Introduction to John

By James M. Rochford

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Authorship

The EXTERNAL EVIDENCE supports John’s authorship of the gospel. Here we list the abundance of references from the early church fathers.

  • Ignatius (AD 110) quotes John 3:8 (Ignatius Philadelphia 7:1).
  • Theophilus of Antioch (AD 165) referenced John’s gospel (To Autolyous22).
  • The Muratorian Canon (AD 170): “The fourth gospel is that of John, one of the disciples…. When his fellow-disciples and bishops exhorted him he said, ‘Fast with me for three days from to-day, and then let us relate to each other whatever may be revealed to each of us.’ On the same night it was revealed to Andrew, one of the Apostles, that John should narrate all things in his own name as they remembered them.”[1]
  • Irenaeus (AD 180): “John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon his breast, had himself published a Gospel during his residence in Ephesus in Asia” (Against Heresies1.2).
  • Clement of Alexandria (AD 220) quoted “at considerable length from almost every chapter of John.”[2]
  • Tertullian (AD 200) used “it freely in his works.”[3]
  • Tatian included the gospel in his Diatessaron (i.e. the Harmony of the Four Gospels) in the second century.
  • Eusebius (4th century AD) believed the gospel was written by “John, the companion of Peter, James, and the other apostles” (Historia Ecclesiastica34.5).

Scholar Merrill Tenney writes, “The early Fathers did not hesitate to acknowledge the Johannine authorship of the Gospel, and from the time of Irenaeus there was almost unanimous agreement about this.”[4] D.A. Carson concurs that the external evidence for Johannine authorship is “virtually unanimous.”[5] Even critics of John’s authorship still consider the external evidence to be “formidable.”[6] In fact, one critic writes, “Of any external evidence to the contrary that could be called cogent I am not aware.”[7]

The INTERNAL EVIDENCE supports John’s authorship of the gospel. While the book itself never claims to be written by John, several lines of evidence point toward John of Zebedee as the author.

The “disciple whom Jesus loved” is the one “who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true” (see comments on John 21:24 for why the author would switch to the plural “we”). Several lines of evidence support the external evidence that John of Zebedee was the author:

  • This disciple was an apostle, because he is found at the Last Supper (Jn. 13:23) and only the twelve apostles were there (Mk. 14:17).
  • The fact that he is fishing with the disciples (Jn. 21) points to John of Zebedee, who was a fisherman (Lk. 5:3; Mk. 1:20).
  • Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, Philip, and Judas are mentioned (which rules them out as the author).
  • James of Zebedee cannot be the other because he died too early (Acts 12:2; ~AD 41-44; compare with Jn. 21:23).
  • John is the only gospel to call “John the Baptist” simply “John” (Jn. 1:6). Carson comments, “The simplest explanation is that John the son of Zebedee is the one person who would not feel it necessary to distinguish the other John from himself.”[8]
  • John of Zebedee was one of Jesus’ “inner three” disciples who followed him most closely. So it would be likely to see him identified as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

Again, the internal evidence does not explicitly name John as the author, it does offer complementary evidence to this claim. Critics claim that this book was written by the “Johannine school” (i.e. the disciples and followers of John). However, if these people came from John’s school, why wouldn’t they name their leader as the author? As Morris argues, “It is nothing short of astounding that those who argue for this ‘school’ behind our Fourth Gospel take so calmly their idea that neither the original author of the Gospel, nor any of its various redactors, ever mentions the founder of the ‘school’ when they are narrating the very events that brought the ‘school’ into existence. What sort of ‘school’ is this?”[9]

The HISTORICAL EVIDENCE supports an eyewitness of the gospel. The Romans devastated Palestine in AD 70. The Roman legions exiled the Jews from Israel, scorched their land, and burned their temple and buildings to the ground. And yet John was able to correctly identify Palestinian architecture and landscapes.

Despite the fact that Israel was ravaged by war, foreign occupation, and exile, the author correctly mentions many historical details. In other words, John’s gospel reads like a first-century, eyewitness author, as it claims to be (Jn. 19:35; 21:24). Paul Barnett writes, “The fourth evangelist mentions as many as twelve places not referred to in the other gospels.”[10] For example, John correctly mentioned a “deep” well near Mt. Gerizim (Jn. 4:4, 11, 19-20). Historian Edwin Yamauchi affirms,

Halfway between Galilee and Judea in Samaria is one site which all authorities believe to be authentic. This is Jacob’s Well where Jesus spoke with the woman of Samaria (John 4). Above it loom the twin mountains of Ebal and of Gerizim. It was the latter which the woman pointed out as the sacred place of worship for the Samaritans.[11]

John also noted that the official told Jesus to “come down” from Cana to Capernaum to see his son (Jn. 4:47, 49). This wasn’t just a figure of speech. Geographically, Cana is several hundred meters above Capernaum, so this off-the-cuff remark happens to be geographically accurate.

For years, critics held that the pool of Bethesda was purely legendary. Yet, in the 1890s, archaeologists discovered this pool, and it had exactly five colonnades—just as John recorded. Blomberg writes, “Reconstruction showed how two juxtaposed rectangular enclosures would have created five porticoes.”[12]

Additionally, John accurately named the Pool of Siloam (Jn. 9:7). Archaeologist James Hoffmeier writes,

During the summer of 2004… thanks to the use of a metal detector, four coins were found embedded in the plaster… [The] coins and pottery associated with it suggest that it flourished right up to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. Because it stands at the bottom end of the valley, it would quickly have silted over and its location been forgotten. The stone-lined pool was in all probability the Pool of Siloam of Jesus’ day.[13]

John correctly named the Kidron Valley (Jn. 18:1), and he appropriately distinguished Cana in Galilee from Cana in Sidon (Jn. 2:1; 4:46). He knew that there was “much water” in “Aenon near Salim” (Jn. 3:23). He knew that Ephraim was “a town… near the wilderness” (Jn. 11:54). He was familiar with the Hebrew names for the places in Palestine (Jn. 19:13). He knew that it was a one day trip from Cana to Capernaum (Jn. 4:52), and a two day journey from Bethany beyond the Jordan to Bethany near Jerusalem (Jn. 10:40; 11:18). Remember, this was written in a time before Google Earth or even extensive mapping of the ancient world. Time and time again, John recorded details that would be unique to an eyewitness before the destruction of Israel in AD 70.

John was also aware of cultural details that would only be relevant to Israel before the destruction of Jerusalem. After the Romans destroyed the Temple, Jewish culture radically changed. Specifically, the Jewish religious parties (e.g. the Sadducees and Pharisees) became virtually extinct. And yet John wrote about these things with detailed precision. He discussed ritual purification (Jn. 2:6), cultural relations (Jn. 4:9), burial procedures (Jn. 19:40), their view of the Law (Jn. 7:49), Sabbath regulations (Jn. 5:1-19; 9), and the high priest Caiaphas by name (Jn. 11:49, 51; 18:13). It’s interesting to note that in 1990, investigators discovered an ossuary (pronounced OSH-oo-air-ee) or a “bone box” that contained Caiaphas’ name and bones. Hoffmeier notes, “There is widespread agreement that this ossuary belonged to the high priest.”[14]

John’s knowledge of Jewish culture, topography, architecture, and religion was so accurate that Israel Abrahams (a rabbinical scholar) wrote, “My own general impression, without asserting an early date for the Fourth Gospel, is that the Gospel enshrines a genuine tradition of an aspect of Jesus’ teaching which has not found a place in the Synoptics.”[15] These facts don’t necessarily mean that John wrote his gospel before AD 70, but they do support the thesis that he lived before this time.

Date

INTERNAL EVIDENCE for dating John. When we read the text itself, several passages help us to generally date the book at least to the late first-century, if not earlier:

John’s omissions. John fails to mention the Sadducees who were very influential before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. However, Carson notes, “The argument would be weighty, were it not for the fact that John is similarly silent on the scribes, whose influence increased after ad 70. And John does make it clear that the priests, with rapidly diminishing influence after ad 70, were largely in control of the Sanhedrin in the run-up to Jesus’ passion.”[16]

John’s language. John refers to the disciples, rather than the apostles. Furthermore, he calls them “his disciples,” rather than “the disciples.” Expressions like these look early, rather than late.[17] Furthermore, in John 5:2, we read that “there is” a pool called Bethesda (rather than “there was”). Of course, this was destroyed after AD 70. Morris writes, “It is, of course, possible for John to use the present tense when referring to something in the past, though we might well ask why he should do so here where every other verb in the context is in a past tense. The most natural reading of the passage points to a pool in existence at the time. In that case the city had not yet been destroyed.”[18]

The historical tradition from the Muratorian fragment (AD 180). Morris writes, “The Muratorian fragment says that John’s ‘fellow-disciples’ urged him to write and that Andrew received a revelation to that effect with the result that this Gospel was written. It is not clear how far this piece of tradition can be accepted, but as far as it goes it points to an early date, for Andrew and other disciples were still alive and were urging John to write. Whatever age he was when he died, there is no reason for thinking John was an old man at the time.”[19]

EXTERNAL EVIDENCE for dating John. The church fathers state that John did, in fact, live a very long time:

Irenaeus (AD 180) held that John lived into the reign of Emperor Trajan, which was from AD 98-117 (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 2.22.5; 3.3.4; Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3.23.3-4.

Jerome (4th century) stated that John died in about AD 98 (Lives of Illustrious Men, 9).

Multiple church fathers wrote that John was the last apostle to write his gospel (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.1.1; Eusebius quoting Clement, Ecclesiastical History, 6.14.7; Eusebius himself, 3.24.7).

Furthermore, archaeological evidence suggests a first century dating of the book:

The catacomb of Priscilla in the Capella Graeca (dated to the early 2nd century) depicts the raising of Lazarus in John 11.[20]

Archaeologists discovered artwork of John 6 in the crypt of Acilii Glabriones, who were “one of the most aristocratic families in Rome, some of the members of which were Christians in the first century.”[21]

(All of the historical evidence listed above under “Authorship” would help confirm a first-century dating of the book as well).

D.A. Carson holds to a tentative date of AD 80 to 85—though he states that any date from AD 55 to 95 is possible.[22] Leon Morris follows J.A.T. Robinson in dating this book before AD 70—perhaps as early as the AD 50’s or 60’s.[23]

Why does John omit so many events recorded in the Synoptic gospels?

Most of John’s gospel is original to him (~90%). Why did he choose to include so much novel material?

First, it could be that John knew what Matthew, Mark, and Luke had already written, and he felt no need to repeat this material.

Second, it could be the John may have had different emphases. For example, John was definitely present at the Last Supper (Jn. 13), and yet, he fails to mention the inauguration of the Lord’s Supper. Morris comments, “He must have known of this and known that it was important. Yet he omits it. We need not be too surprised if he omits other things that we consider important.”[24]

Third, John is very similar to the Synoptic gospels—even if he adds more content:

 

Similarities between the Synoptics and John

Synoptics

John

(Mk. 1:10) Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him.

(Jn. 1:32) John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.”
(Mk. 1:7-8) [John the Baptist] was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. 8 I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

(Jn. 1:26-27) John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know. 27 It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”

Jesus fed the 5,000 (Mk. 6:32-44)

Jesus fed the 5,000 (Jn. 6:1-15)
Walking on water (Mk. 6:45ff)

Walking on water (Jn. 6:16-21)

(Mt. 9:37-38) Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

(Jn. 4:35) Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.’
(Mk. 6:4) Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.”

(Jn. 4:44) For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.

(Mt. 25:46) These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

(Jn. 5:29) Those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.
(Mt. 11:25-27) At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26 Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. 27 All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

(Jn. 10:14-15) I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

(Mk. 4:12) While seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven.

(Jn. 12:39-40) For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.”

 

Why is Jesus ‘different’ in John’s gospel?

John doesn’t contradict the Synoptic gospels. Instead he adds material that we didn’t previously know.[25] Morris writes, “If modern biographies can’t quite capture all aspects of great men of history, how much more would it be impossible to capture the Son of God?”[26] He adds, “The Jesus whom all four Evangelists depict was a gigantic figure, greater by far than can be comprehended in any one Gospel.”[27]

Is John theologically embellished?

Many scholars believe that John’s highly developed view of Jesus’ deity and the Trinity must date the book later. However, this argument doesn’t carry much weight for a number of reasons:

First, Paul’s earlier letters contain even stronger passages on the deity of Christ (e.g. Rom. 9:5; Phil. 2:5-8). Even critics date these specific letters to the 50’s or 60’s AD.

Second, John contains a “high Christology,” but also contains a high view of Jesus’ subordination. While no gospel teaches the deity of Christ more strongly, it is also true that no gospel teaches the subordination of Jesus more strongly.[28] If John is really just a “theologically embellished” text, then why would he emphasize the humanity and subordination of Jesus so strongly?

Third, the earliest church fathers contain stronger affirmations of Jesus’ deity. For instance, Ignatius (~AD 108) contains even stronger language for the deity of Christ (see “High Christology” of Ignatius). If John is really such a late and embellished gospel, he isn’t as “embellished” as the very earliest church fathers.

Fourth, John contains less miracles than the Synoptics. If John is really so theologically embellished, then why does it contain far less miracles? Mark contains roughly forty miracles, while John contains only seven miracles in Jesus’ pre-passion ministry. Furthermore, John contains no cases of exorcisms, while the gospels contain dozens.

Is John anti-Semitic?

John refers to Jesus’ interlocutors simply as “the Jews,” while the Synoptic gospels refer to them as the Pharisees or Sadducees—specific types of religious leaders. Did John write this because he was anti-Semitic? This doesn’t seems fair. After all, John writes that:

  • Salvation came from the Jews (Jn. 4:22).
  • Many Jews became believers in Jesus (Jn. 11:45; 12:11).
  • Jesus was “a Jew” (Jn. 4:9).
  • Some Jews believe in Jesus (Jn. 11:45; 12:11).

Carson writes, “‘Anti-semitic’ is simply the wrong category to apply to the Fourth Gospel: whatever hostilities are present turn on theological issues related to the acceptance or rejection of revelation, and not on race.”[29] We would agree with Carson’s comments. After all, John himself was Jewish! This absurdity would be similar to Dave Chappelle’s satirical rendition of “Clayton Bigsby”—a blind black man who was a member of the Klu Klux Klan. If John was hateful of Jews, then he would need to be hateful of himself, the other eleven apostles, and Jesus himself! This seems wildly implausible.

What are the Seven Signs of John?

The Gospel of John lists seven signs to confirm Jesus’ identity:

  1. The turning of water into wine (2:1-11)
  2. The healing of the official’s son (4:43-54)
  3. The healing of a paralytic (5:1-15)
  4. The feeding of the multitude (6:1-14)
  5. The walking on the water (6:16-21)
  6. The cure of the blind man (9:1-41)
  7. The raising of Lazarus (11:1-44).

The gospel of John is simultaneously the deepest and the most accessible gospel to read. It has been called so simple that a child could wade in it, but so deep that an elephant could swim in it. The purpose of the gospel of John is found in his very own words: “These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20:31).

Commentary on John

 

John 1.1 (The Word became Flesh)

(1:1) “In the beginning” harkens back to Genesis 1:1. Only here, we see that before creation there is the Word (logos).

Scholars debate why John used the term logos (“Word”) to describe Jesus:

Was John targeting Greek readers? Merrill Tenney writes, “The term Logos was used by the philosophers of the day, particularly the Stoics, to express the central principle of the universe, the spirit that pervaded the world, or the ultimate Reason that controlled all things.”[30] Carson writes, “The Stoics understood logos to be the rational principle by which everything exists, and which is of the essence of the rational human soul.”[31] Yet, he adds, “Still others think John has borrowed from Philo, a first-century Jew who was much influenced by Plato and his successors. Philo makes a distinction between the ideal world, which he calls ‘the logos of God,’ and the real or phenomenal world which is but its copy. In particular, logos for Philo can refer to the ideal man, the primal man, from which all empirical human beings derive. But Philo’s logos has no distinct personality, and does not itself become incarnate.”[32]

Was John targeting Jewish readers? The “word” in Hebrew is dabar. In Hebrew thinking, dabar is connected with God’s power in creation (Gen. 1:3; Ps. 33:6), revelation (Jer. 1:4; Isa. 9:8; Ezek. 33:7; Amos 3:1, 8), and deliverance (Ps. 29:3ff; 107:20; Isa. 55:1).

John likely has both groups in view. John takes pains to translate certain words to make them applicable for a Gentile audience (Jn. 1:38, 41-42; 4:25; 5:2; 9:7; 19:13, 17; 20:16).

“Was the Word” can also be rendered “the Word continually was”[33] or “The Word already existed” (NLT).

“The Word was with God” meaning he is separate from God in person.

“And the Word was God” meaning he is the same in essence. Or as the NET note states, “What God was the Word was.”

John calls Jesus God in verse 18 (at the incarnation) and in 20:28 (after his resurrection). He is making a connection between (1) Jesus’ pre-incarnate state, (2) Jesus’ incarnate state, and (3) Jesus’ post-resurrection state. He is God throughout all three. Thus Morris writes, “John thus asserts the deity of his Lord at three very important places in his narrative.”[34]

(Jn. 1:1) Was Jesus God or simply a god?

(1:2) The Word and God existed apart from the universe (cf. Jn. 17:24).

(1:3) The entire creation came through the Word (“all things” versus “nothing”). He is the Creator of everything.

(1:4) Life was found in the Word. After all, he was the Creator of all life (v.3). Moreover, this life was the light of the world. Life and light are placed alongside one another. Jesus later calls himself “the Light of the world” (Jn. 8:12; 9:5; 12:46).

(1:5) The word “comprehend” (katelaben) is the same root word (lambano) used for “receiving” Christ (Jn. 1:12). The problem with the human race is not that they simply can’t understand, but that they won’t receive Jesus. Throughout the gospel, we that this is a willful ignorance.

John the Baptist

(1:6) The Synoptics go into so much detail about Jesus’ birth and John the Baptist’s ministry. John cuts right to the chase with both, throwing the reader right into the middle of the action.

(1:7) John came to “testify” about the Light (i.e. the Word; i.e. Jesus; v.5). Morris writes, “Testimony is a serious matter and the means of substantiating the truth of a matter; there is a legal air about it. It is clear that our author wants his readers to take what he writes as reliable. He is insistent that there is good evidence for the things he sets down.”[35]

“So that all might believe through him.” Grammatically, this “him” could refer to either Jesus or John, but the structure of the passage implies that this is about John.[36]

“Believe” is in the aorist—not the continuous tense. Morris takes this to mean that John’s testimony brought people to the point where they needed to make a decision about Jesus.[37]

John’s ministry was so that people could believe in Jesus.

(1:8) John the Baptist himself denied that he was the Messiah. Instead, he came to lead people to the Messiah.

The incarnation

(1:9) While the human race didn’t all receive (“comprehend”) and were in darkness (v.5), the Word came to enlighten all of them (“every man”). God shares his Light with all people, but not all people receive it (Jn. 3:19-20).

(1:10) The Creator enters his creation, and they don’t recognize him. It would be like the Great Gatsby being at his own party as the waiter, dishwasher, or bartender.

(1:11) This opening clause can be translated, “He came home.”[38] John seems to be thinking of the Jewish people here. John moves from “know” (v.10) to “receive” (v.11).

(1:12) We aren’t born with the right to be children of God. God gives this to those who are willing to receive and believe.

(1:13) What are the wrong ways to try to attain this new birth? Put simply, these three ways all refer to physical inheritance in contrast to spiritual rebirth.

(Jn. 1:13) Does this passage support Calvinism?

“Not of blood[s]” makes us think of John 3, where Jesus explains the new birth to Nicodemus.

“[Not] the will of the flesh” makes us think of Jesus’ saying, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’” (Jn. 3:6-7). It’s also similar to Jesus saying, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe” (Jn. 6:53-54). It also stands in contrast to the “Word became flesh” in the next verse.

“[Not] the will [thelematos] of man” This reminds us of Jesus’ statement: “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself” (Jn. 7:17).

“But of God” Morris understands these negatives as referring to the Jewish conceptions of salvation at the time. He writes, “The piling up of these expressions is to be understood in the light of Jewish pride of race. The Jews held that because of the “Fathers,” that is their great ancestors, God would be favorable to them. John emphatically repudiates any such idea. Nothing human, however great or excellent, can bring about the birth of which he speaks.”[39]

(1:14) What a mind-blowing concept! The Cosmic Logic behind the universe entered into the universe. It’s like an author writing himself into his own story.

In the OT, God took residence in the Tabernacle. Like the Tabernacle in the OT, Jesus “dwelt” among humans. When Christ came, God revealed that the Tabernacle—this moveable tent—foreshadowed the incarnation. At the incarnation, Jesus “became flesh, and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14). Regarding this passage, D.A. Carson comments, “More literally translated, the Greek verb skenoo means that the Word pitched his tabernacle, or lived in his tent, amongst us.”[40] Just as God dwelt in the portable tent with his people in the OT, God dwelt in a human body in the person of Christ (see Endless Hope or Hopeless End, p.27).

“We saw his glory” In the OT, the “glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (Ex. 40:34). Even the priests needed to run and hide when God’s shekinah glory came into the Temple. Here, John says that they could see God’s glory through the person of Jesus.

John the Baptist again

(1:15) Luke states that John the Baptist was born before Jesus (Lk. 1:36). Yet John the Baptist affirmed that Jesus was preexistent. Even though he “comes after” John the Baptist, he still “existed before” John the Baptist. Morris writes, “This was a noteworthy statement, for in antiquity it was widely held that chronological priority meant superiority.”[41]

(1:16) The author (John) was one of the people who “received” Christ (see v.12). He viewed coming to know Christ as “grace upon grace” (NASB) or “one gracious blessing after another” (NLT). This is the same concept in Exodus 33:13 (“Now therefore, I pray you, if I have found charis (LXX) in your sight, let me know your ways, that I may know you, so that I may find charis (LXX) in your sight” (NET note).

Again, John uses the aorist tense for “received” (elabomen). Instead of characterizing Christ’s fullness as being dispensed in an ongoing, continuous sense, John writes about it as being given in a completed sense.

(1:17) We don’t discover God’s grace through the Law, but through Jesus. The Law shows us our need for grace, but it doesn’t give us grace.

(1:18) “No one has seen God at any time…” This picks up the OT theme that God cannot be seen directly. Remember, God told Moses, “No man can see Me and live!” (Ex. 33:20). This allusion fits with the earlier allusions to this same section of Exodus (v.14, 16).

Translations render “the only begotten God” in different ways: “God the One and Only” (NIV), “the only one, himself God” (NET), or “the unique One, who is himself God” (NLT). The manuscripts differ on this. The oldest and most reliable manuscripts read monogenēs theos (“the only God”), while the majority of later texts read (monogenēs huios (“the only son”).

“Who is in the bosom of the Father” This seems similar to John laying on Jesus’ bosom at the Last Supper (Jn. 13:23, 25). Jesus has access to the Father’s bosom, and we have access to Jesus’ bosom; so we have access to the Father!

The second person of the Trinity made the first person of the Trinity known to us.

(Jn. 1:18) Was Jesus “begotten” in the sense of being created?

(Jn. 1:18) Can we see God or not?

John 1.2 (John the Baptist)

The location for these events is in “Bethany beyond the Jordan” (Jn. 1:28).

(1:19) While the prologue is in some sense separate from the narrative, it is in another sense integrally connected. Woven through the prologue, John writes about John the Baptist. Here in verse 19, he further explains about the witness of John the Baptist. Note the connection with the word “testimony,” which was used throughout the prologue (v.7-8, 15).

