The Agora
Bible Commentary

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The fourth and most spiritual of the gospels. The first three gospels portray mainly what Jesus did and how He taught, but the Gospel of John is different. It moves beyond the obvious facts of Jesus' life to deeper, more profound meanings. Among the gospels, therefore, John offers a unique portrait of Christ that has been cherished by believers through the centuries.
John concentrates on Jesus as He taught in private, while the other three gospels record a more public method of address. The other gospels portray the actual form of Jesus' teaching, while John shows greater insight into Jesus as a person.
John writes with a modest vocabulary, but his words are charged with symbolism. Terms like believe, love, truth, world, light and darkness, above and below, name, witness, sin, judgment (eternal) life, glory, bread, water, and hour are the key words of this gospel.
Main Themes

The gospel contains a clear statement of purpose: "These [signs] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:31). John brings out the thought that the sole purpose of life is to know the Father and experience life eternal through faith in the Son.
The Son has come from above to glorify the Father (John 17:1); and He does so in His "hour" (John 12:23; 13:1) through His suffering on the cross.
In the synoptic gospels -- Matthew, Mark, and Luke -- Jesus utters short sayings. Longer discourses, such as the Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5-7), are either collections of sayings on various themes, or, like (Mat 13), mostly parables. John, on the other hand, records no parables and few of the brief sayings so common to the synoptics. Rather, he expands upon an incident:

* Nicodemus (John 3),
* the woman at the well (John 4),
* the man born blind (John 9),
* Lazarus (John 11),
* or footwashing (John 13).
In the first chapter, John introduces Jesus by seven key titles, a perfect echo to the Book of Rev: Word, Lamb of God, Rabbi, Messiah, King of Israel, Son of God, Son of Man.
In his Gospel, John stresses the importance of "believing." The verb "to believe" is found nearly a hundred times in the gospel.
John does not record Jesus discussing questions of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, swearing, marriage, or wealth as do the other gospels. He rather concentrates on that all-important proof of discipleship -- Love.


See Lesson, John's figurative language
See Lesson, John, timeline


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