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The Gospel According to Who? - Part 1

Updated on October 23, 2016

My Apology

Some of you may have noticed that I rather abruptly did not finish my series on The Gospel According to John even though we did not come close to finishing the book study. There is a simple reason for this. That is because I fear that some of the material I may have covered is inaccurate. I do not take lightly my responsibility with the words I share, whether they be spoken or written, especially when it comes to sharing Scripture.


My Mistake

My error stems from misrepresenting the author of the book. We are told of the Bereans n Acts 17:11, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." They studied the Scriptures for themselves to see if God's written word agreed with the spoken word of God's preacher.

Unfortunately I must admit that I have not done that when it comes to the question, who wrote the gospel of John? So who wrote the gospel of John? Obviously John the apostle, right? That is what I always believed. That is what I was always taught.

Please do not tune out just yet, but John the apostle did not write the gospel that bares his name. I know many of you are already ahead of me in this quest. No doubt, there are also many who would cry, "heretic" without hearing the evidence. Please be open-minded enough to consider that something new could be learned if we just turn to the Scriptures rather than the teachings of man.

We must realize that there is always something new to learn. If not, Paul would have never written to Timothy, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Again I Peter 3:15 tells us to ". . . be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."


The Eye-Witness Author

We know that the fourth gospel is an eye-witness account (have you checked that fact for yourself or are you just taking my word for it?), so if John is not the author, the facts of the book must necessarily change. I take this very seriously. The very meaning of many verses in the gospel are no longer true if we teach John (the eye-witness) wrote the book.

We must follow the path of Scripture and determine for ourselves what they say apart from what may have been taught for hundreds of years. I believe if you stay with me through this study you will come to the same conclusion that I have. John simply did not write the book.

So what? Who cares who the author is? Is it really important to know? I have no doubt the answer is yes. The truth of who the author is or is not shapes the way the book is taught. Was it John that leaned on Jesus' shoulder at the last supper? Was it John who ran to the tomb with Peter? Was it John that Peter asked, ". . . Lord, and what shall this man do?" in John 21:21.

Introductory Thoughts

Am I not a bit arrogant to reject as truth things that have been taught as truth for hundreds of years? I have already admitted my error. Hopefully that is not a show of arrogance, but we must realize that just because a thought has been around for a while - or even a very long time does not make it true. Truth does not change no matter how long a fallacy is perpetuated as truth. People have believed in evolution for over a century, but it still is not true. Neither does it become true just because the majority of people believe it.

Were you taught that the Aposple John was the author of the Gospel that bares his name?

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"Well, so and so taught in seminary that John wrote the book, and he must know because he is smart." Oh, really? One of the last places I would want to go to learn truth is a seminary. Most scholars teach it as true, but the mere fact that most scholars might teach a thing is true, does not make it so.

Didn't the early church claim John as the author? There is no evidence of that, but even if they did, does that make a statement true? We know from Scripture itself that the early church committed errors. Consider Galatians 3:1 - " O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth . . . ." Add to that Hebrews 5:12 - " For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."

You may "just know" that John is the author of the fourth gospel and feel you do not need to check the Scriptures as the Bereans did. If that is the case, then why not take the challenge anyway. There is nothing to lose knowing that you could not possibly be wrong. Maybe, just maybe there is something new to learn. One of the things that I learned from this study is that if I hold on to beliefs just because they are my beliefs, and I become too proud to consider another thought, many people are hurt, but I take the most weight. The Truth will make you free - not burden you and weigh you down.

We know that we can trust God's Word. We know that humans can and do make mistakes. Therefore it becomes necessary for us to study for ourselves and not be spoon fed all the time. Psalm 18:8 tells us, "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man." So let the Lord speak to you through His Spirit. Even as we continue in this study, if I give you something that is not biblical, be cautious. Consider it for yourself. Let God have the final word. When you Consider non-biblical sources, you need to especially be wary.

When we are sick we call the doctor, we take medicine, we get rest, and nothing seems to make us feel better. Maybe we should have gone to God first. Should not He be the first stop in all things. We are so quick to turn to outside sources for truth; things like seminaries, traditions, "Bible scholars. Sometimes the last place we check is the Bible. In reality, it ought to be the first place we go. If we want Bible answers, the Bible makes the most sense to turn to. Therefore, as we study this topic, we will use only Scripture - no outside sources, no traditions; only what the Bible says.

May I give you an assignment? Be like the Bereans of old and study the scripture for yourself.Go through the gospel with a fine tooth comb. Dig more than usual. Stretch your comfort zone. See if you can find a single verse that would point to John as the author of the fourth gospel. If we can determine together that there is not a single verse in the entire Bible that teaches this, are you willing to be open-minded enough to reject the false teaching and replace it with the truth.

Secondly, if Scripture can actually prove an idea false, are you willing to let it go and search for the truth. We will continue to deal with the author of what is commonly referred to as the Gospel of John in Part 2. It is time the walls come down.


