John

These are all of the chapters of the book of John. Clicking on a chapter will show you the text of that chapter of John in the Bible (New International Version).

The Book of John

Who Wrote the Book of John?

The apostle John is believed to be the author of this gospel, though some Bible scholars have debated the author’s identity and proposed others—is it Lazarus, Thomas, John Mark, or some other unnamed disciple perhaps? The author never identifies himself by name, but he does give us several details that can be used to piece it together.

  • We know that the gospel of John is the testimony of “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20, 24).
  • We know this disciple was one of the twelve with Jesus when He washed the disciples feet and identified the one who would betray Him (John 13:23).
  • We know he was the only one to witness Christ’s death on the cross and was afterward entrusted with the care of Jesus’ mother (John 19:26).
  • We know he was the first to see the empty tomb after Christ’s resurrection (John 20:4-5)
  • We see this disciple frequently paired with Peter (John 20:2; 21:7) And accounts from the book of Acts and the other gospels tell us that Peter and John often worked together as part of Jesus’ inner circle (Acts 3-4; Acts 8:14; Luke 9:28; Mark 14:33).

Supported by historical accounts from Irenaeus, Eusebius, and others, the case for the apostle John’s authorship is a strong one.

Context and Background of John

Like the synoptic gospels, John is a detailed account of the life of Jesus Christ. But while Matthew and Luke record Christ’s birth and Mark picks up the details of Jesus’ life at the beginning of His ministry, John goes all the way back to the beginning of time: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

The book of John is an eyewitness account of Jesus’ ministry (AD 29-33) enriched by the author’s understanding of Jewish traditions and accurate geographical knowledge of Palestine. This fourth gospel supplements the synoptics, focusing on details about Christ’s work and words that reveal a longer span of ministry (at least three years as indicated by three Passovers).

It’s unclear whether John wrote independently of the other gospels (AD 50-70) or with their already existing content in mind. And Bible scholars continue to debate whether this gospel was written later than AD 70. The Rylands Fragment (a papyrus fragment of the gospel of John dated from roughly AD 135) was found in the Egyptian hinterland, indicating decades of prior circulation.

Whatever the specific date of authorship, John probably wrote from Ephesus to an audience of both Jews and Gentiles as indicated by his focus on Christ’s fulfillment of Old Testament promises and descriptions of Jewish tradition.

Main Theme and Purpose of John

John states clearly his purpose for writing this gospel in John 20:31: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

With this goal of belief in mind, John chose to exclude much that had already been said and instead focus on Christ’s words and miracles.

The gospel of John contains less narrative and far more dialogue than the other gospels. And not just dialogue, but lengthy sections of uninterrupted discourse directly from Jesus. John records seven “I am” statements that tell us who Jesus is:

In John 8:58, Jesus says “before Abraham was born, I am!”—one of many places where Jesus used the “I am” construction without a complement in what would have been recognized as an unmistakable claim to deity by Jews of the time (Exodus 3:14).

This intense focus on Jesus’ identity is interrupted only by accounts of miracles, five of which are not found in any other gospel. It is notable that John refers to Christ’s miracles as signs (John 2:11), emphasizing their purpose of pointing to and demonstrating His deity (AMP study notes on John 2:11).

What Can We Learn from John Today?

John elaborated on the spiritual meaning of the events he recorded, drawing us into a fuller knowledge of who Christ is and what He accomplished for us. Where the synoptic gospels say, “This is what happened,” John states with conviction, “This is the Son of God!”

His prologue (John 1:1-18), unlike anything found in the synoptics, firmly establishes Christ’s deity and captures the wonder of “The Word [becoming] flesh and [making] his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Jesus’ “I am” statements as well as His High Priestly Prayer (John 17) give us insight into and confidence in who He is, providing a clear picture of the object of our belief and His heart toward us: My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20-21).

Our Favorite Verses from John

John 8:31-32 - “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”

John 14:1-3 - ““Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

John 17:24 - “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

John 4:13-14 - “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’”

John 14:27 - “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Sources

The Amplified Study Bible (notes on John 2:11)

Discovering the New Testament

A Survey of the New Testament

BibleStudyTools.com, John & John: A Gospel for the World

ZondervanAcademic.com, Who Wrote the Gospel of John?

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Caroline Madison is a freelance editor and writer with a passion for the written word and a special interest in telling and reading stories that present biblical truths in fresh ways. She also enjoys writing flash fiction, drawing pencil portraits, and playing piano.