Introduction to John's Gospel

Published Aug. 30, 2023, 12:35 p.m.

Overview of Gospel of John

First of all, let us take stock of our presuppositions.  Some (but probably not all) of my presupositions are:

  1. The Bible is True and inspired by God.
  2. Some parts of the bible are clear, some are less clear. 
  3. There are "more correct" and "less correct" interpretations of Scripture.
  4. I may not possess the most correct interpretation.
  5. Many valuable insights may be extracted from Bible and History scholars.
  6. Scripture is best interpreted in the context of other scripture (rather than standing alone).

What are some of your presuppositions?

I think context matters.  It is good to consider the historical setting, the social customs and political powers at the time and place of the writing. 

  1. Let's observe some historical/social/political background of John's Gospel.

    Who wrote it?  Apostle John  (Gospel, Epistles, Revelation)

    Eusebius "Church History" 324 AD:  "
    It is said that in this persecution the apostle and evangelist John, who was still alive, was condemned to dwell on the island of Patmos in consequence of his testimony to the divine word."  During time of Domitian (Domitian (Titus Flavius Caesar Domitianus Augustus) was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96 AD)

    When was it written?  AD 55-95   Fragments dated no later than 130 AD contain passages from John  (John Rylands Papyrus). Possibly written to combat Gnostic misinterpretations.  (Evidence that demands a verdict pp.46 -47)

    Where was it written?  Patmos?  Ephesus?
    Map of Turkey, Patmos and Ephesus

    Why was it written? 
    (John 20:31 "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. )

  2. What are some distinctives of John's Gospel?
    Different from other 3 (Synoptic) Gospels  Probably written later.  (Some passages in John may point to other Gospels)  John 11:2, Luke 7:38, Mark 14:3-9, Matt. 26:6-13  John 12:8
    John does not attempt to compose a "more complete" gospel or a definitive gospel.  John's gospel contains no narrative parables,  no account of the transfiguration, no record of the Lord's Supper,  No account of Jesus casting out demons, and no mention of Jesus' temptations. 
    In fact, there is some overlap with the other Gospels, but not a lot.  Why do you think that is?

  3. The Gospel of John is primarily about Jesus.

  4. John's Gospel testifies of specific and strong claims of Jesus to be God.

  5. John's Gospel is renown for its profundity and its accessibility.  Very famous passages:  John 3:16;  John 11:35 (Jesus Wept)

  6. For the interested person, John's Gospel will send you all over the Bible for deeper learning. 

  7. John sets up many contrasts.  Be on the lookout!

  8. John's Gospel appears to emphasize stories that highlight God's sovreignty in salvation.

The Word Became Flesh

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 was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

  1.  "In the beginning..."  Makes you think of what?  Luke and Matthew both give geneologies of Jesus.  Is this a geneology of sorts?

  2. "...was the Word."  See Rev. 19:11-16.

  3. "By him was everything made."  Psalm 33:6  Col. 1:16

  4. "In him was life.  And that life was the light of men..."  
  5. What does the passage have to say about God's view of reality?

  6. How does this passage impact my intimacy with Him?

  7. How does this passage impact my relationships with other people and with the natural world?


There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

  1. Which "John" are we talking about here?

  2. John is a witness of the light.  What possible confusion is the gospel writer trying to shut down?

  3. First John calls Jesus "The Word".  Now He refers to Jesus as the "true light".  What kind of contrasts are being set up here about light specifically?  Why does this make such a good metaphor?  Is is more than metaphor? 

  4. What other contrasts are emerging here?  Consider the imagery of birth.  What does it mean to be "born of God"?  What does the will of a creature have to do with its own birth?
  5. How does this passage speak to the issues and attitudes of my heart?

As we go through this study, for each chapter consider:

Interpretation Questions: 

  1. What seems to be the author's intent for these passages?

  2. Is there a principle or lesson that is communicated to the audience? If so, what is it?

  3. Would these principles or lessons be applied in the same way today as they would

    have for the original audience?

  4. Are these interpretations consistent with the theme, structure and purpose of the

    letter/book in which they are found?

  5. Are these interpretations consistent with other scripture?

Application Questions:

  1. What does the passage have to say about God's view of reality?

  2. How does this passage impact my intimacy with Him?

  3. How does this passage speak to the issues and attitudes of my heart?

  4. How does this passage impact my relationships with other people and with the natural


  5. What specific actions does God want me to take in response to this passage?

skip_nextJohn Chapter 1
  • Introduction to John's Gospel
    (currently viewing)
  • John Chapter 1

  • John Chapter 2

  • John Chapter 3

  • John Chapter 4

  • John Chapter 5

  • John Chapter 6

  • John Chapter 7 (and end of Ch.6)

  • John Chapter 8

  • John Chapters 9 and 10

  • John Chapter 10 and 11

  • John Chapter 12

  • End of John 12 and Chapter 13

  • John Chapter 14

  • John Chapter 15 and 16

  • John Chapter 17