Sermon Notes and Video: An Overview of the Gospel of John

Sermon Notes

Sermonic Title: An Overview of the Gospel of John

Biblical Text: John 20:30-31

Date:May 5, 2019

Speaker: Dr. Joseph

John 20:30-31

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

  • Authorship

Two proposals: Basically, it is argued there were in the church at Ephesus two “Johns,” the apostle and the Elder who wrote Revelation

– Both internal and external evidences provide plausible grounds for concluding that the following (Köstenberger, 6-7).

  • The author 1) an apostle (1:14; cf. 2:11); (2) one of the Twelve (“the disciple Jesus loved” [12:33]; 20:2-9, 21, esp. 21:24-25); (3) John, the son of Zebedee. The disciple Jesus loved/John is consistently associated with Peter in the Fourth Gospel and elsewhere in the NT (13:23-24; 18:15-16); cf. Luke 22:8; Acts 1:13).
  1. Internal Evidence
  • classic approach maintains the author of the fourth Gospel was
    • A Jew, 2) of Palestine, (3) an eyewitness, 4) an apostle (i.e. one of the Twelve), and 5) the apostle John.
  •  Considerable number of internal evidences, delineating details of history and of places in the Fourth Gospel, suggest the case for apostolic authorship which Ellis points out four of them

1) Aeonon, village of many springs, where John baptized (Jn 3:23)

2)  The pool of Bethesda with its five colonnades (Jn 5:2)

3) The pool of Siloam where Jesus sent the blind man (Jn 9:7, 11)

4) The Pavement where Pilate rendered his judgment against Jesus (Jn 19: 13) (15). Nonetheless, the clearest and most plausible internal evidence is the authorial comment in John 21:24.

 John the Apostle

  •  one, of the Twelve, wrote the Apocalypse on the isle of Patmos, and afterward the Gospel
  • Irenaeus, a Bishop of southern France and sat under Polycarp, who himself was a disciple of John, wrote that John, the disciple of the Lord, who also reclined on his breast … gave out the Gospel, living on in Ephesus in Asia.
  • Some people argue that the Fourth Gospel is too different from earliest Christianity to have come from an apostle.
  • John, the Elder/Prophet

 – wrote Revelation

Four Items that show the Fourth Gospel was well acquainted with the geography of Palestine.

External Evidence

Archeological Evidence

  • The use of Archeology shows that John had pretty good knowledge of Jerusalem.
  • The knowledge of the city does not prove the authorship of the fourth Gospel but it agrees with the content of the book (Jn 5.2)
  • Jn 9.7-11- the reference to the pool of Siloam. This indicates his knowledge of the city of Jerusalem
  • John 3.23- this indicates his knowledge of southern Palestine
  • Jn 19.13- the pavement is still there/Jn 21.24, 23

There are other suggestions made to the authorship of the Gospel

  1. The Elder John
  • About 310 AD, Eusebius, in his historian ecclesiastical (3, 39, 2-7) refers to a late 1st century writer by the name of Papias who lived 72-90 AD, he interprets Papias to refer to 2 Johns: John the apostle, and the John the Elder. But there were some questions whether Papias was referring to two Johns or whether he uses both terms interchangeably. 2 John, he is called the Elder of the elect Lady. In Revelation he is referred to John. Eusebius was probably the one who made such distinction. That is, indicating two different Johns other than two. Eusebius also had an interest in Revelation, making the Elder be the author of Revelation. Again, the Eastern Church rejected certain books of the New Testament, particularly the book of Revelation. Other scholars argue John was just a fisherman in Galilee, he could not have written such a theological book.


  • The beloved disciple is a Gentile believer with concerns with the Gentile mission (21.1ff)
  • the beloved disciple is described as the disciple whom Jesus loved (e.g. 13.23)
  • The traditional view is that the beloved disciple is the son of Zebedee. 1) he was at the last supper (13.23), 2) the synoptics was among those who joined Jesus for the meal, among the twelve (Mark 14.17)
  • He is repeatedly distinguished from Peter (John 13.23-24, 20.2-9)

External Evidence

  • Irenaeus of Lyons (c. AD 130-200) provides clear information, identifying the author of the fourth Gospel as “John, the disciple of the Lord, who also leaned upon his breast” (Jn 13:23 ff.
  • His former teacher, Polycarp (c. AD 69-155), who himself was a disciple of John the Apostle.

The role of amanuensis and secretaries and or coworkers in the composition of the Gospel.

