The Gospel of John: Background to the Fourth Gospel.

The title of the Gospel of John says that the Gospel was written by John. Evidence identifies this John as the son of Zebedee. The internal evidence states that the author was (1) an apostle (1:14; cf. 2:11; 19:35), (2) one of the 12 disciples (“the disciple whom Jesus loved”; 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:20; cf. 21:24–25), and, still more specifically, (3) John the son of Zebedee (note the association of “the disciple whom Jesus loved” with the Apostle Peter in 13:23–24; 18:15–16; 20:2–9; 21:2–23; cf. Luke 22:8Acts 1:13; 3:1–4:37; 8:14–25Gal. 2:9).

Biblical scholars suggest that the most likely date of the writing of John’s Gospel was the period between a.d. 70 (the date of the destruction of the temple) and a.d. 100 (the end of the Apostle John’s lifetime). However, there is not enough evidence to be much more precise. A date subsequent to a.d. 70 is suggested, among other things, by the references in 6:1 and 21:1 to the Sea of Tiberias (a name widely used for the Sea of Galilee only toward the end of the 1st century), the reference in 21:19 to Peter’s martyrdom (probably between a.d. 64 and 66), and the lack of reference to the Sadducees (who ceased to be a Jewish religious party after a.d. 70). The testimony of the early church also favors a date after a.d. 70.

Additionally, the most likely place of writing is Ephesus in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), which was one of the most important urban centers of the Roman Empire at the time. However, John’s intended audience transcends any one historical setting.

As we already indicated last time, the theme of John’s Gospel is that Jesus is the promised Messiah and Son of God. By believing in Jesus, people can have eternal life (cf. 20:30–31).

As one biblical scholar explains, “The Gospel of John was written by the apostle John, the son of Zebedee, a Palestinian Jew and a member of Jesus’ inner apostolic circle during his earthly ministry. John’s original audience consisted of both Jews and Gentiles living in the larger Greco-Roman world in Ephesus and beyond toward the close of the first century a.d. He frequently explains Jewish customs and Palestinian geography and translates Aramaic terms into Greek (see note on 1:38), thus showing awareness of non-Jewish readers. He also presents Jesus as the Word become flesh against the backdrop of Greek thought that included Stoicism and early Gnosticism. But John also shows awareness of Jewish readers as he demonstrates Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah, the fulfillment of many OT themes, and the Son of God who was sent by God the Father to reveal the only true God and to provide redemption for humanity.”

Ultimately, John gathers evidence of several selected messianic signs performed by Jesus and of a series of witnesses to Jesus—including the Scriptures, John the Baptist, Jesus himself, God the Father, Jesus’ works, the Spirit, and John himself. John also sought to present Jesus as the new temple and center of worship for God’s people. This concept would be especially significant if the date of the gospel’s writing was after a.d. 70 (the time of the destruction of the Jerusalem temple).

Additionally, John’s purpose statement in John 20:30-31 gives the gospel an evangelistic goal. However, John’s depth of teaching shows that he wanted readers not only to come to initial saving faith in Jesus but also to grow into a rich, well-informed faith. John’s central focus is that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah and Son of God, and that by believing in him people may have eternal life.

Have you repented of your sin and trusted Jesus Christ alone for your salvation from sin’s penalty, power and eventual presence?

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

Biblical scholars suggest that the most likely date of the writing of John’s Gospel was the period between a.d. 70 (the date of the destruction of the temple) and a.d. 100 (the end of the Apostle John’s lifetime). However, there is not enough evidence to be much more precise. A date subsequent to a.d. 70 is suggested, among other things, by the references in 6:1 and 21:1 to the Sea of Tiberias (a name widely used for the Sea of Galilee only toward the end of the 1st century), the reference in 21:19 to Peter’s martyrdom (probably between a.d. 64 and 66), and the lack of reference to the Sadducees (who ceased to be a Jewish religious party after a.d. 70). The testimony of the early church also favors a date after a.d. 70.

Additionally, the most likely place of writing is Ephesus in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), which was one of the most important urban centers of the Roman Empire at the time. However, John’s intended audience transcends any one historical setting.

As we already indicated last time, the theme of John’s Gospel is that Jesus is the promised Messiah and Son of God. By believing in Jesus, people can have eternal life (cf. 20:30–31).

As one biblical scholar explains, “The Gospel of John was written by the apostle John, the son of Zebedee, a Palestinian Jew and a member of Jesus’ inner apostolic circle during his earthly ministry. John’s original audience consisted of both Jews and Gentiles living in the larger Greco-Roman world in Ephesus and beyond toward the close of the first century a.d. He frequently explains Jewish customs and Palestinian geography and translates Aramaic terms into Greek (see note on 1:38), thus showing awareness of non-Jewish readers. He also presents Jesus as the Word become flesh against the backdrop of Greek thought that included Stoicism and early Gnosticism. But John also shows awareness of Jewish readers as he demonstrates Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah, the fulfillment of many OT themes, and the Son of God who was sent by God the Father to reveal the only true God and to provide redemption for humanity.”

Additionally, John’s purpose statement in John 20:30-31 gives the gospel an evangelistic goal. However, John’s depth of teaching shows that he wanted readers not only to come to initial saving faith in Jesus but also to grow into a rich, well-informed faith. John’s central focus is that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah and Son of God, and that by believing in him people may have eternal life.

Ultimately, John gathers evidence of several selected messianic signs performed by Jesus and of a series of witnesses to Jesus—including the Scriptures, John the Baptist, Jesus himself, God the Father, Jesus’ works, the Spirit, and John himself. John also sought to present Jesus as the new temple and center of worship for God’s people. This concept would be especially significant if the date of the gospel’s writing was after a.d. 70 (the time of the destruction of the Jerusalem temple).

More to come!

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

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