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John

General

In terms of structure, the Gospel of John differs from the other Gospels. This is mainly due to the special character of John's description, in which the emphasis is much more on the Divine of the Lord Jesus Christ than on the human (see further under 'Purpose and destiny').

Writer and origin

We do not find the author's name in this Gospel. We do not even encounter the name John in this book of the Bible as an indication of this disciple / apostle. It does concern other persons who bear the name John, such as John the Baptist and John, the father of Simon Peter. Thus we see that Johannes as a writer keeps himself completely in the background, thus giving the One about whom he is writing much more credit.

What does occur is a description by which he refers to himself: "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7 and 20). Note that this is about the fact that Jesus loved him; hence this word serve.

In addition to this gospel, John wrote the three letters of John and the book of Revelation. Only in this last book of the Bible does he mention his name: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to shew His servants the things which must shortly come to pass, and which He shewed to His servant John by the sending of His angel" (Jn. Revelation 1:1). 

The name John is the Greek form of the Hebrew Yochanan, meaning "The LORD is gracious."

It is generally believed that John wrote his Gospel towards the end of the first century. Although others believe it was written a little earlier.

Purpose and destination

We might take John 2:11 as a short description of the purpose and destiny of this gospel: "...He revealed His glory, and His disciples believed on Him." This also ties in with chapter 1:14: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

Although this gospel has a universal character, given what is said in Galatians 2:9 about the apostleship of John, we must nevertheless assume that his message was primarily aimed at the circumcised. In particular, the signs performed by the Lord (see under 'Content') also point to this. The signs were destined to reveal His glory. The moment when the glory of the LORD is especially revealed is His return, when His glory appears in the midst of His people.

At the same time, we may conclude that this gospel appeals to a wide circle of people. The attitude and state in which Israel finds herself and which are precisely illustrated in the signs, is based on sin. And that is not only the problem of Israel, but of all mankind.

The fact that the Deity of Christ is central is apparent right from the start; by those solemn words, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This was in the beginning with God," etc. Here no genealogy consisting of a listing of human ancestors, but straight back to the beginning.

Furthermore, the well-known 'I am' statements are characteristic of this gospel. Each time in these statements the Name of God (YHWH, I am, Who I am) resounds.

Structure

A. 1:1-28 The Forerunner (John the Baptist)
B. 1:29-34 Baptism with water
C. 1:35-4:54 The kingdom
D. 5:1-6:71 The King
D. 7:1-11:54a The King
C. 11:54b-18:1 The kingdom
B. 18:2-20:31 Baptism into death (death, burial and resurrection)
A. 21:1-25 The Successors

Contents

The contents of the Gospel of John, in which the message concerning the kingdom and its rejection also emerges, is broadly structured on the basis of the eight signs mentioned in it.

These signs are constructed as follows:1{1 For a more extensive study on these signs, see the Morning Red Book 'Melfically Significant!' from P.A. Butcher (ISBN 978-90-6694-243-1).}

A. 2:1-11 The wedding at Cana
B. 4:46-54 The courtier's son
C. 5:1-18 The Man Who Couldn't Walk
D. 6:1-15 The feeding of the five thousand
D. 6:16-21 Jesus walking on the lake
C. 9:1-41 The Man Who Couldn't See
B. 11:1-44 The sisters' brother
A. 21:1-14 The Catch of the Fishes 

core text

"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (chap. 1:14).