John the Baptist was famous in religious circles in Israel. The Jewish and Roman historian Josephus writes, “Now some of the Jews thought that it was God who had destroyed Herod’s army, and that it was a very just punishment to avenge John, surnamed the Baptist. John had been put to death by Herod, although he was a good man, who exhorted the Jews to practice virtue, to be just one to another and pious towards God and to come together by baptism. Baptism, he taught, was acceptable to God provided that… the soul had already been purified by righteousness. Because of this suspicion on Herod’s part, John was sent in chains to the fortress of Machaerus… and there put to death.”[42]

(1:20) John was so famous and influential that many believed that he was the Messiah! It would’ve been tempting for John to be a messianic pretender, taking the glory for himself. Instead, he outright denied this.

(1:21) He denied being Elijah or “the Prophet.” The Prophet was a specific person predicted by Moses (see comments on Deut. 18:15).

(1:22) If you aren’t the Messiah, Elijah, or the Prophet, then who are you? Apparently, these were messengers sent from the religious elite (“so that we may give an answer to those who sent us”). Verse 24 states that the Pharisees had sent these messengers.

(1:23) John cites OT prophecy to explain who he is (Isa. 40:3). John was a voice, while Jesus was the Word. How did John know that this passage applied to him?

(1:24) See verse 22.

(1:25) Baptism was usually reserved for Gentile converts—not “good” Jewish believers. The Pharisees were scandalized and offended that John would baptize Jews. Morris writes, “Baptism was not a new practice in Judaism. It was the regular rite in the admission of converts from other religions. When such a conversion took place, the males of the family were circumcised and all, of both sexes, were baptized. This was seen as the ceremonial removal of all the pollutions contracted in the Gentile world. The novelty in John’s case and the sting in his practice was that he applied to Jews the ceremony that was held to be appropriate in the case of Gentiles coming newly into the faith. All Jews were prepared to accept the view that Gentiles were defiled and needed cleansing. But to put Jews in the same class was horrifying. The Jews were God’s people already. It is true that on the basis of certain Old Testament passages some people expected that there would be baptizing when the messianic age dawned (Ezek. 36:25; Zech. 13:1). But John had denied being the Messiah. It was all very perplexing and the Pharisees wanted to know more about it.”[43]

(1:26) The Jewish people didn’t know who Jesus really was (Jn. 1:5, 11).

(1:27) NLT renders this as, “I’m not even worthy to be his slave.”

(1:28)

(1:29) How did John know who Jesus was when he first saw him? This is not the first time John saw Jesus. According to the subsequent verses, John had already baptized Jesus (vv.31-34).

(1:30) See verse 15.

(1:31-34) Twice, John says, “I did not recognize him” (v.31, 33). It wasn’t until Jesus’ baptism that he recognized Jesus, because God spoke from heaven and the Spirit descended on Jesus. Matthew (3:16), Mark (1:10), and Luke (3:22) all mention the voice from heaven announcing who Jesus was. However, John omits the words of God, and only says he saw the Spirit descending like a dove.

How did John know that Jesus was the “Son of God”? If he had already baptized Jesus, then he heard God say, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Mt. 3:17).

(1:35) John the Baptist had disciples of his own.

(1:36) Apparently, John said this a lot about Jesus! (see v.29) He kept pointing “his” disciples to Jesus.

(1:37) John didn’t try to build up a personal caste of disciples. He believed that “his” disciples were really Jesus’ disciples.

(1:38) These are Jesus’ first words in the gospel: What are you looking for? These two men don’t answer the question. Instead, they ask him where he’s staying.

(1:39) Jesus gives the evangelistic invitation, “Come… and see.” Later, Philip gives the same invitation (“Come and see”) to Nathanael (v.46).

(1:40) Peter’s brother (Andrew) was originally a disciple of John the Baptist.

(1:41) Andrew tried to tell Peter that he found the Messiah. Will Peter listen?

(1:42) Peter came to investigate. Jesus tells him that his name is “Simon,” but he prophesies that he will be called “Peter.”

(1:43) Jesus calls on Philip to follow him in Galilee.

(1:44) Philip grew up in the same town as Andrew and Peter.

(1:45) Philip reaches out to his friend Nathanael, saying that the OT Scriptures predicted the Messiah, and he claimed to have found him.

(1:46) Nathanael seems skeptical. This sounds like it’s going to turn into a debate! Instead, Philip uses the same tactic of Jesus: “Come and see” (cf. v.39).

(1:47) How could Jesus say this to a sinful man? The word “deceit” (dolos) is used of Jacob before his change of heart in the Septuagint (Gen. 27:35).[44] This could be a play on words, where Jesus is saying, “An Israelite in whom there is no Jacob!”[45] Jesus seems to be encouraging Nathaniel for his desire to investigate spiritual matters for himself. The subsequent verses show that Nathaniel is an honest seeker.

(1:48-49) Jesus had been watching Nathanael. Why is Nathanael so impressed with this statement from Jesus? It must have been surprising for Nathanael to hear this, because he was many miles away from Jesus. It sounds like Jesus was in Galilee when he “saw” Nathanael (v.43), but Nathanael was in Bethsaida (v.44). Nathanael must’ve been sitting under a fig tree. I wonder if he got chills when Jesus said this.

(1:50) Jesus says, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

(1:51) This might be an allusion to “Jacob’s ladder” (Gen. 28:10-12). But instead of ascending on a ladder, the angels ascend on the Son of Man. This could be a subtle way of saying that Jesus himself is the ladder to heaven. Carson writes, “What the disciples are promised, then, is heaven-sent confirmation that the one they have acknowledged as the Messiah has been appointed by God. Every Jew honoured Jacob/Israel, the father of the twelve tribes; now everyone must recognize that this same God has appointed Jesus as his Messiah.”[46] Just as Jacob called this place Bethel (“the house of God”), Jesus is going to become the fulfillment of “the house of God” (cf. Jn. 2:19-21).

Conclusions

John the Baptist was humble enough to not take people’s praise or a false identity (e.g. the Messiah, Elijah, the Prophet). He was also humble enough to pass off “his” disciples to Jesus, rather than grow a personal following.

Notice how it’s only natural for the people to do evangelism once they meet Jesus. Andrew brings Peter. Philip brings Nathanael. The rest of the gospel shows how more and more people bring their friends, family, or other loved ones to meet Jesus.

This statement from Jesus (v.51) gives us a cliffhanger. What will Nathanael (and the reader!) see about Jesus in the following chapters?

John 2.1 (Wedding in Cana)

(2:1) Is there anything significant to “the third day”? There is nothing symbolic about this (e.g. the resurrection occurring on the third day). Jews traditionally marry on the third day of the week (Tuesday) because that day was called “good” twice in Genesis 1. Thus it became a tradition to get married that day.[47]

Was this a wedding of friends of the family? They are in Galilee, and Mary was invited.

(2:2) Jesus was the kind of guy that you would want to invite to your wedding.

(2:3) Mary doesn’t tell Jesus what to do. She merely brings the need to Jesus. In his devotional book Prayer, Ole Hallesby points out that we can do the same thing with our needs to Jesus in prayer. Sometimes we don’t know what to prayer for. Simply bringing the need to God is enough.

This would’ve been extremely embarrassing. Carson writes, “A wedding celebration could last as long as a week, and the financial responsibility lay with the groom. To run out of supplies would be a dreadful embarrassment in a ‘shame’ culture; there is some evidence it could also lay the groom open to a lawsuit from aggrieved relatives of the bride.”[48] Morris writes, “the ancient Near East there was a strong element of reciprocity about weddings, and that, for example, it was possible to take legal action in certain circumstances against a man who had failed to provide the appropriate wedding gift.”[49] The Mishnah states, “The groomsmen’s gift [counts as a loan and] can be recovered through a court of law” (Mishnah, Baba Batra, 9:4).[50]

(2:4) What is the connection between the wedding wine, and Jesus’ “hour” not yet coming? Some interpreters connect this based on the ultimate wedding supper of the Lamb.[51] Under this view, Jesus is at a friend’s wedding, but he’s thinking forward to his wedding feast. But in order to get to his ultimate wedding (with the Church), he needs to go through his “hour.” In John, Jesus’ “hour” refers to the Cross (Jn. 12:27; 13:1; 17:1).

(Jn. 2:4) Was Jesus being disrespectful by calling Mary “woman”?

(2:5) Mary places herself underneath the leadership and direction of her Son.

(2:6-7) The ritual water pots were used for external cleansing—not internal cleansing (cf. Lk. 11:38-40). Jesus turns this external ceremonial into an internal one.

If the six pots had 25 gallons each, and they were “filled to the brim,” then that would be 150 gallons of wine. There are 128 ounces per gallon, and 25.4 ounces in a 750 ml bottle of wine. This means Jesus made 768 bottles of wine!

(2:8) They took the wine to the “headwaiter” (NASB) or “head steward” (NET) or “master of ceremonies” (NLT), who tested Jesus’ stuff. It’s funny that Jesus told them to take the win to this man to be examined. It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Wait till he gets a load of this!”

(2:9) He tries the wine. This is the moment of truth. Is this wine snob going to spit it out in disgust, or will he drink it?

(2:10) Did Jesus make cheap box wine? No way! He made top-shelf wine.

(Jn. 2:8-10) Did Jesus turn the water into wine or into grape juice?

(2:11) Why was this Jesus’ inaugural miracle? When a president takes over, his inaugural speech sets the tone for his candidacy. Why did Jesus pick this to be his first miracle? Why not raising someone from the dead? Multiplying the fish and loaves? Walking on water? He must’ve been trying to show that the goal of the Christian life is that God loves us and wants to celebrate his love with us!

John 2.2 (Cleansing of the Temple)

(2:12) Jesus initially travelled with his family and his disciples. Later, we learned that his brothers didn’t believe in him (Jn. 7:5). This explains why Jesus didn’t entrust his brothers with his (widowed?) mother after his death (Jn. 19:26-27). Instead, he trusted John the “beloved disciple” with taking care of his mother after he was gone.

(2:13) He went “up” to Jerusalem. Topographically, Jerusalem is higher than Cana. Carson writes, “This geographical approach to the expression fits the context, since the verse’s purpose is to explain why Jesus went up to Jerusalem in Judea. (People went up to Jerusalem, both because Jerusalem stood at a higher elevation than Galilee, and also because historically Jerusalem was the capital city—just as people go up to London from all over Britain.)”[52]

(2:14-15) This cleansing of the Temple occurs at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. It seems to be a separate and additional cleansing than the Synoptics.

(Jn. 2:14-15) When did Jesus cleanse the Temple? (c.f. Mt. 21:12; Mk. 11:15; Lk. 19:45)

(Jn. 2:14-15) Why did Jesus get so angry? Was his anger justified? (cf. Lk. 19:45-46, Mt. 21:12-13, and Mk. 11:15-17)

(2:16) These religious leaders were profiteering off of a poor culture. The historical background of this graft is important.

(2:17) The disciples remember Psalm 69:9 and apply it to Jesus. They are recognizing that he is the Messiah.

(2:18) Jesus had already shown his first “sign” at the wedding in Cana. But these religious men hadn’t seen it. By the end of the gospel of John, they would see several signs, but still not believe.

Jesus’ cleansing was not good for business. This would be like shutting off the power at Wal-Mart on Black Friday. They wanted to dispense of him, but they couldn’t because he was well liked.

(2:19) We learn that Jesus was referring to himself as the Temple (v.21). Temples were places where you could connect with God, and Jesus was claiming that he himself was the Temple. He was saying, “You going into the Temple, but the Temple is in my body.” What a claim!

Note, too, that Jesus said that the destruction of his body would be the way to connect with God (“Destroy this temple”). It is in Jesus’ death that we can come into God’s presence.

This claim was so radical that Jesus’ enemies brought it up in a garbled form at Jesus’ trial (Mt. 26:60-61; Mk. 14:57-59) and execution (Mt. 27:40; Mk. 15:29). It later recurs in Stephen’s trial (Acts 6:14).

(2:20) They miss the point. They think he’s talking about the physical temple. Regarding the 46 years, Morris writes, “Josephus says that the work was begun in the eighteenth year of Herod’s reign (Antiquities of the Jews 15.380). This would be 20–19 BC, and if the Jews’ statement is accurate the date of this incident will be AD 27 or 28.”[53] Although, Morris also writes that this gives us “no firm date.”[54]

(2:21) See comments on verse 19.

(2:22) The disciples were slow to know what Jesus was saying.

“Scripture” and “the word which Jesus had spoken” are placed side by side.

(2:23) Jesus did more miracles there, which John doesn’t record (cf. Jn. 21:25).

(2:24) This shows that the word pistis (“faith”) can be rendered as “trust” or “entrusted.” While the people were trusting in Jesus, Jesus was not trusting them. He knew that these same people would later betray him.

(2:25) He loved humans without having blind faith in humans. He gave his life away without being naïve. Only God knows the hearts of humans (1 Kings 8:39).

John 3.1 (Jesus and Nicodemus)

(3:1) Nicodemus was a Pharisee (see “Judaism in Jesus’ Day” for some historical background of the Pharisees). The expression “a ruler of the Jews” implies that he was a member of the elite Sanhedrin—the 70 person ruling council in Israel.

(3:2) Why did he come “by night”? It could very well be that he was afraid of ruining his prestigious reputation. He didn’t want to be seen in public with Jesus.

Labelling Jesus as a “teacher” is accurate, but it isn’t adequate (see Lord, Liar, Lunatic, or Legend). If Nicodemus believes that Jesus came from God, then calling him a mere teacher isn’t going far enough.

(3:3) Jesus ignores this and cuts right to the chase: you need to be born again (cf. Jn. 1:12-13).

(3:4) I don’t think I would fit back in. That’s like fitting 40 people into a Smart Car—it just doesn’t work! Although, Will Ferrell did it.

(Jn. 3:5) Does this passage refer to water baptism?

(3:6) Just as we need a physical birth to be physically alive, we also need a spiritual birth to be spiritually alive.

(3:7) A lot of people in our culture are “amazed” at this teaching—especially religious people like Nicodemus. To some, it is the most amazing good news they’ve ever heard. To others, it is the most amazingly offensive news they’ve ever heard.

(3:8) Was the wind blowing when Jesus said this? Perhaps he was making an illustration based on a gust of wind in the night. The movement of the Holy Spirit cannot be predicted or controlled. Solomon writes, “Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things” (Eccl. 11:5). Colin Kruse writes, “This is a reminder for us not to tie the experience of being born of the Spirit to particular evangelistic formulae, but to recognize the ways of the Spirit with different people may be different, though always, as this Gospel makes abundantly clear, connected with faith in Jesus Christ.”[55]

(3:9) Jesus has just rearranged Nicodemus’ religious paradigm. He’s struggling to keep up.

(3:10) Where is spiritual rebirth taught in the OT? How could Jesus expect Nicodemus to know these things?

(3:11) The “we” is rarely ever used by Jesus (cf. Jn. 9:4, where it refers to the disciples, Mk. 9:40; Mt. 17:27). This is contrasted with the plural “you.” Jesus is saying, “Nicodemus, you and your colleagues in the Sanhedrin do not accept our testimony.”

The problem with Nicodemus is he doesn’t “accept” (lambano) the testimony (cf. Jn. 1:12). He is an example of those who did not “comprehend” (katalambano) Jesus (Jn. 1:5).

(3:12) If Nicodemus can see the signs of Jesus, but won’t believe, then how can he believe Jesus’ unverifiable statements about heaven?

(3:13) In other words, Jesus is saying, “Nicodemus, you’ve never been to heaven—only I have” (cf. Jn. 1:51).

(Jn. 3:14-15) How does the story of the brazen serpent prefigure Jesus?

(3:15) This message of eternal life is universally available (“whoever believes”).

(3:16) While it is cliché, this may be the most comprehensive description of the gospel in a single verse of Scripture.

“For God so loved the world…” Morris writes, “His love is not a vague, sentimental feeling, but a love that costs. God gave what was most dear to him.”[56] Furthermore, God loved the world (kosmos), which is a system of values set up against him and rejects him. Carson writes, “Jews were familiar with the truth that God loved the children of Israel; here God’s love is not restricted by race. Even so, God’s love is to be admired not because the world is so big and includes so many people, but because the world is so bad: that is the customary connotation of kosmos (‘world’; cf. notes on 1:9). The world is so wicked that John elsewhere forbids Christians to love it or anything in it (1 Jn. 2:15–17). There is no contradiction between this prohibition and the fact that God does love it. Christians are not to love the world with the selfish love of participation; God loves the world with the self-less, costly love of redemption.”[57]

“He gave His only begotten Son…” God is a giver, and he “gave” his Son—his greatest possession. If he was willing to give that, what would he hold back from us? (Rom. 8:32)

“Whoever believes in Him shall not perish…” Our role is simply to believe.

“But have eternal life.”

(3:17) God didn’t come in the flesh to judge us, but to save us. Of course, Jesus will return to judge the world, but he initially came to offer us a peace treaty before the war.

(3:18) This judgment must refer to God’s legal verdict against us, rather than his wrath. We are already judged (i.e. found guilty). We need to believe in Jesus’ name (cf. Jn. 1:12).

(3:19-20) Like cockroaches scattering when you turn on the kitchen lights, humans hide from the revealing light of God, because it exposes them. Humans “love” (agapao) the darkness: we sacrifice for it. Morris writes, “There is a moral basis behind much unbelief.”[58]

(3:21) Could this refer to Jewish believers in Jesus? If a Jewish person (like Nicodemus, for example) was really practicing the truth about Yahweh, then he would naturally come to Jesus when he appeared. However, if the person was a religious hypocrite, then he would scatter. Perhaps Jesus is closing his discussion on this point to ask Nicodemus, “Which sort of person are you?

Conclusions

You could be facing the same problem that confronted Nicodemus: missing the message of the Bible. Do you remember a specific time that you were born again?

John 3.2 (John the Baptist)

(3:22) This is the only mention of Jesus baptizing people in the Bible. In fact, Jesus’ disciples were the ones baptizing people (cf. Jn. 4:2).

(3:23) John the Baptist was also baptizing people. Will John the Baptist feel frustrated that Jesus is getting attention? Will these two be rivals? Will he hate Jesus’ flourishing ministry, just as the Pharisees did?

(3:24) John tells us nothing about John the Baptist’s imprisonment. We need to turn to the other gospels to even know what he’s talking about (Mt. 14:1-12; Mk. 6:14-29; Lk. 3:19-20).

(3:25) John’s disciples started to argue about the subject of purification.

(3:26) They point out that more people are going out to Jesus, rather than to him. How will John respond to this news? Anger? Jealousy? A competitive spirit?

(3:27) John didn’t cling to his service for God. Instead, he believed that his service was a gift from God.

(3:28) John is saying, “I’m not what it’s all about. He is what it’s all about.”

(3:29) There is one joy you have when you’re the groom at the wedding, but another joy when you’re the best man. Morris writes that in ancient Jewish culture the best man “was responsible for many of the details of the wedding, and in particular it was he who brought the bride to the bridegroom. But when he had done this, his task was over. He did not expect to take the center of the stage.”[59]

(3:30) That’s a pretty good motto for your life and service for God!

(3:31) Jesus is above John.

(3:32) Jesus has testified to his nature as transcendent, but people have rejected him.

(3:33) Accepting Jesus’ testimony is agreeing with God himself.

(3:34) God didn’t hold back on giving Jesus the Holy Spirit. Now that we’re in Jesus, we too have the Holy Spirit.

(3:35) John the Baptist seems to understand the persons of the Trinity to a large degree. Although, ESV stops John the Baptist’s quotation at verse 30.

(Jn. 3:36) Does this passage require obedience in order to have saving faith?

John 4.1 (The woman at the well)

(4:1-3) The Pharisees heard that Jesus had a more popular baptizing ministry than John the Baptist. Aware of this, Jesus moved from Judea to Galilee.

(4:4) Why did he need to go through Samaria? Normally, Jews would skip going this direction, because Jews and Samaritans hated each other (see “The History of the Samaritans”). Josephus records that the Galileans had a custom of taking this shortcut through Samaria. But on at least one occasion, the Samaritans ambushed the Galileans and “killed a great many of them” (Antiquities of the Jews, 20.118).

This well is still there to this day. Paul Barnett writes, “Approximately one kilometer to the north of the well is a village called Askar which was apparently known as Sychar in the fourth century.”[60]

(4:5) He came to Sychar in Samaria. Is there any theological significance in the fact that this is the plot of land that Jacob gave to Joseph? Or is John just signifying the place that they were? The woman brings up Jacob in verse 12.

(4:6) Jesus was fully human. He could become “weary” from travelling. He was in the noonday sun (i.e. “the sixth hour”), and he stopped for a rest.

Why was this woman coming to the well at the hottest time of day? Morris writes, “The woman had a bad reputation, and the explanation may be very simple—she chose the time and the place to avoid other women.”[61]

(4:7) It wasn’t typical for Jewish men to talk to women in public. It was further atypical that Jews would talk with Samaritans (cf. v.9). Craig Keener: “According to Jewish sages, Jewish men were to avoid unnecessary conversation with women. Thus among six activities listed as unbecoming for a scholar is conversing with a woman… a wife could be divorced without her marriage settlement if she spoke with a man in the street. Any wife being in private with another man other than her husband was normally suspected of adultery… Romans also regarded wives speaking publicly with others’ husbands as a horrible matter reflecting possible flirtatious designs and subverting the moral order of the state. Even today in traditional Middle Eastern societies, ‘Social intercourse between unrelated men and women is almost equivalent to sexual intercourse.’ If a man and woman ‘are alone together for more than twenty minutes,’ it is assumed that ‘they have had intercourse.’”[62]

(4:8) Jesus was all alone during this scene.

(4:9) Verse 7 sounds like Jesus is bossing the woman around. However, she interpreted his communication as an act of love. No one of Jesus’ status would ever talk with her. Jesus was breaking down cultural barriers.

(4:10) It isn’t the gifts of God (plural), but the gift of God (singular). What is the singular gift of God? The gift is Jesus himself.

Jesus asked for a drink, but he says that the woman is the one who is really thirsty. Regarding the “living water,” see John 7:38-39.

(4:11) She thinks he’s talking about literal water. Her reaction is similar to the religious leaders who believed Jesus was speaking of the literal destruction of the Temple (Jn. 2:20) or Nicodemus thinking that Jesus was speaking about a literal rebirth (Jn. 3:4).

(4:12) Samaritans believed to have been descended from Jacob (Antiquities of the Jews, 11:341). She is asking, “Are you really claiming to be greater than Jacob—our great patriarch?” Jesus is probably thinking, “Lady, Jacob has nothing on me!”

(4:13-14) He seems to be using the concept of physical thirst as a metaphor for our spiritual thirst. He can’t be thinking of literal water, because after we come to Christ, we still do get thirsty.

Note that Jesus doesn’t use the continual tense for these verbs (“drinks,” “thirst,” “become”). When we drink from this living water, something fundamentally changes at that moment onward.

(4:15) The woman isn’t getting it. She still thinks it’s literal. It may sound like she’s ready to receive Christ, but Jesus discerns that she’s not ready yet.

(4:16) Why does Jesus bring up her husband now? He’s going after her greatest pain in her life to show the need she has for him (and his living water!).

(4:17) Notice how short the woman’s answer is. She is trying to be honest, but you can tell she doesn’t want to talk about this (touchy) subject.

(4:18) Jesus had some sort of supernatural insight, knowing everything about this woman. Later, this supernatural insight and grace became an essential part of this woman’s testimony (v.29).

(4:19-20) The Jews and Samaritans had an intense theological debate over whether God should be worshipped in Jerusalem (the Jews) or Mount Gerizim (the Samaritans). Notice how deftly the woman tries to change the subject. She changes the subject to a common theological debate, hoping to get Jesus off track. This is a smoke screen.

(4:21) Notice how deftly Jesus brings the conversation back on track. The new “worship” of Jesus will not be enclosed to a space or place (“neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem”).

(4:22) He doesn’t dodge the Samaritan-Jewish theological debate. He clearly says that the Samaritans are in the wrong.

(4:23-24) What does it mean to worship the Father “in spirit” and “in truth”?