  1.  We don’t have a name given in the Gospel, only we have is the beloved disciple. However, we do have a title, Kata Yohannan that was put in by the Church. These titles of the Gospels were put on not later than 100 AD. One of the reasons the Gospels were given titles is best represented in the works of Luke-Acts, whereby both volumes were dedicated to Theophilus. We have kind of dedication in Josephus, who dedicated his work to a well-known individual.
  2. He identified himself as an eyewitness (John 1.14). We saw his glory, first person plural. The author was one of the eyewitnesses
  3. He just called here another disciple. The probably is that John was known (1.37-40). He is identified there as an eyewitness.
  4. Eyewitness Testimony- Is it John writing about himself or a third person? (19.35). he who saw it bears witness; he knows it and tells truth. John probably said this in reference to himself, speaking in the third person. Some have argued his secretary (ies) had said that.
  5. Who are the we? (John 21.22-24). This must a secretary, (Romans 16; I, Tertius wrote the letter). This was a common practice. Such work in the quality of John had to be selected. Possibility, none of the NT writers wrote their books. Secretaries were needed, inspired individuals, part of the brothers. That is fellow-workers.
  6. The disciple whom Jesus loved (13.23). This might be a secretarial comment. John would not refer to himself in such manner. For in Chapter one, he is referred as “another disciple.”
  7. The Disciple whom he loved (19.26). Jesus turns over to John the task of taking his mother.
  8. The Beloved Disciple (20.2)
  9. Chapter 21 is Jesus’ meeting with his disciples in Galilee sometimes after his resurrection. We don’t have John’s name there but we have the Sons of Zebedee. Hence, he includes.

 The following summary was proposed by Westcott in defense for John the Beloved Disciple as the author of the fourth Gospels. It is as follows

  • A Jew
  • A Palestine
  • An eyewitness to Jesus Christ
  • An Apostle, one who was commissioned by Jesus Christ, one of the co-workers were involved in the composition of the four Gospel (21.23, 24).
  • The Apostle John

Date (Köstenberger 8)

  • If Thomas’s confession of Jesus as “my Lord and my God” is intended to evoke associations of emperor worship under Domitian (A.D. 81-96), a date after A.D. 81 would appear most likely (Carson proposed a date of A.D. 80-85).
  1. Environment of John/Background to John’s Gospel
  • Some scholars have identified some contemporary literature that might have some bearings on John’s writings and even suggested that John was influenced by various schools of thoughts that were known to him. These include Greek philosophy, Mystery Religions and Gnosticism, the Old Testament and Rabbinic Judaism, the Qumran Community, and the Apostolic Church.
  1. Gnostic Literature
  • That the author of the Fourth Gospel drew material from the Gnostic literature, Hellenistic thought and stoic philosophies. Pertaining to these ideas, for the stoics, Logos was conceived as a sort of cosmic reason.  It was the reality and mind at the center of the universe and all that exist. Not only it gave form and structure to the created world, it embodies universally every mind and every soul. Thus, the world of creation and men are the dwelling place of the Logos. Hence Logos was the rational principle by which the universe and everything in it exists. For example, Bultmann argues forcefully that John was indebted to Hellenistic sources in his use of the term “Logos.”  Furthermore, he holds that the prologue was originally a pre-Christian cultic hymn, having derived its content from Gnosticism. According to Bultmann’s hypothesis, the Logos in John’s prologue cannot have its origin in the Hebrew Scripture, for the notion of God’s word in the OT bears another concept from that of the Logos in John.[1] ; for John he is a person and no less than the Incarnate Word who became flesh and dwelt among us (18-19). In Gnostic thought, knowledge is widely claimed to be a means of attaining the divine, of deliverance from matter; for the Apostle John, knowledge of God means to know him relationally through his Son Jesus Christ whose sacrificial death purposes to deliver men from sin.

2.  Qumran Community

  • Other people appeal to the Qumran community which is believed can provide Johannine students substantial cues in understanding the background and content of the Johannine literature. For example, the contrast between light and darkness, good and evil, truth and error which are dominant themes in John’s Gospel are all inclusive to Qumranic writings, precisely “The War between the Sons of Light and the Son of Darkness”. In this respect, the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Qumran Community provide considerable historical evidence that the fourth Gospel is a historical literature.

3. Old Testament and Rabbinic Literature

  • a combination of Old Testament and Rabbinic Judaism, the Apostolic Church and Qumran Community for the background and content of the fourth Gospel.

