The Gospel of John




Place and Time of Writing


Unique Characteristics






Note on the Four Themes of the Four Gospels


Opening John Up


An example of two Jewish aspects found in John


John includes 7 "I am" statements by Jesus.  This was significant to the Jews of that day for two reasons.

We have discussed that the Jews found the number seven to be significant.  John has 7 “I am” statements, plus he describes 7 miracles that Jesus performed before his death.  Since a miracle is something Jews believed that only God could perform, this would highlight the theme of John that Jesus was God.  (John does include one additional miracle in the last chapter of his Gospel, but this occurs after Jesus’ death and during the last meeting between Jesus and his Apostles.)


An example of a Gentile aspect found in John


When we discussed the Roman World I did not mention different Greek and Roman philosophies.  This is because most of them are not mentioned in the NT and so you did not need to have a general understanding of these different philosophies.  But in this one case it is necessary. 

    For many Gentiles the Greek idea of “logos” described a force that was not necessarily a god but a force that held the universe together.  (Optional:  For more information go here:   Therefore, John used this Greek word at the beginning of his Gospel to describe Jesus.  Basically he was saying:  “You believe in this force, and I will tell you who this force is:  Jesus.”


John 3:16:  The most quoted verse in the Bible


A potential problem in all the Gospels

I have heard this asked in many classes and conversations:  “If Jesus was God, then why did he pray to God?”  I discuss this in all Bible classes I teach and so here goes: 

    Let me use this example:  Think back to when you woke up this morning.  What did you really want to do?  Probably stay in bed.  But part of you told the rest of you, “You have to get up and get ready for work/help the kids/etc.”  You wanted to stay in bed but you had this conversation in your head in which you convinced yourself to get up.  And we do this all day long:  I want to eat that/no I shouldn’t eat that, etc. 

    I see the same thing happening with Jesus.  From the biblical idea of the Trinity, we have discussed that God is one but is also called Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Son (Jesus) was on the earth and needed to talk with God, just like we talk to ourselves.  So Jesus prayed to God, or another way of looking at it was that God the Son was talking to God the Father, or that God was talking with Himself, again, just like we talk to ourselves. 

    Let me mention one specific case:  Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night that he was to be arrested.  He knew he was going to be arrested and that he would end up being crucified.  That was going to be very painful, and so God on earth (Jesus) had a conversation with God the Father:  “I don’t want to go through this.  If there is anyway that this can be avoided, I will do that.”  Just like we say to ourselves in the mornings when we are in bed.  But, just like we get up, Jesus decided to follow through and be arrested and crucified. 

    So, yes, Jesus did pray to God, but another way to look at it was that God was talking with himself.  (God the Son talking with God the Father.)


Outline of John



1:  Prologue describing Jesus; John the Baptist denies being the Christ; Jesus is baptized and calls his first disciples

2:  Jesus performs a miracle and clears the Temple of moneychangers

3:  Jesus has a conversation with a Jewish leader; John the Baptist discusses Jesus

4:  Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman and performs a miracle

5:  Jesus heals a man and answers a question

6:  Jesus performs a miracle and answers questions

7-8:  Jesus in and around Jerusalem where he answers questions

9:  Jesus heals a man

10:  Jesus discusses himself

11:  Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and the Jewish leadership tries to kill Jesus

12:  The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and Jesus predicts his death

13-21:  Jesus is in and around Jerusalem.  John describes the last week of Jesus’ life in chapters 12-19


Comparing the amount of chapters by the 4 Gospels on the last week of Jesus’ life


Readings from John

The verses after John 3:16 (beginning with John 3:16):  3:16-21:  3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.


Jesus discusses the Father:  5:19-23:  5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.


Jesus discusses the Holy Spirit:  14:23-27:  14:23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.



Timeline so far      Additions are boldfaced



Rome Empire conquered Israel without fighting


Julius Caesar assassinated by Brutus, Cassius, and others.  Mark Antony tries to seize power, and he and Octavian (Caesar’s nephew) fight for power.


The Roman Empire made Herod the Great king of Israel


Antony married Cleopatra in Egypt


Octavian’s forces defeated Antony and Cleopatra’s forces; they committed suicide the next year.


Octavian is given name of Augustus, becomes Augustus Caesar.  This is the beginning of Pax Romana

4 BC

Jesus born

He could have been born as early as 7 BC, but we will use 4 B.C.

4 BC

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus flee to Egypt because Herod the Great wanted to kill Jesus

4 BC

Herod the Great died

4 BC

After Herod the Great died, the kingdom of the Jews was divided and given to Herod’s three sons:

  • The northern part, north of Nazareth, went to Philip.

  • The middle part called Galilee, north of Jerusalem but where Nazareth was located, went to Herod Antipas.  (He is referred to as “Herod” in the Gospels and so this can be confusing.)

  • The southern part called Judea, where Jerusalem and Bethlehem was located, went to Herod Archelaus. 


All years after this point are AD



Joseph, Mary, and Jesus return to Nazareth instead of moving to Bethlehem


Archelaus is removed from power because he was so brutal

6 and after

The Romans did not choose another of Herod’s descendants to control Judea (southern Israel) but instead appointed Roman governors


Jesus lost in Jerusalem at age 12; Joseph and Mary find him in the Temple; possible Bar Mitzvah


Jesus probably worked as a carpenter


The Roman governor in charge of southern Israel was Pilate


Jesus baptized by John the Baptist


Jesus traveled in Israel while preaching, teaching, and performing miracles


Jesus was crucified under the Roman governor Pilate; Jesus raises from the dead three days later and ascends out of sight about a month-and-a-half later


The Apostle John was present at the Council of Jerusalem


We do not know what the Apostle John did in this time period


Fire in Rome.  The emperor Nero blamed, persecuted, and killed many Christians.  This was the first Roman persecution of Christians. 


Peter and Paul martyred around this year


Some of the Jews got tired of the Roman rule and killed many Roman soldiers.  They thus took back the land of Israel for the Jews.


The Romans counter-attacked.  The Romans lost one battle, but won the war.


Mark written around this year


The Romans captured Jerusalem and burned the Temple. 


Matthew and Luke written around this year


Domitian is Roman emperor


John written around this year


Persecution of Christians


The Apostle John is placed on the island of Patmos as a prisoner of Domitian


Domitian died and John is probably released from Patmos; he traveled to Ephesus where he probably stayed for the rest of his life


The Apostle John died around this year.  With his death there were no more original Apostles left alive. 


First listing of the 27 books in a letter written by an Egyptian bishop


Two councils “closed” the NT canon to those 27 books


NT divided into chapters


NT divided into verses



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