by Robert Brow    (

JLP Digital Publications, Odessa Ont. 2000


Since there is no suggestion that the temple and city of Jerusalem have been destroyed (as foretold by Jesus in Matthew 24:1-3, Mark 13:1-2) we will assume that the Gospel of John was written after the martyrdom of Peter in AD 64 (John 21:18-19), and at least two years before the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem in AD 70. Jesus said that event would certainly happen in the generation of his twelve apostles (Matthew 23:36, 24:34, Mark 13:30). And that was the "coming" spoken of in John 21:23 (more fully argued in Advent Comings of the Lord).

At the beginning of the Gospel the writer identifies himself as one of John's disciples (1:35, 37, see 21:7, 20) who was neither Simon Peter nor his brother Andrew, or Philip or Nathanael (1:40-42). At the last supper he suggests he himself was "the disciple whom Jesus loved (13:23). After the resurrection he turns out to be one of the two sons of Zebedee (21:2, see Matthew 4:21, Mark 1:19-20), and he again identifies himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (21:20). Whoever transcribed the finished Gospel adds a note to confirm this (21:24). If the writer of the Gospel was not John, one of the two sons of Zebedee, no one has suggested who could have possibly been the author of such an astonishing masterpiece.

The writer of John's Gospel knew he was being very selective: "Jesus did many other signs which are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and that through believing you may have life through his name" (John 20:30-31).

In contrast to the three other Gospels which speak about faith and believing, but do not make clear what faith is, this Gospel was written to illustrate from many different angles the nature and the object of Christian faith.

There are all sorts of important commentaries on John's Gospel from various points of view. This one is written on the assumption that effective preaching and teaching involves being able to contrast how the Kingdom of God works with the quite different ideas that people around us live by. And throughout the commentary we will see that faith is adopting the right model (vision, picture) of Jesus as the Messiah, and living that out among people who live by very different models of reality.

Outline of the Contents of John's Gospel

1:1-14    The Word

1:15-51  John's Disciples

2:1-13    Water to Wine

2:14-25  The Temple

3:1-21    Born Again

3:22-43 Jesus' Disciples

4:4-42    Samaritan Woman

4:43-5:15 Other Signs

5:16-47   Son of God

6:1-71     Bread

7:1-52    The Messiah

8:1-11    A Stoning

8:12-59  God as Father

9:1-41    Blindness

10:1-42 The Shepherd

11:1-57 Lazarus Raised

12:1-19 Entering Jerusalem

12:20-50 Facing Death

13:1-15 Foot Washing

13:16-38 Betrayed

14:1-31 The Spirit

15:1-26 The Vine

16:1-33 Going away

17:1-26 Jesus' Prayer

18:1-14 The Arrest

18:15-19:15 The Trial

19:16-30 Crucifixion

19:31-42 Burial

20:1-18 Resurrection

20:19-31 Thomas

21:1-14 Fishing

21:15-25 Peter Restored

1:1-14    The Word