The Gospel of John was written by John, son of Zebedee, one of the original 12 disciples and a close friend of Jesus. John’s Gospel account was most likely the last of the Gospels to be written, somewhere around 70 to 90 A.D.

John differs greatly from the other three Gospels in terms of content and writing style. Almost 90% of the content in the Gospel of John is not found in the other Gospels.

Though John leaves out many major plot points like Jesus’ birth and baptism, as well as Jesus’ parables, John’s Gospel is not inaccurate or less credible by any means. Like the other Gospel accounts, John was written to a specific audience for a specific purpose.

The Gospel of John was written to all people, and the author intentionally includes events and leaves out others for the purpose of his Gospel: to reveal the Son of God, who offers eternal life to all who believe in Him.

From the beginning of the book, John makes it clear that Jesus is the Word of God made flesh—the human embodiment of God Himself.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

John’s Gospel has two main parts, often referred to by scholars as the Book of Signs and the Book of Glory.

The Book of Signs (chapters 1-12) focuses on Jesus’ ministry throughout Israel. Jesus turns water into wine, teaches a religious leader what it means to be “born again,” offers a Samaritan woman “living water,” heals the infirm, feeds thousands with a boy’s lunch and even raises the dead.

All the while, Jesus makes claims about who He is. Over and over, He tells the people that His authority to perform miracles comes from His Father, that He is equal to God and that through Him, people can have new life with God.

The second half of the book, the Book of Glory (chapters 13-21), centers around Jesus’ purpose for becoming flesh and dwelling among the people: His coming sacrificial death and victorious resurrection.

John devotes six chapters (13-18) to Jesus’ teaching His 12 disciples and the events that occurred the night before His sacrificial death. These teachings introduce and explain the role of the Holy Spirit, as well as Jesus’ reasons for giving up His life for the world and His love for God’s children.

Chapters 14-17 often are referred to as “The Farewell Discourse” because they contain important teaching for Christians to live without Jesus physically on earth.

Like the other Gospels, John recounts Jesus’ betrayal and arrest, His sacrificial death and His glorious resurrection. These events seal Jesus’ claims as the Son of God who gives eternal life.

The book ends with these words of John: “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:24-25).

THEMES

Jesus as the Son of God who reveals the Father: The biggest theme in the Gospel of John is Jesus’ relationship with His Father, and the relationship He wants all people to have with His Father, through Him.

Jesus’ “I am” statements: In his Gospel, John intentionally included seven “I am” statements that Jesus made throughout His ministry. Jesus often taught using metaphors, and these metaphorical statements helped Jesus describe Himself to others. Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:35, 41, 48, 51), the light of the world (John 8:12), the gate for the sheep (John 10:7, 9), the resurrection and the life (John 11:25), the good shepherd (John 10:11, 14), the way, truth and life (John 14:6) and the true vine (John 15:1, 5).

KEY PASSAGES

John 1 • John 3:16-17 • John 11:1-44

John 15 • John 21

HOW DOES THIS FIT INTO GOD’S STORY?

John’s poetic take on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus reveals deep, complex truths about the power, mystery and love of God in metaphorical, yet straightforward terms.

The Gospel of John invites all who read to embrace Jesus as the one, true source of eternal life—the Word made flesh, who died and rose again so that all people might have new life and a restored relationship with God the Father, who loves them.