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    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      I've heard the same thing about Matthew and Mark - Mark more so, but I just learned about John so most of my study has been in that area. I can't really say with any surety at this point about Matthew and Mark, but it wouldn't surprise me if someone else wrote the books. Thanks for being like the Bereans and studying it out for yourself. I think that's where a lot of mistakes can come in. We just take someone else's word for it, or what tradition might teach - but it may be entirely wrong.

      Anyway. things really have me busy, but I'll get Part 2 up as soon as I can. Thanks again for the follow-up.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      P & L, I see you are right about the book titles and authors, and I appreciate the correction. Bill, I did do some investigation after one of your hubs on John and heard the discussion about the author maybe not being John. I saw that you are right, there is no definitive identification. But I found the same with the Matthew and Mark, although I didn't go over them with as fine a tooth comb as John. Luke's had a lot more evidence in style and language and some clues in the book of acts.

      So I re-read your answer to my comment and see that you were concerned about saying it was John who did this and that. I like that you have integrity and reverence to rightly present the all things . I guess my knee jerk reaction was fear that you would say that much of the truth in the book of John cannot be trusted if it's the wrong author. What I am seeing, (correct me if I am wrong) is that you were concerned mostly that you identified John as being the one who did certain things in the story when you feel sure it was not him.

      I am greatly anticipating the next hub but would like a response about Matthew and Mark.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Glad to have you stop in for a visit, Jackie. For centuries it's been taught that the Apostle John wrote the Gospel that bares his name. I accepted it as fact from those who taught me just like millions of others over the centuries until I came in contact with some material that really challenged my comfort zone. I wanted to know the truth too, and I discovered there is not a single verse in Scripture (that I know of) that points to John as the author, but there is much evidence when looked at closely shows that John was indeed not the author. It blew my mind. So I guess I feel I have to share it here on HP. Hope you stick around for the finale. Thanks for stopping by. I know you're busy and I appreciate you taking time out to read.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Dear Bill; bet we are the sharpest tongued Christians you ever met? lol

      I would hate to think John did not write it (although of course I would want to know the truth) and was it then another apostle that talked of contact with Jesus? Could it be someone wrote it for John but it is John's words? Can you imagine the book of revelation; having all this come at you and having to write it down too? Makes sense he would have someone else write what he is saying, maybe it was even told to him to do it that way so he added no thoughts of his own and only what he was given in the visions or dreams? Or maybe he was feeble by this time; unable to write legibly. Whatever; it does not hurt my faith and I believe these are writings meant for us surely. Just another place to use our faith.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA


      Looking forward to working through this together. I've learned so much in this study. I can hardly wait to share more in Part 2. Thanks for the visit.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, again I wait for Part II. This is interesting. Will see what I can learn meanwhile.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Lori,

      As far as I know, John was not credited with the book until about 300 AD. As PlanksandNails mentioned. the book names are not inspired. In other words, they're not part of Scripture, but added later to be a "help". Hopefully this short series will only strengthen the fact that Scripture is indeed inerrant.

      The reason I dropped the "John" series, at least for now is that if John is not the author, it changes a whole lot of what the book is teaching. As I mentioned, "Was it John that leaned on Jesus' shoulder at the last supper? Was it John who ran to the tomb with Peter? Was it John that Peter asked, ". . . Lord, and what shall this man do?" in John 21:21." It was taught for years that John was the one involved in these incidents.

      If he is not the eye-witness giving the account, it changes what is popularly being taught. The question becomes, who is the disciple whom Jesus loved? Part 2 will be up shortly, but in the meantime, I hope you take the challenge I gave, and search the Scriptures for one proof verse that John wrote the book and is the disciple whom Jesus loved. Thanks for checking in. Hope you had a great Memorial Day.

    • PlanksandNails profile image

      PlanksandNails 3 years ago from among the called out ones of the ekklesia of Christ


      The book names of the Bible are not part of the inspired Scripture itself, but are titles for distinguishing one book from another, just as chapter and verse numbers were added as an aid to the readers.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      I am looking forward to hearing your evidence or lack thereof that John is not the author. I know that you pointed out that men are fallible, but I believe the Holy Spirit made it clear to the counsel that put together the Bible. There are many books of the Bible where the author is not known. Obviously, the Holy Spirit did not give them this information for a reason. What, I don't know. If the counsel who decided (by the leading for the Holy Spirit) which books should go in the Bible, and who the authors were in certain books, but they made a mistake with John, then we cannot trust that other declared authors are accurate in some cases. And how can we believe anything in the books in the Bible are not riddled with inaccuracies? If they can make one mistake they can make others. And why leave the John series up if you feel that the declared author is wrong? This opens up a huge can of worms as to the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible. If they can make a mistake in one place they can make them in other places, as I said. This is all interesting though and I will try to keep an open mind.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Bill,

      Thanks for the visit, and the comment. Hope you and Bev have a wonderful Memorial Day as we celebrate our freedom.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My favorite part of this article was right at the take seriously your responsibility as a writer. I wish more writers did. :)