John is the fourth and final gospel account. The author is the apostle John, a former fisherman along with James, his brother, working on the boat of Zebedee, their father. He was part of the inner circle of Jesus’ friends (Peter, James, and John), in fact, he described himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20). In addition to the gospel account, he wrote 4 other books: 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and the Revelation.
John’s gospel is very different from synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). He does not record as many events (teaching or healing) as the other gospel writers, but he is exceptionally detailed with the events he wrote about. There are many things in John’s gospel which are not in the others: Jesus meeting with Nicodemus, the Lord’s encounter with the Samaritan woman, the woman caught in adultery, the raising of Lazarus, Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, etc.. In John’s gospel we find multiple visits to Jerusalem, three distinct Passovers mentioned, and multiple attempts by the Jews to stone Jesus.
In previous articles, we indicated each gospel writer had a specific audience to whom their work would appeal or speak to—Matthew (the Jews), Mark (the Romans), and Luke (the Greeks). John’s gospel is universal in nature. Of all the writers, he is the most direct in stating Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God—God. His opening statement is, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4). He takes the reader back to the creation of all things, and states unequivocally that Jesus is the Creator and the source of life (cf. John 14:6). John recorded Jesus’ “I AM” statements (6:35; 8:12, 58; 9:5; 10:7-9, 11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1-8), which reveal His character and speak to His divine nature, identifying Him as the One who spoke to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). The honest reader will come away from John’s gospel understanding Jesus is the Word, the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God—indeed, God.
John stated the purpose of his gospel in 20:30-31:
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
John wrote more on the night of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest and trial than any other writer. He recorded in marvelous detail the events as they unfolded. Keep in mind—he was there, watching through the whole night and into the next day. He gave an exceptionally detailed account of the Lord’s prayer that evening, of His arrest and trials, and of His crucifixion the next morning. He was inspired by the Spirit as he wrote, but he was also an eye-witness to all these things happening.
Our next book profile will be on the book of Acts.