The Purpose of John’s Gospel

John the ApostleIt is well known that the gospel of John is considerably different than the other three Gospels. One of the reasons that the Gospel of John seems so different is the three synoptic gospels are so similar. For example, there is no birth, baptism or temptation in John. While Jesus does seven miracles, they are called “signs” and there are no exorcisms. There are no parables, despite Mt 13:34 and Mk 4:34 which indicate that Jesus primarily spoke in parables in the second half of his ministry.

There are several extended dialogues in the Gospel of John which have no real parallel in the synoptic gospels. Jesus does not re-interpret the Mosaic law as in the Sermon on the Mount nor does he predict the fall of Jerusalem (cf. Mark 13 and parallels.)  In fact, there is barely a hint of a second coming of Jesus in John. Instead Jesus promises to send the Paraclete to the disciples after he returns to heaven (14:25-26, 16:7-15). The Last Supper is not described as an ongoing celebration for the church. Instead, John describes Jesus washing the feet of the disciples (13:1-16). While the arrest and crucifixion is described in similar ways to the synoptic gospels, there is no agony in the garden of Gethsemane.

How do we account for these differences? Here I am following Andreas J. Köstenberger, A Theology of John’s Gospel and his Letters (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2009), although Köstenberger himself follows B. F. Wescott. Wescott observed John’s Gospel was written after the success of the (Pauline) Gentile Mission as well as after the destruction of Jerusalem. Assuming a date in the mid 90s, the Gospel was written at the same time as the Gnosticism was developing as a competitor to Apostolic Christianity. For Köstenberger, the Fall of Jerusalem is the most important factor in the purpose of the book.

I am sure the rise of Gnosticism is a major factor for how John presents Jesus to his readers, but I am not sure the success of the Gentile mission is as much of a factor than often assumed.  John wrote the gospel some thirty years after the death of Paul, from Ephesus, the city where Paul had his most success among Gentiles. Yet the Gospel has very little to say about Gentiles. The Samaritan Woman (John 4) is a possible example, but Samaritans are a in many ways neither Jew nor Gentile.  The healing of the official’s son in John 4:46-54 is sometimes offered as an example of a Gentile who encounters Jesus, but if he is John certainly does not make this explicit.

The Gospel is evangelistic. John wrote to Jewish readers who might be open to Jesus as an alternative to the Temple and the festivals.  But there are a few stories which are could be described as drawing Gentiles to Jesus. The story of the blind man who is healed in John 5 may show that Jesus is superior to Asclepius, a Roman god of healing.  Given the number of allusions to the Hebrew Bible and the importance of the Jewish story of redemption, it is clear that the main target of the Gospel is Jewish.

Tthe Gospel is apologetic. John wrote to Christians (either Jewish or Gentile) in order to clarify who Jesus was as an answer to growing questions raised by developing Gnostic theology. There is a serious theological challenge developing in the church, John must address this as insufficient for explaining who Jesus was. John describes Jesus as the Word, equal with God because he is God. But Jesus is also flesh, fully human. These two facts are stated in the prologue and supported throughout the Gospel of John.

The Gospel of John is therefore a window into the end of the apostolic era.  Christianity was making progress against paganism, but needed to to develop a theology of Jesus in the face of an internal challenge.

54 thoughts on “The Purpose of John’s Gospel

  1. Oh sure, now you blog on this! Ha, I also made mention of the “second and third generation Christians” and I think the post-AD 70/pre-AD 100 date really works.

    What are your thoughts on the negative image John forms of the ‘Jews’?

    • I tend to play down the alleged antisemitic theology in John, the “sons of the devil” comments are directed at some of the Jews, the “sons of God” type statements are also aimed at Jews.

      It is the time of the year for an intro to John blog, sorry for my bad timing…!

      • But the particular subset of the Jews is mentioned by John: τοὺς πεπιστευκότας αὐτῷ Ἰουδαίους (8:31). That’s what makes that passage sound so particularly harsh. I suppose there are arguments to be made about the tense of the participle (it’s a bit weird making belief a completed past action), but I don’t think there’s much wriggle room there.

  2. Oh how I long for more Thematic Studies in John! I have a very nice one, and of course it is older…The Spiritual Gospel, The Interpretation Of The Fourth Gospel in the Early Church, (Cambridge University Press, 1960, by M.F. Wiles) “The cross is more than a sign; it is also the thing signified.” Sadly, we sometimes miss, or underplay, the obvious in our theological studies!

    Also the older book: The Fourth Gospel, Its Significance and Environment, by R.H. Strachan, (SCM Press LTD, 1917/1941..I have the reprint from 1941, 1951). The very first chapter is: The Portrait of Jesus, As Compared With The Synoptic Gospels. And as he notes: “In the Johannine narrative there is no development in the recognition of Jesus. He is recognized as Messiah by the little group of disciples from the beginning. The Baptist speaks of Him as a later Christian might speak. He is ‘the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world’. From the first, Jesus is the ‘Son of Man’ who ‘came down from heaven’, and must be ‘lifted up’ or crucified for the salvation of men (iii. 13-15). In the Synoptic Gospels the disciples acknowledgment of the Messiahship of Jesus culminates in the confession at Caesarea Philippi. In Mark viii. 30 the dsiciples are forbidden even then to announce the Messiahship, because they have not yet learned to associate the discharge of Jesus Messianic office with suffering and death (vv. 31-33). The only remonstrance on this point, in the Fourth Gospel, comes from ‘the people’ (xii. 34), not from Peter, altough the disciples do attempt to dissuade Jesus from His final journey to Jerusalem (xi.8).”

  3. The idea that Long points out in this blog post that the Gospel of John was written to answer questions about Jesus seems to be the most correct. The “validity of their faith” would have been very important, as it is today. John’s main purpose is for people to have faith in Christ, believe, and receive the gift of eternal life (John 20:30-31). If that was his mission, then writing a book that shows just how important faith in Christ is and to show who Jesus was seems to be logical. The whole story of Jesus is not necessary if it was written to just answer some of the questions that people had.

