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Jesus Fish 3

New Testament Survey: The Book Of John

Written By: Steve Shirley

The Book Of John


  • John
  • (Son Of Zebedee) “The disciple whom Jesus loved” (Jn 13:23)(Jn 19:26)(Jn 20:2)(Jn 21:7,20). An “unlearned” and “untrained” man (Acts 4:13).
  • Name means: “Jehovah has been gracious”
  • Occupation: Fisherman
  • Hometown: Bethsaida, maybe Capernaum
  • His father was a fisherman named Zebedee. He was a fisherman just like his sons James and John. (Because James is always mentioned before John (Mt 10:2)(Mt 4:21)(Mk 1:19,29)(Lk 5:10)(Lk 6:14), it is assumed he was the older brother as they were generally mentioned first.) He appears to have been a fairly wealthy man since he owned a fishing boat and had hired servants (Mk 1:20).
  • His mother was named Salome. She was part of a group of women who followed Jesus and helped minister to His needs. She was with Jesus at the cross (Mt 27:56)(Mk 15:40), and later went to anoint His body after He had died, but He had already arisen (Mk 16:1-8). In (Mt 20:20-28), she boldly asked Jesus to let her sons sit at His right and left in the kingdom. (Jesus said that was the Father’s decision: Mt 20:23.)
  • Based on (Jn 19:25), it is believed that Salome may have been the sister of Jesus’ mother Mary. If this was the case, then James and John were Jesus’ cousins.
  • The early church fathers (Papias, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, Eusebius) universally agreed that John wrote this Gospel.
  • It is worth noting that Irenaeus was a pupil of Polycarp (69 A.D-155 A.D.)(who was martyred app. 155 A.D. after being a Christian for 86 years), and Polycarp was a pupil of John. Therefore, there was only one link between Irenaeus and John.
  • Apparently, John was first a disciple of John the Baptist (Jn 1:35-40) [the 2nd disciple, not mentioned by name, but believed to be John]. Jesus called him, along with James to become His disciple (Mt 4:21-22)(Mk 1:19-20). He was the youngest disciple, with many believing he may have even been in his teens at the time.
  • John, along with Peter and James, was one of three in Jesus’ “inner circle.” They witnessed three important events with Jesus that no one else did:
    • The daughter of Jarius being raised from the dead: (Mk 5:35-43)(Lk 8:49-56)
    • The Transfiguration: (Mt 17:1-9)(Mk 9:1-10)(Lk 9:27-36)
    • Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane: (Mt 26:36-46)(Mk 14:32-42)
  • Jesus called James and John the “sons of thunder” (Mk 3:17) because of their fiery temperament. In (Lk 9:51-56), they wanted to call down fire out of heaven to destroy a Samaritan village who refused them hospitality.
  • Jesus put John and Peter in charge of preparing for His last Passover (Lk 22:1-13).
  • When Jesus was arrested, both John and Peter followed along behind. John knew the High Priest, and was allowed to follow Jesus into the courtyard, while Peter stood at the door outside. However, John went back and spoke to the doorkeeper, and Peter was also let inside (Jn 18:15-17). Once inside, Peter denied he knew Jesus 3 times, and left (Lk 22:54-62). John apparently followed Jesus every step of the way, even to the cross, where in His dying words, Jesus turned the care of His mother Mary over to John (Jn 19:26-27). (Tradition says he cared for her until her death.)
  • Mary Magdalene first told John and Peter about the empty tomb (Jn 20:2). They then both “raced” to the tomb, and John “outran” Peter (Jn 20:3-4). However, Peter was the first to go into the empty tomb (Jn 20:6-9).
  • In Acts, Peter and John became traveling companions for a period of time. They are first mentioned together praying in the “upper room” in (Acts 1:12-14). They are also shown to be ministering together in (Acts Ch. 3 & 4) and (Acts 8:14-25). This is the last time John is mentioned in Acts. In (Acts 12:1-4), his brother James was the 1st apostle martyred in app. 42-44 A.D.
  • Paul called John, along with Peter and James (the Lord’s brother, not John’s brother) “pillars” of the church in Jerusalem (Gal 2:9). Tradition says that John remained in Jerusalem as a leader in the church, likely until Paul was martyred in 67 A.D. After this, but before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D., John moved to Ephesus, where he became the “superintendent” of the churches in that area.
  • During his time at Ephesus, at some point under the reign of Domitian (81-96 A.D.)(Eusebius says near the end of his reign), John was temporarily banished to the isle of Patmos, where he wrote the book of Revelation (Rev 1:9). When Nerva very briefly succeeded Domitian as emperor, he allowed John to return to Ephesus. He died a natural death several years later in app. 98 A.D. (at about the age of 90) under the reign of emperor Trajan (98-117 A.D.). (The remains of what is believed to be John’s tomb can still be seen today.)