“In spirit” could mean in the spiritual realm (Rom. 1:9; 2:29; Phil. 3:3), in contrast to the physical confines of the Temple. It could also mean in the power of the spirit—rather than the flesh (Phil. 3:3). We are inclined to take the view that it’s referring to the spiritual realm, because of the context (“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit,” v.24).

“In truth” could either mean in reality or in sincerity. People recognized Jesus as “truthful” and “[teaching] the way of God in truth” (Mt. 22:16). John elsewhere writes that we should “not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 Jn. 3:18). We’re more inclined to understand “in truth” to refer to in reality, because of the context (“You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know,” v.22).

There is “already, not yet” language here (“an hour is coming, and now is”).

(4:25) Since she didn’t know who the Messiah was or when he was coming, this would be a nice theological smoke screen. She’s saying in effect that we can’t know about this until the Messiah tells us. Jesus obviously avoids the smoke screen.

(4:26) Owners will often go into their companies as “secret shoppers” to talk to their workers, but they don’t reveal this until later. Once a worker finds out they were talking with the Boss, they become flushed and surprised. We might wonder if this woman experienced a magnified version of that sensation when she realized to whom she was talking.

(4:27) What awkward timing! Jesus just dropped a bomb on this woman, and the disciples immediately walk into the conversation. She must have been standing there with her jaw on the ground.

So too, Jesus’ disciples were shocked that he would be talking to a woman in public—let alone a Samaritan woman (!!). If you recall, the woman herself was shocked at this (v.9). Really, everyone besides Jesus was shocked!

(4:28) Is there any significance to the fact that the woman left her waterpot? She travelled all the way there to the well in the hot sun, and she was so shocked that she left the waterpot behind.

She went back and started to immediately share about Christ with the men. (Is it significant that this wild and loose woman specifically started to talk with the men when she went back?)

(4:29) The thing that touched her the most was the fact that Jesus knew what she had done—yet he still talked to her. She seems astonished that this could be the Messiah (“This is not the Christ, is it?”). These Samaritan men had treated her poorly, and so, she says, “Come and meet a real man!” She was probably asking herself how the Messiah could be so gentle and kind toward a sinful Samaritan woman like her.

(4:30) Even the newest (and most sinful) believers are fully equipped to share about Christ. Apparently, this woman’s testimony impacted the whole village, and they came to seek Christ. Many believed as a consequence of her testimony (v.39).

(4:31) Remember, the disciples had originally left to buy some food (v.8). They brought back lunch and told Jesus to eat, because he had been “weary” (v.6).

(4:32-34) Apparently, serving this woman didn’t make Jesus more weary, but actually energized him even more. This is another example of how the disciples took Jesus literally, when he was speaking figuratively.

(4:35) Remember, as he was talking, many Samaritans were coming to see Jesus (v.30). Jesus is pointing out that there is a massive harvest ahead of them.

(4:36-38) Jesus points out that the disciples are standing on the shoulders of giants, as they do their ministry. Others have already prepared the way (cf. 1 Cor. 3:6). This could refer to the preaching ministry of John the Baptist,[63] or more likely, it could refer to the evangelistic ministry of the woman at the well (v.30).

(4:39) This woman was effective because she merely shared her story. They must have seen one woman when she left that morning for the well, and a completely new woman when she came back that afternoon.

(4:40-41) Jesus stuck around for a couple of days, and many Samaritans came to know him.

(4:42) The woman’s testimony opened an opportunity for them to hear Jesus’ testimony. Later, in Acts 8, even more Samaritans met Christ!

Conclusions

Anyone can share their story about Jesus and make an impact.

Jesus didn’t perform an outstanding miracle here. He had supernatural knowledge into the woman’s background, but nothing spectacular. Really, the supernatural miracle here was the men in the Samaritan village seeing a broken woman turn her life around.

Compare Nicodemus with the Samaritan woman: Nicodemus was a respected, wealthy Jewish male, well-trained in the Scriptures and looking for answers. By contrast, the Samaritan woman was viewed as a despised, half-breed promiscuous woman, who wasn’t looking for Christ. Nicodemus left confused. The Samaritan woman left and led her whole village to Christ. Plus, she laid the foundation for many more coming to faith in Samaria in Acts 8.

Why does Jesus take such a different approach with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman? Why does he focus on different elements of faith?

John 4.2 (Healing the Royal Official’s Son)

(4:43) He stuck around Samaria for a couple of days, presumably to reach a sizable number of people (v.41).

(4:44) This statement from Jesus appears in all four gospels (Mt. 13:57; Mk. 6:4; Lk. 4:24). Jesus’ own family was the hardest for him to reach (Jn. 7:5; Mk. 3:21). Believers often have similar treatment with their own families. However, this shouldn’t bring discouragement in reaching our families for Christ. After all, Jesus reached his family! Mary (his mother) and James his brother came to know him and follow him.

(4:45) The Galileans received him, because of the miracles at the feast (Jn. 2).

(4:46) Jesus came back to the place where he started, turning the water into wine. They must’ve been watching him to see what he would do now.

Paul Barnett writes, “The threefold reference to ‘down’ is a detail easy to miss [Jn. 4:46; 49; 51]… The Cana of John’s gospel has been identified with Khirbet Qana, which is approximately fifteen kilometers from Nazareth. It is significant that between Cana… and Capernaum… the land falls from well above sea level to two hundred meters below sea level, a drop of many hundred meters. The writer has shown, in this narrative, an accurate understanding of the topography of western Galilee.”[64]

The royal official was probably a rich man, but all of his money couldn’t save his son. Carson writes, “The Greek word for ‘royal official’, basilikos, sometimes rendered ‘nobleman’, probably refers to someone officially attached to the service of a basileus, a ‘king’—here doubtless referring to Herod Antipas. He was tetrarch of Galilee from 4 BC to 39, AD and not properly a ‘king’ at all; but he was popularly considered one (Mk. 6:14).”[65]

(4:47) Capernaum was to the northwest of Cana—relatively close. This rich man must’ve heard that Jesus (some sort of miracle worker) was back in town. He took the chance to come meet him.

(4:48) Why does Jesus start speaking about faith and miracles, when the man is concerned for his son? What is the connection? Is it that Jesus is more concerned with faith, rather than just physical healing? Is he making a point about the fact that people should have faith without seeing miracles?

At first glance, Jesus’ reply sounds harsh, but note that he is speaking in the plural (“you people”). He is speaking to the larger audience—not just this man. Perhaps the other people were standing around, waiting to see Jesus “wow” them again.

(4:49) The man keeps pressing Jesus to heal his son. Morris writes, “The nobleman’s deep concern comes out in this plea. He does not defend himself. He does not argue. He simply urges Jesus to do something before the child dies. The word for ‘child’ is not that used in verses 46 and 47, but a term expressive of affection (Barclay, ‘my little lad’).”[66]

(4:50) The man had told Jesus to “come down” with him. But Jesus says, “No.” In a sense, he tells the man, “I’m not going to go… Instead, you need to go.” Rather than seeing a sign, the man needed to trust in Jesus’ word. Instead of standing there begging and imploring Jesus, he needed to trust that Jesus wouldn’t lie to him, and the healing had occurred. What if the royal official walked all the way back to find his son still sick, or even dead?

(4:51) On the road, his servants met him and told him that he was healed. The servants must’ve been monitoring the boy’s health, and once he was better, they raced off to chase down their master.

(4:52) Why does the royal official ask this question? He must be trying to see if the healing was just a coincidence, or if a miracle had occurred. The fact that the boy became better on the very same hour indicates that a coincidence wasn’t likely.

(4:53) The royal official first believed Jesus’ word (v.50), and now he believes in Jesus personally. This led his whole family to come to Christ.

(4:54) This is the second sign. What does it tell us about Jesus or about God?

Application

We have Jesus’ word on many subjects. Trusting in his word is the same as trusting in Him. Like the royal official, if we don’t take a step of faith and act on Jesus’ word, we won’t experience him coming through.

John 5.1 (Healing the sick man)

(5:1) We’re not told which feast this was (“a feast” rather than “the Feast”). There simply isn’t enough information to know what feast this is.[67]

(5:2) For years, critics held that the pool of Bethesda was purely legendary. Yet, in the 1890s, archaeologists discovered this pool, and it had exactly five colonnades—just as John recorded. Blomberg writes, “Reconstruction showed how two juxtaposed rectangular enclosures would have created five porticoes.”[68]

(5:3a) Physically handicapped people would wait there to be healed or beg for money. In this day, handicapped people were utterly at the mercy of people’s charity.

(5:3b-4) This portion is not in the earliest manuscripts of John. Morris writes, “The manuscript evidence makes it certain that this is no part of the original Gospel.”[69] In addition, it gives a bizarre picture of an angel coming at certain seasons to heal people. It isn’t hard to believe that this is a superstitious addition to the text by a later Christian scribe.

(5:5) This sick man had been sick for 38 years. We don’t know what his condition was, but it must’ve related to being paralyzed based on verse 8 (“Get up, pick up your pallet and walk”). Imagine how much this would become a part of your life and identity. Your life would really revolve around your condition.

(5:6) Why does Jesus ask this? Is it a mere rhetorical question? We take this as a legitimate question with which God confronts to all of us: Do you want to be healed by Me, or do you want to stay in your condition? Spiritual growth only comes to those who genuinely desire it. J. Alexander Findlay points out that “an eastern beggar often loses a good living by being cured of his disease.”[70] He may have learned to beg for a living, and he had become content in this condition.

(5:7) Instead of answering Jesus’ simple question, the man starts to complain about the people around him. When we are stuck in a spiritual sickness, we often spend most of our time complaining about how no one initiates with us, no one loves us, etc. We make ourselves victims of circumstance, rather than taking the responsibility to exert faith.

SELF FOCUSED: “I can’t.”

NOBODY LOVES ME: “I have no one to put me into the pool…”

CIRCUMSTANCES: “Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

(5:8) Jesus ignores the complaints of the man. He also cuts past the “magical pool” of healing, which was a religious (and superstitious) quick-fix. Instead, he offers simple and direct healing from God (as God).

(5:9) This isn’t like a “miracle worker” today, where you feel a little better. This is an instant and complete healing.

The fact that Jesus healed him on the Sabbath becomes important to the story later…

(5:10) They just witnessed a bonafide miracle, and what do they focus on? The miracle? A healed man? No, religious rules! This isn’t a biblical teaching. This refers to extrabiblical rules. William Barclay writes that rabbis came up with numerous rules for what constituted work on the Sabbath such as carrying “‘food equal in weight to a dried fig, enough wine for mixing in a goblet, milk enough for one swallow… paper enough to write a customs house notice upon, ink enough to write two letters of the alphabet, reed enough to make a pen’—and so on endlessly. So they spent endless hours arguing whether a man could or could not lift a lamp from one place to another on the Sabbath, whether a tailor committed a sin if he went out with a needle in his robe, whether a woman might wear a brooch or false hair, even if a man might go out on the Sabbath with artificial teeth or an artificial limb, if a man might lift his child on the Sabbath Day.”[71]

(5:11) The healed man says that whoever healed him (i.e. had the power of God) told him not to worry about their religious rules.

(5:12) We wonder if they suspected it was Jesus. The problem is that they consider Jesus to be a mere man.

(5:13) The man didn’t even know who healed him. Apparently, Jesus healed him, and just walked out. Jesus later followed up with him though to combine the miracle with a message (v.15).

(5:14) Is Jesus connecting physical infirmities with sin? Not likely. After all, he denies that in John 9:1-2. Jesus points out that the man was physically healed, and next, he points out that he wants to see him spiritually healed. Jesus probably knew that this man was not a believer. There is no sign in the text that he came to faith. So Jesus is giving him “Plan A and Plan B.” Plan A is to live a perfectly moral life. Plan B is to come to trust in Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. Jesus leaves him with Plan A, so that he will come to Plan B. Jesus later gives the woman caught in adultery the same message (Jn. 8:11).

(5:15) The man (Jesus) who told him to “break the Sabbath” also performed a miracle. If the miracle was from God, then so was his message! These religious rules were against God’s will.

(5:16) Again, it’s amazing that they were so caught up in their religiosity that they couldn’t marvel at this healing miracle. A man just had his life changed, and all they could think about was how to persecute Jesus.

(5:17-18) God, of course, didn’t need to keep the Sabbath. The Jews in Jesus’ day believed that God continued to work on the Sabbath (bringing rain, sunlight, etc.). Thus Jesus’ statement (that the Sabbath didn’t apply to him) was interpreted properly to mean that he was God.[72] Morris writes, “There is an account of a visit to Rome by four eminent rabbis who on being asked why God does not keep the Sabbath retorted that it is lawful to carry things within one’s own courtyard and this whole universe is God’s courtyard (Midrash Rabba: Exodus, 30.9). That the Father works on the Sabbath was accepted.”[73]

Jews in Jesus’ day didn’t refer to God as their person father (see “From Slaves to Sons”). This was an audacious claim from Jesus.

Discussion questions

What might be ways to tell the difference between someone who is willing to change, and someone who really wants to change?

What might be some helpful ways to encourage a person from being willing to actually wanting to change?

If you came into a person’s home, and they had nothing but Cavs memorabilia in their house… that would communicate something about the person. Based on Barclay’s list of rabbinical rules above: What do these religious rules communicate about what God is like?

John 5.2 (Jesus confronts the religious leaders)

(5:19) Jesus says he could do “nothing” without the Father. How much more should we say this! Jesus spent his earthly ministry in total dependence on the Father. He mimics the Father’s actions much like a father and son relationship.

(5:20) The Father loves Jesus and keeps him close to his heart (Jn. 1:18). We too are close to the Father’s heart through identification with Jesus.

Jesus tells them that the Father has even greater miracles to show through him.

(5:21) Both the Father and Son work in concert together to raise people from the dead. In the OT, only Yahweh could give life (Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6; 2 Kings 5:7). Here, Jesus is said to give life.

(5:22) The One who took our judgment on the Cross will be the One to give judgment to those who refused his forgiveness.

(5:23) Jesus is claiming to receive the honor that belongs to the Father. In fact, he claims that you cannot truly honor the Father without honoring the Son. Philo—a first-century Jewish philosopher—wrote that honor cannot go to idols or polytheistic deities: “They who deify mortal things neglect the honour due to God” (Philo, On Drunkeness, 110). Thus Jesus is claiming deity again.

(5:24) This passage doesn’t say that we need to believe in Jesus. It says that we need to believe in the Father who sent Jesus. Of course, to do this, we need to believe in Jesus’ word.

This is a strong passage on eternal security. We pass from death and into life. Morris writes, “The saying points to their permanent safety. To have eternal life now is to be secure throughout eternity.”[74]

(5:25) This is “already, not yet” language. He says that this hour “now is” in one sense. Could this be foreshadowing the raising of Lazarus? (Jn. 11)

(5:26) God the Father is self-existent, and the Father and the Son share this divine quality.

(5:27) See verse 22.

(5:28-29) Jesus says that they really shouldn’t be surprised about his message of the resurrection of the dead. He paraphrases Daniel 12:2. At the voice of Jesus, all of the dead will rise.

The word “deeds” is not in the Greek (note this is italicized in the NASB). What does John mean by “the good” or “the evil”? Some commentators take this to refer to good works which demonstrate our faith.[75] While this may be the case, the context refers to simply having faith. Perhaps “the good” means exerting faith and “the evil” refers to rejecting Christ.

(5:30) Similar to verse 19, Jesus depends completely on the Father. Jesus is the one who will execute judgment (v.27), but he does this in perfect unison with the Father.

Witness #1: God the Father

(5:31-32) God the Father supports Jesus’ testimony.

(Jn. 5:31) Is Jesus’ testimony true or not (c.f. 8:14)?

Witness #2: John the Baptist

(5:33-34) The religious leaders sent for John the Baptist, but they refused his testimony. Jesus makes clear that this is only the beginning of his testimony. In fact, the testimony he has does not come “from man.”

Jesus wants them to come to faith (“I say these things so that you may be saved”).

(5:35) Was John the Baptist dead at this point? Is that why Jesus is speaking about him the past tense? In Matthew’s account, John dies in Matthew 14:1-14, and then the feeding of the 5,000 occurs in Matthew 14:15-21. If this is chronological, then John would’ve just recently died.

What does it mean that they “rejoiced” in John’s message? Morris takes this to mean “merrymaking,” but not actually taking John’s message seriously.[76]

Witness #3: Jesus’ miracles

(5:36) Jesus’ miracles show that he is divinely empowered and approved of by God the Father.

Witness #4: The OT Scriptures

(5:37-38) The religious leaders had God’s words, but they didn’t believe in them. They had the OT Scriptures (v.39), but they didn’t have the word “abiding in [them.]”

(5:39) This isn’t bibliolatry (i.e. worshipping the Bible) as some Emergent theologians would claim. This is actually just the opposite. They didn’t understand the Scriptures too much, but too little. They didn’t properly interpret the Scriptures to see the predictions about the Messiah right in front of them. Emergents claim that our interpretation of Scripture is irrelevant or unknowable.

(5:40) The fundamental problem with the religious leaders was their “unwillingness” (ou thelete) to come to Christ.

(5:41-42) What is the relationship between Jesus not receiving glory from men, and the religious leaders not having the love of God? We forfeit the love of God when we seek glory from men (see verse 44).

(5:43) He is calling them hypocrites: Why are you okay accepting leaders who have no testimony but their own, but you reject Me when God has given Me his testimony?

(5:44) There is a fundamental contrast between seeking glory from men and seeking glory from God. The walking Christian constantly needs to learn this lesson—over and over again. Do I serve the Lord for his approval, or for people’s approval? Later, we see a connection with the religious leaders: “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (Jn. 12:42-43).

(5:45) Jesus pulls the rug out from under them. The religious leaders were trusting in the OT Scriptures, but these Scriptures actually serve to condemn them (see v.39).

(5:46-47) Jesus unifies himself and his teaching with the OT Scriptures. The two are on par with one another.

John 6.1 (The feeding of the 5,000)

[The parallel accounts are found in Matthew 14:15-21, Mark 6:30-44, and Luke 9:10-17. This is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels besides the resurrection.]

John records that this was during the time of the Passover (Jn. 6:4). This makes sense of Mark’s comment that the grass was green (Mk. 6:39). Throughout the year in this arid place, the green grass was usually burned dry and dead. But in this time of the year (during Passover), the grass would grow. This is a case of interlocking in the gospels that shows the truthfulness of the accounts.

(6:1-2) Jesus tries to get away from the crowds, but they follow him because of his miraculous healings of the sick (cf. Jn. 4:46; 5:7).

When we line up John with the Synoptics, we discover that John the Baptist had just been beheaded (Mt. 14:13). Were the disciples wanting to protect Jesus while he was grieving? Maybe they were just tired of serving? Mark records that the disciples had been so busy themselves that “they did not even have time to eat” (Mk. 6:31). This event happened at night, after a long day of travelling (Mk. 6:36).

(6:3) Commentators are uncertain which mountain this is.[77]

(6:4) Is there any significance in the fact that this miracle occurred near the Passover?

(6:5) Why does Jesus ask Philip where to buy bread? In the account of the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus asks Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” (Jn. 6:5). Why does Jesus ask a relatively obscure apostle like Philip, rather than Peter, James, or John? Philip only appears in three places in John’s gospel (Jn. 1:43ff; Jn. 12:21ff; Jn. 14:8ff), so why is he singled out here?

The feeding of the 5,000 occurred near Bethsaida (Lk. 9:10), but John never mentions this. However, John does mention that Philip was from Bethsaida (Jn. 1:43-44; 12:21). McGrew comments, “One can… picture Jesus asking the question in a slightly teasing manner. The fact that Philip was from that vicinity makes the question (and the joke) more pointed. If Philip is from the nearby town, Jesus is in essence saying, ‘Philip, you’re from around here. Where can we get bread for all these people?’”[78]

(6:6) Of course, Jesus didn’t really believe that Philip could acquire the food.

(6:7) Philip shows his inadequacy for the task. As believers, we realize just how inadequate we are to feed the ocean of spiritual need around us. Even a year’s wages would only help a “little.” All of the self-effort in the world couldn’t handle the need.

(6:8-9) Was Andrew an extroverted personality like Peter? We might picture Andrew showing the five loaves and two fish, and the rest of the disciples saying, “Andrew, why are you even suggesting that? C’mon man, the adults are talking! We’re trying to solve a serious problem here!” Then Andrew follows up by saying, “But what are these for so many people?” Andrew also learns the lesson of inadequacy as well.

(6:10) Jesus has the massive group sit down. Just the men numbered 5,000. Matthew 14:21 mentions that there were additional “women and children.”

As the good shepherd, Jesus has them recline on the grass to eat (Ps. 23:1-2).

(6:11) In the parallel accounts, Jesus has the disciples pass out the food (Mt. 14:19; Mk. 6:41; Lk. 9:16). Since the bread represents Jesus’ spiritual life (Jn. 6:35), then the disciples passing out the bread symbolizes God’s desire to use human agency.

While the disciples were inadequate, Jesus could give them more than enough (“as much as they wanted”).

(6:12-13) This was a very poor community, so Jesus didn’t want food to go to waste. Instead, he used the leftover food to give to the disciples. While the disciples had to wait to get their food, they were each given a full basket of food.

(6:14) Why was this particular miracle the one that got the people thinking that Jesus was “the Prophet”? (cf. Jn. 1:21) They must have thought of him as the “greater Moses” who was predicted in Deuteronomy 18:15. Just as God brought the manna to the people through Moses, God was bringing food to the people through Jesus.

John 6.2 (Walking across the water)

(6:15) The people wanted to force Jesus to be their King Messiah. Clearly, Jesus didn’t want this title… yet (cf. Jn. 18:36). At his Second Coming, he will be a Conquering King.

(6:16-17) Jesus had left them to be “alone” by himself (v.15). Why did they pick up and leave Jesus there? Remember, this was in a day before cell phones, where you couldn’t find a person in an instant. They might’ve thought Jesus returned to Capernaum, where they had already been twice before (Jn. 2:12; 4:46).

(6:18) A storm started to come on the sea of Galilee (which is really the size of an average lake). Being out in a rowboat (v.19) at night in the dark during a storm would be pretty scary.

(6:19) Imagine how scary it would be to see someone literally walking on the surface of the water in the middle of a storm!

(6:20) Jesus just comes strolling across the surface of the water. He says, “Hey, don’t worry. It’s me guys!” In Greek, he literally says, “I am.” (ego emi)

(6:21) Commentators are divided on how to understand this. Some take this to mean that the boat was supernaturally transported to the shore.[79] Others hold that the boat was already near the shore, pointing to the fact that they were already several miles across the sea (v.19).[80] Others are simply unsure which view John is communicating.[81]

John 6.3 (The Bread of Life)

(6:22-24) The crowd followed Jesus. After all, they just saw him feed 5,000 men without any effort at all. They were looking for another free meal. The dialogue that follows shows that they were approaching Jesus simply looking for food—not because they believed in his message (see v.26).

(6:25) In a sense, they were asking, “Where did you go?”

(6:26) They were so focused on the food that they ignored the miracle.

(6:27) Jesus acknowledges that their hunger is real, but what will ultimately satisfy it? Jesus claims to have the answer, and he’s willing to “give” it away.

(6:28-29) They are approaching him based on works. Jesus responds with faith instead.

(6:30) It sounds like they are still trying to bilk Jesus for some more bread. They just saw him feed the 5,000, so their request for a “sign” is invalid. They already saw a sign. They want him to be a miracle worker who feeds them on command, rather than the Messiah who saves them.

(6:31) They cite the OT to get him to make more food (Ps. 78:24; Ex. 16:4, 15). It’s like they’re saying, “You could do a sign… For instance, a good sign would be… some more food!” They are thinking with their stomachs.

(6:32) He wants them to rip their eyes off Moses, the man, and get them focusing on God—the true provider.

(6:33) The manna prefigured Jesus’ work on the Cross. God supernaturally provided for the people in the wilderness, and now, God will supernaturally provide salvation for all humanity.