Occasion and Purpose

  • the author maintains that John had a Christian audience in mind when composing his works. The Sitz im Leben of the author and the Johannine Church best explains the purpose for which he wrote the Gospel and the epistles. Internal evidence may well support this proposition. The Gospel’s as well as the Epistles’ purpose is to effect faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God (John 20:31 / 1 John 1:2-40. This also suggests an evangelistic intent including the author’s desire to encourage Christian readers.
  • The purpose of John is the evangelization of Jews in the Diaspora as well as of proselytes and Gentiles converted to Judaism
  • – The overarching purpose of John is the demonstration that the Christ, the Son of God, is Jesus (20:30-31) by weaving together several narrative strands

from Köstenberger, 8-9)

  • Köstenberger writes, “external evidence indicate that John lived to a ripe old age and that he was the last of the evangelists to write his Gospel (esp. Irenaeus). It appears that John wrote his Gospel in Ephesus (so Irenaeus, Eusebius) and that he ultimately envisioned—like the other canonical Gospels—a universal readership (Bauckham). John’s audience consisted primarily of Diaspora Jews and proselytes (Carson and Keener).
  • The purpose statement in 20:30-31 is perhaps most plausibly read as indicating that John wrote with an (indirect) evangelistic purpose, expecting to reach his unbelieving audience via Christian readers (Baucham). The Gospel originated within the matrix of the early Christian Gentile mission, the emergence of early Gnostic thought, and last but not least, the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in A.D. 70. As a result, John presents Jesus as the temple’s replacement (2:18-22; cf. 1:14; 4:21-24) and the fulfillment of the symbolism inherent in Jewish festivals (chapters 5-12).


  • It is often taught that John, the “beloved disciple” wrote the Gospel of John in Ephesus, perhaps some time after the traumatic events and destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
  • Most scholars date the writing of the Gospel of John in AD. 85-95 and the letters, AD. 70-90 which are reasonable dates.


  • Major Themes
    1. A noted motif in the Gospel of John -Sovereign and human responsibility focus
    2. God asserts himself with his plan, and at the same time, humankind is responsible and can become guilty vis-à-vis God’s call, which waits for a response
    3. The examination, from fresh standpoints, of particular themes in John’s Gospel. For example, the role of the Holy Spirit.
    4. A) Four Theological Issues

 The identity of the True Israel

  • The Passion of Jesus Christ the meaning of salvation
  • The coming of the Kingdom of God
  • The Nature of the Church
  1. A) The identity of the True Israel
  • Who are the true Israelites (1.47-49)?
  • They are the ones who that adhere to the true king of Israel
  • 2 Sam. 7.14. David has been spoken to Nathan. Nathan is speaking the word of the Lord to Moses. The King of Israel is called the Son of God. Ps. 2.7, the king was God’s anointed only. They applied these things to the kings but they did not fulfill them. Then they anticipated the ultimate Messiah King.
  • John 8.39-56, the recognition of Abraham’s true seed.

B) For whom did Jesus die (John 11.51-52)?

– Jesus died for the true Israel and for those who are scattered and will be incorporated in Israel (1 John 2.2)

  1. For the nations
  2. For the children of God scattered abroad
  • Jesus is called the king of the Jews

4) What is the significance of these texts?

(Rom 11.25-28)

  • concerning the Gospel, they are enemies
  • the Gospel goes to the Gentiles first
  • The equation of Christians to adopted Jews who were grafted in the olive Tree, the natural leaves were broken off
  • The Jews = True Israel, is composed of all those who adhere to Israel. Israel is defined in terms of her king, Jesus the King of Israel.


 The Christian hope is nothing more or less but the hope of Abraham. God will provide to us a country, the new earth.

  • The Messiah is the instrument through whom God will fulfill the promise to Israel
  • This Messiah is Jesus. To belong to him is to belong to the true Israel and Abraham’s promise. Not to belong to him is to be cut off from the true Israel. To deny him is to be cut off from the true Israel.
  • The Church is the True Israel (Jn 15.1-3)
  • The great vine is an image of the nation of Israel in the OT. Jesus identifies himself with Israel.

The coming of the Kingdom of God

  • The term of everlasting (more of a temporal concept) life is preferable, eternal life bears the idea of redemption from the body and spirit.

E/S                  T/M

Eternal = aion, ainios= age- life

Reading texts

John 6.47, 54; 11.26; 14.2-3, 18; 6.40                        Rom. 6.21-23; 2 Peter 3.16; Lk 11.20, 2

Everlasting life

 1-Aionios Zoe- Jn 5.24-25, 28-29 = death & life are understood as something that happen presently. Those who outside of Christ are dead but the effect is not fully completed in them.

