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The WELS Mission for the Visually Impaired has prepared this audio file of:
The People’s Bible. John.
By Gary P. Baumler.
Published by Northwestern Publishing House, Copyright 1997.
INTRODUCTION TO JOHN
Perhaps no other book of the Bible has had such a profound effect on so many people as the gospel of John. Written some time after the first three gospels, it apparently takes for granted a knowledge of their contents. It offers otherwise unrecorded details of Jesus’ teachings, miracles, and life. Of the four gospels, John’s is the one often called “the spiritual gospel.”
This gospel offers a simple and clear statement of salvation. Virtually every Christian can recite from memory the so-called “gospel in a nutshell”: “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (3:16). At the same time, those who search this gospel find themselves face-to-face with God himself, peering into the depths of his incomprehensible being.
Some scholars say that the author wrote his gospel particularly to address the needs of non-Jewish, Greek-speaking Christians of his day. To the Greeks the idea of the Word (Greek: Logos) already had philosophical meaning (“the principle governing the cosmos”) that would cause them to pay attention to John’s use of it. Other scholars say that the author wrote it to counteract heresies of the day that denied either the full divinity of Jesus or the full humanity of Jesus. The author answered both heresies: “The Word was God” (1:1) and “The Word became flesh” (1:14).
Nevertheless, the only purpose today’s readers need to know for this gospel is the one the author himself gave: Introduction “These [miraculous signs] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20:31).
The church from earliest times has considered the apostle John the author of this gospel. Several church fathers from the second century confirm that choice, and the evidence from the gospel itself supports it. The writer is a close disciple of Jesus, the one “whom Jesus loved,” who leaned back against Jesus at the Last Supper (21:20,24). He isn’t Peter (21:20), and James died as a martyr before this gospel was written. The other disciple of the three closest to Jesus (Peter, James, and John) was John. More thorough studies have confirmed, with little room for doubt, that the apostle John wrote this gospel.
Unlike the rest of the Twelve, the disciple John lived to old age and died a natural death in about the year A.D. 100. The general consensus is that John wrote the gospel late in his life in the city of Ephesus, probably between A.D.85 and 90. Whether or not one needs to insist on such a late date, it is virtually certain that John wrote some time after the other gospels were circulated. Whatever else might be said of this gospel before studying the text itself, be assured that the journey with Jesus through this revelation will be a truly spiritual experience. It will increase faith and produce life. Read it now. Believe and live.