Faithlife Sermons

Introduction To John

Gospel of John   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings

Introduction to the Gospel of John



As you begin study of a new book of the bible, what are some important things to remember or do?
Read the whole book (Better if more than once and possibly in different translations)
Mark key works, phrases, or themes that seem to appear throughout the entire book. Try to get an overview of the books main idea or focus; it’s purpose.
Get background information such as author, date, location, etc.
We are going to begin a study in the book of John and so this is what I would like to do this morning.


Background and Setting

Sermon Body

In the gathering of this background information, I utilized John MacArthur’s study notes on the book of John.
For those who have study bibles, much of this information may also been found in your study notes.
In the study of a book of the bible, this information is helpful and beneficial in understanding the author, their purpose in writing, and the context of their content.

Author is John

Who authored this gospel?
How do you know this?
John is never once identified by name in the gospel of John. An interesting fact considering that in the synoptic gospel’s identify him by name at least 20 times.
Throughout, John is referred to as the disciple “whom Jesus loved.”
Why would John be referred to as such? How does it point to John’s authorship?
Shows John’s humility
Celebrates his relationship to Jesus.
Though he is not mentioned as the author, early church tradition strongly and consistently identified him as the author.
The early church father, Irenaeus (ca. A.D. 130-200) was a disciples of Polycarp (c.a. A.D. 70-160), who was a disciples of the Apostle John, and he testified on Polycarp’s authority that John wrote the gospel account.
All the church fathers following Irenaeus assumed John’s authorship.
Clement of Alexandria (c.a. AD 150-215) wrote that John, aware of the facts set forth in the other gospels and being moved by the Holy Spirit, composed a “spiritual gospel”
Internal evidence supports these testimonies
The author was a Jew. His knowledge of Jewish ways of life and contemporary Jewish views makes clear he himself was a Jew.
He was a Palestinian Jew. His extent of knowledge to specific local places exposes his being a local himself .
He was an eyewitness. He gave specific details even when not critical to the stories he was telling. This reveals he personally saw the events he spoke of.
He was an apostle. He was well aware with what the 12 were thinking and feeling.
Since the gospel’s author is exacting in mentioning the names of other characters in the book, if the author had been someone else, they would not have hesitated to use his name as well.
Leon Morris observes, “It is not easy to think of a reason why any early Christian, other than John himself, should have completely omitted all mention of such a prominent Apostle” (Morris, John, 11).
The anonymity of authorship also strongly reinforces John’s authorship. Only someone of his renown and authority could have written the gospel that was so different than the rest and have it be universally accepted by the early church fathers.
Through a process of elimination based primarily on the material in chapters 20-21, this disciple, “whom Jesus loved” narrows down to John (e.g. 21:24; cf 21:2)

Bio of John

What do you know about the person and life of John?
John and James, his older (we believe - for he is always listed first) brother (Acts 12:2) were known as the sons of Zebedee (Matthew 10:2-4).
James and John were prosperous fisherman on the Sea of Galilee and who own his own boat and had hired servants (Mark 1:20).
John’s mother was Salome (Mark 15:40 with Matthew 27:56). Salome may have been Mary’s sister (John 19:25). If this was true, John and Jesus would have been first cousins.
John is first revealed to us as a disciple of John the Baptist (John 1:35-40.)
After John the Baptist points out Jesus as Messiah, John follows him (John 1:37).
After remaining with him for while, he returns to fishing. Later he becomes a permanent disciple of Jesus (Matt 4:8-12).
Anyone know the name that Jesus gives to James and Jon?
Jesus gave James and John the name, Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17).
What does such a title suggest?
That they were fiery little guys. lol
John is often referred to as the apostle of love because of his letters (1-3 John), but this title suggests he was not always a meek/mild tempered man.
John was an apostle (Luke 6:12-16)
He was one of the most intimate three associate with Jesus. James and Peter were the other two. (Matthew 17:1; 26:37)
John was an eyewitness to and participant in Jesus’ earthly ministry. (1 John 1:1-4)
After Jesus’ ascension, John becomes a pillar in the NT church (Galatians 2:9).
John ministered with Peter until he went to Ephesus. (Acts 3:1; 4:13; 8:14).
Would end up being exiled to the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9).
Also authored 1-3 John and Revelation.