(6:34) They are still thinking that this is literal bread, or maybe they are just trying to manipulate them.

(6:35) Jesus makes explicit what was formerly implicit.

(6:36) They were looking for signs, but they were missing Jesus. He was standing right there, and they didn’t recognize him (cf. Jn. 1:10-11).

(Jn. 6:37-44, 65) Does this passage teach that God will only draw some people to Jesus and leave others for judgment?

(6:41) The religious leaders took offense at the thought that Jesus is the manna of God. They were “grumbling” about this.

(6:42) They took offense at the thought that they knew his earthly origins. It was hard to believe that Jesus was who he said he was.

(Jn. 6:44, 65) Does this passage teach that Jesus will only draw some people to God and leave others for judgment?

(6:46) Only Jesus has seen God (cf. Jn. 1:18).

(6:47) Jesus emphasizes faith as the way to the Father.

(6:48) He further emphasizes that he is the ultimate “manna provision.”

(6:49) Moses’ manna cannot be ultimate, because their ancestors still died. Jesus is the ultimate manna.

(6:50) Just as the manna fell from heaven, so did Jesus. Just as the manna fed the people’s physical hunger, Jesus fulfills our ultimate spiritual hunger.

(6:51) Jesus gives his life so that we can be filled.

(6:52) The listeners balked at the thought that Jesus could give his flesh for us to eat. They are missing the metaphor.

(Jn. 6:53-54) Does this passage support transubstantiation?

(6:55) This isn’t cannibalism. He’s speaking metaphorically (cf. Jn. 4:10-14).

(6:56) John writes about “abiding” more than any other NT author. Here, the way to abide is through faith in Jesus.

(6:57) We enter into God’s spiritual life through the Son.

(6:58) It’s clear that Jesus has the manna on his mind throughout this entire section—not the Passover (cf. Jn. 6:4).

(6:59) This lesson occurred in the synagogue.

(6:60) It wasn’t just the religious leaders who grumbled about this. Jesus’ very own disciples “grumbled” as well (v.61).

(6:61) Jesus is the stumbling block for Israel.

(6:62) He is trying to validate his radical claims. He asks, “What if you see me ascend? Will you believe then?”

(6:63) These words are at the heart of what it means to become a Christian. Believers realize that Jesus is the way to solve our spiritual hunger.

(6:64) Jesus’ foreknowledge doesn’t let these unbelievers off the hook. They are still responsible for not believing in him.

(Jn. 6:44, 65) Does this passage teach that Jesus will only draw some people to God and leave others for judgment?

(6:66) This was a tough teaching to swallow. Many followers of Christ walked away after hearing this. Jesus didn’t beat himself up over how he could’ve taught this better. The problem wasn’t with his clarity, but their refusal to trust in him.

(6:67) Jesus challenged his disciples on whether they would leave too. Jesus wasn’t loss aversive.

(6:68-69) Peter’s words still strike us today. Where would we go apart from Christ?

(6:70-71) Jesus chose the disciples for ministry, but even within his choosing, one of them chose to betray him.

Conclusions

This whole discourse started with these people looking for more food. Because they weren’t truly seeking Jesus, they walked away physically and spiritually hungry.

Jesus doesn’t offer us what we want, but what we need.

John 7.1 (Who is Jesus?)

(7:1) Jesus does more Galilean ministry, because of persecution from the religious leaders. About six months pass,[82] because John 6:4 places the time near Passover, but here, we read that they are celebrating the Feast of Booths.

(7:2) What was the Feast of the Booths? (see “Foreshadowing in the Festival System”)

(7:3-5) His brothers challenge him to go into danger and prove he was a miracle-worker. His brothers weren’t believers (v.5).

(7:6) What does he mean when he says that their time is “always opportune”? He’s contrasting his own ministry of the Cross with their lives. Maybe he’s saying that his life has a specific purpose and plan, while there’s doesn’t.

(7:7) His brothers blended in with the world-system.

(7:8) He tells them to go to the Feast. If he went, he would be captured and killed. He’s waiting for the right timing.

(7:9) Instead of making the trip to Judea where the religious leaders were waiting to kill him, Jesus stayed in Galilee.

(7:10) Jesus gave this big speech to his brothers, and he waited for them to go. Then he “secretly” went up, rather than “publically” as they had suggested (v.4).

(7:11) The authorities were searching for him. They must have been expecting him to show up during the big, public feast.

(7:12) Public opinion was mixed about him.

(7:13) Pressure from the authorities led people to stay quiet about Jesus.

(7:14) Jesus waited until the feast was at its height. He stood up publicly and began to teach. He must’ve wanted to have a maximum platform to reach as many as possible.

(7:15) Jesus wasn’t taught in the traditional schools. He was taught directly by God (v.16). His disciples also received this insult (Acts 4:13). There is a high level of irony that the religious leaders were calling the Logos uneducated.[83]

(7:16) Jesus doesn’t take credit for his own teaching. In perfect humility, he claims that the Father is the one who taught him.

(7:17) One way to know God is to be willing to do his will. Morris writes, “His hearers had raised the question of his competence as a teacher. He raises the question of their competence as hearers.”[84]

(7:18) He’s accusing them of being self-glorifying. By contrast, what mere human being could say these things? Jesus doesn’t claim to seek the truth, but that he is true. He also claims that “there is no unrighteousness in Him.” No mere religious teacher could claim such things.

(7:19) Jesus’ argument is an interesting one: If we can know God’s will by living it out, and they don’t live out the Law of Moses, then they don’t know God’s will.

(7:20) It’s interesting that the gospels include embarrassing accusations like this (cf. Mt. 12:24; Mk. 3:22).

(7:21) He didn’t do only one miracle. He is merely referring to the healing of the man at the Pool of Bethesda here.[85]

(7:22-23) Jesus points out that Jewish babies would sometimes get circumcised on the Sabbath. Extrabiblical Jewish law actually spoke to this (Mishnah, Shabbat 18:3; 19:1, 2; Nederim 3:11).[86] After all, if the 8th day landed on a Saturday, the religious authorities would still do the “work” of circumcising the boy. Jesus is in effect saying, “If it is okay to circumcise an infant on the Sabbath, why then would you hate me for healing a man on the Sabbath?”

(7:24) He’s calling on them to think through their confused ethics and theology. They’re so focused on the external that they’re missing the “spirit of the law.”

(7:25-27) The people were wondering why the religious authorities did not move to kill Jesus.

(7:28-29) Jesus challenges their presumption over whether they really know where he is from.

Reactions to Jesus

(7:30) Some people wanted to kill him. Yet Jesus was in the divine will, so he couldn’t be touched until the time was right.

(7:31) Others in the crowds came to believe in Jesus. Who else could perform miracles like this other than the Messiah?

(7:32) The religious authorities move in for the kill.

(7:33-34) Jesus warns them that he will be going away soon. Now is the time to come into a relationship with him, because he will soon be gone.

(7:35-36) The religious leaders understand this to mean that Jesus will go away to the Jewish Diaspora and teach the Gentiles. Ironically, this is true. After all, when Jesus dies, his disciples (the Body of Christ) take Jesus’ teaching and message to Gentiles.

(7:37) Jesus makes an open evangelistic invitation. Is there any significance to the fact that he makes this call on the “last day” of the Feast? Morris writes, “The appropriateness of the words at this feast is that, throughout the seven days, libations were made in the Temple with water brought from the pool of Siloam (Sukkah 4:9). but on the eighth day no water was poured, and this would make Jesus’ claim all the more impressive. At the same time his primary reference may be not to the Temple rite, but to the supply of water from the rock in the wilderness.”[87]

Jesus “cried out” (ekraxen) refres to a “vehement outcry, cry out, scream, shriek” (BDAG). Furthermore, rabbis typically sat when they taught,[88] but Jesus “stood” for these words.

(7:38) He might be quoting from any of these OT passages (Isa. 12:3; 44:3; 55:1; 58:11). The “innermost being” (koila) refers to our inner emptiness.

(7:39) God waited to give out the Holy Spirit until after the death of Christ. Morris writes, “This probably points to the period after Pentecost. The gift of the Holy Spirit to the infant church that day transformed everything, so that all that followed might be called the era of the Spirit. The Bible does not speak of the Spirit as totally inactive until that point; there is much about him in the Old Testament and the Gospels.”[89]

(7:40) Some believed he was a prophet.

(7:41) Some believed he was the Messiah, while others were skeptical, getting hung up on his earthly origins.

(7:42) They were getting this information from Micah 5:2.

(7:43) People were divided back then, and they are still divided over Jesus today (see “Lord, Liar, Lunatic, Legend”).

(7:44-46) Why wasn’t Jesus captured? The text tells us that the guards were enamored with Jesus’ teaching, and they couldn’t bring themselves to arrest him.

(7:47-49) The religious leaders were furious that Jesus could win over the crowds, while the religious authorities stood in opposition. They throw out the charge that no important person (Pharisee or ruler) believed in Jesus… Just then, Nicodemus speaks up (both a Pharisee and a ruler).

(7:50-51) Nicodemus subtly sticks up for Jesus. He requests that the Pharisees give him a fair trial.

(7:52) The Pharisees ask, “You are not also from Galilee, are you?” This sounds like they are suspicious of Nicodemus—almost as though they are asking, “You’re not one of his followers, are you?” Or maybe they are not so suspicious. They could just be name-calling, as Carson paraphrases: “The only explanation for your strange outburst in defence of a Galilean, Nicodemus, is that you must have sprung from such inferior stock yourself!”[90] They tell him to search the Scriptures to make sure that prophets do not come from Galilee. Of course, Jonah was from Galilee (2 Kings 14:25), and regardless, God can raise up prophets from wherever he wants.

Conclusions

These people all had the same evidence, but they came to radically different conclusions. Some thought he was a mere moral teacher (Jn. 7:12), a menace (Jn. 7:12), a madman (Jn. 7:20), or the Messiah (Jn. 7:31, 41). Part of coming to Christ is being willing to trust him (Jn. 7:17).

Even Jesus’ brothers didn’t believe in him (Jn. 7:5). Yet Jesus’ brothers eventually came to faith in him (1 Cor. 15:7).

John 8.1 (The woman caught in adultery)

(Jn. 7:53-8:11) Does this belong in the Bible?

(8:1-2) The scene is the Mount of Olives and the Temple, where Jesus was teaching.

(8:3-4) They brought the woman, but where is the man? She is guilty, but they aren’t going through the normal judicial process. The Law recorded, “If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die” (Deut. 22:22).

(8:5) This seems like a set up. They’re trying to get Jesus to stone this woman, or break the Law of Moses. Morris writes, “This can scarcely indicate anything other than a trap deliberately set.”[91] D.A. Carson adds, “There is little evidence that [capital punishment] was carried out very often in first-century Palestine, especially in urban areas.”[92]

The “you” here is emphatic. They are asking, “The Law says that she deserves death, but what do YOU say?” Morris notes that this put Jesus into a dilemma: “If he said ‘Stone her,’ he would lay himself open to the charge of counseling action contrary to Roman law, which did not provide for a death penalty in such cases. If he said ‘Do not stone her,’ he could be charged with offending against the law of God.”[93]

(Jn. 8:5) Why were adulterers stoned to death in the Law of Moses?

(8:6) Clearly, this was a set up: they were “testing” him.

What did Jesus write in the sand?

(1) OT Scriptures? He could’ve written, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex. 20:16). Or he could’ve written, “O Lord… all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water” (Jer. 17:13).

(2) Their personal, private sins? This could’ve shown them that they were guilty of equally serious crimes.

(3) Did he draw something? Morris notes that the word should likely be translated “wrote on the ground,” but it could also refer to drawing a picture.[94]

(4) Did he tell them to cast the first stone? In this case, he would be telling them to execute the woman, and put themselves on the hook with the Romans.

(8:7) It isn’t that we can’t righteously judge adultery as wrong. Jesus is pointing out that the Pharisees didn’t care about the Law; they were using this woman as a means of destroying Jesus. If the Pharisees were innocent in their plot, then they should be free to execute the woman. However, they weren’t carrying out the Law honestly (i.e. the man wasn’t present), and therefore, they were committing sin at that moment. This was a clever way to avoid their dilemma.

(8:8) See verse 6.

(8:9) His point must have landed, because one by one, they left the room.

(8:10-11) “Sin no more” can be rendered “Stop your sinful habit.”[95]

Jesus is the only one truly without sin. Yet he was gracious enough to let her off the hook. This is a sweet picture of the gospel. Jesus doesn’t give the woman the judgment she deserves.

John 8.2 (The light of the world)

(8:12) Jesus starts to unpack what John wrote earlier: “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (Jn. 1:4-5). Here, we need to “follow” Jesus in order to not walk in darkness. This is similar to Paul’s statement, “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart” (Eph. 4:17-18).

(8:13) The religious leaders are becoming more bold—outright denying Jesus’ testimony and claims.

(8:14) Earlier, Jesus gave evidence for his testimony being true (Jn. 5). Here, he just takes a stand on his knowledge versus theirs.

(Jn. 8:14) Is Jesus’ testimony true or not (c.f. 5:31)?

(8:15-16) Could this refer back to the woman caught in adultery? (cf. Jn. 8:1-11) The religious leaders feel so confident in judging (when they really shouldn’t), but Jesus actually refrains from judging (when he has every right to).

(8:17) See Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15.

(8:18) The Son and the Father are both on the same page.

(8:19) The Son reveals the Father (Jn. 1:18).

#1. Perils of denying the light: JUDGMENT

(8:20) He said these things right out in the open in the Temple, but no one seized him then.

(8:21) They will “seek” Jesus in the sense that they will seek to kill him. They cannot go to Heaven with the Father, because they failed to grasp who Jesus was.

(8:22) Notice just how dense the religious leaders are. In one sense you might think that they are just too slow to understand, but in another, you wonder if they are willfully not listening.

(8:23) Jesus makes it clear that he is supernatural.

(8:24) He urges them to place their faith in him. The consequences are severe. Jesus uses the divine name: ego emi (“I am”). Regarding this, William Temple writes that this statement “cannot be reproduced in English, for it combines three meanings: (a) that I am what I say—sc. the Light of the World; (b) that I am He—the promised Messiah; (c) that I am—absolutely, the divine Name. All these are present; none is actually indicated.”[96]

(8:25-26) They keep asking the same question, but they won’t listen to the answer. I wonder if this really frustrated Jesus: their willful ignorance.

(8:27) See comments on verse 22.

(8:28-29) We see incredible humility and servitude here: “I do nothing… I speak… as the Father taught Me… I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” Later Jesus will tell the disciples, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5).

#2. Perils of denying the light: DISSATISFACTION & RESTLESSNESS

(8:30) Many people came to Christ at this moment. But Jesus took it a step further. He wanted them to continue in his teachings (unlike the believers who left in John 6:68-69).

(8:31-32) Jesus has something for disciples that others don’t have access to: truth and freedom.

(8:33) They have two faulty premises: (1) they are in right relationship with God because of their ethnicity, and (2) the freedom Jesus is talking about is political freedom (cf. Jn. 6:15).

(8:34) The freedom Jesus wants for them is freedom from sin. We’re free to sin, but not free to stop sinning. Sin is enslaving.

(8:35-36) Good passage for eternal security. Once we are set free, we are in the house “forever.”

#3. Perils of denying the light: A DARKENED MIND

(8:37) They have the right heritage and ethnicity, but this hasn’t changed their hearts.

(8:38) Who is their father? (see verse 44)

(8:39-40) If Abraham was truly their father, then they should act like it. Abraham didn’t reject God, but they are trying to kill Jesus.

(8:41) This is probably an indirect allusion to the fact that Jesus was born of a virgin. Obviously, the religious leaders didn’t believe this account from Mary. They thought Jesus’ mom was lying about the virgin birth.

(8:42) He’s standing shoulder to shoulder with God. If you love God, then you would love Jesus (and vice versa).

(8:43) Why can they not understand? This must refer to the noetic effects of sin mentioned in the next verse (v.44). They can’t understand because they reject truth (v.45), and because they are not interested in knowing God (v.47).

(8:44) They want to murder (v.40) just as Satan is a murderer. What does it mean that Satan was a “murderer from the beginning”? This could refer to the murder of Abel (Gen. 4). It could also refer to the “murder” of convincing Eve that she “would not die” when she ate the fruit (Gen. 3). While Satan didn’t stab or shoot Adam and Eve, his words murdered them.

(8:45) They reject Jesus because they reject truth.

(8:46) They are speaking collectively, rather than individually. It’s easier to make accusations when you’re in a group. Jesus wants one of them to man-up and step forward to accuse him.

(8:47)

(8:48) Why do they call Jesus a ‘Samaritan’? The Samaritans were deeply hated by the Jewish people, so this would be similar to using a racial slur (see “The History of the Samaritans”).

(8:49) Jesus flatly denies being demon possessed. This accusation seems to be retaliatory from Jesus accusing them of being Satan’s offspring (v.44).

(8:50)

(8:51) He gives them the gospel again. Will they have a change of heart?

(8:52-53) No change of heart—only further stubbornness.

If the prophets died, and Jesus claims to have authority over death, then who is he claiming to be? He can’t be claiming to be just another prophet.

(8:54-55) He can’t retract his statements; otherwise, that would make him a liar.

(8:56) When did Abraham see Jesus’ day?

(8:57) They were putting all of their religious stock in being an heir of Abraham, but Jesus claims to have preceded by Abraham. Moreover, Abraham longed to see Jesus (v.56). How could this be the case if Jesus was not even 50 years old?

They are really not realizing what Jesus is trying to communicate. They are asking him if he saw Abraham, when Jesus was actually claiming that Abraham saw him (v.56).

(8:58) Jesus uses the divine title to call himself God (Greek ego eimi; Yahweh). The Septuagint translated Exodus 3:14 (“I am who I am”) with this exact same Greek phrase: ego eimi ho on.[97] Morris writes, “It is an emphatic form of speech and one that would not normally be employed in ordinary speaking. Thus to use it was recognizably to adopt the divine style. In passages like verses 24 and 28 this is fairly plain, but in the present passage it is unmistakable. When Jesus is asserting his existence in the time of Abraham there is no other way of understanding it. It should also be observed that he says ‘I am,’ not ‘I was.’ It is eternity of being and not simply being that has lasted through several centuries that the expression indicates.”[98]

(8:59) Jesus’ opponents tried to kill him for this blasphemy, and he escaped.

How did he hide himself? Maybe there was so much commotion that he could escape from them. The Greek phrase is in the passive voice (“He was hidden”). Whatever happened, God must’ve hid Jesus.

The phrase “went out of the temple” may symbolize the fact that Jesus was leaving the religious leaders to focus on the lay people or perhaps the Greeks.[99]

Conclusions

The Pharisees had no real interest in coming to know Christ. Instead, they scoffed at him. They made fun of his dead dad (v.19), accused him of suicide (v.22), implied that his mom was promiscuous (v.41), and called him racial slurs and insane (v.48). When people lack the truth, they resort to name-calling.

Jesus didn’t let their attitude or name-calling stop him from finishing his debate. It wasn’t until they physically tried to kill him that he left.

John 9 (Healing the blind man)

(9:1) This happened as he was leaving the Temple (Jn. 8:59). Jesus was running for his life, but he still stopped to heal a guy. This man had congenital blindness (that is, he was blind from birth).

(9:2-3) Jewish theologians debated whether a person with a congenital disease sinned in the womb or if their parents’ sin caused the disease.[100] Craig Keener writes, “Jewish literature provides many examples of the connection; one who saw a blind, lame or otherwise seriously afflicted person should praise God as the righteous judge.”[101] For instance, Rabbi Ammi said, “There is no death without sin, and there is no suffering without iniquity” (Shabbat 55a).[102]

Growing up under these traditions, Jesus’ own disciples thought that this was a result of divine judgment. They really offer a false dilemma. Jesus answers, “Who sinned? Wrong question!” After all, what could a fetus do in the womb? Sin against other fetuses? (Jewish rabbis argued this based on Genesis 25:22)

Why then did this man have a congenital handicap? Jesus says, “It was so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v.3). Does this refer to all congenital defects? Maybe. At the very least, it refers to this man’s blindness. Jesus could confidently claim this because he knew that he was about to perform a miracle on this man. It’s also true that Jesus’ healing work in the life of the believer shows the grace of God (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Citing F.F. Bruce, Leon Morris argues that “God overruled the disaster of the child’s blindness so that, when the child grew to manhood, he might, by recovering his sight, see the glory of God in the face of Christ.”[103]

(9:4) Who is Jesus referring to when he says ‘we’? The disciples? The Trinity? It seems that he’s referring to the disciples.

“Night” must refer to Jesus’ departure from this world (v.5).

(9:5) This is similar to John 8.

(9:6-7) Why does Jesus feel the need to spit in the ground and make mud? With his other miracles, he just speaks or “snaps his fingers” and the miraculous occurs. Is there some significance in the fact that he sends him to the Pool of Siloam?

Jesus likely did this so that it would constitute “work” in the minds of the religious leaders. Craig Keener writes, “Kneading (dough, and by analogy clay) was one of thirty-nine classes of work forbidden on the Sabbath.”[104] Alfred Edersheim concurs, “In general, the principle is laid down, that anything by which the ground may be benefited is to be considered a ‘work’ or ‘labour,’ even if it were to sweep away or to break up a clod of earth. Nay, to pluck a blade of grass was a sin. Similarly, it was sinful labour to do anything that would promote the ripening of fruits, such as to water, or even to remove a withered leaf. One Rabbi allowed to spit into the handkerchief, and that although it may necessitate the compressing of what had been wetted; but there is a grave discussion whether it was lawful to spit on the ground, and then to rub it with the foot, because thereby the earth may be scratched.”[105]

Those who respond to Jesus’ light receive more sight… But those who reject Jesus’ light become more blind!

(9:8) Jesus’ prediction comes true (v.3). This man’s healing spoke to the entire community about the power of God.

(9:9) What a natural human reaction. The people weren’t dumb, pre-scientific idiots. They knew that congenital blindness did not just fix itself. Some were skeptical.

(9:10-11) NASB “anointed my eyes.” NET “smeared it on my eyes.” NLT “spread it over my eyes.”

(9:12) This miracle gets some people asking where Jesus was. They start seeking for him as a consequence.

(9:13) Instead of seeking Jesus, they sought out the Pharisees.

(9:14) Oh no! Jesus had the audacity and irreverence to heal this man… on the Sabbath. How could he do such a thing??

(9:15)

(9:16) This verified miracle led to intense debate among the people. Notice that no one denied the miracle here—only its cause. Moreover, the people noted that Jesus had performed “signs” (plural), not just this one.

(9:17) The healed man thought Jesus was “a prophet,” not “the Prophet.” He doesn’t discover Jesus’ identity until later (vv.36-38). Without propositional teaching, miracles can actually be confusing to people.

(9:18) Once the man explains the theological implications of this healing, then (all of a sudden!) the Pharisees start to deny the miracle. Their theological presuppositions were skewing the evidence.

(9:19) It doesn’t sound like the Pharisees were holding an objective investigation. Instead, they seem to be trying to pressure witnesses to deny Christ. They interrogate the parents. This would be intense social and religious pressure.

(9:20-23) The parents wimp out, remaining agnostic. How will their son hold up under the intense questioning?

Note the religious leaders had “already decided” their view about Jesus (v.22). They weren’t honest investigators, but had a political and religious agenda.

(9:24-25) Instead of following them down their theological rabbit hole, the man focuses on what he does know with certainty.

How did the religious leaders already “know that this man was a sinner”? They had built this assumption on their man-made laws about the Sabbath. They were convinced he had broken the Sabbath, because they trusted the reports about him making mud out of dirt. But they denied these same reports that confirmed a genuine miracle.

(9:26-27) The healed man holds his own. He asks why they keep asking the same questions over and over. Often, people do this when they are being stubborn or when they are trying to pressure you to change your view. This wasn’t an open dialogue; it was an interrogation.