  4. John was one of my favorite books to read in the New Testament, because it was really to the point and it had all the main points of Jesus ministry but without any extra miracles or parables. Which I understand now because John was writing more to answer questions than to tell of Jesus full life and ministry; it was to reveal more of the main topics and questions the Jews had. John seems more sophisticated (based off of his writing and how intense it is to translate) and he seems to be very well cultured and probably his social standing was more prestigious than the other 12. So therefore when he was explaining and answering questions in this book, he was of some standing and he was explaining more with an authoritative and apologetic fashion to reach those who had questions.
    John seems very Jewish based off of how he writes and the message he is writing in. John seemed much focused on the Jews, so it is clear to me that his main purpose of ministry is to the Jews not to the gentiles.

    • I’ve always found the gospel of John the most compelling of the gospels. This mainly because he is very apologetic in his approach. Understanding John’s audience is extremely pertinent when deciphering his words about Jesus. Also, recognizing that John’s gospel came much later than the others also begins to explain his choice to highlight certain facets of Jesus’ ministry while ignoring others. I still do not completely understand Köstenberger’s “working hypothesis” regarding the fall of Jerusalem. Either way, I find the differences in John extremely interesting and important in understanding Jesus and His ministry. Understanding the literary context and historical context aid us recognizing these things.

  5. I would agree with P. Long that, “John wrote to Christians (either Jewish or Gentile) in order to clarify who Jesus was as an answer to growing questions raised by developing Gnostic theology” (Long). He says himself in his book quite clearly what his purpose was. “But these 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” (John 20:31). It is true that John seems to lack in the amount of miracles Jesus performed and other events that happened. But, neither do the synoptic gospels give justice to what Jesus did during his public ministry. John 21:25 states, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written”. “John is writing to Christians who are dealing with heretical teachings concerning Jesus’ life and teaching” (Long 164). John’s objective was to help his readers to hold on to their faith in the gospel of Jesus during persecution, rejection, and objection.

  6. The different writing format of the book of John makes complete sense now when viewing it as a book written to answer questions, rather than just a way of keeping a recording of what Jesus did—His miracles and teachings. In addition to the questions that were being answered for the Christians at the time, it was also a way of giving information that would provide encouragement and strength in building their personal faith. It was during a time of persecution and uncertainty, and this question answering would have given the people something to hold on to, and truths to remember that would have gotten them through. But not only was this book helpful to the people at the time, it proved to be of importance to those to follow. And as you mentioned, P. Long, it was a way of providing strength to the faithful. Like Audrey mentioned, as well, John wrote this to show just how important having faith in Jesus really is (John 20:31).

  7. When reading the Gospels, John seems to be the easiest read and the most clarifying of anything I want and need to know about Jesus and His ministry. John gives great detail and thought on who Jesus was and about the kingdom of God and Jesus’ ministry without the parables that are in the synoptic Gospels. The Gospel of John is more compelling to read since it is evangelistic and appealing. The reason that it is appealing to most people is because John wrote to Christians, the other Gospels seem to take an account of Jesus and his teachings and parables but not so much like they were written directly to Christians like the Gospel of John was. I have found it to be true in my own walk with God that when reading John, I feel like any doubts or questions that I may have had get answered when reading becuase John does such a great job at explaining and giving the right amount of detail about Jesus and the kingdom of God.

  8. For me, the way John writes his letter/ gospel would be a great way to finish up the four gospels ( yes, knowing that they may not be in chronological order). To have the teachings of the first three, Matthew, Mark and Luke setting up who/what Jesus did, and then John coming in and answering the questions is awesome! I believe that for the Christians of that time and us Christians now, it really puts the cherry on top.

  9. The gospel of John’s content would make sense in the context of it being written to answer questions that might have arisen. It also makes sense as being a literature of gospel to the Jews. As said in the article, “Given the number of allusions to the Hebrew Bible and the importance of the Jewish story of redemption, it is clear that the main target of the Gospel is Jewish.
    On the other hand, the Gospel is apologetic” These views on the gospel of John make sense and are even proven in the first chapter when John explains how the crucifixion connects with the Jews story, while also explaining further how Jesus is God. I think that John is a unique gospel, and that adds further understanding to the life of Jesus Christ. If John was written after Paul’s death, it would make sense for John to write about things that were not recorded in the synoptic gospels. The gospel of John, although it does not reflect the synoptic’s exactly, and can bring us wisdom and knowledge. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)

  10. I don’t really have a favorite gospel as of yet, but if I was to read the gospel of John, I would be perfectly content. I really like the writing style of John, being mostly apologetic, and it makes it an easier read. Another reason why John is a good gospel to read is because it is so different from all of the other gospels. As P. Long said, there’s no birth, baptism or temptation in John. This allows John to cover more things in depth than the other gospels. Also, John is speaking directly to Christians, which is a good thing to keep in mind while reading through it. And, as P. Long said, John is does an excellent job and backing up/affirming the other gospels in some events.

  11. “The whole story of Jesus is not necessary if it was written to just answer some of the questions that people had” (Audrey). John isn’t looking to historically affirm Jesus and legitimize him through the presentation of his words and deeds, which is what Luke does. He rather gives answers or tries to give answers to non-Jewish believers and questions unbelievers might be struggling with the idea that Jesus Christ was was truly divine but not fully human. He answer questions along the lines of Jesus is God, Jesus is the Messiah, and choosing belief or unbelief. The topics the John sought after were meant to be fuel in the kindling of an understanding that would strengthen a move toward believe in Christ.

  12. The Gospel of John is unique compared to the Synoptic Gospels. It seems as though one of his main reasons for writing was to fill in the blanks that Matthew, Mark, and Luke did not cover in their Gospels. What catches my eye is that John wrote to Jews and barely mentions the Gentiles. It is surprising because in today’s society, we preach the Gospel to every person no matter who they are. This is because we are called to do so in Mark where he says “go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation,” (Mark 16:15, NIV). This shows how John is different because he focuses on speaking to Jews and not the Gentiles. In the text book it explains that “John’s desire is to persuade particularly Diaspora Jews and proselytes,” ( Kostenberger, 24). This one difference that he has compared to the other Gospels which I believe is why it allows him to talk in more theological ways. The Jews are going to be able to understand theology and about Jesus as a person more than Gentiles because they should have heard more about Him because Jesus was a Jew Himself. John talks more extendedly because of this because he knows that the people already knows the basics, so he can draw out more information. But, if John talked tp the same people that the other Gospels did, than the Jews would not have heard Johns view on Jesus as a person and about his humanity.

