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The Gospel of John in Comparison to Matthew, Mark and Luke

Updated on January 19, 2017

The Gospel of John is different than any of the first three Gospels in the Bible. Matthew, Mark and Luke are synoptic, meaning that they "see from the same eye." Though each perspective on the life of Jesus Christ is portrayed differently, the Gospel of John appears to further expound on Christ's life in a completely different manner. As part of the Biblical canon, we understand that it was written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Aside from the Spirit's drawing in, the Apostles had reason to tell of the miracles and workings of Jesus. In the last verse of the gospel, John wrote that " there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written." In comparison to the vastness of our world to what we have written in our Bibles, we have little to truly see what Christ did in His fullness. The synoptic gospels stress Christ' biography and tell just what Jesus did, while the Gospel According to John stressed doctrine and explain why He did it.[1]

In Matthew, we were first introduced to the Apostle John. He was the son of Zebedee, who was a man of considerable wealth and it may be inferred from the fact that he had “hired servants” with him as depicted in Mark 1:20.[2] Jesus came to the shores of the Sea of Galilee and found John and his brother James calling out to them as they mended their nets. “And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him,” Matthew 4:22.[3] This was the beginning of John becoming an Apostle. Having been one of the closest disciples of Jesus, he became known as the “one whom He loved,” for his intimate connection with the Master. John was full of fiery zeal and have a tendency toward intolerance and exclusiveness. For this, John and his brother James were known as the “Sons of Thunder” for their means of strength and unexpectedness. He followed Christ to his cross and took in his Jesus’s mother in place of him. “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home,” John 19: 26-27. Having been there in the upper room during Pentecost and continuing on as an Apostle of Christ, he escaped many deaths and was the only disciple who was not martyred. John was associated with Ephesus, from the reasoning of many later writers, where John wrote both the books of Revelation and his epistles, but his Gospel preceded them. Written sometime after A.D. 85 (more than 50 years after Christ's ascension) , the traditional view puts John’s Gospel in Ephesus. It still remains the most likely place of writing, because John was located there late in life.[4]

The book is a book of a missionary to Christians imbued with Hellenistic culture, and tradition says, and the entire Gospel bears convincing internal evidence that the volume was written in the first instance for Gentile Christians.[5] John 20 says, “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” His gospel was written because Christianity was first seen as a new sect of Judaism, which was exclusive and particular to that specific bloodline. Acts 10: 44-45 says, “because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.” After the Gentile Pentecost in Acts 10, they received the Word well and with gladness because of Jesus, the Son of God, paid the penalty for all, not just the Jews. John wholly expounds on Jesus being the "Son of God," and it is the center of the gospel. It is passionately expressed and is focused on bringing men into Eternal Life, communion with God, through faith in Christ. For those who had never conceived the thought process of having a relationship with the mighty and holy God of the Jews, it was now possible and real. Those who knew not God accepted His grace with far more love and wanting than that of God’s own people.

John's last book holds a strong uniqueness in comparison to the other Gospels. However, it gives fewer accounts to miracles and no parables; John focuses on Christ's words and looks more on the inward aspects of his ministry. Stressing interviews rather than public discourses, this gospel gives a sort of x-ray of Jesus' person rather than a "moving picture" as Matthew, Mark, and Luke expressed. Because the other books had been written before, he presupposes the reader's familiarity.[6] Everything points to prove that Jesus was the Son of God as if it were an apologetic gospel. It confirms the faith of Christians concerning the life of Christ, making the gospel's own case assuring what had been written beforehand. As an interpretative gospel, it links the Messiah of the Old Testament with the consciousness of the individual believer.[7] John clearly examines the Christian doctrine, specifically concerning his writings of Christ. Because his work is universal, John does not rely on someone having prior knowledge of Jewish teachings. As being an apologetic stance on Christ's example, his writing is directly for Christians and in particular those of Gentiles. It provides a specific for proof of Jesus's divinity. In accordance of the synoptic gospels, John represents the principle of faith and makes clear the only those who believe will receive eternal life. This saving purpose was displayed through Jesus's life, and human redemption was accomplished through Jesus's death and resurrection.[8] John 5:26 says, “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” Perhaps I can be safe to say that the Gospel of John is one of my favorites to read. I believe that it depicts Christ in the manner I most prefer and gives further examples concerning his divinity and case for the truth.


[1] Holdcroft, L. Thomas. The Four Gospels. Third ed. Abbotsford, B.C.: CeeTeC, 1999. Print. Pg. 16

[2] Iverach, James. "John, The Apostle - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia." Bible Study Tools. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.

[3] All Scripture verses are King James Version unless other specified.

[4] Elwell, Walter A., and Robert W. Yarbrough. Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey. Second ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998. Print. Pg.110

[5] Stirling, John. The Study Bible: A Little Library of Exposition with New Studies. London: Cassell, 1926. Print. Pg. 3

[6] Holdcroft, L. Thomas. The Four Gospels. Third ed. Abbotsford, B.C.: CeeTeC, 1999. Print. Pg. 16-17

[7] Tenney, Merrill C. John: The Gospel of Belief. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1948. Print. Pg. 35

[8] Elwell, Walter A., and Robert W. Yarbrough. Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey. Second ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998. Print. Pg. 115

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