Anyone know where the letter was written from?
It is testified by Irenaeus and Polycarp that John write this gospel account during his residence at Ephesus in Asia Minor when ehe was advanced in age.
Why does this matter?
Gives context to culture going on around him, current events, audience he is writing to, etc.


Due to the fact that the church father’s indicate that John wrote this in his later years and that he was already aware of the other gospels, they date this gospel somewhere around A.D. 80-90.
It is believed that this written before his letters and before Revelation.
The dating of this book places it some 50 years after his eyewitness accounts.

Background and Setting

John is a Gospel account, though not considered a synoptic gospel
Anyone familiar with that term “synoptic” gospel?” What does it mean?
Matthew, Mark, and Luke are referred to and known as the synoptic gospels.
John is not considered such.
Synoptic means - together sight.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke are considered such because they “see together with a common view.”
They cover the much of the same events in Jesus’ life in generally the same order.
Nearly 90% of Mark’s content is found in Matthew and 50% of Mark’s content is found in Luke
All of the parables of Christ are found in all three of the gospels.
John, on the other hand, contains no parables.
All the gospels contain a combination of historical narrative and discourse. John’s however, contains a higher degree of discourse in comparison to the narrative.
Unlike the synoptic gospel’s, John....
contains no narrative parables
no eschatological discourses
No accounts of Jesus’ exorcising demons
no healing of lepers
no list of the 12 apostles
no formal institution of the Lord’s supper.
no record of Jesus’ genealogy, birth, baptism, transfiguration, temptation, agony in the garden, or ascension.
However, John does include a large amount (90%) of information not seen in the synoptic gospels.
John’s gospel was written to complement and supplement the other three accounts.
the prologue describing Christ’s pre-existence and incarnation (1:1–18);
Jesus’ early ministry in Judea and Samaria (chaps. 2–3);
His first miracle (2:1–11);
His dialogue with Nicodemus (3:1–21);
His encounter with a Samaritan woman (4:5–42);
His healing of a lame man (5:1–15) and a blind man (9:1–41); both at Jerusalem;
His Bread of Life discourse (6:22–71);
His claim to be the living water (7:37–38);
His taking for Himself the name of God (see the discussion of 8:24 in chapter 29 of this volume);
His discourse presenting Himself as the Good Shepherd and its aftermath (10:1–39);
the resurrection of Lazarus (11:1–46);
the washing of the disciples’ feet (13:1–15);
the Upper Room Discourse (chaps. 13–16);
Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer (chap. 17);
the miraculous catch of fish (21:1–6);
and Jesus’ recommissioning of Peter and prediction of His martyrdom (21:15–19).
John also contains more teaching on the Holy Spirit than is found in the Synoptics.
John is a gospel as it covers the life of Christ but it is different than the other three and is thus not considered a synoptic gospel.
NOTE - these differences never indicate contradictions.
NOTE - Be careful that we do not exaggerate these differences. The gospels are united in their presentation of who Christ is.
NOTE - Each of the gospels were written reveal Christ from a unique point of view. The stories and details they include emphasize that purpose.
Do you know what each gospel writer’s intent was?
Matthew - Christ as King; as Messiah. Audience was primarily Jewish
Mark - Christ as Suffering Servant - Audience was Gentile
ALuke - (Only Gentile author of NT) Christ as Perfect Man (his humanity) - Gentile audience
John - Christ as God (emphasis on Jesus’ deity) BUT ALSO emphasizes his humanity to avoid extremes - Jewish Audience
John’s awareness of the synoptic gospels is foundational here.
Again, John wrote his gospel to uniquely complement and supplement the three already in existence.
For example, at His trial (Mark 14:58) and while He was on the cross (Mark 15:29), Jesus’ enemies accused Him of having claimed that He would destroy the temple. The Synoptics do not record the basis for that false allegation, but John does (2:19).
The Synoptics do not explain why the Jews had to bring Jesus before Pilate; John explains that the Romans had withheld from them the right of capital punishment (18:31).
The Synoptics place Peter in the high priest’s courtyard (Matt. 26:58; Mark 14:54; Luke 22:54–55); John explains how he gained access (John 18:15–16).
The call of Peter, Andrew, James, and John (Matt. 4:18–22) becomes more understandable in light of John 1:35–42, which reveals that they had already spent time with Jesus.
The Synoptics record that immediately after the feeding of the five thousand Jesus sent the crowds away (Matt. 14:22; Mark 6:45); John reveals why He did that: They intended to try to make Him king (John 6:15).
From John’s gospel it is evident that when the Sanhedrin met on Wednesday of Passion Week to plot Jesus’ arrest (Mark 14:1–2) they were merely implementing a decision made earlier, after the raising of Lazarus (John 11:47–53).
John’s gospel also assumes the readers knowledge of the synoptics.
The birth narratives in Matthew and Luke reveal how the eternally preexistent Word (John 1:1) came to have a human family (John 2:12).
In 1:40 John introduced Andrew as Peter’s brother, although he had not yet mentioned Peter.
John’s explanatory footnote that “John [the Baptist] had not yet been thrown into prison” (John 3:24) assumes that his readers knew he eventually would be. Yet the gospel of John does not record the Baptist’s imprisonment, which is described in the Synoptics (Matt. 4:12; 14:3; Mark 6:17; Luke 3:20).
John noted that “Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country” (John 4:44), yet that statement is not found in his gospel. It is, however, recorded in the Synoptics (Matt. 13:57; Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24).
John 6:67, 70–71 refers to the twelve apostles; but as noted above, John’s gospel, unlike the Synoptics (Matt. 10:2–4; Mark 3:14–19; Luke 6:13–16), does not have a list of the twelve apostles.
From the way they are introduced, John evidently expected his readers to know who Mary and Martha were (11:1), even though he had not previously referred to them. They are, however, mentioned in Luke’s gospel (10:38–42).
In that same connection, John noted that Mary was the one who anointed the Lord’s feet (11:2). He would not relate that story until chapter 12, but assumed his readers would be familiar with it from the synoptic accounts (Matt. 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9).
John’s account of Philip’s hesitancy to bring the Greeks to Jesus until after he consulted first with Andrew (12:21–22) may have been motivated by the readers’ familiarity with Jesus’ command, “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles” (Matt. 10:5).