    Köstenberger Andreas J. Encountering John: the Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective. Baker Academic, 2013.

    • Great post Corwin, I like when you say that it seems that a main reason for the Gospel of John is to fill in the blanks of Matthew, Mark and Luke. I like your view on why John wanted to talk to the Jews, and why he was able to us more theology in his talks. The Jews already had more knowledge on who Jesus was than the Gentiles did. The Gospel of John originally confused me, as why would John feel the need to convert Jews when Jesus was a Jew. We need to remember that there are several instances that the Jewish people would accuse Jesus of Blasphemy, such as Matthew 26. Going back to the previous point, John was not trying to merely tell the Jews who Jesus was and how he was the son of God, they had already heard that, he was trying to teach them who Jesus really was and how they need to have faith in Him. I really like your last point when you say that the Jews would have not heard about Jesus as a person and the human nature that He had. It’s easy to think that Jesus had ultimate power, which means He could make His life easy, but Jesus didn’t experience the easy life. John was able to tell the Jews how Jesus interacted with his people and how having faith in Him can change their lives.

    • You propose many ideas that I find are accurate representations of what was happening during John’s time. The Jews of that time would be able to understand in a much deeper way the theological aspects of Jesus as the Son of God. The religious leaders especially would have had a fair amount to say about Messiahship and the eventual coming of Christ. But I do not believe that they would have understood John’s Gospel easier because they were Jews like Jesus. It goes much further than that. For generations, the Jewish people had been looking forward to the day when the Messiah would come and rescue them. They were able to study what this person would be like, and they anticipated and tried to prepare for this coming majesty who was their rescuer. But when the time came for Jesus to be there, the religious leaders and other Jews missed what was right in front of them. Because of their expectations for what the Messiah would be like, they missed Him. While John wrote his Gospel to teach the Jews, and they would understand many of his theological connections, they had not recognized Jesus as the Messiah before reading it but rather, John wrote in hopes that they would realize that they had already missed Him and come to the conclusion that Jesus was the one they were waiting for.

    • Great post Corwin, I found your point about John filling in the gaps that the other gospels left out very interesting. John’s account is very different than the other gospels based on the audience he was writing to. While John did mainly write to the Jews he also wrote to gentiles that converted to Judaism according to Kostenberger. Your point about John speaking in theologically deep terms based on his audience is a valid one and I think because he had a target audience it shaped how he wrote his book.

  13. I agree that Kostenberger sees the gospel of John as a way of showing the life of Jesus and the importance of Him being fully God and fully Human. A key point that Kostenberger brings up is that John wrote primarily to nonmessianic jews and proselytes, but that does not mean that they are the only ones that can learn from John (Kostenberger p10). We can learn a lot from John by reading this gospel, but John makes it clear that he is not the main focus of the gospel. John 1:8 says that “He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light”. The previous verses tell us that a man named John was sent to be a light to others, but he makes it clear that he is not the light. Not only is this important in telling us how important it was to John to make sure that the focus was not on him and what he was doing, but on Jesus, it also teaches us a lesson on how we need to be in our daily lives. This is just an example of what this gospel is and how important the purpose of his message is to the readers.

  14. I like how you brought up the fact that John’s gospel is a little different that the other synoptic gospels. This is important to understand that the other friends of Jesus had stories in their account of Jesus’ life, that John did not focus on. It is also equally important to remember that all the gospels and every book of the bible are pointing to Jesus and how He is the son of God.
    In the book, Encountering John by Andreas J Kostenberger, Kostenberger talks about how every eye witness of Jesus supports the fact that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God. He says, “According to John, all these witnesses support the notion that Jesus is in fact the Messiah and Son of God,”(Kostenberger,17).
    Some of the time, including myself, can get caught up in all the little details and trying to put all the little puzzle pieces together. Trying to figure out why an event happened in the Bible, or why this version of this witness is different than this one and so on. It is good to dive into this and to ask Holy Spirit to give us understanding, but we need to remember that the Bible should be used to draw us closer to God. If we are ever using God’s Word to push others down or to try to make “our point” out of frustration and hate, rather than encouragement and love, we are not honoring God’s Word.
    My hope is that as people read His Word, they would grow in their relationship with God ever so increasingly.

  15. In this post I liked how this article was able to realize what the difference John has compared to the other three gospels. One thing that I notice in this post is how it is open and written for everyone, as the other gospels may be written to one group or a certain place. This is beneficial to people who are looking to become new believers as they can better understand what John is trying to articulate. The one thing that I think about that can also be tied into the book we are reading is how we are to spread the word of God everywhere we go. The term Diaspora was brought up in the book and that term is described as, “Jews and gentiles attracted to Judaism.” (Kostenberger, pg. 7). Opposed to the other gospels where it hits on all the time Jesus spent on earth John chose to put other parts in that may stick out to us so that in today’s day and age we are able to better understand and learn more about what the love of God looks like but also how we should strive to live a life more like Jesus and less of this world. This gospel yes can be argued as pointing to the Jewish but as you read this book you notice that some of the stories and ideas that are presented are not only for Jews but also for the gentile. God doesn’t want it to only mean it for a certain people group but for everyone so that we have a chance to learn about our heavenly Father and that is why I think John isn’t just written for Jews but for people who truly want to understand and grow deeper in their knowledge of God.

