The Gospel of John
I. A group of self-styled scholars took upon themselves a mission to spread doubt about the Bible and Jesus.
A. The group is known as the Jesus’ Seminar.
B. One of their prime targets is the book of John
C. There has been a long war waged against John
1. 1835, The Life of Christ by David F. Strauss
a. Argued that John and the other three gospels are irreconcilable
2. Other scholars soon followed suit, such as Baur and Hegel
3. They argued that John was a product Judaism and Greek philosophy blended together
4. Their theories have been largely dismantled by other scholars, such as J.B. Lightfoot.
D. However, the influence of their work is still felt today.
1. John is viewed as historically inaccurate
a. For history, you are suppose to go to the other three Gospels
b. John is theology, not history
2. John is dated as being written in the second century
a. Supposedly written by Christians in Palestine to make Christian philosophy compatible with Greek philosophy
E. Why is John doubted?
1. It is written in a style which is very different from the other Gospels
2. The author is not directly named.
II. Answering the doubts
A. Is John historically accurate?
1. There are no errors in geography or history in John
2. John describes the Temple, cities, and landmarks in first century Palestine in great detail
a. If John was written 100 years later, think of how accurately you could describe Omaha, Lincoln and other area communities as they existed 100 years ago
b. John knows there is a well in Synchar (John 4:4), which we only recently found
c. John knows that Cana is above Capernaum (John 4:46, 49, 51), though the difference in elevation is only 600 feet over a 17 mile stretch.
d. 12 places are mentioned in John that is not mentioned in the other Gospels
e. John knows it is a 2 day journey from Bethany to Cana (John 1:28, 2:1)
f. John contains details about the temple (John 10:22-23), which was destroyed in A.D. 70
3. John describes the politcal situation in detail
a. The book correctly identifies Caiaphas (John 18:13-14)
b. The book knows where Pilate governed (John 18:28-29)
4. We can be confident in the historical accuracy of John. More importantly, while the words of Jesus are phrased slightly different in John, the teachings exactly match the teachings recorded in the other Gospels and fits well with the rest of the New Testament.
B. Was John written in the second century?
1. John knows too many first century details to be written 100 years later
2. We have fragments of John’s Gospel that are dated to 125 A.D. If we allow time for a document in Palestine to circulate and find its way to Egypt and copied, would mean that the book had to be written at least in the late first century.
C. Was John a work of the Greeks?
1. The book of John is Jewish in nature.
a. A Jewish scholar, who has studied John, stated, “To us Jews, the Fourth Gospel is the most Jewish of the four!”
2. John makes many references to the Old Testament
a. John 10 obviously alludes to Ezekiel 34, the Good Shepherd prophesy
3. John knows details of the various Jewish festivals (Passover (John 6:25ff), Tabernacle (John 7:2ff), Dedication (John 10:22ff))
a. Jesus’ teachings at each of these feasts show he is the ultimate fulfilment of the feast.
b. True understanding of Jesus’ words require detailed understanding of the meaning of the feast.
III. Why is John targeted?
A. Perhaps it is the purpose of the book - John 20:30-31
1. If you want to cast doubt on the nature of the Christ, you must rid yourself of the book that does the most to prove who Jesus really is.
2. More than 50 times, John refers to bearing witness and testifying
B. It starts at the very beginning - John 1:1
C. The testamony of others is sited through out the book
1. John 1:6-8 - John the Baptist, the one sent to witness the Christ states in John 1:29-34 the positive fact of Jesus being the Christ, even though the statement meant his own fading popularity.
2. Philip states that this is the Christ - John 1:45
3. Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin acknowledges that God must be with Jesus - John 3:1-2
4. Peter’s witness - John 6:68-69
5. The disciple’s witness - John 16:28-30
D. The testimony of Jesus’ work - John 5:36-37
1. Example, the raising of Lazarus - John 11:38-44
2. No charlatan could do such works. God would not permit it!
3. Either it is from God or not - John 10:37-38
4. They had their effect on the people - John 7:31
5. Even His enemies admitted the genuineness of the miracles - John 9:16, John 11:47-48
E. Jesus claims to be God
1. He calls himself the “I AM” - John 8:58, and the people understood his claim - John 8:59
2. The religious leaders understood Jesus’ claims - John 10:31-33
3. Jesus claims equal honor with God the Father - John 5:22-23
4. Jesus accepts the worship of men - John 9:38
F. John examines the evidence of the resurrection in detail
1. The stone was rolled away, while soliders were on guard! - John 20:1
2. Mary Magdalene, then Peter and John witness the empty tomb - John 20:2-8
a. Notice the details that the writer of John records. This is an eyewitness!
b. If someone manage to steal the body with Roman guards on duty, why would they leave the grave clothes behind? Why would someone take the time to neatly fold them?
3. John records four different appearances of Jesus after the resurrection
G. People don’t want John because it does such a wonderful, firm job of proving that God came to this world to live among us.