** A far from provable tradition reported by Tertullian (in “The Prescription Against Heretics”) says that at one point during the reign of Domitian, John was taken to Rome where he was “plunged into boiling oil” and was “unhurt.”

The Stats:

  • Chapters: 21
  • Verses: 879
  • Number of parables: 0
  • Number of miracles: 8
  • Timeline: App. 3 years
    • John starts with the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, which began at about age 30 (Lk 3:23).
    • This was the age at which God said a man could enter the priesthood (Num 4:3,23,35).
    • Jesus’ ministry was approximately 3 years, spanning four Passovers: (Jn 2:13,23), #2. (Jn 5:1: unnamed but likely a Passover), #3. (Jn 6:4), #4. Jn 11:55)(Jn 12:1)(Jn 13:1). The 1st Passover was at the beginning of His ministry, the last at the end. Therefore, Jesus died at app. 33 years old.
  • Nearly two-thirds of John covers the last six months of Jesus’ life, and one third the last week.

Date Written:

  • Likely 85-90 A.D.
  • In 1920, a fragment of a copy of John (18:31-33,37-38) was found in Egypt. This fragment, called P52, has been dated to the “early” 2nd century, and is said to be the oldest copy of the New Testament in existence today. It can be seen in the Rylands Library in England. Finding a “copy” of John, dated to the “early” 2nd century, points to “late” 1st century authorship for the original writing, since it would have taken some time after an original writing was done to make a copy of it. (Copies were hand-written on papyrus, which was a very slow process.)
  • This Gospel was clearly written after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D. The likely reason it is not mentioned is because it had occurred many years earlier.

Place Written:

  • Ephesus

Written To:

  • Christians (particularly Gentiles)

Key Phrase:

  • Jesus Is God

Key Verses:

(Jn 1:11-13,29)(Jn 2:19-22)(Jn 3:3-8,17,36)(Jn 4:24)(Jn 5:24)(Jn 6:44)(Jn 8:12,44)(Jn 10:27-33)(Jn 11:25-26)(Jn 13:34-35)(Jn 14:6,9-11,15-16,27)(Jn 15:13)(Jn 16:33)(Jn 17:17)(Jn 18:4-6)(Jn 19:30)(Jn 20:29)


  • It is the only Gospel to clearly state its purpose: (Jn 20:31) “but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
  • Two other likely purposes:

#1. To prove the deity of Jesus. Apparently, in the time John wrote his Gospel, the deity of Jesus was being questioned. #2. To supplement the other Gospels which had already been written years earlier (according to Clement [of Alexandria], his friends at the time asked him to do this), and to add a number of things they passed over. (For example, the other Gospels focused almost entirely on Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, while John focuses almost entirely on His ministry in Judea.)

Special Emphasis:

  • As was said above in the purpose, because the deity of Jesus may have been questioned in the time John wrote this Gospel, it is strongly emphasized.

Jesus was/is the Word (Jn 1:1), and the “Word WAS God.”(Jn 1:14).

Thomas called Jesus “My Lord and my God.” (Jn 20:28).

Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.” (Jn 10:30). (In verses 10:31-33, the Jews were going to stone Jesus for this because He was making Himself God.)

Jesus allowed Himself to be worshipped. (Jn 9:38).

Jesus said in (Jn 6:49), “YOUR fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.” Why did Jesus say “Your fathers?” Weren’t they also HIS fathers? Jesus was proclaiming His deity by disassociating Himself from mankind.

