The Gospel Of John As Biographies Of Jesus

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The Gospel of John is the latest-written of the four biographies of Jesus that have been preserved in the New Testament. Written by a Christian named John, the contents of the book indicate quite clearly that the author was not the John who was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, for it contains no direct personal references of the type that one would expect from an intimate associate of Jesus. On the contrary, it presents an interpretation of Jesus that reflects ideas and situations that prevailed in the Christian community toward the end of the first century of the Christian era, a time when Christianity was under attack from several different quarters, including Jews, Romans, skeptics, and others making charges against it. 

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The author of the Gospel of John was evidently aware of these attacks and knew that some of the accounts given in earlier gospels were interpreted in a manner that seemed to support these charges. Because he believed so firmly in the new Christian movement, he wanted to write a gospel that set forth its essential truth in the best possible manner. His hope was that he might write one that was not only true but that offered a presentation of the Christian faith that would overcome the objections of its critics and gain the respect of the educated and cultured people of his day. 

This objective helps us to understand many of the unique characteristics of John’s gospel, especially the ones that sharply contrast the Synoptic Gospels. It explains the omission in the Gospel of John of many items found in the earlier accounts, and it also explains, at least in part, the different attitude about Jews, the allegorical interpretations of certain miracle stories, the absence of apocalypticism with reference to the second coming, the subordinate role of John the Baptist, and a new concept of the Messiah.

The purpose of this gospel, as stated by John himself, is to show that Jesus of Nazareth was Christ, the Son of God, and that believers in him might have eternal life. This purpose was one that John had in common with the men who wrote the Synoptic Gospels, but his method for achieving it distinguishes his gospel from the earlier ones. The central theme in the Synoptic Gospels is the coming of the kingdom of God, and it was in relation to this event that the accounts were given of the life and teachings of Jesus. The messianic character of Jesus’ mission was described in terms of the miracles that he performed, his kindly attitude toward the poor and the oppressed, his power to cast out demons and to heal the sick, and his instructions concerning the way people should live in view of the imminence of the coming kingdom.

29 April 2022

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