  16. The purpose of John’s Gospel really does seem to be a way of pointing both Jewish and Gentile Christians to Jesus. Obviously, the other synoptic gospels do this as well, but the fact that there are so many differences between the synoptic gospels and John’s, it seems that John’s gospel is pointing to Jesus in a different way. As Kostenberger mentioned in his book, John’s gospel is thought to be written right after the destruction of the temple which was a very important part of Jewish life. When wondering how to maintain their religion “John’s answer is clear: he hopes to encourage diaspora Jews and proselytes to turn to Jesus, the Messiah who fulfilled the symbolism embodied in the temple and the Jewish festivals,” (Kostenberger,10). John’s gospel is to help transition the focus from the temple to Jesus which is why it is directed more at a Jewish audience as this transition would be difficult for them. John put the cleansing of the temple in his gospel (John 2:14-22), which is not found in any of the synoptic gospels, where Jesus talks about he himself being the temple. It could be that this event is not recorded in the other gospels because the idea of Jesus replacing the temple was such a foreign concept and sob it was passed over. However, In order to help the Jews change their view of Jesus, John may have added this part of his perspective in to help drive the point home that Jesus is replacing the purpose of the temple.

  17. From when I first perused the Gospel of John, it is clear that his intent in authoring the book is to present Jesus in a very particular way–forming Him in reaction to the augmentations He went through under Gnostic thought. Frankly, for me the synoptic Gospels read almost like a biography or a simple history book, recording the events of the life of a certain man. John, on the other hand, is not so interested in developing documentation that merely takes note of the ministry of Jesus; He is, in my opinion, seeking to demonstrate the divinity of Jesus. Thus, He begins His book by claiming that Jesus is the all-sufficient creator of the universe, and that He has always existed. To many modern Christians, this may seem like a tame and obvious statement to make, but the reality is the culture of Christianity during the time of John was not refined. There were many theological misunderstandings; these misunderstandings were very significant insofar as they related to the main character of the religion–Jesus. In other words, without a thorough and accurate understanding of who Jesus was, the religion of Christianity is simply empty and devoid of life and truth. I believe that the purpose for the book of Josh was to highlight that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, part of the Trinity, yet was fully human. This paradox was sufficiently addressed in the book, and, with an illumination from the Spirit, the information provided is necessary to attain salvation.

  18. To the first question you pose “how do we account for these differences?” I would first look to the scriptures, 2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. The Holy sprit did not use John as a typewrite but “inspired” him in what to write his personality clearly shines though but still reads in similar voice as the rest of the bible. Second Looking at Köstenberger, this quote sums up the entire discussion, “…John and the Synoptics should therefore be regarded as independent witnesses to the same Jesus in whom the gospel centers, complementary portraits of one and the same person and history. At the same time, John reflects his knowledge of the Synoptic Gospels more indirectly by his pattern of theological transposition, retelling Jesus’s story, as it were, in a different key.” This is a perfect description of the Gospels, a piece of music harmony, melody and completing parts similar different beautiful on their own but truly magnificent when “played together”. As with music different parts have different functions as does the Johannine Gospel it themes differ from that of the synoptics. These include Jesus as the son of God and Messiah which is unique to the Gospels. Paul the Apostle said in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 To the weak, I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 This I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might partake of it with you. And it is for this reason I see the Gospels are different to “all things to all” to be able to reach or have a message that would be able to reach all of humanity or at least have the potentional for the spirit to do his work if we would just do ours.

  19. The book of John is unique compared to the Synoptic Gospels because John does not have the same retelling of Jesus’ life as they do. The book of John gives us another insight in to what was going on in this time frame; filling in some of the blanks that the Synoptic Gospels do not have. This is a concept that Christians should keep in mind, because even with these other details, we still cannot fathom the full ministry of what Jesus did in His short time on earth.
    This book was also written after the fall of Jerusalem, and it is possible that John used this event in an evangelical way to both Jews and gentiles (Kostenberger, 8). Considering that the first half of the book focuses in on how the Jews rejected Jesus, it is clear that John anticipated Jews to read his Gospel; but also the fact that John focus on sharing the good news of Jesus, he is intending it to not just be for Jews, but for all (Kostenberger, 8). In this letter, John is clarifying who Jesus is, and expanding on His character that is known in the Synoptic Gospels. As stated in the post, the Gnostics were a growing group that was challenging who Jesus Christ was. John responded to that by making clear that Jesus was thee God, not just a god of the Romans, and gave further detail of who this God who came to save is so that there would not be any confusion.

  20. Reading Kostenberger really help me break down the gospel of John and understand the different point of views relating to the purpose behind his writings. One of the point of views Kostenberger mentions is that Johns purpose for writing his Gospel was to recognize that Jesus was the son of God (Kostenberger, 33). While reading the book of John I also came to the conclusion that he was justifying Jesus as the messiah and the one who came from the father. Throughout his Gospel, John defends and gives clear explanations to particular statements mentioned by Jesus. A lot of this questioning corresponded with Jesus seven “I am sayings”. The questioning came from both Gentiles and Jews so John had to defend against both wise religious men and those who had no clue. Therefore, not only does he seek to lecture the Jews on the identity of Jesus but the Gentiles as well. One example comes from Jesus final moments were he was explaining his vision to the disciples on the community to come. Overall, John gospel is full of lectures that give insight on Jesus and his vision for his people. There is evidence of his attempts to do so with both the Gentiles and the Jews who some see him as a threat to the community.

  21. I had not thought about the reason why John feels so much more different is because the other three gospels are so similar to one another. John is different in a variety of ways in that it leaves out a few seemingly important pieces to the other three gospels. Additionally, considering how prevalent Gnosticism was when the gospel of John was written, I am not too surprised that it seems to be a major factor in how John presents Jesus to his readers. Evangelistic Christianity seemed to be quite a ‘new’ concept to many people in that time. They were much more used to following the old testament laws and Jewish law in how they were to live and ‘worship’ God. It was a very legalistic point of view when it came to their religion. When Jesus came into the picture, it was a very different way of viewing religion. Prior to Jesus, ‘common folk’ were not even allowed to enter the same room as the arc of the covenant, so when discussions of a relationship with God or Jesus as a whole it was as if the whole religion was flipped on its head. Jesus was now the answer to many questions the new Christians had. This new ‘Christianity’ was so different than religions previously.