(9:28-29) If excommunication from the synagogue was at stake (v.22), then this would be a real serious accusation.

(9:30) It sounds like he’s pushing back on their faulty reasoning. If Jesus really was a miracle worker, then why don’t you investigate where he came from? How could you fail to look into this? Morris paraphrases the man’s statement in this way: “This is the really marvellous thing; your unbelief in the face of the evidence is more of a miracle than my cure!”[106]

(9:31-33) He’s showing the contradiction in their religious presuppositions. Morris comments, “It is not a bad chain of reasoning for one who had hitherto been a beggar all his life, and presumably a stranger to academic and forensic argument.”[107]

(9:34) Jesus didn’t condemn this man in this way (v.3), but the Pharisees (wrongfully) did.

What must it have been like to be questioned, accused, and thrown out of the synagogue? This man must’ve felt all alone… But look who shows up next to keep him company…

(9:35-37) Jesus heard about this man’s faith, and he went searching for him (“finding him”). This man thought that Jesus was just a prophet (v.17). But Jesus ups the ante and tells him that he is the “Son of Man” (cf. Dan. 7:13-14).

(9:38) He lost the synagogue and the approval of the religious authorities, but he gained Christ (cf. Phil. 3:5-10).

(9:39) This miracle speaks to the “spiritual blindness” of humanity.

(9:40) Apparently, the Pharisees overheard this conversation, but still refused to believe.

(9:41) Their sin was in the fact that they claimed to see God.

Blind Man’s response Pharisees response
“the man” (9:11)

“a prophet” (9:17)

A unique Servant of God (9:32-33)

“Lord” (9:38)

“You were never really blind” (9:18)

“Someone else other than Jesus  must have healed you” (9:24)

“You are too ignorant to know what you’re talking about” (9:28)

“You are a pre-natal sinner. We will excommunicate you!” (9:34)

The man acted on the small instruction from Jesus, and God built his faith over time. They were given plenty of evidence, but rejected it (8:13).
Knew he couldn’t see. Thought they could “see.”

 

Do you believe that you can “see” just fine without God?

“I have a relationship with God, because I grew up in a religious household.”

“I have a relationship with God because of my good works.”

“My life is just fine without Christ.”

“If I dedicate my life to Christ, it’s going to lead to regret and misery.”

“I’ve already read that passage of Scripture before.”

“I don’t need to seek counsel or consider correction.”

“I can ignore Christ’s instruction on a specific area, and it won’t affect the rest of my life.”

John 10.1 (The good shepherd)

While this chapter contains no introduction, we later read, “A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?” (Jn. 10:21) This shows that this teaching in John 10 was given on the heels of John 9.

(10:1) We can’t come to God on our terms—only through “the door.” No, there are not multiple ways to God—only through “the door.” Jesus is the door (v.7). Merrill Tenney writes, “The imagery of the first two paragraphs is based on the concept of the ‘sheep pen.’ It was usually a rough stone or mud-brick structure, only partially roofed, if covered at all, or very often a cave in the hills. It had only one opening through which the sheep could pass when they came in for the night. The pen served for the protection of the sheep against thieves and wild beasts.”[108] If a person (or beast of prey) came over the wall, they weren’t there for a good purpose.

(10:2) Who is the shepherd of the sheep? When he says, “He who enters…” it sounds like it could refer to anyone.

(10:3) The good shepherd has access to the sheep (“To him the doorkeeper opens”).

The good shepherd garners trust from the sheep (“The sheep hear his voice” and follow his lead). Similar to verse 5.

The good shepherd is personally invested at a deep level (“He calls his own sheep by name”). Morris writes, “The Eastern shepherd often has an individual call for each of his sheep, and it is this that is in mind here.”[109]

(10:4) The good shepherd leads by example (“he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him”).

(10:5) This is similar to verse 3. Merrill Tenney writes, “A pen frequently held several flocks; and when the time came to go out to morning pasture, each shepherd separated his sheep from the others by his peculiar call. The sheep refused to follow a stranger because his voice was unfamiliar. In fact, if a stranger should use the shepherd’s call and imitate his tone, the flock would instantly detect the difference and would scatter in panic.”[110] Bruce Ware tells the story in one of his lectures of visiting sheep herders in Europe. He saw that all of the sheep were muddled together in a cluster, but when one of the sheep herders gave his call, his specific sheep separated and followed him.

(10:6) Jesus taught in parables or “figures of speech.” 2 Peter 2:22 translates this word (paroimian) as a “proverb.” But he would explain these, so that we’re not utterly confused.

(10:7) See comments on verse 1.

(10:8) Who are those who came before him? He’s likely referring to the greed of the Sadducees, Pharisees (Lk. 16:14), and the scribes (Mk. 12:40). They weren’t there to help the sheep, but to take from them. True believers were able to discern that these leaders were illegitimate (“the sheep did not hear them”).

(10:9) This verse is both inclusive and exclusive. It is inclusive in the sense that “anyone” can come, but it is exclusive in the sense that we have to enter through Jesus (“enters through Me”).

(10:10) Who is the thief here? In context, it seems to refer to the false teachers and religious authorities (see John 9). After all, the Pharisees were trying to kill Jesus (Jn. 8:39-40, 59).

At the same time, the use of the singular (“the thief” not “the thieves”) implies a specific thief. Could this be a reference to Satan?

“Abundantly” (perisson) refers to “that which is not ordinarily encountered, extraordinary, remarkable” or “to being extraordinary in amount, abundant, profuse” (BDAG).

(10:11) The good shepherd is sacrificial. In the OT, David laid down his life for the sheep he looked after—even fighting lions (1 Sam. 17:33-37).

It’s kind of outrageous that a shepherd would die so that stupid sheep would live. How much more outrageous is it that Jesus (the God-man) would die so that stupid, sinful humans like us can live!

If we apply this to leadership today (cf. 1 Pet. 5:1-7), we realize that leaders are living sacrifices—not dead ones (Rom. 12:1-2). Are you willing to pour your life out—one day at a time—for fellow sinners in the Church? Are you willing to give up your life for the sake of others?

(10:12-13) The “hired hand” doesn’t really care about the sheep, only for his paycheck. He acts exactly like a good shepherd, until danger strikes. When a wolf comes, he says, “I’m not getting paid enough for this!” And he quickly flees.

We can’t see the difference between a hired hand and a good shepherd until we run across a wolf. So too, we often can’t discern quality leaders until they encounter pain, pressure, punishment, and persecution.

(10:14) Who are Jesus’ “own” in this passage?

(10:15) Five-point Calvinists claim that this passage supports limited atonement. But this is a misreading of the text for a couple of reasons: (1) He doesn’t say he only lays down his life for the sheep. For comparison, note that John 10:17 states that the Father loves Jesus because he would die on the Cross. Of course, this is not the only reason the Father loves the Son, but it is one reason mentioned there. (2) The very next verse mentions “other sheep” (v.16). If this is limited atonement, then who are the “other sheep”?

(10:16) Who are the “other sheep” Jesus is talking about? Some Christians have speculated that Jesus is referring to extraterrestrial life in the tradition of C.S. Lewis’ fictional Space Trilogy. Of course, the Bible simply does not speak to such a thing, and certainly does not do so here. After all, if Jesus is referring to space aliens, then he is implying that he “laid down his life” for these beings. That is, the context for this passage is salvation. However, the book of Hebrews declares that Jesus only died for human salvation—not for others.

Virtually all commentators take the “other sheep” to be the Gentiles. These would include Morris,[111] Tenney,[112] Kruse,[113] Carson,[114] Beasley-Murray,[115] and Whitacre.[116] After all, Jesus’ earthly ministry focused on the “house of Israel” (Mt. 10:5-6). Here Jesus is predicting the expansion of the kingdom to Gentiles as well as Jews. The “one flock” is reminiscent of Paul’s teaching about the breaking down of the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:11ff). It’s also similar to what John later writes, “Not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (Jn. 11:52).

(10:17) God loved Jesus for the fact that he was willing to lay down his life. This isn’t the only reason the Father loved Jesus, but simply one reason.

(10:18) God didn’t force Jesus to take up the Cross. Jesus volunteered to serve and sacrifice in this way. To be more precise, the two worked together. Even though Jesus will go into utter humiliation, we see that he isn’t helpless. He states that he is totally in control of his death and resurrection.

(10:19) A “division” implies that some liked this teaching, while others rejected it.

(10:20) Again, they accuse him of demon possession (cf. Jn. 8:48).

(10:21) Others were sticking up for Jesus, showing the obvious point that demons wouldn’t heal the blind. This shows that this chapter is connected with chapter 9.

John 10.2 (Arguing with the religious leaders)

(10:22) What is the Feast of Dedication? This is the holiday of Hanukkah,[117] which was a celebration of the victory of the Maccabean Revolt (1 Macc. 4:36-59; 2 Macc. 1:9, 18; 10:1-8). This was celebrated on the 25th of Kislev, which is in November-December on our calendar today. This explains why John would record that it was “winter” during this time (v.23).

(10:23) Jesus is back in the Temple.

(10:24) They are trying to get Jesus to reveal his Messianic status. Why was Jesus being secretive? Was he being secretive, or were they just not listening?

(10:25) Jesus wasn’t the problem. They refused to believe.

(10:26) Calvinists take this passage to mean that we can’t believe unless we are one of the elect.[118] Note the order: “You do not believe because you are not of My sheep.” It would be different if it said, “You are not of My sheep because you do not believe.”

Arminians respond by pointing out that this is too much to hang on this connecting word. A comparison can be found in Jesus’ statement: “Her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much” (Lk. 7:47). If we take this passage as causative (i.e. she was forgiven because of her love), then the statement would imply a works-based righteousness, which all Christians would (or should!) reject. John 10:26 uses the same Greek connecting word (hoti). It can be translated as “for” or “because.”

(10:27) What does it mean to hear the voice of Jesus? If we do hear his voice, then he’ll “know” us.

What does it mean to “follow” Jesus in this context? We’re not sure if he’s talking about discipleship here. It sounds like the metaphor of the sheep and the shepherd is referring to evangelism.

(10:28) Theologian Millard Erickson writes, “In the clause ‘and they shall never perish,’ John uses the double negative ou me with the aorist subjunctive, which is a very emphatic way of declaring that something will not happen in the future. Jesus is categorically excluding the slightest chance of an apostasy by his sheep.  A literal translation would be something like: ‘They shall not, repeat, shall not, ever perish in the slightest.’ …All in all, this passage is as definite a rejection of the idea that the true believer can fall away as could be given.”[119]

D.A. Carson writes, “The focus is not on the power of the life itself, but on Jesus’ power… To think otherwise would entail the conclusion that Jesus had failed in the explicit assignment given him by the Father, to preserve all those given to him. The ultimate security of Jesus’ sheep rests with the good shepherd.”[120]

(10:29) We can’t be snatched out of Jesus’ hand (v.28), nor out of the Father’s hand (v.29). If we could lose eternal life, then the Father wouldn’t be “greater than all.” See our earlier article, “Eternal Security.”

(10:30-31) This is a good verse for the deity of Christ. Notice that the religious leaders understood what Jesus was communicating with this statement: they tried to stone him for blasphemy.

(Jn. 10:30) Does this passage invalidate the Trinity?

(10:32) Jesus asked the best questions. He’s getting them to think about what they’re doing. Why are they filled with murderous rage for a man who is healing the congenitally blind and handicapped?

(10:33) They hold back on the stoning for a moment to answer his question. It isn’t the good works, but the blasphemy (Lev. 24:16).

(10:34) Jesus cites Psalm 82:6.

(Jn. 10:34-36) Did Jesus believe in many “gods”?

(10:35) Jesus believed in the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. Even confusing (or sort of bizarre) passages like Psalm 82:6 couldn’t be “broken.”

(10:36) He’s making an a fortiori argument: If this, how much more that?

(10:37-38) Jesus is saying, “Even if you don’t trust Me, trust the evidence that you can see.”

(10:39) How was Jesus able to be so elusive?

(10:40-42) Jesus went back to the people who were listening, rather than talking incessantly to those who weren’t. John the Baptist was a righteous man, but he didn’t perform any overt miracles. This really goes against the charismatic idea that miracles are normative for the believer.

John 11 (Jesus at a funeral)

At the end of the sci-fi classic Blade Runner (1982), Gaff (Edward James Olmos) tells Deckard (Harrison Ford), “It’s too bad she won’t live, but then again… who does?

(11:1-3) In John 11, Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus fell deathly sick (v.1). In this day and age, medicine was a joke. But fortunately for them, these two women had a friend—a miracle worker—named Jesus of Nazareth. They sent messengers to contact him saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love [phileo] is sick” (v.3). It’s interesting to note that Mary and Martha don’t command Jesus to do anything. They simply lay the need at Jesus’ feet, so to speak (cf. Jn. 2:3).

It’s also interesting that John identifies Mary before the event of her anointing his feet (ch. 12).

 (11:4) This is similar to the reason for which Jesus healed the blind man (Jn. 9:3).

(11:5-6) But even after he received their message, Jesus didn’t come charging to the rescue. John writes, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was” (vv.5-6). Are you confused yet? Why would Christ wait because he loved them? What kind of love is that?

Jesus waited so that he could work an even greater miracle than a healing (v.15). He waited so that people could come to faith and escape spiritual death.

Lazarus was dead for four days. The trip to Bethany was only a day’s journey. So the messengers took a day to reach Jesus, Jesus waited two days, and then it took him a day to travel; thus equaling four days. Lazarus must’ve died shortly after the message was sent.

Jesus loved this hurting family far more than they anticipated. When we read this story in English, we miss a nuance in the original language:

“The sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love (phileo) is sick’” (v.3).

“Jesus loved (agapao) Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (v.5).

In English, the same word is used for “love,” but not in the original Greek language. Phileo refers to a brotherly love, while agapao refers to a deeper, sacrificial love. Through this suffering, Mary and Martha learned that Christ loved their family far, far more than they ever imagined.

We all have our own misconstrued views of God and his character. In extreme cases, we might think God exists to pamper us with pleasures at all times. Thus when we experience suffering, it shatters our expectations and our view of God.

God wants to shatter false views that we hold of him. He shatters these out of mercy for us. In this case, Mary and Martha believed that Jesus “loved” (phileo) their brother enough to heal his sickness. But in reality, Jesus “loved” (agapao) Lazarus far, far more than they could’ve imagined.

(11:7-8) Going back to Judea would put Jesus in harm’s way. Remember, the religious leaders tried to stone Jesus in the previous chapter, but he eluded them (Jn. 10:31ff). In order to save Lazarus, Jesus would need to face the danger of death. In order to save us, Jesus needed to die.

(11:9-10) Is this reference to day and night a reference to Jesus being the light of the world? What is the point that he’s trying to make? (cf. Jn. 8:12; 9:4-5)

(11:11-14) It’s funny that the disciples thought Jesus was talking about literal sleep—not death.

(11:15) Sadness and outrage will later fill Jesus’ heart (vv.33-35). But here he says that he is “glad.” He knows that this plan of action is for the glory of God (v.4) and for the benefit of people coming to faith (v.15, 24-26, 40, 42, 45).

(11:16) Thomas was expecting that Jesus would be stoned to death (see v.8). He must have inferred that the disciples would die with him. That’s how NLT takes this passage (“Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus”). Thomas was very brave, but also kind of morbid and skeptical (John 20).

(11:17) Jewish rabbinical tradition held that a soul would hover over the body for three days before it left for the afterlife. Sometimes, bodies lay in a comatose state before reviving spontaneously. Carson writes, “From a slightly later date there are sources attesting the rabbinic belief that the soul hovers over the body of the deceased person for the first three days. ‘Intending to re-enter it, but as soon as it sees its appearance change’, i.e. that decomposition has set in, ‘it departs’ (Leviticus Rabbah [a 544f).”[121] Morris writes, “Rabbi Abba, Rabbi Pappai and Rabbi Joshua of Siknin said in the name of Rabbi Levi: For three days (after death) the soul hovers over the body, intending to re-enter it, but as soon as it sees its appearance change, it departs.… Bar Kappara said: The full force of mourning lasts for three days. Why? Because (for that length of time) the shape of the face is recognisable” (Lev. Rab. 18:1; Soncino edn., p. 226; see also Eccl. Rab. 12:6). In line with this the Mishnah provides that evidence of the identity of a corpse may be given only during the three days after death (Yebamot 16:3).”[122] This view was attested by AD 220, but probably goes back to the time of Jesus or even before.

Jesus waited four days, so that they would know that this was truly miraculous.

Here is a modern case of resuscitation: “Mourners at a recent funeral in Zimbabwe were caught by surprise when the guest of honor sat up in his coffin. According to local reports, 34-year-old Brighton Dama Zanthe, the seemingly dead man, woke up last week while friends and family prepared to pay their respects at his home. ‘I was the first to notice Mr. Zanthe’s moving legs as I was in the queue to view his body. At first I could not believe my eyes but later realized that there was indeed some movements on the body as other mourners retreated in disbelief,’ Lot Gaka… told The Herald. Fortunately, Zanthe woke up just in time; his body was set to be transported to a funeral parlor later that day.”[123]

(11:18) Carson writes, “Jewish funeral custom dictated that even a poor family was expected to hire at least two flute players and a professional wailing woman (Mishnah Ketuboth 4:4).”[124]

Martha comes to talk with Jesus

(11:19) Jesus enters a funeral. The doctor had left, and the mortician had arrived.

(11:20) Was Mary too sad (or mad?) to come to see Jesus?

(11:21-22) There is a little bit of an accusatory tone here, but there is also an attitude of trust in Jesus.

(11:23-24) Jesus tells her what she’s dying to hear, but she underestimates his incredible care and power. She thinks he’s referring to the general resurrection of the dead at the end of history.

(11:25) Jesus says, “It’s not that he’ll be raised in the resurrection… I am the resurrection. He will be raised in Me.”

(11:26) He wants to stretch her faith: “Do you believe this?”

(11:27) She affirms that she already believed in Jesus as the Messiah. But she didn’t realize just how far reaching these implications were.

Mary comes to talk with Jesus

(11:28) Mary grabs her sister: “You need to go talk to Jesus. You won’t believe what he just told me.”

(11:29)

(11:30) Jesus must have met her at a distance. He wanted Martha to come to him.

(11:31) Mary brings a crowd of mourning people.

(11:32) Jesus was patient with these grieving women. When we go through suffering and grief, we discover emotions we never knew we had. We might discover bitterness and anger bubbling to the surface. When the grieving family accused Jesus of being unloving or weak, he didn’t defend himself; he just sat and listened patiently. Billy Graham notes, “Jesus didn’t reason or argue with Martha when she accused Him of neglect. He patiently understood.”[125] Regarding John 11:32, Graham writes, “I wonder if she later wished she had never said those words when Jesus brought Lazarus out of the tomb.”[126]

(11:33) “Deeply moved in spirit” (embrimaomai) literally means “insist on something sternly, warn sternly… an expression of anger and displeasure” (BDAG). It is used elsewhere to refer to a stern warning (Mt. 9:30; Mk. 1:43; 14:5). Carson writes that literally Jesus “was outraged in spirit, and troubled.”[127] Morris writes, “It signifies a loud inarticulate noise, and its proper use appears to be for the snorting of horses. When used of people it usually denotes anger, and many exegetes hold that this is the meaning here; if so, it is probably anger against death that is meant.”[128] Jesus wasn’t just sad: he was outraged at death!

“Troubled” (etaraxen, from the root tarassō) is used elsewhere for Jesus contemplating the Cross (Jn. 12:27) or contemplating Judas’ betrayal (Jn. 13:21).

(11:34)

(11:35) John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the entire Bible, but it says the most: “Jesus wept.” Death was never in God’s design. The psalmist writes, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones” (Ps. 116:15).

(11:36) Did Jesus uncontrollably sob? Was he beside himself with an open expression of tears? However he cried, the people could see how deeply grieved he was.

(11:37) An early and classic formulation of the problem of evil.

(11:38) This is similar to the tomb Jesus would be buried in.

(11:39) Martha is worried about the smell.

(11:40) Jesus asks, “Did I stutter?”

(11:41-42) Jesus had confidence that God was also listening to him in prayer.

(11:43) Picture Jesus screaming at this dead corpse. In teaching on this chapter, D.A. Carson pointed out that Jesus’ voice is so powerful that he needed to specify Lazarus… Otherwise, every dead body on the Earth would’ve rose from the dead!

“Cried out” (ekkraugasen, from the root kraugazō) means “to utter a loud sound, ordinarily of harsh texture, cry (out)” (BDAG). Morris writes, “This is the one place (out of six occurrences) where John uses the verb of Jesus. E. K. Lee thinks that the word often indicates passion and lack of self-control and that it is significant that the one place where Jesus uses it is when he is concerned for others.”[129]

(11:44) Picture the awkward hobbling of Lazarus, as he came out of the tomb. One minute he was dead. The next minute, he was jumping off the cold slab of stone and blindly hopping out of the tomb.

Everyone must’ve been shocked to see this scene. But Jesus speaks into their shock, “Don’t just stand there… Unbind him, and let him go… Give him a hand for goodness sakes!”

What did this experience feel like for Lazarus? The real victim in this story is Lazarus—but not for the reason we might initially think. Greg Laurie states that he feels bad that Lazarus had to come back from Heaven: “That would be like trying to take a kid out of Disneyland who has been there for twelve minutes.”[130]

(11:45) Jesus turned this funeral into an evangelistic meeting.

The reaction of the religious leaders

(11:46) Not everyone had the same reaction to this miracle (v.45). Some of the people ratted Jesus out to the authorities.

(11:47-48) What is their argument? They are worried that this “false teacher” will bring down the wrath of Rome on their nation. If the people really follow a Jewish King, that would be considered sedition to the Romans. “Our place” probably refers to the Temple (cf. Acts 6:13-14; 21:28).

(11:49-50) Caiaphas was thinking in terms of political judgment, but he didn’t realize how accurate his statement was for divine judgment. Jesus would die to take the place of the people.

(11:51-52) Why is it significant that he was the high priest? Were high priests also prophets in some sense?

(11:53) God’s plan coincided with their plan. What they meant for evil, God meant for good (cf. Gen. 50:20).

(11:54) Jesus was well aware that the religious leaders wanted him dead. Ephraim was about 15 miles from Jerusalem.[131]

(11:55) This is the third mention of the Passover (cf. Jn. 2:13; 6:4).

(11:56-57) The religious leaders put an APB on Jesus of Nazareth. They wanted him arrested, tried, and killed.

Conclusions

Mary and Martha brought their need to Jesus. They didn’t know God’s will in this area, so instead of making demands or trying to manipulate Christ, they simply made their need known to him. When we go through grief, we don’t always know what to pray or how to pray it. But like these two women, it’s also okay to simply bring your needs to him. We don’t need to instruct God what to do when we’re confused. We can merely bring the need to him and trust that he’s in control.

Jesus had the two things we wish we had during suffering—yet he still mourned! When we suffer, we want (1) an answer to the question of why this happened, and (2) the power to change the suffering and make it right. Jesus had both of these coveted attributes, and yet he still was outraged and grieving. This shows how much more deeply affected God is by suffering and death. How many of us would be outraged and grieving if we knew that our loved one would rise from the dead in 72 hours? Jesus had this knowledge and power, but wept anyhow.

This passage shows us the nature of substitutionary atonement. In order to raise Lazarus from death, Jesus had to face death (v.8, 53).

John 12.1 (Why this waste?)

 

Six days from Passover

(12:1) Jesus returns to Bethany. John tells us that this is six days before the Passover. Jesus will be dead within a week.

(12:2) Martha sounds like a hard worker and a good woman who loved Jesus. She had learned the lesson from him to prioritize time with him above all else (Lk. 10:38-42).

We might like to ask Lazarus, “What was it like to sit at Jesus’ table after he raised you from the dead?”

