Lesson 1 of 5
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Summary of John


The Gospel of John begins by announcing that God’s Word, which brought all things into being, became flesh in Jesus of Nazareth. During his ministry, Jesus reveals the power of God by performing seven miraculous signs, including turning water into wine, healing the sick, and raising the dead. In his preaching he identifies himself as the bread of life, the light of the world, and the good shepherd. Through his crucifixion, Jesus lays down his life, giving God’s love to the world. By rising from the dead he shows that those who believe in him have everlasting life.


John’s Gospel presents readers with a portrait of Jesus that is at once engaging and profound. By identifying Jesus as the light of the world and good shepherd, the Gospel gives readers accessible ways to begin thinking about who Jesus is, while inviting them to go deeper, so that readers continue growing in their understanding of who Jesus is and what it means to be related to God through him. The purpose of the Gospel is that people might have faith, and faith is a relationship of trust in God and Jesus Christ. People were created for relationship with God, and as the Gospel tells the story of Jesus in compelling ways it helps to bring people into that relationship, which is true life.


The Gospel according to John is the fourth book in the New Testament.


John’s Gospel is based on the testimony of “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20-25). The Gospel does not identify this disciple by name. Many early Christian writers thought he was John the son of Zebedee, although many recent scholars conclude that the beloved disciple’s identity remains unknown.


The Gospel of John was probably completed around 90 C.E., after the death of the beloved disciple (John 21:20-25). Although John is traditionally said to have been the last Gospel completed, it is probably not much later than Matthew and Luke.


John’s Gospel was written that people might believe that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God, who gives people the gift of eternal life through his life, death, and resurrection (John 20:30-31).


John’s Gospel begins with a poetic introduction that places the story of Jesus within the wider story of the Word of God. A word is a form of communication, and as John tells the story it stresses ways in which God speaks to the world through Jesus. Readers will find that Jesus communicates the will of God by the words he speaks, by the miracles he performs, by the death he dies in love for others, and by rising to life. The gospel story takes place on the earth, but at its heart is the way God is made known to the people of the world.