  22. It seems like critics always point to the differences in the gospels as a problem but actually, I think it speaks to the authenticity of the eyewitness accounts of Jesus. If you think about the scene of an accident there can be several eyewitnesses and each witness will remember the accident in a different way. If the gospels were all exactly the same I would be more concerned because that would seem to point to the idea that the authors of the gospels got together and wrote the same exact thing. For instance, different people have certain things that stick out to them based on how the perceive the world and on their experiences in their lives (“Historical Reliability of the Gospels,” 2009).
    Kostenberger points to the purpose of John as an encouragement to the Jews and converted gentiles after the fall of the temple. The encouragement was that Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies of the Old Testament along with the symbolism of the temple (Köstenberger, 2002, p. xx). This would be another explanation as to why there are so many differences between John and the synoptic gospels. Regardless of the differences, we can rest in the fact that God preserved and preserves his word and what we see as contradictions are not contradictions to him. Just because we do not understand the differences does not mean that we should doubt the reliability of God’s word.

  23. While I was reading this article, I kept thinking of the saying: “show, don’t tell” – something my high school English teacher used to repeat to my class as a mantra. While John does explicitly tell us on several occasions who Jesus is and how he is the Son of God – John’s Gospel is different than the three synoptic Gospels in that he describes Jesus’s ministry and miracles in order to direct the reader towards the truth of Jesus being the Messiah. In Köstenberger’s book, Encountering John, Köstenberger says that John focuses on Jesus’s works and these all: “… point to the essence of who Jesus it – the Christ, the Son of God,” (Köstenberger, pp. 23). John delivers the theme of his Gospel to the reader by showing the reader the deity of Christ and the spiritual side of his manhood as opposed to just telling this all to the reader.

  24. I really resonated with what Prof. Long said at the beginning of the blog about how Mathew, Mark, and Luke don’t really align fully with how Jesus taught in parable, or not in parable, in ways like why does John not really include things about the end time as much as the other Gospels, there are really many other things like there was no birth story of Jesus in the Book of John, and some of these things are and could be really big issues that we need to know and hear about from John. There are several solutions that we could come to when looking at these problems that come up when comparing the Gospels to John. The first and major one that I think of is that they all have different authors, and as still the same today, we are all different people, and all wright a little different. another possibility is that some of them talked to the same sources, and as they were talking the source would say they have already told one of the other authors of the other Gospels, and they wrought it down. The one that I think is the most prominent, or the most true is that of which I think most will agree is that the Gospel of John is made to be a great tool to evangelize or a starter book int the Bible for a new believer, and in that case it is a great book that gives us a solid, what you need to know version of the Gospel, and for that I think it is a very great book of our Bible.

  25. Since John is considered to be different from the other Gospel passages, this leaves so much room to still have a huge impact for the readers of this book. Since the other three books deal with topics such as, birth, temptations John primarily deals with deeper topics within. Filling in gaps that other books did not get to. This makes the book more of a significant portion of the gospels to the readers. John in a way seems to cover some of the main ideas that were missed within the previous Gospels, which makes John more meaningful/different. I think that John wrote this in a way that points to Jesus in a way that reaches out to certain groups that needed to be reached out to. The article states a few different opinions on who the “intended audience is” and that is good, because I believe that is how scripture should be.

  26. It is no secret that the Gospel of John has a different voice that the synoptic gospels, but the part that isn’t so obvious is why they are so different. The synoptic gospels were written fairly close to the event of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, while the gospel of John is believed to have been written in the AD 80s, which would have been after the destruction of the temple (Kostenberger). If we applied that same reality to the present day, we would recognize that so much can change in such an extended amount of time. The writers of the other gospels would have written much more emotionally as they were reflecting on the current experiences they had just had, while John would have probably written much later in his life and able to see a more full perspective of the effects of the resurrection of Jesus.

    I think John writes his gospel from the position of an older man reflecting on the memories he experienced as a child. I think he writes to what the people of that time were confused about in terms of the life of John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and what Christianity would be like without the temple. While John could be considered less relevant because of the amount of time between the events in the book and the date it was written, I believe it actually is one of the most relevant gospels.

  27. Blog posts

    The purpose of John’s Gospel.

    Since John is considered to be different from the other Gospel passages, this leaves so much room to still have a huge impact for the readers of this book. Since the other three books deal with topics such as, birth, temptations John primarily deals with deeper topics within. Filling in gaps that other books did not get to. This makes the book more of a significant portion of the gospels to the readers. John in a way seems to cover some of the main ideas that were missed within the previous Gospels, which makes John more meaningful/different. I think that John wrote this in a way that points to Jesus in a way that reaches out to certain groups that needed to be reached out to. The article states a few different opinions on who the “intended audience is” and that is good, because I believe that is how scripture should be.

  28. The book of John was always a little interesting to me as it has less to say about Jesus of what He did or the details of His ministry. I never completely understood it until recently with the start of the class. I can concur that I agree with this blog post that the Gospel John is meant to be evangelistic and apologetic. In reading Köstenberger’s book Encountering John, he goes on in page 28 of how the Gospel is not directed to unbelievers, but to equip believers of proclaiming the message. Some of these examples are: John 12:35-36;13:14-17;14:6. It lacks a lot of Jesus miracles like healings from demon possession (Matthew 17:14-23, Mark 5, Luke 4:31-37), diseases and cripples (Matthew 8:1-17;9:1-8, 27- 34, Mark 8:22-26, Luke 8:40-56;13:10-17). What also made the Gospel of John stand out was because he “was a favorite Gospel among the Gnostics”, and he seemed more different because of how the other “three Synoptic Gospels are so similar” (Long, p.13,17). This additionally helped the Gospel John highlighting the important facts about faith that better equipped believers to evangelize to unbelievers.

