The book of John is highly Christological, soteriological and theological. The emphasis of the book is to believe in Christ as the Son of God. This fourth gospel in the canon of the New Testament contains an account of some of the actions and sayings of Jesus of Nazareth. John the apostle amongst the twelve was the only one who could sweep the critical and theological aspects of Jesus' ministry than the Synoptic writers.
Authorship and Date
Critical scholars never acknowledges' John as the writer of the gospel. However, the early church fathers and tradition identifies Him simply as 'the disciple whom Jesus loved' (21:20; 13:23). The question as regards to the date is also debateable. Scholars have dated the book somewhere between 'A.D 70 and 100' since the destruction of the Temple was about this time.
John's gospel is regarded as the second Century theological interpretations of the life of Jesus using the language and thought forms of Hellenistic Philosophy. His gospel has a Jewish background and originated in Palestine by the early traditions and language, due to the curious use of Aramaic grammar in Greek writing. This suggests that the Aramaic was the authors' native language. However, there are Archaeological discoveries which back up the idea that it was a late Hellenistic gospel. In the Dead Sea scrolls was found 'the truth, walking in darkness, Sons of light and Spirit of truth.' John referred to it as the 'fourth gospel' because it appeared after the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. All the four focussed on the events of Jesus' life and Ministry, with minor exceptions to John's gospel because of its structure and approaches. Only in John does Jesus talk at length about Himself and large discussion held with His disciples. His public ministry and miracles not found in the Synoptic, perhaps raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus having become the veneration and the object of John's gospel but, certain elements of the synoptic (parables, the second coming and exorcisms) such are not found in John.
The gospel of John has 21Chapters. The other three portrays what Jesus did and taught, but the gospel of John moved beyond the facts of Jesus' life to deeper meaning. Events and miracles are kept to a minimum as to mark the book a symbol of its kind. The book is structured into two parts a book of 'Signs' and a book of 'glory.'
The Signs portrays the personality of Jesus Christ as the Lord of host and reveals the uniqueness of the father and the Son as the one true God. Scholars calls this the Prologue in (1- 12), and the glory which is Jesus' passion is seen as the epilogue (13-21). The prologue and the epilogue however, are the most Soteriological and theologically aspects of this book which reveals the Logos as the incarnate word of God in the flesh.
It is also the source of His divine personality and we assumed that the manifestation of the power of God is the Glory revealed in Christ. John in his analysis wrote from a close and intimate fellowship with his master, he walked where Jesus walked, and saw the miracles or 'Signs.' He also witnessed the glory of God's Son and the crucified Christ or King on the cross. His risen and triumphant victory over death, John significantly stresses on the events of Jesus' life ministry so that we, too, might believe that Jesus is the Christ.
The book of John has a magnificent purpose: 'these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name (20:31). Certain people think that to believe in Jesus apparently need a definite sign or miracle. But the emphasis in John's writing is that the world might believe in Christ, in order to receive eternal life through Christ as the Son of God. The central theme of the book which is God's love summarises his message. God's divine personality is revealed in Jesus Christ as the one of whom all the worship is due (9:38).
The Christology of John is very high. He revealed Jesus Christ as the manifestation of the eternal word whose immortal Spirit remains ever present with the believing Christians. The gospel gives far more focus to the revealed relation of the Son to the father. One magnificent aspect of John's gospel is that many have used it to unify the oneness of the father, Son and of the Holy Spirit as Trinity (14:17; 15:26).
John includes far more direct claims of Jesus being the only Son of God than the Synoptic gospels. He also focuses on the relation of the redeemer to believers and the announcement of the Holy Spirit as the Comforter (Greek Paraclete), and the prominence of love as an element in the Christians faith.
John is unique among the gospel writers. His book attracts his audience to read. His presentation of Christ as the incarnate word of God Logos (Greek) and his Christological emphasis based on the Person of Christ continues to draw the attention of critical scholars to examine the book. The Soteriological and theological aspects of the book cannot be underestimated. The glorious ramifications and the unification aspects of John gospel is the use of the word 'logos and oneness of the father, Son and of the Holy Spirit. John is a unique book that every theological minded person would like to read.
- Drane, John: Introducing the New Testament, (Lion Publishing plc, Oxford, UK, 1986).
- Hodder and Stoughton, NIV Study Bible, (UK: Zondervan: 2008).
- Milne, Bruce, The Message of John, (Inter-Varsity Press, Nottingham, UK, Zondervan: 2008).
- Kuzmic, Peter: The Gospel of John, (Global University, Springfield MI: 2003).
- Youngblood R. F., Bruce F.F., Harrison R. K., (New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Thomas Nelson Inc. Nashville, TN: 1995).
- Milne, The Message of John, 15.
- John Drane, Introducing The New Testament, (Lion Publishing Plc, Oxford, UK,1986) 197.
- Drane, Introducing The New Testament, 196.
- Tenney as quoted by Peter Kuzmic, The Gospel of John, (Global University, Springfield, MI: 2003), 7.
- R. F. Youngblood, F.F. Bruce, R. K. Harrisson, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN: 1995), 693.
- Milne, The Message of John, 30.
- Milne, The Message of John, 24.
- Milne, 32-33.