Who wrote the gospel of John? How does it differ from the synoptic gospels?

The author

The writer of the gospel of John purposely avoids naming himself directly. However, Christian tradition identifies John the beloved as the actual author of the gospel that bears his name. Modestly, John does not refer to himself as one of the two disciples who first followed Jesus (John 1:37). He simply points to himself as “that disciple” (John 21:23), “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (v. 20), and “This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true” (v. 24).

The aim of John’s gospel

John doesn’t give the details that the synoptic gospels recorded some 30 years before. But he presents the information that are suited to confirm the great essential truths of the gospel. And he starts his gospel with the principle that what had persuaded him would persuade others also (1 John 1:1–3). Whereas the synoptic gospels present the Messiah-ship of Jesus inductively, John confidently declares this truth in the very first chapter and then shows the evidence.

When John wrote his gospel at the close of the 1st century, three major troubles threatened the Christian church. These were fading godliness, heresy (Gnosticism) and persecution. So, John, the survivor of the twelve apostles, was convicted to write a book to help the believers see a clear picture of the Savior. He wanted to empower their faith in the incarnation, deity and the true humanity of the Savior. He desired to reveal the perfect life, the sacrificial death, the resurrection, and the second coming of Jesus.

The book of John in comparison to the synoptic gospels

The book of John differs from the synoptic gospels in that it records nothing of such events as the baptism, the transfiguration, or the experience in Gethsemane. Instead large portions of the gospel cover, controversial discourses in the Temple at Jerusalem and Christ’s last meeting with the disciples on the night of the crucifixion. In this respect, the gospel supplements the synoptic gospels. And the miracles that it records specifically prove the divinity of the Son of God.

John first confirms that he was an eye witness to Jesus saying: “we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). And as an eye witness, he affirms that he could have told much more. “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book” (John 20:30).

The key word of this Gospel is the “Word” (ch. 1:1). John presents Jesus Christ as the incarnate expression of God that made salvation possible. He refers to the fact that Jesus came as the living expression of the mind, will, and character of the Father, and shows it in 26 instances. He presents Him as the Creator of all things and the Source of truth and life. He also focuses on the necessity of believing the truth about Jesus, using the word “believe” or its equal more than 100 times. Thus, John’s aim is not so much biographical or historical as it is theological.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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