Lesson 5 of 5
In Progress

Theological Themes in John


The purpose of John’s Gospel is that people might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing might have life in his name (20:30-31). Throughout the Gospel, Jesus’ words and actions are designed to bring about faith.


In a simple sense glory is the honor that people receive from other people (12:43), but in the fuller sense glory is the revelation of divine power and presence. Jesus reveals divine glory by works of power (2:11) and by laying down his life, which reveals the glory of divine love (12:23-25). After his resurrection, Jesus resumes his heavenly glory and prepares a place for his followers to share in it (17:1, 24).

Jesus as Messiah

The Messiah or “anointed one” was expected to be a king, who would rule over God’s people. The hope for the Messiah grew out of God’s promise that the heir to David’s throne would have an everlasting kingdom (2 Samuel 7:12-13). John declares that Jesus is the one in whom God’s promises are fulfilled.

Jesus as Son of God

The expression Son of God was associated with kingship in the Old Testament (2 Samuel 7:13-14; Psalm 2:7-8). In John’s Gospel, it also points to Jesus’ heavenly origin. He is the Son of God since he has come from God and embodies the power and presence of God.


People come under God’s judgment by rejecting the Christ whom God has sent. By way of contrast, they find life by coming to faith, since faith is the way people relate rightly to God. John’s Gospel sometimes speaks of a final judgment at the end of time (5:28-29) but also says that judgment already occurs when people refuse to believe.

Life and eternal life

People have life in one sense as long as they are alive physically, yet true life is found only in relationship with God. Faith is the means to life because through faith people relate to the God who made them. This life is called eternal life because it is life in relationship with the eternal God (17:3). Life begins now in faith and continues beyond death through the power of resurrection (5:24; 11:25-26).


Love for the world is the reason God sent Jesus into the world (3:16). Jesus in turn shows love for others by washing his disciples’ feet and ultimately by laying down his life (13:1; 15:13). The love that Jesus gives to others is the source and norm for Christian life, which is shaped by the command to love one another as Jesus has loved them (13:34).


Satan is also called the devil, the evil one, and the ruler of this world (8:44; 12:31; 13:2; 14:30; 16:11; 17:5). John’s Gospel understands that the power of evil works through deception, hatred, and death. Jesus defeats the evil one, therefore, with truth, love, and the gift of life.


Signs are things that point beyond themselves. The miraculous actions that Jesus performs are called “signs” because they point beyond, to the power and the presence of God (2:11).


At its most basic level sin is a broken relationship with God, and this in turn is expressed in sinful actions against other people. The opposite of sin is faith. Therefore, identifying sin as unbelief is another way of saying that it is rooted in a broken relationship with God (16:9).


The Spirit reveals Jesus’ identity (1:33-34) and brings people to faith, which is called new birth (3:3-8). The Spirit is sometimes called the Advocate or Counselor, because it brings people to a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and empowers them in witness (14:26; 15:26-27).


The world was created by God through the Word, yet the world has become estranged from God and does not know the one who made it (1:10). The world is hostile to God, Christ, and the community of faith (15:18-19), yet God continues to love the world, sent Christ to redeem it, and sends Christ’s followers into it to bear witness to the truth (3:16; 17:18).