  29. Despite what many historians have believed about the purpose for the writing of the Gospel of John, the purpose is clear within the writing which emphasizes the deity of Jesus Christ, evangelism to the Jewish community, and to discredit the idea of Gnosticism among early Christian believers. To start, John addresses the disbelief among the Jewish community as to whether or not Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God by creating a focal point aimed at Jesus’ relationship to God the Father (Kostenberger, 26). A few examples being that, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father (John 1:14) and that these things have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God (John 20:31). Secondly, considering that John held much knowledge of Israel’s history he chose to use this to his advantage and to relate those events to the life of Jesus Christ (Kostenberger, 30). As a result, John sought to fill the void left by the events of AD 70 with his presentation of Jesus Christ as the new temple and as the fulfillment of the symbolism of the various Jewish festivals in an effort to persuade Diaspora Jews and proselytes that the Messiah and Son of God was Jesus Christ (Kostenberger, 30). Lastly, John used the writing of his gospel to discredit the idea of Gnosticism among early Christian believers. Considering that Gnosticism was a quickly growing belief, it held the idea that people’s mystical communion with the divine and knowledge of esoteric spiritual secretes, and not acknowledging the need for atonement from human sin found only in salvation (Kostenberger, 46). Therefore; those with Gnostic beliefs automatically rejected Jesus’ incarnation, the existence of human sinfulness, and the need for atonement (Kostenberger, 47) which made it all the more challenging for John to present the writing in a manner that would testify of the need for salvation only found in Jesus Christ alone (John 3:16-18).

  30. I often feel God calling me to share the Gospel with others and to be a witness to them. One thing I struggle with is the difference between sharing the gospel with someone who has never heard it before and re-sharing it with someone who has either strayed away from the faith or is in need of guidance. For me, It is more intimidating to share the Gospel with someone who has never heard it before, but it is more difficult to re-share the Gospel to someone who has already heard it.

    The Apostle Paul and the writer of John both dealt with similar obstacles in their ministries. It seems as if the Apostle Paul spent more time witnessing to the Gentiles who never heard about the Old Testament or Messiah, and the author of John spent more time addressing the Jews who needed more guidance and a sound theology of Christ. This is not to say that Paul did not address Jews and John did not address Gentiles, because they interacted with both groups of people; (see Acts 13:14-52 & John 4:46-54) but they primarily focused on one.

    The Gospel of John is presumed to have been written “after the success of the (Pauline) Gentile Mission as well as after the destruction of Jerusalem” (Long, para. 3). Köstenberger offers evidence that the Gospel was written in Ephesus (p. 7), the same place Paul had died around thirty years prior. This is unique in the sense that Paul had completed his ministry in Ephesus and John began writing his Gospel (the next part of his ministry) in the same city. It seems that the evangelistic aspect of John’s Gospel may have applied to the Gentiles who had not been reached by Paul’s words and also to the Jews who sought the saving grace of Jesus over their laws and traditions. The apologetic aspect of John’s Gospel then, seeks to clarify and reveal who Jesus was more fully (God and man) and also bolster the new faith many Jews were turning to.

  31. Interesting post Cole. I do find it interesting that you mention, the Jews wouldn’t understand John’s writing because they were Jews like Jesus. Though I understand your point, I have to also add that John wrote the Gospel not only for Jews but as well to Gentiles who were interested in Judaism. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s limited to them but, as Köstenberger says that “John makes the unmistakable point that Christianity is, and has become, a universal religion, and that salvation is by faith, not by joining Jews in their worship and religious practice” (p.28). With this I believe that John was aiming all together to better equip believers to evangelize to the unbelievers. I would say he wrote the “major” parts of Jesus’ life to emphasize the important events for evangelizing, as the supposed “smaller” events might not be as important yet. As for Jews might be mistaking what Jesus was like, I would partially agree. As John lacks a decent amount of miracles, demon casting, and raising of the dead; there were still some of the important occasions of Jesus’ life (like the first disciples, Jesus walks on water, death of Lazarus, Jesus washes his disciples feet, etc.)

  32. The Gospel of John compared to the other three synoptic Gospels is honestly something I am still trying to wrap my mind around. Why are these perspectives different? Why is is that some things are highlighted more purposefully in one Gospel, but not as much as the other? One thing I took away from this post was that John’s Gospel emphasized who Jesus was. It may not have emphasized a lot of His works as much as the others, but it described that Jesus was the Word. Jesus was fully God and fully human. I think this is a huge part of Jesus’ ministry, which as the blog post described, emphasized that the gospel is evangelistic. Yes it focused here and there on the healings and great works that Jesus did, but the emphasis was on the fact that he was doing all these things as a man. This helped turn people’s eyes from the temple to Jesus, the Son of God who was still just a human like the rest of them. I do also understand and appreciate the blog’s reminder of the fall of Jerusalem, knowing that this was a big event during the writing of the Gospel. Aside from the big picture and the huge impact this made, I think it makes sense that John focused on the fall of Jerusalem. Knowing that city and temples were being taken over, Jesus definitely brought in a new perspective. Low-key yet high-key saying, “Hey, yes this is a big deal but I’m kind of the Son of God”. This turned many hearts and eyes to Him, leaving their old priorities behind. In conclusion, I think it is fascinating that the Gospel of John focused more on who Jesus was, trusting that the tiniest of details played a big role into who Jesus was and how people saw him.

  33. The purpose of the Gospel of John is to show who Jesus is especially with the rise of Gnosticism. In our reading we learned that Gnostic taught that “people’s mystical communion with the divine and knowledge of esoteric spiritual secrets, not atonement for human sin, constituted salvation” (Kostenberger, pg. 46). Meaning that Jesus didn’t have to die on the cross for our sins because we had no sin if we had a relationship with Him. Gnostics believed that Jesus could not become like flesh and that he was only a divine matter, they believed that if you were in communion with the divine you had no sin, and because you had no sin there was no point in having an atonement. But as Christians we know that we are all born with sin and we have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for us, to be believers. What we believe as Christians cancels out everything that Gnostics believe. We know that we all sin no matter if we have a relationship with God but we know He forgives us because He sent His only son to physically die on the Cross which is a sign of Atonement. The Gospel of John talks about how Jesus is the Son of God and to have salvation you must believe in Him. This is important because non believers may read something else that tells them that all they have to do is talk to God and they are fine but in reality they must believe. The purpose of John is to show who Jesus Christ is and to tear down any false meanings.