(12:3) This unit was measured in weight (“a pound”), which is roughly 12 ounces.[132] This was probably Mary’s retirement package or her dowry for getting married. It was worth a full year’s salary (v.5). She “wasted” it on Jesus.

Notice that she uses this to “anoint the feet” of Jesus. This is in contrast to the disciples’ boasting that led to Jesus washing the disciples’ feet in John 13.

(12:4-5) Judas raises the pragmatic consideration: Why did she waste this money on Jesus, when it could’ve been given to the poor? In some respects, this is a fair question. On the other hand, we discover Judas’ motives in the next verse.

(12:6) Judas didn’t really care about the poor. He was trying to get his hands on that money to steal it for himself. Morris comments, “It further opens up the possibility that disappointed avarice may have been one of the motives leading Judas to betray Jesus.”[133] In Matthew and Mark’s accounts, this event is immediately before Judas makes the decision to betray Jesus to the religious leaders.

(12:7) It sounds like she didn’t use up the entire bottle of perfume oil. She must’ve broken it open and used some, and she could save the rest of it for later. Once that alabaster bottle was broken, it wouldn’t last long.

(12:8) Some Christian teachers today use this verse to support the idea that we should spend exorbitant money on worship services, church décor, etc. They argue that Jesus is teaching that the worship of him takes precedence over our ministry to the poor. However, this is patently false. The implication is that once Jesus is gone, then we should take care of the poor. After all, serving the poor is a form of worship (see “What is Worship?”).

(12:9-11) The religious leaders were trying to snuff the evidence of Jesus’ power. In this case, they needed to put Lazarus back in his tomb!

John 12.2 (Triumphal entry)

 

Five days from Passover

(12:12) The “feast” refers to the Passover (see v.1). This is now five days before Passover (v.1).

(12:13) The people treat Jesus as a king (cf. Jn. 6:15). They prepare the way with palm branches, singing Psalm 118:26. Palm branches are used to describe worship of Jesus in heaven (Rev. 7:9). Morris writes, “Palms were an emblem of victory, and in John’s mention of them here we must detect a reference to the triumph of Christ.”[134]

“Hosanna” means “Save, I pray” or “God save him!”[135]

(12:14-15) Jesus finds a donkey fulfilling Zechariah 9:9. Regarding his riding of a donkey, Morris writes, “A conqueror would ride into the city on a war horse, or perhaps march in on foot at the head of his troops. The [donkey] speaks of peace.”[136]

(12:16) John goes to great pains to show that the disciples were not up to speed with the significance of Jesus’ actions. However, the reader gets clued in throughout the narrative of the significance.

(12:17) The witnesses of the Lazarus resurrection continued to testify.

(12:18) This drew a crowd.

(12:19) The Pharisees think that this is getting out of control. Jesus’ popularity is reaching the “world” (kosmos). Does this refer to the “Greeks” in the next verse? All people?

(12:20-22) These Greeks ask to see Jesus. They ask Philip, who asks Andrew, and both men ask Jesus.

(12:23) Up until this point, Jesus kept saying that his hour had not yet come. Now, it is finally here. The “hour” refers to the Cross (cf. Jn. 2:4; 7:6, 8, 30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; 17:1; cf. Mt. 26:18, 45; Mk. 14:41).

(12:24) The breaking and death of a seed leads to the life of a massive field of wheat. So too, Jesus’ death gives rise to life for others.

(12:25) Jesus ties his mission closely with the lives of believers. The key to life is to give it away.

(12:26) Jesus is asking, “Are you willing to follow me—even to the Cross?”

(12:27) Jesus was not play acting. He really emotionally wrestled under the shadow of the Cross. Should he pray for rescue? He doesn’t pray for rescue, knowing that this was his mission. Since John doesn’t include the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, this passage is given to show Jesus’ deep, emotional wrestling with the daunting task of taking up the Cross.

(12:28) Jesus ended his emotional wrestling with wanting God to be glorified, rather than getting personal peace.

God always answers a prayer like this! Here God says, “Don’t worry… I will.”

(12:29) Clearly, this was not a subjective vision, because the crowd heard the voice as well (cf. v.30).[137] They believed that it was thunder (cf. Ps. 29:3), or the voice was an angel.

(12:30) Jesus didn’t need the comfort of answered prayers (or even audible voices). His faith was so strong that he realizes that the voice was for them—not him.

(12:31) When will Satan be cast out? In context, the timing seems to refer to the Cross. Amillennials believe that Satan was bound at the Cross, while Premillennials believe that Satan’s accusations were ultimately defeated. Moreover, Satan will be cast out permanently in the distant future. The time simply isn’t specified here.

(12:32-33) By being “lifted up,” (v.32) Jesus was indicating “the kind of death by which He was to die” (v.33).

Does “all people” refer to the entire world, or only to the elect? (see comments on John 6:44).

(12:34) They must be using the term “Law” to refer to more than just the Pentateuch, because the Pentateuch never makes this claim.

When Jesus said that he would be “lifted up,” the crowd may not have understood that Jesus was referring to the Cross (v.33). They may be asking, “If the OT claims that the Messiah will rule and reign forever, what does it mean that you will be ‘lifted up’? Are you going to leave for heaven? How then can you be the Messiah?”

The fact that they use the terms “Christ” and “Son of Man” synonymously shows that they are probably thinking of passages like Daniel 7:13-14.

(12:35-36) Time is running out. You can still come into the Light and come to meet Christ. What bearing does this have on our interpretation of 1 John 1:5-10? Jesus seems to be thinking of conversion here—not sanctification.

(12:37) The signs weren’t enough to change hearts.

(12:38) Isaiah predicted that many would not believe the report of the apostles about the Servant of the Lord (Isa. 53:1).

(12:39-40) John cites Isaiah 6:10 to make sense of their hardness of heart. Calvinists claim that this supports the concept of total inability (i.e. that people are unable to respond to Christ—even if they are drawn by the Holy Spirit). However, we would understand this to refer to a specific and temporal hardening—not a permanent one. Some theologians call this a “judicial hardening” that was present temporarily, so that Jesus could fulfill his mission of the Cross. Later, Paul interprets this same passage to show that humans have responsibility to place their faith in Christ (Acts 28:23-28).

(12:41) This is a good passage to support Jesus’ deity. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah saw the glory of the Yahweh. Here, John says that Isaiah saw Jesus.

(12:42) Many religious leaders did believe, but they kept quiet for fear of persecution and the pressure of excommunication from the synagogue: a spiritual death sentence (cf. Jn. 9:22).

(12:43) This ties back to Jesus’ statement in John 5:41, 44. The same word for “approval” or “glory” is used in both passages (Greek doxa).

(12:44) Believing in Jesus means believing in the Father.

(12:45) Seeing Jesus is seeing the Father (Jn. 14:9).

(12:46) This is further unpacking John 1:4.

(12:47-48) Failure to believe in his words means that we will face the judgment of the Father.

(12:49-50) Jesus’ message is the Father’s message.

John 13 (Serving love)

(13:1) We know that the festival of the “Passover” prefigured the death of Jesus.

Jesus knows that his “hour” (i.e. the Cross) has come. He’s got one last night with his disciples to pour into them. You learn a lot about a person by their final words. What is the last teaching that he wants to give before he dies?

(Jn. 13:1) Does John contradict the Synoptics regarding the Passover meal?

(13:2) “Prompted” (Greek ballo) means “to throw” or “pour into.” Satan put this in his heart. Satan will put a thought in our hearts or minds. Often, we think it was self-generated. We begin to nurse it and start to fan the flame by believing it. After believing the falsehood, Satan had a foothold to “enter” him (Jn. 13:27).

Luke records that no one had washed their feet, because they were arguing over who was the greatest (Lk. 22:24). Earlier, the disciples were fighting for the positions of authority and glory at Jesus’ right hand (Mk. 10:35).

Carson writes, “We must picture the disciples reclining on thin mats around a low table. Each is leaning on his arm, usually the left; the feet radiate outward from the table.”[138]

(13:3) Jesus was able to serve based on the knowledge of his identity with God.

(13:4) This was the clothing of a slave. It might be similar to CEO putting on a janitor’s suit and going out to clean the vomit in the lobby or unclogging a toilet.

(13:5) Foot washing was reserved for slaves (1 Sam. 25:41). Carson writes, “Peers did not wash one another’s feet, except very rarely and as a mark of great love. Some Jews insisted that Jewish slaves should not be required to wash the feet of others; this job should be reserved for Gentile slaves, or for women and children and pupils (Mekhilts S 1 on Ex. 21:1).”[139]

What must it have been like to see Jesus doing this? As people are arguing on their superiority, Jesus just quietly starts washing the crud out between the toes of the disciples. I bet the arguing slowly stopped. I bet you could hear a pin drop.

(13:6) Do you know how in really tense situations people react differently? Some laugh nervously; others looked shocked and shut down; Peter just starts to nervously blabber.

(13:7) They hadn’t learned the lesson of humility and servant-leadership. But they would, after they saw Jesus hanging naked from the Cross, as well as receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:26; 16:13).

(13:8) This doesn’t refer to forgiveness.[140] For one, Peter was forgiven already (v.10). Secondly, Jesus (presumably) washed Judas’ feet, but he was wasn’t a believer. Thirdly, we are supposed to wash one another’s feet (v.14). This must refer to the cleansing that comes from serving and being served by others.

Peter is too proud to wash and be washed. He was too proud to serve or be served.

See Watchman Nee’s excellent chapter, “Mutual Refreshing” in Love Not the World.

(Jn. 13:8) Does the washing of the disciples’ feet refer to justification?

(13:9) Jesus must’ve been thinking, “You don’t want me to wash your feet, but you do want me to give you a sponge bath… What?!

Peter keeps trying to control the situation. He keeps bossing Jesus around.

(13:10) “You” is plural.

Is this serving love a picture of substitution? After all, their filth and stink went on to Jesus.

(13:11) He washed Judas’ feet even though he knew he would betray him (v.2, 27).

(13:12) This shouldn’t be a ritual that we practice. This is an “example” (v.15).

(13:13-14) If Jesus is not above washing feet, then which one of us can be above it?

(13:15) This was a teaching lesson.

(13:16) By not serving, you’re really saying that you deserve more than Jesus.

(13:17) “Blessed” (makarios) literally means “fortunate, happy, privileged.” The key to a happy life is one of servant love.

We can’t cash in on this promise from talking, thinking, or even praying about serving—only from doing it.

(13:18) He quotes Psalm 41:9 to show that Judas’ betrayal was predicted by God.

(Jn. 13:18) How did Judas fulfill this passage that was originally about David?

(Jn. 13:18) Doesn’t this passage imply fatalism for Judas?

(13:19) Just as the OT predicted the future, so too, Jesus will predict the future. The next few days would be very confusing and scary for the disciples. They would feel like their world was turned upside down. Jesus says, “I want you to pay attention. I’m predicting all of this in advance. I don’t want your faith to be ruined. I want you to know that ‘I am He.’” Literally, the Greek simply states, “You may believe that I am” (ego eimi).

(13:20) This is similar to Matthew 10:40 and Luke 10:16.

(13:21) Even though Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, he still was emotionally affected by this.

(13:22) Judas must have been sly. They couldn’t spot him as a fake.

(13:23) See John 1:18. Jesus is in the “bosom” of the Father, and John was on the “bosom” of Jesus. Is he trying to show us that we can enter into the heart of God through Jesus?

(13:24-25) Peter and John implored Jesus to tell who the traitor was.

(13:26) Why the theatrics of dipping the bread? It must’ve been to fulfill prophecy (v.18).

(13:27) Jesus didn’t beg and plead for Judas to stay. He’s saying, “If you aren’t willing to be a servant, then you should go and live your life.” Jesus wasn’t loss-aversive.

(13:28) John goes to great lengths to show the ignorance of the disciples. Morris points out that Jesus may have only told John (“the disciple whom Jesus loved”) about the dipping of the bread (v.26), rather than telling the whole group.[141] This could explain the ignorance of the disciples.

(13:29) The disciples couldn’t have been more wrong! (see Jn. 12:5-6)

(13:30) John repeatedly trades on the themes of light and darkness. When he writes, “It was night,” is there some symbolic reference to Judas’ decision? Morris writes, “‘Night’ is surely more than a time note (at Passover there was a full moon). In view of the teaching of this Gospel as a whole it will point us to the strife between light and darkness and indicate that it was night, black night in the soul of Judas (cf. 11:10). He had cut himself off from the light of the world and accordingly shut himself up to night.”[142]

(13:31-32) How could Jesus already be glorified? Morris writes, “Now that the betrayal is under way the glorification of the Son has begun.”[143] Are you ready to see the glory of God? Look to the Cross!

(13:33) He said this in John 7:34.

(13:34) Many passages speak about loving the world, but this passage tells us to love each other. If we have thriving and warm love relationships with each other, this speaks powerfully to the world.

This isn’t a new command (cf. Lev. 19:18). The “new” part of this commandment is based on the love that will be motivated by Jesus’ love (“even as I have loved you”).

(13:35) One way to know the reality of God is to see the love in the Christian community.

(13:36) You can’t die and go to Heaven yet (v.1). But you will later.

(13:37) Jesus must’ve been thinking, “You are going to lay down your life for Me? Wrong order! I’m going to do that for you.” Morris writes, “John may well be indulging here in some more of his irony. Peter affirms his readiness to die for Jesus. The exact opposite is true and that in two ways. In the first place Peter was not really ready, as the sequel would show. And in the second Jesus was about to lay down his life for Peter.”[144]

(13:38) Peter was so confident that he would defend Jesus until the end. In reality, he quickly cowers to a slave-girl and some people around a fire (cf. Jn. 18:27). Morris writes, “The prediction must have come as a shock to Peter. It evidently quite subdued him, and this may be the reason he remained silent throughout the rest of the time in the upper room, though the others apparently spoke freely. We do not hear of him again until 18:10.”[145]

John 14 (The Holy Spirit)

(14:1) Even though Jesus was “troubled” (tarasso, 13:21), he didn’t want them to be troubled. He wanted them to grow their faith and trust in him and in God.

(14:2) Jesus has been talking about going back to the Father in heaven for this entire gospel. Now, he starts talking to them about the fact that he’s going to prepare a place for them.

(14:3) Jesus is saying, “There’s plenty of room, and I want you to be there with me.”

(Jn. 14:1-3) Does this passage support a pre-tribulational rapture?

(14:4-5) Jesus keeps talking about the way to God. Thomas is confused about this.

(14:6) Jesus says that he is the way. In many ways, this exclusive statement is nothing new. He has been equating himself with the Father throughout the gospel consistently. He makes it further explicit here that we need him to get to the Father.

It’s interesting that Jesus refers to himself as “the life,” when “within a matter of hours his corpse would be placed in a tomb.”[146] The way to life is through Jesus’ death.

(14:7) Jesus is saying that they didn’t truly know him before (cf. v.9). But they will from this moment onward.

(14:8) Philip wants to see the Father. He says this will be “enough” (NASB), make him “content” (NET), or will make him “satisfied” (NLT). He wants a theophany, when Jesus was offering an incarnation.

(14:9-10) Jesus and the Father are distinct persons, but they are identical in their nature. They are both “in” one another.

Again, Jesus shows that he was in complete dependence upon God the Father. If he could say this (“I do not speak on My own initiative… the Father abiding in Me does His works”), then how much more should we?

(14:11) Believe Jesus, or at the very least, believe in the evidence.

(14:12) How can believers perform greater works than Jesus? Here we see the introduction to Jesus’ teaching on the Holy Spirit—the engine behind the Christian life. Because Jesus will “go to the Father,” the Holy Spirit will take his place (Jn. 16:7). Compare Peter before Pentecost versus after Pentecost.

The “greater works” could refer to miracles in the book of Acts (and down throughout Christian history).

The “greater works” could refer to conversions to Christ. John Ryle writes, “‘Greater works’ means more conversions. There is no greater work than the conversion of a soul.”[147] After Pentecost, billions have come to Christ—far more than Jesus reached in Palestine.

On the other hand, maybe we’re being too black and white. Since “works” is such a generic word, maybe Jesus is referring to any and every work done in the name of Christ throughout the last two thousand years (e.g. miracles, conversions, discipleship, compassion, service, etc.).

(14:13-14) Through Jesus, we have incredible access to power in prayer. “In my name” is not a magic formula. It refers to prayers that are “to be in accordance with all that that name stands for.”[148]

(14:15) Jesus “commandments” (entole) refer to his authoritative teachings—most specifically love (Jn. 15:13).

(Jn. 14:15) Why does Jesus use the term “commandments” here?

(14:16) The “Helper” (paraclete) can also be rendered “Advocate” (NET, NLT), “Counselor” (NIV), or “Comforter” (ASV). Jesus knew that God would answer this request. This paraclete will be with us “forever.”

(Jn. 14:16) Does this passage predict the prophet Muhammad as Muslim apologists claim?

(14:17) Who is the paraclete? Jesus tells us that he is “the Spirit of truth.” Later, he is equally clear by saying that the paraclete is “the Holy Spirit” (v.26).

In one sense the paraclete is already here (“abides with you”), but there is another sense in which he is not here fully (“[He] will be in you”). The indwelling of the Holy Spirit hadn’t occurred, because Jesus hadn’t died for sin (Jn. 7:38-39).

(14:18) He isn’t a deadbeat dad. We aren’t orphans, but sons.

This could refer to (1) the sending of the Holy Spirit, see verse 28, (2) the Second Coming, or (3) his post-resurrection return.[149]

(14:19) They will “see” Jesus after his resurrection.

“Because I live, you will live also.” This could refer to eternal life in heaven. But eternal life begins at the moment of conversion. We begin living the eternal life now, so to speak. Note that this is fulfilled in verse 20 (“In that day you will know…”). We don’t need to wait to get to heaven to know that we have resurrection power.

(14:20) This is the mystical union of believers to Christ and each other.

(14:21) It isn’t enough to “have” his commands, but also to “keep” them. When we walk in love, we get to experience God’s love, and Jesus discloses himself even further.

(14:22) Was this disciple asking why Jesus was going to be exclusive in his self-disclosure?

(14:23-25) Jesus answers that his message is really not exclusive: it is for “anyone” who will listen.

(14:26) The disciples’ education is not over. The Holy Spirit will pick up where Jesus left off. He will not contradict Jesus’ teaching, but remind them of Jesus’ teaching. The Spirit also adds more revelation to the apostles (“He will teach you all things”). The teaching is the Father’s (v.24), the Son’s, and the Holy Spirit’s.

(14:27) Why shouldn’t they be “troubled” and “fearful,” even knowing that Jesus is going away? Jesus promises them that he is going to leave his “peace” with them.

(14:28) They should be happy for Jesus, because he’s going home.

John teaches the deity of Jesus in the clearest terms, but also the subordination of Jesus in the clearest terms.

(Jn. 14:28) Was Jesus equal with God or not?

(14:29) They haven’t come to full faith yet. But they will, because of Jesus’ predictive prophecies.

(14:30) Satan was on his way. Satan isn’t omnipresent.

(14:31) Jesus wanted to show the world that he was in perfect harmony with the Father.

Application

If you were one of the disciples, it would be really sad to hear that Jesus was leaving. Imagine how hard it would be to hear that the greatest friend you ever had (or could ever imagine) was going to be gone soon.

Yet look at the way that Jesus comforts the disciples (and us). He promises to return, to give the Holy Spirit, to give peace, to give us incredible access in prayer, etc. While these promises were given to the disciples specifically, we also have all of these great gifts as well. While we can’t currently see Jesus, we have his gifts and promises.

John 15.1 (Abiding in Christ)

(15:1) Here we find another “I am” statement from Jesus. Jesus is the “vine,” and God is the “vinedresser” (NASB) or “gardener” (NET, NLT).

In the OT, Israel is depicted as the “vine” (Isa. 5). However, God chastised Israel for being a degenerate “vine” (Jer. 2:21).

(15:2) What does it mean to bear fruit? Morris believes it refers to “Christian character.”[150] Earlier, Jesus used the word “fruit” to refer to Christian service (Jn. 4:36). He also used “fruit” to refer to losing one’s life (Jn. 12:24), which refers to service as well. In verse 8, Jesus connects “fruit” with glorifying God, and in John 17:4, Jesus says, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” Clearly, service to God is strongly implied in the concept of “fruit.” Perhaps, however, this is too binary: it isn’t “either/or.” All fruit of character and service comes from Christ.

Later in verse 16, Jesus implies that “fruit” refers to service (“[I] appointed you that you would go and bear fruit”). There, Morris comments, “It is possible that here the bearing of fruit includes the thought of service leading to the conversion of others (why else should they ‘go’?).”[151]

The word for “prunes” (kathairo) is a wordplay with “clean” (katharos) in verse 3.

(Jn. 15:2) Does this passage teach that believers will be sent to hell for not bearing fruit?

(15:3) Jesus’ word has “pruned” them or “cleansed” them already.

Jesus HIMSELF abides in us

(15:4) The focus here is on bearing fruit—not salvation. After all, they are already “clean” (v.3). We cannot try to bear fruit for God without abiding in Christ.

(15:5) This promise is not qualified: If we abide in Jesus, he will bear fruit in and through our lives. Not just a little fruit, but “much fruit.” This is similar to Paul’s statement, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Apart from Jesus, it isn’t that we bear minimal fruit, but rather no fruit (“Apart from Me you can do nothing”).

(Jn. 15:6) Does this passage teach that believers will be sent to hell for not bearing fruit?

Jesus’ WORDS abide in us

(15:7) One of the great privileges of abiding in Christ is the confidence of seeing answers to prayer—provided these are in line with Jesus’ “words” (i.e. his teaching, his will, etc.). See verse 16.

(15:8) In this passage, God is not glorified from long worship services. Here, Jesus says that God is glorified when believers “bear much fruit.” Later Jesus says, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (Jn. 17:4). By bearing fruit, we “prove” (ginomai) to be true disciples of Jesus.

Jesus’ LOVE abides in us

(15:9) When we abide in Christ, we experience the Father’s love. Jesus wants us to live out of this love relationship with him.

(Jn. 15:10) Why does Jesus use the term “commandments” here?

(15:10) It’s hard to imagine abiding in the deep love of Jesus without seeing a changed life. As we abide in him and his love, our lives are slowly changed.

We keep Jesus’ teaching and commandments based on the fact that he kept the Father’s teaching and commandments.

(15:11) What is the purpose of this teaching from Jesus? It is so we can experience the “full joy” he offers us. So far, the term “joy” has only been used of John the Baptist being the “best man” in Jesus’ wedding (Jn. 3:29). The term will later be used many times in chapters 16 and 17.

(15:12) Instead of a list of moral imperatives, Jesus calls us to a life of love (cf. v.17). The standard of love doesn’t come from us, our culture, etc. It comes from the perfect example of Jesus. Morris writes, “If we love, in the sense in which Jesus uses the term, we need no other rule.”[152]

(15:13) The epitome of love is sacrifice. Jesus soon lays down his life for the disciples, showing them the way. In fact, Jesus lay down his life for his enemies (Rom. 5:10).

(15:14) This shows the tension between the transcendence and imminence of God. We are “friends,” but he is also leading our lives (“do what I command you”).

(15:15) Do I follow God like a slave or like a friend?

(15:16) This does not refer to being chosen for heaven or hell. The purpose of the choosing is for the disciples to “go and bear fruit.”

What does it mean for our fruit to remain? The same word for “remain” (meno) is used of “abiding” in Jesus (v.4). For comments on “fruit,” see verse 2 above.

(15:17) “This” is plural. Jesus seems to be saying that all of verses 1-17 have the goal of love (cf. v.12).

John 15.2 (The disciples in the world)

So far, Jesus’ teaching would be very encouraging to the disciples. Here, he gives the bad news: “When you join me on this mission of loving the world, the world will resist this. Be prepared!”