John is the only one of the gospels to give us an explicit purpose statement.
So as we start this book, we are actually going to begin at the end. Turn with me to John 20:30-31.
John 20:30–31 ESV
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Because John’s purpose for writing was to reveal Christ as God, the miracles, the signs he records and focuses on are intended to reveal that deity of Christ.
THESE signs (vs. 31) are written SO THAT you may believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
John’s purpose involves two elements:
That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
And that believing you may have life in his name.
John uses the verb “to believe” nearly 100 times in this book.
John’s titling and describing of Jesus throughout the book emphasize this.
From any knowledge your currently possess, how is Jesus referred to or how is he portrayed throughout the course of this book?
Jesus is portrayed as....
Life/Light of life
Lamb of God
Son of God (Frequently)
King of Israel
One who ranks before...
Living Water
Savior of the world
God/I AM
Son of Man
Bread of Life
One sent by another
Light of the world
From above/not of this world
Good Shepherd
Door of the Sheep
Resurrection and the Life
Way, Truth, Life
True Vine
From any knowledge your currently possess, what miracles did Jesus perform throughout the course of this book?
Jesus Miracles expose this...
Water to wine
Healed officials son
Healing invalid man
Healed the sick
Fed 5000
Walked on water
Immediately took the boat to safety
Healed Man blind from birth
Raised Lazarus
Died and Rose Again
Great Haul of Fish
John purpose is to reveal Jesus’ true identity. His names, descriptions, miraculous signs, and specific miracles are aimed at that purpose.
John presents for us Jesus as the eternal word, Messiah, and Son of God who, through is death and resurrection, brings the gift of salvation to mankind.
Acceptance of this through repentance and faith leads to eternal life. Rejection of it leaves one under the condemnations of God’s holy and just wrath against sin.


I pray that as we enter into our study of this book together that it will help us to be growing together to become more like Jesus for the glory of God.

Application and Discussion Questions

Share something you learned today or were reminded of.
What do you hope to learn/gain from our study through the Gospel of John?
What is one of your favorite accounts from the gospels and why?
What name attributed to Christ in the gospels has been/is meaningful to you and why?
Related Media
Related Sermons