  34. In this blog post I like how you explained how the Gospel of John is quite different from the other three Gospels; Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In our reading we learned all about the differences and similarities between John and the other Gospels, one thing that stood out to me is that Kostenberger states “For John what is significant is not Jesus’s amazing deeds in and of themselves. Rather, all of Jesus’s works point to the essence of who Jesus is–the Christ, the Son of God. ” (Kostenberger, pg. 23) The purpose of John was to teach all Christians, Jews or Gentiles about how Jesus is a human, who is the son of God, who was sent by the Father to die on the cross for our sins. John wrote his gospel in hopes that his readers believe that Jesus is the Messiah. John 20: 30-31 states, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 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.” The purpose of John is stated right in those verses. John’s Gospel makes it clear that if you want to have eternal life that you have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. This blog is great for someone who is still trying to understand why John is so different from the other Synoptic Gospels, it explains it in a way that’s easier to understand.

  35. The Gospel of John was written to all Christians, there is no bias based on ethnic background or spiritual upbringing. While the other four Gospels create a realistic timeline of Jesus’s life and focus on more on a historical accuracy, John uses “key events” or “signs” to describe Jesus as the person. John is like any great author nowadays using words of imagery to create visual pictures to invoke feelings or emotions that sway the hearts to being receptive of the one and only truth. The portrayal of the last supper emphasizes how Jesus showed humility to his disciples and performed the washing of the feet; Jesus allowed himself to be placed below them in a social stature demonstrating his humanity in parallel with his deism. Mathew, Mark and Luke describe everything that Jesus does while on earth, but John answers the questions of “Who Is He?” and “Why Does He?”. John 20:31 states, “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in his name”. The Evangelical importance that all men are loved by God whether they believe or not. God sent Jesus for our benefit; we must accept this gift through believing to have accesses to eternal life (John 3:16). Being surrounded by Christians that openly express their faith and who are not openly persecuted for our faith makes it easy for us to take these things for granted. John is a book of encouragement for the believer and the “not yet saved”.

  36. When comparing John to the other Synoptic books it is very unique like P. Long writes about above. With it’s differences it can be questioned on accuracy and so much more but I think it is important to remember a few things when reading John. John is his own person and he will remember and recall life events differently. Although, he should not remember shared experiences completely different it is important to recognize that John may have perceived different events and stories to be more important when telling the story of Jesus. When comparing the books of the Bible to each other it is important to remember that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching” (2 Timothy 3:16). No matter the differences among scripture we can have confidence that it is from God and we are to know and learn from it. Although, John is a book that stirs up my curiosity and I am intrigued to learn more of why John is wrote in a different way.

  37. One of the things that really surprises me about the Gospel of John compared to the other Gospels is that it does not talk much about the second coming of Jesus Christ. Being that the same John is believed to have written both the Gospel of John and Revelation, which talks about the end times, I am surprised that there is not more about Jesus coming back. Maybe John did not feel a need to add more information about the second coming in this Gospel because he talks about it more in Revelation, but it still surprises me. We see it talked about in other Gospels, such as Matthew, which makes me wonder why it would not be featured as much in John’s Gospel, but I believe that since all Scripture is inspired by God, there is a reason for that and that it was just not needed to be featured as heavily in the Gospel of John. One other thing that I took from this blog is the idea that the story of the blind man may have been used to show people that Jesus is better than Asclepius. I find it fascinating to learn about the motivation behind why certain authors (especially with the Gospels) wrote particular things and excluded others. This may not have been why John decided to add that story, but being that it is a possibility, I think that it is interesting to think about.

  38. There are some differences between the Gospel of John and the three synoptic gospels. These differences can be explained by the timing of which John wrote the gospel. Many believe that John wrote the book after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Kostenberger suggests an AD 80’s date (Kostenberger, 8). However, it is also possible that the gospel of John was written in the mid 90’s which would also take place during the rise of Gnosticism. With this in mind, John most likely wrote the gospel and how he introduced/described Jesus to his audience with Gnosticism in mind. However, assuming that the Gospel of John was written sometime in the mid-90’s the book of John would have also been written roughly 30 years after Paul’s death. This would indicate that the gentile mission was no longer a big factor (Long). John wrote to Jews and Christians to clarify and help them understand who Jesus was and the theology behind it. Jesus was fully God and fully man. This concept when first introduced is confusing. How can someone be fully God and fully man? It just does not make sense. John helps us to understand this starting in John 1:1. The gospel of John is a staple in understanding the theological concept of Christology.

  39. Considering that John’s gospel being written after the other gospels and that he was likely aware of the other Gospels (Kostenberger p.23). I wonder if perhaps John wrote his gospel with deliberate consideration to the time in which he was writing. For example, perhaps the reason he chose not to write about Jesus’ warning about the destruction of Jerusalem is because in the apostolic age the temple had already been destroyed and there was no further need for warning. While there is no way to be certain, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps the reason the Gospel of John is so different from the others is because it was written for a different age rather than a different purpose.

  40. After diving into the class “Encountering John” and reading the Blog post, I am amazed at how detailed the book of John is compared to the other Gospels. It seems that John had a mission to reach people in a different way and perspective talked about in this Blog when you stated that the book of John isn’t a Gentile mission-focused. In Köstenberger pg. 9 when talking about the purpose of John in the book it states that the temple was destroyed and this was a problem for the Jews because they used the temple as a place for sacrifice, this was a problem for them, as they wouldn’t have a way for salvation john provided an opportunity through his teaching. John wanted to Show them that they did not need these physical symbols anymore and that all they needed now was Jesus because he embodied all the symbols they once used to worship him.

    Another portion of this blog that I thought was important to me was that the book of John puts an emphasis on Jesus being Flesh but also fully God and utterly equal to God. We talked about this a lot in class today, kind of tying this into the first paragraph I wrote, In the Notes on Pg.39 Jesus is flesh and he is also are living tabernacle, John uses the Metaphor “He became flesh, and Tabernacled”. John wanted the Jews to look at him as their new sanctuary and if they did that they would be satisfied. The Jewish people were most likely confused about what to do after the temple was destroyed but John made it his goal to show them the new truth through Jesus.