(15:18) It would be very scary to start following Christ, only to face persecution. Jesus wants to warn his disciples about this in advance. He doesn’t sugarcoat suffering.

(15:19) This can’t refer to Calvinistic election, because Jesus died for “the world” (kosmos). Here, he is saying that the disciples are not of the world—the people for whom Jesus died.

(15:20) Jesus said this in John 13:16. If they persecuted Jesus, why would we expect any different?

Moreover, Jesus associates the disciples word (or teaching) with his word (or teaching). He is ratifying what they would go on to write (cf. Jn. 13:20).

(15:21) The reason they persecute Jesus is because they don’t know the Father.

(15:22) Does this mean that Jesus’ teaching only further condemns the people? Wouldn’t it have been better if he never came? Not at all. If a person throws you a life-preserver when you’re drowning, you are a fool for not grabbing hold of it. In that sense, you are more culpable for your own death. But if no one threw a life-preserver, then you’d still die. Elsewhere, John writes, “If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8).

(15:23) If you hate Jesus, then you hate God.

(15:24) Similar to verse 22.

(15:25) He’s quoting Psalm 35:19 or 69:4. Morris writes, “There is more Johannine irony here. The Jews saw themselves as the upholders of the Law, but in their zeal for the Law they incurred the condemnation of the Law by rejecting the Christ to whom the Law bore its witness.”[153]

(15:26-27) Both the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:26). Both the Holy Spirit and the disciples will testify to the world about Christ. It isn’t one or the other. They work in concert with God.

Application

Jesus gives us incredible tools (e.g. his teaching, prayer, power, the Holy Spirit, etc.), so that we can face incredible hardship (e.g. persecution, hatred, etc.). He gave them this entire teaching, so that it would keep them from falling away (Jn. 16:1). We can never claim that God has allowed us to face temptation without giving us the power to endure or escape it (1 Cor. 10:13).

Later, in John 18:8-9, Jesus stands in the way of the disciples getting persecuted.

John 16 (The Holy Spirit)

(16:1) Jesus doesn’t want to see his disciples “stumble” (NASB) or “fall away” (NET) or “abandon their faith” (NLT). The next few days are going to be tumultuous, and Jesus wants to prepare them.

(16:2) Remember, the religious authorities were threatening excommunication for following Jesus (Jn. 9:22). The religious zeal of the authorities would actually encourage murder. They had “zeal without knowledge” as Paul puts it (Rom. 10:2).

(16:3) Religious persecution is not caused from Christianity, but from not knowing Christ.

(16:4) Jesus is informing them of the future, because he won’t be with them to guide them perfectly. Remember, however, that he would send the Holy Spirit to remind them of his teaching (Jn. 14:26).

The “hour” of Jesus is in stark contrast to the “hour” of the religious authorities. Jesus came to save in his hour, while they came to kill.

(16:5) Peter and Thomas had previously been asking this question (Jn. 13:36; 14:5), but they were likely not concerned about Jesus—only themselves. Jesus seems to take issue with the intent of their question, rather than their words. Morris writes, “[Peter] made no real attempt to find out where Jesus was going. He had been concerned with the thought of parting from Jesus, not with that of the Master’s destination. He had in mind only the consequences for himself and for his companions. Neither he nor they had as yet made serious inquiry as to what was to become of Jesus. So does self-interest blind us.”[154]

(16:6) You would be feeling sorrowful too if you heard Jesus was leaving and you would be killed (v.2).

(16:7) Why is it a benefit for the Holy Spirit to replace Jesus? For one, Jesus is isolated to a specific place, while the Holy Spirit will move across the entire world. Morris writes, “To the disciples the departure of Jesus seemed disastrous: actually it was for their profit.”[155]

(16:8) The Holy Spirit will come to convict the world of (1) sin, (2) righteousness, and (3) judgment. Morris writes, “This is the one place in Scripture where the Spirit is spoken of as performing a work in ‘the world.’”[156] What does this mean?

“Convict” (elenchō) means either “to scrutinize or examine carefully, bring to light, expose, set forth” or “to bring a person to the point of recognizing wrongdoing, convict, convince someone of something, point something out to someone” (BDAG). The concept of “expose” is the more popular usage in classical Greek.[157] In the eighteen times the term is used in the NT it is defensible that “in every instance the verb has to do with showing someone his sin, usually as a summons to repentance.”[158] Therefore, the Holy Spirit isn’t just leveling a “guilty” verdict for all people, but rather encouraging repentance in all people.

The religious leaders considered themselves righteous (Lk. 18:9), but they considered Jesus a sinner (Jn. 9:24).

(16:9) “Concerning sin” There are three equally plausible ways to render the Greek here:[159]

(1) The Holy Spirit will prove (intellectually) that people are sinful. “He will convict the world (of wrong ideas) of sin, in that they do not believe.” The NEB translates this as, “[The Holy Spirit] show where wrong and right and judgement lie.” Advocates of this view note that John 8:46 supports this usage (“Which of you convicts Me of sin?”). This view seems focused purely on the intellectual aspect of sin, rather than a heartfelt realization of our sinfulness. Carson writes, “This sounds far too cerebral: the world merely holds wrong opinions which must be righted by argument.”[160]

(2) The world’s sin is illustrated by their unbelief. “He will convict the world of its sin because they do not believe.” Morris favors this view: “The basic sin is the sin that puts self at the center of things and consequently refuses to believe… the Spirit brings the world’s guilt home to itself. The Spirit convicts the individual sinner’s conscience. Otherwise people would never come to see themselves as sinners.”[161] Carson holds this view as well: “[The Holy Spirit will shame] the world and [convince] it of its own guilt, thus calling it to repentance… This convicting work of the Paraclete is therefore gracious: it is designed to bring men and women of the world to recognize their need, and so turn to Jesus, and thus stop being ‘the world’.”[162]

(3) The world’s sin is that they don’t believe. “He will convict the world of its sin (which consists in the fact) that they do not believe.”

We hold to this second option: the Holy Spirit convicts the world of their sin, so that they can realize their unrighteousness and believe in Jesus.

Now that Jesus has come, we have no excuse. Earlier, Jesus said, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (Jn. 15:22). The Holy Spirit brings conviction on us regarding our own depravity.

(16:10) “Concerning righteousness” Jesus—the Righteous One—has gone away from our world to be with the Father. He is the living, embodied standard and paradigm of righteousness. Since he is gone (in heaven), we have lost our visible standard. Therefore, the Holy Spirit convicts us of God’s righteous standard, and how far we fall short of it (v.9; Rom. 3:23).

(16:11) “Concerning judgment” If Satan has already been judged, then those who follow Satan will also be judged (cf. Jn. 12:31). The people of the world will get what he ruler of the world got—namely, judgment. Carson concurs, “If [Satan] stands condemned by the triumph of the cross, the false judgment of those who follow in his train is doubly exposed. The need for conviction of this false judgment is all the more urgent; the world is condemned already (3:36) and in desperate need to learn of its plight.”[163]

(16:12) God slowly reveals his truth to us. Here, Jesus doesn’t reveal everything because they couldn’t “bear” it yet. The NET note says, “Or you cannot accept it.”

(16:13) The Holy Spirit would not only remind them of God’s truth (Jn. 14:26), but also reveal further truth.

(16:14) The Holy Spirit will not contradict Jesus’ teaching, but will only add more of Jesus’ teaching that they weren’t ready to hear yet (v.12). He will bring the glory to Jesus, rather than to Himself.

(16:15) All three members of the Trinity work together in unity.

(16:16) This refers to Jesus’ death and resurrection.[164]

(16:17-18) Again, John goes to great lengths to show just how slow the disciples were to understand.

(16:19-20) The world (kosmos) rejoiced at the death of Christ. The disciples originally “lamented” and “grieved,” but after the resurrection, this turned into “joy.”

(16:21-22) He compares their grief to the suffering of a woman bearing children. She is in serious, traumatic pain, but this is followed by intense joy. So too, the disciples experienced grief at the death of Jesus, but incomparable joy at his resurrection. The world couldn’t give them peace and joy (Jn. 14:27), and it also can’t take it away either.

(16:23) Once they see the validation of the resurrection, they will not have reason to doubt. Could this be prefiguring Thomas’ skepticism in John 20?

(16:24) Jesus encourages the disciples to pray so that they can experience joy (cf. Jn. 15:11).

(16:25) This fits with the concept of the “mystery” of Jesus’ death, or the “messianic secret.” It isn’t until after the Cross (his “hour”) that he can speak “plainly.” After all, this is when the plan has been fulfilled.

(16:26-27) We are able to go directly into the presence and love of the Father, because of our relationship with Jesus.

What does it mean to experience the love of the Father? In this context (v.26), it is accessed through prayer.

(16:28) Jesus came to accomplish a mission. Once it’s done, he’s going to return home to be with his Father.

(16:29-30) The disciples probably felt insecure about not knowing enough, or being too slow. Morris questions how much they really understood: “On the farther side of Calvary no one could know what was involved in Christ’s leaving the Father and then returning to him. There is probably more of John’s irony here. Had the disciples really possessed the understanding they claim, they would have reacted very differently when the crisis came… It is probably significant that they do not say that they understand fully all that Jesus is saying. Instead they say that they know that he knows all things.”[165]

(16:31-32) Jesus seems to be showing astonishment that they are only “now” believing. Jesus says, “No, you still don’t get it. You’re all going to run for cover (Mk. 14:50), while I bravely stick to God’s will.”

Everyone will abandon Jesus… except his Father.

(16:33) The “peace” of Jesus is here given in the context of persecution. Morris writes, “This statement, spoken as it is in the shadow of the cross, is audacious. The cross would seem to the outsider to be Jesus’ total defeat. He sees it as his complete victory over all that the world is and can do to him. He goes to the cross not in fear or in gloom, but as a conqueror.”[166]

John 17 (Experiencing the love of the Trinity)

(17:1) Remember, in John’s gospel, the “hour” refers to the Cross.

What does it mean that the Father will glorify Jesus at the Cross? What does it mean that Jesus will glorify the Father at the Cross? Colin Brown writes, “[In the gospel of John], glory is to be understood as a revelation of God, or as the intervention of his power in history (Jn. 1:14; 2:11; 11:4; 12:41).”[167] Carson writes, “It is not just that the shame of the cross is inevitably followed by the glory of the exaltation, but that the glory is already fully displayed in the shame.”[168]

(17:2) Jesus had authority over the world. Instead of using his authority, he laid down his rights to die for the world.

Calvinists see divine election in this passage. Morris writes, “Though life is his gift, he does not confer it on all indiscriminately. Once again we have the thought of the divine predestination. Life is given ‘to all those you have given him.’”[169]

(17:3) Eternal life is not just being on life support for all of eternity. It is knowing God forever. We’ll never get tired of exploring this infinite, loving being.

(17:4) Jesus glorified the Father “by accomplishing” (see NASB note) the work God gave him to do. Evangelicals usually associate glorifying God with praise and worship music. Here, Jesus glorified the Father by doing his work of loving the world.

(17:5) Again, both the Father and Son are being glorified together through the Cross.

Jesus is looking forward to being back with the Father. They had an eternal relationship in the past. He must have experienced incomprehensible love with the Father (v.24).

(17:6) Calvinists connect this passage with divine election—similar to John 6:37 (“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me”). In this passage, however, whom did the Father give to Jesus? This must refer to his disciples (cf. v.9).

(17:7-8) The disciples understood that Jesus wasn’t merely some mystic or charismatic teacher. They had come to believe that he came directly from the Father.

(17:9) Jesus focused his prayer for his eleven disciples—not the whole world.

(17:10) As God’s son, Jesus enjoyed everything that the Father had. Now, believers in Christ have this incredible privilege of spiritual adoption.

(17:11) NLT understands this as Jesus saying, “I am departing from the world.”

Jesus wants the disciples to experience unity under God’s leadership once he is gone.

(17:12) Jesus guarded the disciples from going astray. John 18:9 quotes this passage to refer to physical protection from the authorities.

Judas was “chosen” by Christ, but he still went to hell (Jn. 6:70). This doesn’t fit well with the concept of divine election.

(17:13) The goal of Jesus’ teaching is for his disciples to share in his “joy.”

(17:14) Our identity changes when we meet Jesus. We are no longer “of the world.”

(17:15) This is where Christians get the idea of being in the world, but not of the world. Jesus doesn’t pray for them to be removed, but to persevere.

(17:16) See verse 14.

(17:17) The word is true, and it brings transformation. “Sanctify” (hagiazō) means to “set aside something or make it suitable for ritual purposes, consecrate, dedicate” or “include a person in the inner circle of what is holy, in both cultic and moral associations of the word, consecrate, dedicate, sanctify” or “to treat as holy, reverence” or “to eliminate that which is incompatible with holiness, purify” (BDAG). Jesus uses this word for “sanctifying himself” in verse 19, so the meaning must be the concept of “dedicate” or “consecrate.”

(17:18) Now that Jesus is gone, we continue to fulfill his mission here on Earth.

(17:19) What does this mean that Jesus “sanctifies” himself? NLT takes this as referring to his sacrifice at the Cross (i.e. setting himself apart for the disciples).

(17:20) This chapter is not just for the disciples, but for all believers.

(17:21-23) The unity of the Christian community is the “final apologetic” in the words of Francis Schaeffer. It shows the world that God is real.

Jesus gives his glory to us so that we can achieve this unity (v.22).

(17:24) Jesus wants the disciples to see his glory (in heaven?).

(17:25-26) The love between the Father and the Son is now shared among the many sons of God. The divine door has been swung wide open. We now get to experience the love of the Trinity.

John 18 (The betrayal and trial)

Jesus shocks the disciples with his parting words. No wonder they were troubled (14:1), afraid (14:27), and filled with sorrow (16:6, 22)!

(18:1) This is probably the Garden of Gethsemane. John is the only NT author that calls this place a “garden.”[170] We infer that it was the Garden of Gethsemane by comparing this passage with the Synoptic gospels (specifically Mt. 26:36; Mk. 14:32; Luke places Jesus in the Mount of Olives, Lk. 22:39). Carson writes, “Rising to the east of the Kidron is the Mount of Olives. On its slopes there was an olive grove (kēpos, lit. ‘garden’); Matthew (26:36) and Mark (14:32) call it ‘Gethsemane’ (=‘oil-press’). John says that Jesus and his disciples went into it; later he says that Jesus went out: the verbs suggest a walled enclosure.”[171]

(18:2) Judas betrayed Jesus in a place where Jesus used to teach him about God. The entire week before the Cross, Jesus would spend the night in this location (Lk. 21:37).

(18:3) It’s clearly night time.

(Jn. 18:3) Was a Roman cohort really necessary?

(18:4) At the beginning of the gospel, Jesus asked the disciples, “What do you seek?” (Jn. 1:38) Is there any significance to this repetition?

Jesus knew all of this was going to happen, and he still chose to “go forth” to meet them anyhow.

(18:5) John omits the fact that Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Mt. 26:49; Mk. 14:45; Lk. 22:47).

Jesus repeats the expression “I am” three times in this section (v.5, 6, 8), which was an answer “in the style of deity.”[172] (cf. Jn. 8:58)

(18:6) The Roman soldiers were very likely afraid of Jesus. After all, he was a charismatic leader who had the loyalty of the crowds (Jn. 6:15). He was also a confirmed miracle worker. Previous guards had tried to arrest Jesus, but they were too amazed by him to finish the job (Jn. 7:45-46). Perhaps rumors spread in the Roman guardsmen, which left these soldiers must’ve been wondering, “Who is this guy that we need a whole cohort to get him??” It’s also possible that these were some of the same guards who tried to arrest him before.[173] Moreover, they were coming out to arrest Jesus in the middle of the night, and it must’ve felt spooky. Morris writes, “The soldiers retreated and fell to the ground. It is possible that those in front recoiled from Jesus’ unexpected advance, so that they bumped those behind them, causing them to stumble and fall.”[174] Carson points out that this was a “sloping mountainside,”[175] which could’ve added to the fall.

(18:7) This is the same question from verse 4.

(18:8) Jesus is substituting in the place of his disciples: “Take me, but let them go.”

(18:9) See John 17:12.

(18:10) Peter thinks that it’s time to fight. But all the “mighty” Peter can do is cut the ear off of a slave. What will that do when a “cohort” of soldiers is present?? (v.3)

(18:11) The “cup” refers to the wrath of God (Ps. 75:8; Isa. 51:17, 22; Jer. 25:15; Ezek. 23:31-33; Rev. 14:10; 16:19).

(18:12) They arrest Jesus.

Meets with Annas

(18:13) Annas only officially held the position of high priest from AD 6 to AD 15—at which point he was deposed by Valerius Gratus (Pilate’s predecessor). However, he had five sons hold the position (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 20.198), and he still played a large influence in the high priesthood. After all, the OT stated that the high priest ruled for life, rather than when he was removed by a Pagan procurator. Luke also records that Annas was still in a position of influence alongside Caiaphas (Lk. 3:2). This would explain why they took Jesus to Annas—the father-in-law of Caiaphas—namely, because Annas still held a lot of power.

(18:14) See John 11:50.

(18:15-16) Peter followed Jesus and the soldiers (from a distance?).

How did Peter gain access to the high priest’s courtyard? It seems odd that Peter—a Galilean fisherman—could cavalierly walk right into this restricted area (Mk. 14:54, 66). Yet John explains that one of Jesus’ disciples knew the high priest, and let him in (Jn. 18:15-16).

Peter’s FIRST denial

(18:17) The “mighty” Peter couldn’t even keep his courage in front of a slave-girl. It doesn’t even say that she was big or tough looking—just a little girl! He denies Jesus a first time. He’s not off to a good start.

(18:18) It was a cold night. Peter was probably shivering from fear, as well as from the weather.

(18:19) This probably is still referring to Annas.

(18:20-21) Jesus argues that he spoke openly. He had nothing to hide. He encourages them to go interview the witnesses.

(18:22-23) What is your basis for striking me?

Meeting with Caiaphas

(18:24) Annas sends him to Caiaphas. Interestingly, John doesn’t record Jesus’ conversation with Caiaphas.

Peter’s SECOND denial

(18:25) The people kept pressing questions on Peter, and Peter denies Jesus a second time.

(18:26) The relative of Malchus presses him further.

Peter’s THIRD denial

(18:27) Peter denies Jesus a third time. Immediately, the piercing and staccato noise of the rooster fills the air. Jesus had predicted this exact sequence of events (Jn. 13:38).

Meets with Pilate

(18:28) The “Praetorium” was the governor’s household. It was “early,” so we have moved from night into morning.

These zealous religious men couldn’t eat the Passover if they had entered a Gentile’s house. Extrabiblical tradition stated, “The dwelling-places of gentiles are unclean” (Mishnah Oholoth 18:7).[176] Notice that they are scrupulous about their extrabiblical rules, while they are killing God’s Son (!!). Carson points out further irony: “The Jews take elaborate precautions to avoid ritual contamination in order to eat the Passover, at the very time they are busy manipulating the judicial system to secure the death of him who alone is the true Passover.”[177]

Meet with Pontius Pilate

(18:29) Pilate wanted to hear an official charge against Jesus.

(18:30)

(18:31) Pilate wants to stay out of this. If there isn’t an official charge by Roman law, then he doesn’t want to get involved.

“We are not permitted to put anyone to death…” In AD 6, the Romans removed the judicial ability from the Jewish leadership to perform capital punishment (Josephus, Antiquities, 12:117). Second-century Jewish literature states that this ability was removed 40 years before the destruction of the Temple (i.e. AD 30). Why the discrepancy? Following Bruce, Carson notes that an event around AD 30 could’ve been the reason for why these Jewish documents mention the removal of this right.[178] That is, these second-century authors may have noted the date of AD 30, because this was the time that they weren’t allowed to legally crucify Jesus.

An exception to this rule was if a Gentile entered into the inner part of the Temple (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 5.193-194; 6.124-126). This could be why the religious authorities claimed that Jesus had threatened the Temple (Mk. 14:57-59).

(18:32) This refers to Jesus’ explicit prediction of his death by crucifixion (Mt. 20:19; 26:2; Mk. 10:33f; Lk. 18:32), or it could refer to his implicit statements about being “lifted up,” which also means crucified (Jn. 3:14; 8:28; 12:32).

(18:33) Why does Pilate ask if Jesus is the ‘king of the Jews’ if this accusation never appears by the Pharisees? John’s account of the trial of Jesus under Pontius Pilate mentions nothing of the religious leaders’ charges that Jesus was the king of the Jews. We only find a blunt question from Pilate out of the blue in John 18: “Are you the king of the Jews?” (v.33) Where did Pilate come up with this question? John doesn’t explain this to us.

It’s only as we read Luke’s account that we discover that the Jewish leaders were raising this charge to Pilate earlier in the trial (Lk. 23:1-3).

(18:34) Jesus presses Pilate on where he heard that.

(18:35) History tells us that Pilate was a fiercely anti-Semitic man. You can almost hear the scorn, when he asks, “I am not a Jew, am I?”

(18:36) How could Jesus say that his followers wouldn’t fight to make him king, when Peter chopped off the ear of Malchus that very night? Jesus claims that his followers would not fight to make him King Messiah (Jn. 18:36). However, this contradicts the earlier record in John that Peter did fight by chopping off Malchus’ ear (Jn. 18:10). If we only read John, this is a glaring difficulty.

However, when we read Luke, we find a resolution: Jesus healed the man’s ear after it was chopped off (Lk. 22:47-53). Therefore, Malchus couldn’t be produced as a witness to Pilate, because Jesus had healed him.

Why does Pilate not care that Jesus claims to be the King of the Jews? Pilate asks Jesus, “Are You the King of the Jews?” (Lk. 23:3) In a sense, Pilate was asking Jesus, “Are you leading a rebellion against Rome? Are you guilty of treason and sedition?”

Jesus calmly replies, “It is as you say” (Lk. 23:4, NASB) or “You have said so” (ESV) or “Yes, it is as you say” (NIV) or “You have said it” (NLT).

Does Pilate have him beaten, tortured, and crucified on the spot? No, Pilate immediately tells the chief priests, “I find no guilt in this man” (Lk. 23:5). How odd! Why would Pilate respond in this way?

John explains this difficulty (Jn. 18:33-38). In John’s account, he explains that Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm” (Jn. 18:36). Once Pilate discovers that Jesus is no political or military threat, it would make sense for him to absolve Jesus of guilt.

(18:37) Maybe Pilate thought that Jesus was a “philosopher king.”

(18:38) Why does Pilate ask this question? It shows his indifference to truth. This shows that Pilate is not “of the truth” (v.37). Carson comments, “The man in the dock invites his judge to be his follower, to align himself with those who are ‘of the truth’. Jesus is not dangerous; he may also be getting under Pilate’s skin. Either way, Pilate abruptly terminates the interrogation with a curt and cynical question: What is truth?—and just as abruptly turns away, either because he is convinced there is no answer, or, more likely, because he does not want to hear it.”[179]

(18:39-40) This “custom” is not mentioned elsewhere, but Morris writes that “there is nothing inherently unlikely about it.”[180] Pilate may have used the term “the King of the Jews” to win over the crowds, because he knew it was the Sanhedrin that was really driving this kangaroo court. However, the “ploy failed.”[181]

They choose a robber over the King.

John 19 (The Cross of Christ)

For more information on this, see “The Crucifixion of Christ.”

(19:1) Pilate didn’t necessarily scourge Jesus personally (the NASB note says, “Or had him scourged”). However, like a President giving the order for nuclear launch, Pilate was the one who was responsible.

(19:2) “A crown of thorns…” Rodney Whitacre writes, “The spikes on this plant can reach twelve inches long and were notorious for inflicting pain (cf. Midrash Rabbah on Num 3:1).”[182]

“Put a purple robe on Him…” Hellenistic vassal kings wore the color purple to express their royalty (1 Macc. 10:20; 11:58), as did Roman emperors like Tiberius (Suetonius, Tiberius, 17.2).[183]

(Jn. 19:2) Was Jesus’ robe “scarlet” or was it “purple”? (cf. Mk. 15:17; Mt. 27:28)

(19:3) There is great irony here: They are mocking him as the King of the Jews—even though he is the true King of the Jews. This is because “did not know Him” (Jn. 1:10).

