Overview of John – Part 2.

The earliest of the five books written by the Apostle John, the gospel of John was written primarily to a Greek-speaking, Jewish audience, highly influenced by the Greek culture. Most of the people in John’s audience would have been unsaved, needing to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. John omits many of the words, parables, actions, and miracles of Jesus which the other three gospels include. John’s themes are different than the other gospel writers. The material in chapters 1-5 of the book of John is unique and not found in the other gospels. The healing miracles in chapters 9 and 11 are also exclusive to John. Similarities between the book of John and the other three gospels include the Spirit's anointing of Christ, Jesus feeding the five thousand, Jesus walking on water, Jesus’s sonship to the Father, and Jesus’s authority over nature to name a few.

John is the only gospel author to state the reason for why he is writing, found in John 20:30-31. These verses tell us that there are only two kinds of people in the world, those who have believed that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and have life in His name and those who do not. These verses also make it clear that no church or religious leader can save. John’s purpose is that "you" (John 20:31) would believe. Each of us individually is being addressed. This believing is not just an intellectual belief, acknowledging the historic facts taught by a pastor or religious leader about Jesus. This is not what the Apostle John means by believe. Who do we say that Jesus is? Have we believed that He is the Christ, the Son of God? In believing, do we have life through His name alone? Has a belief in Jesus gone from an intellectual understanding in the mind to a repenting of sin in the heart and finally a surrendering of the will and life to His authority as the Son of God? Has this true believing led to a changed life?

The miracles of Jesus are acts of supernatural origin with deep meaning which lead to belief, as seen in John 2. In the book of John, these miracles are often accompanied by a discourse of explanation by Jesus so the unbelieving would know fully who He is and why He performed the miracle, having opportunity to believe. John 2:11 marks Christ’s first public ministry, and His disciples believe. Jesus heals the son of a royal official (John 4:46-54), and the official and his whole household believe. A man lame for thirty-eight years is healed by Jesus (John 5), giving the religious leaders opportunity to believe (John 5:24). The people who were fed recognize who Jesus really is and believe (John 6:14). Jesus arrives before his disciples on the other side of the sea (John 6:25) so that they would believe (John 6:29). Jesus heals the man who was blind from birth, and the healed man believes (John 9:35-38). Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, and many of the Jews believe (John 11:45-46). The purpose of the miracles and signs which Jesus performed was so that people would believe He was the Son of God, sent by God.

Christ is working miracles today in each person who repents and believes in Him, whose person and life is submitted to His Lordship, learning to walk with Him and becoming more like Him. All these examples John shares are given to us as miracles of God’s grace so that we might believe, for only God can change a life permanently. We do not have to be an eyewitness to Christ to see His greatness, majesty, and power (John 20:29) and believe in Him as the Son of God (John 1:34, 49; 6:69; 11:27; 20:31).

Application Points

  • Do you believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? Has this belief brought you into a right relationship with God through repentance of your sin and faith in what Jesus did for you on the cross? Have you submitted to Him as Lord and Savior of your life?
  • Has your belief in Christ led to a changed life and lifestyle, distinguishable from an unsaved but moral person?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Ezekiel 37:1-10; John 3:3-8; 1 Peter 1:3, 23 – Born Again/Regeneration