  41. Prior to this class, I had never thought much about the differences of the gospels, or the importance of certain gospels containing certain details. The study of John that we have done in this class so far as well as blog posts like these have helped me to understand John’s target audience and why he chose to include the details that he did. With the background knowledge about the rapid growth of Gnosticism, it makes sense why John included such an emphasis on Jesus being the incarnate Word in the flesh- he made sure to emphasize Jesus as being both fully God as well as fully man. Since the Gnostics did not believe in atonement for human sin, John makes a point to explain in detail the deity of Jesus, and how he fulfills the Old Testament sacrificial law. John also draws strong attention to the equality of Jesus as the Word, which is life itself. It is also very interesting to me that John chose to leave out key stories and details that are mentioned in the Synoptic gospels. One that I had never noticed before was the lack of mentioning the Second Coming of Christ, which is interesting since this is such a major idea in Christianity as a whole. However, understanding John’s audience does help make sense of what his gospel doesn’t include- his primary focus in writing his gospel was to clear up confusion and stress the importance about who Jesus really is. John was focused more on explaining the deity of Jesus and how he fulfills the Jewish story of redemption, which explains why he often alludes to the Hebrew Bible. The main purpose of John’s gospel was to explain who Jesus really is using terms that both the Jewish readers and the Gnostics would understand.

  42. The Gospel of John was very compelling. The Gospel of John was deciphering words form Jesus. Instead of just recording what Jesus did and the teaching and miracles, John took a different approach and made his Gospel to be able to answer questions. Breaking down Johns writings he had the gospel which was him and the work of Christ, then we can look at the Epistles of John which is the individual believer and christ and third the revelation which is the victory and rule of Christ. The purpose of Johns Gospel is that we may know Christ. Unlike the synoptic gospels John’s seemed to talk less about the miracles that were preformed but the synoptic gospels don’t talk about it that much either. The four synoptic gospels focus more on the cross and resurrection. Johns gospel was to encourage the followers to keep their faith when Jesus was getting persecuted. This gospel brings wisdom to the followers.

  43. Taking this class and reading the first four chapters of Kostenberger that I have read so far made me realize how there is so much to John than I originally thought. For example, I did not realize how much different his book is to the other 3 synoptic gospels. Kostenberger draws up these differences side by side which makes the contrast that much visible. To give an instance, he mentions how Matthew, Mark, and Luke begin their books by informing us of Jesus’ birth and the events that surrounded said birth(pg. 75). John, on the other hand, goes back to the very beginning when God created the heavens and the earth (). The purpose of this writing, as the above article mentions, is to not bring confusion but rather comprehensibility as to who Jesus is. I also like how the article sheds light on the “theological challenge” that was going on at the specific time John was writing his book as it makes it easier to understand (somewhat) why the book was written at that particular time and in that particular way. Gnosticism went against the core teachings of Christianity such as the atonement of human sin, Jesus’ incarnation, human sinfulness, and the need for atonement (Kostenberger, pg. 96). With that being said, the timing of the writing of the book of John could not have been any more perfect.

  44. after reading the text it is clear to see that John was very different from the other gospel and it clear in Kostenberger text why it is different for the other gospels. In the text Kostenberger emphasis on the major themes of John and what he wanted to acknowledge God as. For example Kostenberger said that God is know primarily two ways “as the father who sent ” Jesus and as the Father of the Son”(pg26). To me it seemed that John wanted to give God a more divinity look. Throughout the text in the Bible John also looks at the divine side of Jesus were other chapters doesn’t so much have that as there theme. For instance John 3:16 says ” That God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son” this examples shows me that John wanted to point out that he was the spiritual answer and that he was just as much God as he was man . One particular part I liked in the article was when it stated that John was refereeing to Jesus as the new temple or festival and this made me believe that John wanted the others to look at Jesus the key to everything. In the end the writing of John capture the essences of Jesus spiritual side and who he was a God and a human.

  45. After reading the first couple of chapters of “Encountering John” by Kostenberger and reading this blog I understand that there are many differences between the Gospel of John and the synoptic gospels. I had never put much thought in the similarities and differences, but now I see that John had a different purpose for his writing. He wrote this book to all Christians and he focuses on how Jesus is both fully God and man. One theme of John that Kostenberger mentions in chapter 3, is that of substitutionary atonement. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes on the sins of the world to save all who believe in Him. This gospel aims to explain who Jesus was and why He came into the world as a man. I like how this article focuses on both the similarities and differences between the synoptic gospels and John because it is crucial to understanding the purpose of the book of John and why he wrote it. In all honesty, I never thought about how John was any different than the other accounts of the life of Jesus. However, I now have a deeper understanding of the themes and goals of this book.

  46. Before we get to what the purpose of John’s Gospel is, we must answer what a gospel is first. The Greek word for “gospel” is euangelion. It translates to “good news” and that is exactly what John’s Gospel is. It talks about the beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. Gospels are known to portray significant events in the life of an important person. However, they are different from biographies as gospels are anonymous, lack literary pretension, and combine teaching and action in a preaching-oriented work.

    It is assumed that John wrote this gospel after the fall of the temple in Jerusalem, most-likely meaning it was written sometime after AD 70. The audience was most likely supposed to be Diaspora Jews and gentiles attracted to Judaism, but ultimately the church at large. It was smart of John to write the gospel after the fall of the tower of Jerusalem, as there was a hole and he was about to jump at the opportunity to spread the good news.
    Judaism felt a void and John thought it was the perfect time to encourage diaspora Jews and proselytes to turn to Jesus. It was as if John was a businessman and saw an amazing opportunity to jump in and spread his business like a wildfire. It was not necessarily the case that the gospel was written directly to unbelievers, but actually it was written to believers to go out and evangelize and proclaim the message of Jesus the messiah. In the end, it was simply the fact that the tower of Jerusalem fell and John saw an ample opportunity to spread the good news, hence the meaning of gospel and why it is called John’s Gospel.

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