The Gospel According to Who? - Part 2
- The Gospel According to Who? - Part 1
The Apostle John generally is given credit for writing the fourth gospel that bares his name - but did he? If not John, then who did?
A Quick Review of Part 1
If someone would have walked up to me six months ago and told me that the Apostle John was not the author of the gospel that bares his name, and offered no proof I would have written him off as not knowing what he was talking about. I have heard so many theories that don't make sense when Scripture is applied, and I would have been sure this was just one more.
Through decades of my Christian life I was always (and I do mean always) taught that the Apostle John wrote the gospel along with I John, II John, III John, and the Revelation. The point would have been emphasized that he wrote more New Testament books than anyone with the exception of the Apostle Paul.
Forget what I have been taught. Forget the respectable men and their ideas. Forget the longevity of the lie. The apostle John did not write the Gospel of John. Stay with me and I will prove it. After looking long and hard, there is not a single verse pointing to John as the author of the Fourth Gospel. If we stay just with the Scriptures we can safely say there is no verse or verses that prove John's authorship. On the other hand, there are verses that do prove another author. We may not be able to say for sure who that other author is, but we can say for sure it was not John. Actually the Scriptures do present a strong case for one author in particular, but we will look at that later.
That being said, We must be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11; Psalm 86:11a) and search the Scriptures. It can be very difficult to let go of beliefs we have held for years, but honestly, if the belief we are holding on to is not the truth, why would we want to hold on to it?
"Well, it really doesn't matter if I believe John wrote the gospel. It doesn't hurt to hold on to that belief. It doesn't change my faith and I'm still saved." You have the right to feel that way, but just know that what you believe does not make it true. Truth stands in, and of, and by itself. Someone once told me, "Faith is believing." No, faith is knowing the facts and having confidence in them. Let us move on to the facts.
Book Titles Are Not Inspired
As I was teaching these lessons in church a few weeks ago, I saw very quickly it became necessary to distinguish between what was infallible Scripture and what was not. Much discussion ensued. So before continuing, let me just say that the titles of the books are not inspired, and actually change from publisher to publisher as well as from language to language.
For instance, one Bible might have as the title for the book of John, The Gospel According to John, or The Book of John the Apostle, or The Gospel of Saint John, etc. For simplicity's sake, consider the King James Bible. In every King James Bible, verse one begins, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Each English word is the same in any King James Bible you pick up. The Bibles may however, use different title wording for the titles The same is true for column headings. They will vary from Bible to Bible because they are not inspired, but rather placed there for our convenience. Chapter and verse placement has also been added for convenience sake, but does not appear in the original writings.
That being said, still it would seem that these headings all refer to the apostle John in some way. This was not always the case. it was not until the third century that the Fourth Gospel became associated with the Apostle John. For centuries since, it was taught that John was the author, but as we continue to study we must focus only on Scripture. The message of Scripture is not the same that has been taught in seminaries, Bible schools, and churches. So let me ask you - who is right? God or the seminaries?
What We Do Know About the Apostle John
There is much we do know about the Apostle John and the gospel that bares his nameI
We know his name - John; one of Zebedee's children (Mark 10:35). We know that he had a brother, James, and was a business partner with Simon Peter (Luke 5:10). We know he was an apostle (Mark 1:19, 20).
Further we know he and James sought the seats next to Jesus in the Kingdom (Mark 10:37). Jesus surnamed him and his brother "The Sons of Thunder" (Mark 3:17). He was one of the three disciples present at the raising of Jairus’ daughter, (Mark 5:37), the transfiguration (Luke 9:28-31), and the prayers of Jesus at Gethsemane (Mark 14:33). He wanted to call fire down from heaven on a contrary group of people (Luke 9:54). He was the one who told Jesus, “we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him” (Mark 9:38).
These were some of the greatest accomplishments, and failures in the life of the Apostle John. Notice the references listed. Seven are in Mark. Three are in Luke, and many of the same incidence can also be found in Matthew. Yet John is only mentioned once in the gospel of "John" (John 21:2), and only as the Sons of Zebedee. We need to go to Mark 10:35 to identify the Sons of Zebedee.
The point I want us to see is that if John wrote the the gospel that bares his name, he probably would have included some of these major events. There may be a reason these events are not mentioned in the Fourth Gospel; maybe because the author did not experience these things. Remember that the book is written by an eyewitness known only as the disciple whom Jesus loved. This was a distinguishing term. Nowhere is it mentioned that this disciple was an apostle, merely a disciple. He was the disciple whom Jesus loved and referred to himself that way, or in some cases simply as the other disciple.
Some would say that this other disciple was John who just trying to appear humble. Consider the following from the book of Revelation: ". . . he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John" (Revelation 1:1); "John to the seven churches . . . (Revelation 1:4); "I John, who also am your brother . . . (Revelation 1:9); "And I John saw the holy city . . . " (Revelation 21:2); and lastly "And I John saw these things . . . (Revelation 22:8). Here, in this final book John mentions himself by name five times.
On the flip-side, does it not make more sense if he was trying to be humble to refer to himself by name rather than the disciple whom Jesus loved? That has a special, unique, and almost prideful ring to it, and it does as we will see later in our study.
The author appears out of nowhere in chapter 13 of the Fourth Gospel. In verses 21-28 we see him with Jesus at the last supper. I can hear someone say, "See, he was an apostle as only the apostles were invited to the last supper." Show me one verse that says the apostles were the only ones invited. Just because DiVinci painted it that way does not make it so. Forget the tradition.
This eyewitness appears at the trial of Jesus in chapter 18:12-18.We see the same disciple at the foot of the cross with Jesus' mother in chapter 19:25-27. Again, he is the first man at the empty tomb, and is the first to believe in John 20:1-10. He also identifies himself as the author of the book (chapter 21:2, 24).
You say,"That doesn't prove anything." No it does not, but keep these thoughts in mind as we continue. Things will begin to add up. The reason this is important is because the traditional teaching of these verses is that John the Apostle was the man involved in each of these references. However, if John is not the author, it changes the description (and the truth) of these Bible passages.
Stay with me. The mud will begin to clear.
- The Gospel According to Who? - Part 3
The Gospel According to Who? - Part The Apostle John generally is given credit for writing the fourth gospel that bares his name - but did he? If not John, then who did?