John's Gospel-a new look Intro.
Study of Gospel of John
John’s Gospel –a New Look.
1.1 The Importance of the book. The Gospel according to John must be one of the greatest books ever written. Not only does its subject make it that, but also the masterful use of language and descriptions of real events. It is also filled with great examples of figurative language and teaching, coming straight from the mind and mouth of Jesus and so from God. In his commentary Leon Morris likens the book to a pool that a child can wade in and an Elephant can swim in. In other words it speaks to everyone at different levels. It is a book that touches the soul but still leaves you believing and yearning for a deeper understanding; in other words it has depths that need to be explored continuously as a person grows in faith and maturity. You can never say "I now understand it fully," because it always challenges and will continue to do so. Barclay mentions the signs used to illustrate the four gospels. Mark a man, Matthew a lion, Luke an ox and John an eagle. The eagle is the only one that can look directly into the sun.
1.2 The Back ground of the times. It is important to look at the world in the time of John's writings so as to better understand the book. Each Gospel was written with its own particular style and purpose. Looking carefully at the four Gospels it becomes apparent that each writer had an audience in mind and also an aim. John lived and worked in a Greek environment and so he begins his Gospel account with the words; "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God". A statement so profound that is leaves the reader amazed and searching for understanding but at the same time it had a meaning that was especially meaningful to the Greek readers.
1.3 Different to the synoptic Gospels. It is also interesting to look carefully at what John did not include in his Gospel account. He is not giving a historical account as Luke gives. He does not quote from the Old Testament prophets like Matthew does. He does not emphasise the parables and teaching of Jesus as the Synoptic Gospels do. He is not concerned about the order of events as that is not important to his stated aim. He does not mention the Last Supper, Genealogies, Gethsemane and the Ascension.
1.4 The Organization of the book. John organizes the book around the 7 "I Am" statements because that is what is important - see John 20:30,31.
1.5 The clearly stated aim of the Gospel is then to show who Jesus was and is. When studying the book it is always good to keep in mind the stated aim. How is John proving to his readers who Jesus is? The number of details that John noticed and shared with his readers and with us is to some degree limited of what he could write in one scroll. So he has to be selective in what he chooses to share.
1.6 The "Word" or "Logos". Writing to a Greek readership John knew full well that the Greeks understood the "LOGOS" to be the underlying power that governed the universe. To the Greeks the logos was the force that produced the world with all its beauty and organization. While the Jewish readers of Matthew knew about the creation account, the Greek readers neither knew about it or really cared. They were not versed in the Old Testament Scripture and so John approaches the story of Jesus from an entirely different angle, one with which the Greek thinking could identify. So when he starts his account he makes the amazing statement that Jesus was, is, and will always be the LOGOS.
1.7 John's personal knowledge. No one knew Jesus better than John. He was not only a disciple, one of the twelve, but he was also one of the inner circle that was closest to Jesus. So in this Gospel he shares many first-hand details with his readers.
If one suggests one book of the 66 in the Bible for someone who is asking questions about God and eternity to read then the Gospel according to John would be high on the list. As the book is read it is full of information about Jesus, directly from the person who probably knew him better than anyone else.
References: NIV Translation.
Good News Bible
Leon Morris: The Gospel according to John.
William Barclay; The Gospel of John