  • If it is those who do the good works will be resurrected.
  • Future eschatology will actualize in the second coming. That is everlasting was given to us corporately will be actualized individually.

2- John 6.47, 54- the present and future.

He who eats my flesh and drink my blood. He is saying the something he said at the last supper. Jesus’ disciple is identified with Christ corporately

Present everlasting = present eschatology

3- John 11.24-26. Shall not due forever could be a possible rendering …

4- John 14.2-3, 14, 18- two comings of Christ mentioned: A future coming of the second coming (future eschatology) and the coming of Christ in the Holy Spirit (present eschatology). He comes to us by the Holy Spirit and relates to us personally and corporately.

How’s everlasting a present possession?

  •  We have a corporate everlasting through Christ by the Holy Spirit
  • How can one speak of present life as a present possession? 1 John 5.11-12, who has the Son, has life.
  • How is the everlasting a future event? Everlasting life is something we have corporately but will not be actualized in the future (John 6.40)
  • The significance of resurrection as a future fulfillment (Rom 8.21-23; 2 Peter 3.12-13- resurrection is to be a part of the new order)
  • Everlasting life as a present and future reality is rooted in Jesus’ teaching and the message of the kingdom of God (Lk. 11.20, 2). Two fold perspectives of the kingdom of God. The everlasting God is equated to the kingdom of God in John. John does not use the same terminology but the same conception.  Against Plato, everlasting is not redemption from matter but transformation from matter.


Two major divisions:

1- John 13-21 – is concerned with the events of the week of the Passion and Resurrection

2- John 1-12- the first 12 chapters consist of “signs” which characterized Jesus’ ministry. These signs, selected by the author, point to Jesus’ messiahship.

Each of the two major divisions of the gospel includes two subdivisions.

  • John 1-4, stories that summarize the meaning of Jesus’ mission in its successive stages
  • John 5-12, presents Jesus’ public ministry to the Jewish nation
  • John 13-17, is made up of Jesus’ ministry to His disciples
  • John 18-21 is made up of the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.


  • prologue – 1.1-18
  • an epilogue/ appendix- 21.1-25
  • two central sections- 1.19-12.50 and 13.1-20.31
  • Book of Signs and Book of Glory, or Book of Signs and Book of the Passion.

 Structure of John’s Gospel

– The structure of John’s Gospel is based on Jesus’ seven signs:

I- Prologue: The Word made flesh (1:1-18)

II- The Book of Signs: The signs of the Messiah (1:19-12:50)

III. The Book of Glory: Jesus’ preparation of the new messianic community and his passion (13:1-20:31)

  1. Epilogue: The complementary roles of Peter and the disciple Jesus loved (21:1-25)

Introduction –

 How John presents Jesus’ message that is going out to a world that is the Jewish world. John structures his gospel to show the true Israel and the meaning of the Messiah’s death, the manifestation to the world.

The Structure

 Is governed by its interpretive and thematic character. That is, John is concerned with subjects or themes and their development (i.e. the cleansing of the temple)

  1. The thematic approach determines not only the location of episodes but also the kinds of stories that John includes
  2. The acts of Jesus are signs which reveal the true meaning of his mission and person
  3. sometimes a story is joined to a sermon or discourse which interprets its meaning (i.e. the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda; 5.19ff)

1st section – Prologue

  • Jesus is presented as the Word of God
  • The Manifestation of God in Human Flesh
  • The Witness of John the Baptist

2nd Section- Chapters 5-12

  •  The second part chapter 5-12 is the ways Jesus manifests himself to the Jews in various festivals.
  1. a) The Festivals
  • Chapter 5-1st festival, its name is not mentioned (Rosh Hannah= celebrated in September,
  •  chapter 6- is identified as the Passover (celebrated in April)
  • Chapter 7-9- is the feast of the Tabernacle (celebrated in September). Jesus’ teaching there focuses on that particular theme of that festival: water, wine, and light.
  • Chapter 10- the Hanukah (December), the good shepherd discourse

During these festivals Jesus revealed himself to Judaism

3rd Section- Manifestation to the church, that is to his disciples

  •  Feet washing
  • Lord’s Supper
  • Jesus, the Servant Messiah washes Feet

4th section- 13-21

 the departure of Jesus

  • he returns in the Holy Spirit

* John only mentions one cleansing for the sake of thematic purposes not necessarily chronologically.

