did not name the second disciple mentioned in the story, but some believe it was the apostle John himself.

b.    After spending an evening with Jesus, Andrew found his brother and made a startling announcement: “We have found the Messiah” (v. 41).  He then brought Simon to Jesus.  Upon encountering Simon, Jesus gave him a new nickname, Cephas.

              2.    Philip and Nathaniel (vv. 43-51)

a.    Jesus took the initiative in calling Philip.  His simple invitation was, “Follow Me” (v. 43).  

b.    Philip then shared his experience with Christ to another, Nathaniel.  He gave testimony to Nathaniel that the One to whom the Scriptures gave witness had been found.  At first, Nathaniel was skeptical, but upon meeting Jesus, he turned from his skepticism to faith.