In (Jn 5:16-18), Jesus claimed God was His Father. The Jews were going to stone Jesus for saying this statement. Why? Because in Jewish thinking, the father WAS the son. Jesus was saying He was God!

Jesus said to ask in His name and HE would do it. (Jn 14:13-14).

Jesus is called the creator of all things (Jn 1:3), and God is called the Creator (Gen 1:1)(Isa 42:5)(Isa 45:18). 

Jesus said He would judge (Jn 5:27), which was something that belonged to God (Heb 13:4)(Rom 3:6)(Ps 82:8)(Ps 50:6).

Jesus called Himself a “Saviour” (Jn 4:42), which was a name for God (1 Tim 4:10)(Jude 25)(Titus 2:10)(1 Tim 2:3).

Jesus said He was the “Light” (Jn 12:35-36), which was also a name for God (1 Jn 1:5)(Ps 27:1)(Isa 60:20)(Mic 7:8).

Jesus called Himself the “Fountain of Life” (Jn 4:14)(Jn 6:35), which God was called (Ps 36:9). 

Jesus said He was the “shepherd” (Jn 10:11,14), a name given to God (Ps 80:1)(Ps 23:1).

  • In addition, Jesus used the words “I AM” 16 times when referring to Himself. This was a name reserved for God alone (Ex 3:14).(The Jews clearly understood the significance of this.) There are 7 “I AM’s” that are significant to note:
    • “I am the bread of life.” (Jn 6:35,41,48,51)
    • “I am the light of the world.” (Jn 8:12)(Jn 9:5)
    • “I am the door.” (Jn 10:7,9)
    • “I am the good shepherd.” (Jn 10:11,14)
    • “I am the resurrection and the life.” (Jn 11:25)
    • “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (Jn 14:6)
    • “I am the true vine.” (Jn 15:1,5)

** Because of this emphasis, John is probably the most attacked book in the New Testament.

  • John also places a much stronger emphasis certain on key words that the other Gospels don’t.
He uses the word The other Gospels combined use it only
“Father” (Gr. “pater“) 122 times 70 times
“believe” (Gr. “pisteuo“) 95 times 33 times
“world” (Gr. “kosmos“) 79 times 15 times
“life” (Gr. “zoe“) 36 times 16 times
“true” (Gr. “alethes” / “alethinos“) 19 times 3 times
“truth” (Gr. “alethia”) 25 times 6 times
  • In addition, there is a much stronger emphasis on the words: “light” (Gr. “phos” = 22 times), “love” (Gr. “agapao” / “agape” = 42 times), and “witness” (Gr. “martureo” / “marturia” = 22 times).

Key things in John not found in the other Gospels:

  • About 90% of what is found in John is not contained in the other Gospels. Because of this, there are too many key things to list them all, but there are some key things worth noting.
  • Jesus’ first miracle at Cana (Jn 2:1-11).
  • The need to be “born again” (Jn 3:1-8).
  • The Samaritan woman at the well (Jn 4:5-26).
  • Jesus’ brothers ridicule Him (Jn 7:1-9).
  • The woman caught in adultery (Jn 7:53-8:11). (Many believe this was not a part of the original transcripts.)
  • The healing of the blind man (Jn 9).
  • The death and resurrection of Lazarus (Jn 11:1-44).
  • The meeting of the Sanhedrin to plot the death of Jesus (Jn 11:47-53).
  • Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples (Jn 13:5-12).
  • Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance to the disciples while they were fishing (Jn 21).
  • The role of the Holy Spirit as the “Comforter” (Jn 14:16,26)(Jn 15:26)(Jn 16:7).


The book is in seven natural divisions:

1. Prologue: The eternal Word incarnate in Jesus the Christ, 1:1-14.

2. The witness of John the Baptist, 1:15-34.

3. The public ministry of Christ, 1:35-12:50.

4: The private ministry of Christ to His own, 13:1-17:26.

5. The sacrifice of Christ, 18:1-19:42.

6. The manifestation of Christ in resurrection, 20:1-31.

7. Epilogue: Christ the Master of life and service, 21:1-25.

(Survey from Scofield Reference Notes [1917 ed.]: Public Domain)

Copyright: © Steve Shirley