1- The prologue

 -places the entire Gospel within the framework of the eternal, preexistent Word made flesh in Jesus (1:1-18)

  1. a) The first half of John’s narrative sets forth evidence for Jesus’ messiahship in the form of seven selected signs (1:19-12:50; cf. 20:30-31)
  2. b) also includes Jesus’ seven “I am” sayings and calls numerous (seven?) witnesses in support of Jesus’ claims, including Moses and the Scriptures, the Baptist, the Father, Jesus and his works, the Spirit, the disciples, and the evangelist himself.
  3. c) Representative questions concerning Jesus’ messiahship serve to lead the Gospel’s readers to the authors’ intended conclusion: Christ is Jesus (e.g. 1; 41; 4:25; 7:27)

2- The New Messianic Mission

– The second major section of John’s Gospel (chs. 13-17) shows how Jesus ensured the continuation of his mission by preparing his new messianic community for its mission. These include:

  1. a) Jesus’ farewell discourse (chs. 13-17): the new messianic community is cleansed (by the footwashing and Judas’ departure; ch. 13)
  2. b) prepared (by instructions regarding the coming Paraclete and his ministry to the disciples; chs. 14-16),
  3. c) prayed for (ch. 17)
  4. d) The disciples are made partners in the proclamation of salvation of Christ (15:15-16)
  5. e) Their witness being aided by the Spirit (15:26-27),
  6. f) And taken into the life of the Godhead

3) The Passion Narrative (chs. 18-19)

  1. a) The Johannine passion narrative presents Jesus’ death both as an atonement for sin (cf. 1:29; 6:48-58; 10:15, 17-18), and as a stage in Jesus’ return to the Father (e.g., 13:1; 16:28)
  2. b) The resurrection appearances and the disciples’ commissioning by their risen Lord constitute the focal point of the penultimate chapter (ch.20).
  3. c) The purpose statement of 20:30-31 reiterates the major motifs of the Gospel: the signs, believing, (eternal) life, and the identity of Jesus as Christ and Son of God.
  4. d) The epilogue portrays the relationship between Peter and the disciple Jesus loved in terms of differing yet equally legitimate roles of service within the believing community.

Theological Emphases

1- The messianic mission of Jesus

  1. a) John’s narrative focuses on Jesus and his messianic mission
  2. John’s account is based on OT theology.
  3. a) The concept of “in the beginning” recalls the first word of Genesis, which recount the creation of the world (1:1; cf. 1:3)
  4. b) Jesus is presented as the Word sent from heaven to accomplish a mission and, once the mission has been accomplished, to return to the place from which he came (cf. Isa. 55:11)
  5. c) Another OT concept is that of light and darkness (1:4-5, 8-9), contrasting with the framework of an eschatological dualism in the Qumran literature
  6. d) Jesus is presented as God’s climatic, final revelation, surpassing previous revelations.
  7. e) The Jewish milieu of John’s Gospel is attested in the author’s use of “Jesus is the Son sent by the Father (3:17, 34-36). It is a metaphor from Jewish life and the halakic concept of the “saliah”, according to which the sent one is like the sender himself
  8. f) Jesus is the Bread from heaven, and OT allusion illustrating God’s provision of manna in the wilderness
  9. Central to John’s presentation of Jesus work (chs. 1-12)

iii. Another crucial motif in John’s theology is Jesus’ fulfillment of the symbolism inherent in Jewish festivals and institutions.

The Mission of the Messianic Community

  • Like his portrait of Jesus, John’s presentation of the new messianic community follows a salvation-historical pattern.
  • John does not teach that the church replaces Israel, rather, he identifies Jesus as Israel’s replacement: He is God’s “vine” taking the place of God’s OT “vineyard”
  • Jesus’ parting discourses are reminiscent to Moses’ Deuteronomic farewell discourse (“love,” “obey,” “keep commandments,” etc.)

Conclusion: The Relevance of John for People Today

  • The first thing he observes is that John spoke (1) “to people and to their vital problems”
  • (2) “he witnessed to a Person and to an event that he believed to have a unique, unrepeatable significance for all generations.”
  • Today’s world is not that much of a difference than John’s. The circumstances might be different but we are virtually reexperiencing what occurred in the time of John.
  • Jesus provides assurance in an uncertain age, he prayed for those who believed in his name and those who will believe through the witness of believers (John 17:20)
  • He promises the everlasting comfort of the Holy Spirit (John 14:15 -18).
  • Thus, Christians are not to be anxious for anything because Jesus prayed for us


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