(19:4) He didn’t find him guilty, but he still had him scourged (v.1). He presents the broken and bloody Jesus to show that he is not guilty of sedition. Carson writes, “Pilate is speaking with dripping irony: here is the man you find so dangerous and threatening: can you not see he is harmless and somewhat ridiculous? If the governor is thereby mocking Jesus, he is ridiculing the Jewish authorities with no less venom.”[184]

(19:5) This may be further irony from Pilate: This expression (“Behold, the man”) is similar to a messianic passage in Zechariah 6:12 (see NET note). If this is an allusion to this passage, then Pilate is (unknowingly) presenting Jesus as the Messiah—even though he is beaten and bloody.

In Latin, this expression is Ecce homo! (“Behold, the man!”).

(19:6) The religious leaders and officers led the call for crucifixion. They may have won over the crowds.

Why is Pilate hesitant to crucify him? It could be that he is anti-Semitic, and he doesn’t want to do what the Jewish people want. It could also be that he doesn’t want to act, because this could stir a riot. Whatever the reason, it was because he was “afraid” (v.8).

(19:7) They could be appealing to the law in Leviticus 24:16 (“The one who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death”).

(19:8) Why was Pilate “afraid” here? There are multiple reasons: (1) It could’ve been because of his wife’s dream (Mt. 27:19); (2) it could’ve been because he knew that the death of Jesus could start a riot; (3) since he was already in hot water with Tiberius for being loyal to Sejanus (see v.12 below).

(19:9) Since Pilate had rejected the significance of truth (Jn. 18:38), Jesus wouldn’t give him anymore answers, fulfilling Isaiah 53:7.

(19:10) Pilate tries to manipulate or muscle Jesus into talking. He’s saying, “I’ve got all of the authority here… I can kill you if I want to… Speak! Right now!”

(19:11) Jesus replies by saying, “You are not in authority. God is still in authority.”

Who is the one who delivered Jesus over? The Greek refers to a singular “he,” rather than a group. Is Jesus referring to Caiaphas? To Judas? To Satan?

(19:12) This threat from the religious authorities really makes sense if we hold to the AD 33 date for Jesus’ death. Emperor Tiberius held Pilate under suspicion of being an insurrectionist like his friend Lucius Sejanus. By threatening Pilate in this way (“you are no friend of Caesar”), this would’ve spooked Pilate into conceding to their demands (see “Dating Jesus’ Death: April 3, AD 33”).

Morris detects further irony here: “Again John is ironical, for there is a sense in which this is true, though not the sense in which the Jews meant it. Jesus was no revolutionary. A just judge could well release an innocent man and still be Caesar’s friend. But the claims of Christ are such that Caesar cannot have the principal place. In that sense it is really ‘Christ or Caesar?’ and John will not want his readers to miss this.”[185]

(19:13) Pilate is spooked by this threat. He brings Jesus out to the people.

(19:14) Is he mocking them by saying that this is their king?

(Jn. 19:14) Was Jesus crucified on the third hour or the sixth hour?

(19:15) This is another level of irony: They are bowing to Caesar, instead of bowing to their God in the flesh.

(19:16) Pilate signed off on the order to have Jesus killed.

(19:17) The NET note states, “The Latin word for the Greek (kranion) is calvaria. Thus the English word ‘Calvary’ is a transliteration of the Latin rather than a NT place name (cf. Luke 23:33 in the KJV).”

(19:18) This is such a brief mention of crucifixion. Why? In this culture, they knew all about crucifixion, and they didn’t need to go into all of the details.

(19:19-20) Pilate wrote this in three languages, so every literate person could understand the charge.

(19:21-22) Here is another level of irony: Jesus (the true King) was crucified for being the (supposed) King of the Jews.

(19:23-24) The “four parts” were the loin cloth, belt, head covering, and sandals.[186] In addition, Jesus had a seamless tunic. They cast lots for his clothing, fulfilling Psalm 22:18.

(19:25) Where are the male disciples? The women are the heroes here. They are the ones who had the courage to show up at the Cross. However, it’s important to note that John stayed at Jesus’ side as well (v.26).

(19:26) Why does Jesus commit his mother to the care of his beloved disciple, rather than his brothers? Jesus tells his beloved disciple to take care of his mother, Mary (Jn. 19:26-27). In first century Jewish culture, this would be quite odd! The mother would go into the care of her other sons, of which Mary had many.

We solve this problem by realizing that Jesus didn’t trust his brothers, because they weren’t believers in him (Jn. 7:5; Mk. 3:20-21; 6:4). This is not necessarily an undesigned coincidence between gospels, because John records the unbelief of Jesus’ brothers. However, it’s interesting to note.

(19:27) Even while going through the agony of the Cross, Jesus was still thinking of others—not himself. William Barclay notes, “There is something infinitely moving in the fact that Jesus in the agony of the Cross, in the moment when the salvation of the world hung in the balance, thought of the loneliness of His mother in the days when He was taken away.”[187]

(Jn. 19:28-30) Why does John cite Psalm 69:21 as a prediction of Jesus?

(19:29) “Hyssop” was used at the Passover meal (Ex. 12:22). It’s possible that John is showing a further fulfillment here for Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of the Passover with this throwaway detail.[188]

(19:30) Jesus refused this sour wine before the crucifixion (Mt. 27:34; Mk. 15:23), but he accepts it here so that he can whet his parched throat to make one final declaration: “It is finished!”

“It is finished!” The Greek word tetelestai comes from the root teleō, which means “to complete an activity or process, bring to an end, finish, complete” or “to carry out an obligation or demand, carry out, accomplish, perform, fulfill, keep” or “to pay what is due” (BDAG). Which definition did Jesus have in mind?

Jesus fulfilled the OT Scriptures. This is the way John uses the term in verse 28: “Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished (tetelestai), to fulfill (teleō) the Scripture, said, ‘I am thirsty.’”

Jesus demonstrated his full love for us. Earlier, John wrote: “Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end (telos)” (Jn. 13:1).

Jesus fully paid for our sins. As BDAG notes in its third definition, the term teleō was used in commercial settings for paying a debt—specifically taxes (e.g. Mt. 17:24; Lk. 20:22; Rom. 13:6). Archaeologists have found manuscript evidence in the second and third centuries that the terms tetel or tetelestai were used for the payment of debts.[189] This would fit with what Paul writes about Jesus’ finished work: “[Christ] canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col. 2:14).

“And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” When he did this, he said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk. 23:46). Jesus didn’t have his spirit taken away from him, but rather, he volitionally gave it up (cf. Jn. 10:17-18).

The burial of Jesus

(19:31) They wanted to expedite the death of the victims, because they didn’t want bodies hanging there on the Sabbath.

(19:32) This practice (Latin, crurifragium; or “crucifracture”) accelerated the death of the victim, because they couldn’t push up on their legs to breath properly. They would suffocate within minutes.

(19:33) These expert executioners didn’t feel the need to break Jesus’ legs. He was already dead.

(19:34) This is a key eyewitness detail (see v.35). Edwards, Gabel, and Hosmer write, “The water probably represented serous pleural and pericardial fluid, and would have preceded the flow of blood and been smaller in volume than the blood. Perhaps in the setting of hypovolemia and impending acute heart failure, pleural and pericardial effusions may have developed and would have added to the volume of apparent water. The blood, in contrast, may have originated from the right atrium or the right ventricle or perhaps from a hemopericardium.”[190]

(19:35) Only someone close to the body of Jesus would be able to take note of this. The other gospels don’t mention this detail, because they weren’t as close as John (vv.26-27).

(19:36) He could be citing Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12, or Psalm 34:20.

(19:37) He is citing Zechariah 12:10. John loosely cites this passage in Revelation 1:7 to refer to the return of Jesus in his Second Coming.

(19:38) Jesus had secret disciples. Joseph of Arimathea was afraid of his own people, because they were threatening excommunication (Jn. 9:22).

(19:39-40) Did Nicodemus also secretly come to Christ? (see Jn. 3). 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes are quite an expensive amount of spices. Why bring these if he wasn’t a believer?

(19:41) They buried him in a new tomb (Lk. 23:53). This was Joseph’s own tomb (Mt. 27:60).

(19:42) The tomb was near the place where Jesus was crucified.

John 20 (The Son rises!)

(20:1) Is there any significance to Jesus’ resurrection occurring on the “first day of the week”? It could be that John is showing that Jesus’ resurrection is the beginning of a “new creation.”

It’s dark outside, so Mary Magdalene can hardly see.

(20:2-3) She assumes many people (“they”) stole or moved the body. She came to Peter and John (“the other disciple whom Jesus loved”). Even though Peter had recently denied Christ in the last 36 hours, she still came to him.

(20:4) Could this be an allusion to the fact that John was a young man, while Peter is older (and slower in a foot race)?

(20:5) Jesus must’ve shaken off the linen wrappings after his resurrection.

(20:6) Peter entered the tomb to see it for himself, while John didn’t go in (v.5).

(20:7) The linen wrappings were in one place. The face cloth was rolled up. Jesus must’ve woken up and folded his laundry.

(20:8) John comes to faith at this moment. What was it about entering the tomb that led John to faith? Maybe he saw only one set of footprints on the cave floor? Maybe the predictions of Jesus finally came together for him.

(20:9) Yet John’s faith was real, but it was still in its infancy. He didn’t put two-and-two together regarding the OT predictions or Jesus’ predictions (Jn. 2:19-21).

(20:10) They head back to their homes. They had a lot to think about.

(20:11) Mary stays weeping at the tomb.

(20:12) To her surprise, she sees two angels inside the tomb, where Jesus’ body was laid. She must’ve realized that these were angels, because it seems that they just appeared inside the tomb.

(Jn. 20:12) Were there two angels or one?

(20:13) The angels ask her why she’s weeping, and Jesus asks her the same question (v.15). She’s confused and grieving over the absence of Jesus’ body.

(Jn. 20:14) Why doesn’t Mary recognize Jesus?

(20:15) She thinks Jesus moved the body… Consider the irony!

(20:16) When she hears his voice the second time, she realizes who he is.

(20:17) All throughout the gospel of John, Jesus always says “my Father” or “the Father.” However, very subtly, in John 20:17, Jesus switches to “your Father.” The reason Jesus could say “your Father” was because he had just taken up the Cross. Without the Cross, we couldn’t be children of God. Hebrews states, “Both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11).

(Jn. 20:17) Was Jesus married to Mary Magdelene?

(20:18) Mary is the first witness to the resurrection of Jesus. She quickly spreads the news to the other disciples.

(20:19) Interpreters disagree on whether this means that Jesus transported through the closed doors,[191] or perhaps he simply walked through them.[192] Others remain agnostic as to how Jesus came through the doors.[193] Regardless, Jesus had a supernatural ability to enter into a locked room. If we will be raised like Jesus, will we be able to supernaturally transport or perhaps walk through walls?

“Peace be with you…” Morris writes, “After their forsaking Jesus at the time of the arrest the disciples may well have expected rebuke or blame. Instead Jesus pronounces peace on them.”[194] After all, Jesus had promised them this peace a few days earlier (Jn. 14:27).

(20:20) Imagine the screaming and cheering in the room when they realized that Jesus had just beaten death. There were likely tears of joy.

(20:21) We are now on the same mission that Jesus was on—namely, reaching people with the gospel.

(Jn. 20:22) Does this support the Pentecostal notion of “Spirit baptism”?

(Jn. 20:23) Does this passage support the forgiveness of sins through a priest?

Thomas the skeptic

(20:24) Thomas wasn’t there to see this display. Where was he during this time? Mourning? Depressed? Confused?

(20:25) Thomas had just gone through turmoil, hearing that the man he followed for three years had just been killed. If he’s going to believe, he wants good evidence.

(20:26) Why does Jesus wait “eight days” to reveal himself to Thomas? Jesus kept appearing behind closed doors (see comments on verse 19).

(20:27) “Unbelief” occurs when we reject good evidence for Jesus. It’s possible that Thomas touched Jesus’ body for confirmation. And yet, the text never says that Thomas physically touched Jesus. Instead, he had merely “seen” Jesus, and trusted him.

(20:28) This is called the “Christological Climax” of John’s gospel. Jesus affirms Thomas’ affirmation and confession of his deity. The terms here are “Lord” (kyrios) and God (theos). Thomas doesn’t believe in an abstract sense, but rather personalizes this knowledge of Christ: “My Lord and my God.”

(Jn. 20:29) Does this passage support blind faith?

(20:30-31) Like Thomas, we too can come to faith in Jesus. That’s the purpose of the book.

John 21 (The restoration of Peter)

(Jn. 21) Is John 21 a later interpolation by the Johannine community?

(21:1) There is a bit of unfinished business that John feels the need to address before ending his gospel: the restoration of Peter. Remember, Peter had denied Christ. Now, Jesus comes to speak with Peter. What do you think Jesus will say to him?

(21:2) The disciples were gathered together after the death of Christ: Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John, and two other disciples.

(21:3) Peter went back to his fishing business.

(21:4) They couldn’t recognize him, because he was so far away. Remember, this was before glasses or contact lenses. They could see him from a distance. He was about a football field away (v.8).

(21:5-6) What is the symbolism of the great catch of fish? This must harken back to Jesus making the disciples “fishers of men” (Mt. 4:19). This entire event is reminiscent of how Peter originally came to Christ (Lk. 5:1-11).

(21:7) John realizes who was talking to them first. This could relate back to the empty tomb, where John was the first to believe (Jn. 20:8).

Peter was so impulsive that he put his clothes on to jump into the water.

(21:8) The other disciples just took the boat, rather than swimming frantically.

(21:9) Some interpreters see a parallel between the “charcoal fire” (anthrakia) here and the charcoal fire where Peter betrayed Jesus (Jn. 18:18). Is Jesus taking Peter back to his worst failure, so that he can redeem that failure and commission him for the work of ministry? If this is a connection, it is “very subtle indeed.”[195]

(21:10-11) This is such a specific number that it speaks to an eye-witness account in some measure. These weren’t bluegill. They were “large fish.”

(21:12) Now that they were up close, they knew it was Jesus.

(21:13)

(21:14) The first appearance was to the disciples, and the second was to the disciples with Thomas present (Jn. 20:19, 26).

(21:15-17) Here Jesus reminds Peter of his three-fold rejection, by asking him for a three-fold affirmation of love (Jn. 13:38). In other words, Jesus asks three times, because Peter denied him three times. When we read Matthew and Mark, we find that this question makes sense in light of Peter vowing to never abandon Christ—even if the other disciples did so (Mt. 26:31-35; Mk. 14:26-30).

The first two times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, he uses the Greek term agapao (i.e. sacrificial love). This third time, he uses the term phileo (i.e. brotherly love). Some commentators see no significance to these synonyms.[196] However, we see significance here: For one, Jesus’ use of the term agapao is set against Peter’s response of phileo. This isn’t simply using words interchangeably, but differently. Second, Jesus switches terms from agapao to phileo in his third usage, and this deeply grieves Peter. It’s possible that Peter is simply grieved at the three-fold questions (like the three-fold denial), but this could also show that Jesus is condescending to Peter’s level.

Jesus doesn’t threaten Peter with judgment or wrath. Instead, he picks up this broken man and puts him into service. Truly, Peter didn’t love Jesus the way that he should have, but Jesus is still willing to work with him.

(Jn. 21:15-17) Does this passage support the primacy of Peter as Roman Catholic theologians argue?

(Jn. 21:18) Does this passage preclude the imminency of the rapture?

(Jn. 21:18) Jesus contrasts the liberty of Peter as a wild young man with the conviction of Peter as an old man, being willing to die for Christ (v.19). Morris writes, “The words are very general, but there is evidence that the stretching forth of the hands was held in the early church to refer to crucifixion.”[197]

(21:19-22) Jesus is telling Peter to get his eyes off of others: “Stop comparing your suffering with others. You follow Me!” Believers shouldn’t compare their lot with others. Instead, they should keep their eyes fixed on Christ (Heb. 12:2).

(21:23) John must’ve been writing this to correct a common misconception in the early church. Jesus uses the subjunctive mood (“If I want…”), which means that this might happen—not that it definitely will happen.

(Jn. 21:24) Does this passage imply that the Johannine community wrote this book (or final chapter)?

(21:25) We are on a need to know basis. God made the account short, so we could meditate and focus on the most important aspects of Jesus’ life.

[1] Henry Bettenson, Documents of the Church (London: Oxford University Press, 2011), Kindle loc. 1070.

[2] Tenney, M. C. (1981). John. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9: John and Acts (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (5–6). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[3] Tenney, M. C. (1981). John. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9: John and Acts (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (5–6). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[4] Tenney, M. C. (1981). John. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9: John and Acts (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (5–6). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[5] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 68). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[6] C. H. Dodd, Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel (Cambridge University Press, 1963), p.2. Cited in Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 68). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[7] C. H. Dodd, Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel (Cambridge University Press, 1963), p.2. Cited in Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 68). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[8] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 72). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[9] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 22). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[10] Paul Barnett, Is the New Testament Reliable?: a Look at the Historical Evidence (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992), 63.

[11] Yamauchi, Edwin M. The Stones and the Scriptures. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1972. 102-103.

[12] Blomberg, Craig. The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel: Issues & Commentary. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002. 109.

[13] Hoffmeier, James Karl. The Archaeology of the Bible. Oxford: Lion, 2008. 148.

[14] Hoffmeier, James Karl. The Archaeology of the Bible. Oxford: Lion, 2008. 154.

[15] I. Abrahams, Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels, I (1917), p. 12. Cited in Bruce, F. F. The New Testament Documents. 6th ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981. 47.

[16] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 84). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[17] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 27). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[18] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 28). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[19] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 28). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[20] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 22). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[21] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 22). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[22] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 82, 85). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[23] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 29-30). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[24] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 14). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[25] John adds 145 words to Jesus that are unknown in the Synoptics. Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 52). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[26] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 15). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[27] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 42). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[28] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 85). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[29] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 92). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[30] Tenney, M. C. (1981). John. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9: John and Acts (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (33). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[31] Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991. 114.

[32] Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991. 114-115.

[33] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 65). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[34] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 69). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[35] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 80). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[36] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 81). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[37] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 81). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[38] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 85). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[39] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 90). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[40] D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991), 127.

[41] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 96). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[42] Flavius Josephus, Josephus Antiquities of the Jews, 18:116-119. Josephus puts a political spin on John’s execution, while the Synoptics place a moral and religious angle on it. These can be harmonized because the religious and political were so closely conjoined at this time.

[43] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 123). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[44] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 145). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[45] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 145). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[46] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (pp. 163–164). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[47] I am indebted to Dr. James Hoffmeier at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for this insight.

[48] Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991. 114.

[49] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 156). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[50] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[51] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 160). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[52] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 176). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[53] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 176). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. See footnote.

[54] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 176). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[55] Kruse, C. G. (2003). John: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 4, p. 110). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[56] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (pp. 203–204). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[57] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 205). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[58] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 207). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[59] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 213). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[60] Paul Barnett, Is the New Testament Reliable?: a Look at the Historical Evidence (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992), 62.

[61] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 228). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[62] Keener, Craig. The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Baker, 2003), p. 596-597.

[63] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 249). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Tenney, M. C. (1981). John. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: John and Acts (Vol. 9, p. 58). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[64] Paul Barnett, Is the New Testament Reliable?: a Look at the Historical Evidence (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992), 62.

[65] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 238). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[66] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 257). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[67] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 265). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[68] Blomberg, Craig. The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel: Issues & Commentary. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002. 109.

[69] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 267). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[70] Cited in Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 269). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[71] William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew (Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press, 1963), I, p. 124-125.

[72] White writes, “The reason they were so upset is that they had a belief that Yahweh ‘broke’ the Sabbath. That is, Yahweh kept the world spinning in its orbit, kept the sun shining or the rain falling, even on the Sabbath day. Thus, in one sense, God was above the Sabbath law because He continued to ‘work’ in maintaining the universe. You can see, then, why Jesus’ words offended them. He claimed the same right for himself! They are enraged that by calling God ‘Father’ in a way that was unique and special to himself, He was making himself equal with God. They knew that to be the Son of God was to be deity. The son is always like the father, and if Jesus is the Son of the Father in a special and unique way, He must be deity.” White, James R. The Forgotten Trinity. Minneapolis, MN. Baker Publishing Group. 1998. 87-88.

[73] See footnote. Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (pp. 273–274). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[74] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 280). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[75] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 285). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[76] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (pp. 289–290). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[77] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 303). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[78] Lydia McGrew, Hidden in Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts (Chillicothe, OH: DeWard Publishing Co., 2017), Kindle Location 1552.

[79] Carson states that “this suggests another miracle, possibly with an allusion to Psalm 107:23–32 (especially v. 30, ‘and he guided them to their desired haven’). This interpretation goes back at least as far as Origen. Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 276). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans. Kruse, C. G. (2003). John: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 4, p. 166). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[80] Michaels, J. R. (2010). The Gospel of John (p. 358). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[81] Morris isn’t sure which view is correct. Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 310). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[82] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 348). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[83] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 359). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[84] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 360). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[85] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 361). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[86] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 362). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[87] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 374). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[88] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 374). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[89] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 378). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[90] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 332). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[91] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 781). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[92] Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991. 335.

[93] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 782). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[94] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 783). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[95] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (pp. 785–786). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[96] William Temple, Readings in St. John’s Gospel (London, 1947). Cited in Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[97] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 420). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[98] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 420). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[99] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 421). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[100] See footnotes in Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 425). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[101] Keener, Craig. The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Baker, 2003), 777.

[102] Cited in Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 425). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[103] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 425). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[104] Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary on the New Testament (Intervarsity: Downer’s Grove, 1993), p. 288.

[105] Edersheim, A. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah: Volume 2. Bellingham, WA.. 1896. 783.

[106] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (pp. 437–438). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[107] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 438). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[108] Tenney, M. C. (1981). John. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9: John and Acts (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (107). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[109] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 447). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[110] Tenney, M. C. (1981). John. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9: John and Acts (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (108). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[111] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 456). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[112] Tenney, M. C. (1981). John. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: John and Acts (Vol. 9, p. 109). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[113] Kruse, C. G. (2003). John: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 4, p. 234). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[114] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 388). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[115] Beasley-Murray, G. R. (2002). John (Vol. 36, p. 171). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[116] Whitacre, R. A. (1999). John (Vol. 4, p. 263). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[117] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 391). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[118] Morris writes, “The predestinarian strain in this Gospel comes out in the reason given for their failure: ‘you are not my sheep.’ Christ’s ‘sheep’ know him (v. 14), but the knowledge of Christ is not the natural possession of anybody. Faith is always a gift of God.” Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 463). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[119] Millard Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987) p. 1010.

[120] Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991. 393.

[121] Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991. 411.

[122] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 485). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[123] ‘Dead’ Man Woke Up During Own Funeral In Zimbabwe, Witness Says” (June 15, 2013).

[124] Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991. 415.

[125] Billy Graham, Death and the Life After (Dallas, TX: Word Publishing, 2001), 116.

[126] Billy Graham, Death and the Life After (Dallas, TX: Word Publishing, 2001), 115.

[127] Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991. 415.

[128] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 493). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[129] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 498). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[130] Greg Laurie, As It Is In Heaven: How Eternity Brings Focus to What Really Matters (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014), 52.

[131] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 505). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[132] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 511). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[133] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 514). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[134] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 519). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[135] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 519). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[136] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 521). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[137] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 530). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[138] Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991. 463.

[139] Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991. 462.

[140] Contra Morris. Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 548). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[141] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 557). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[142] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 558). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[143] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 560). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[144] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (pp. 563–564). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[145] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 564). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[146] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 570). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[147] John Charles Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, St. John, 3 vols. (London, 1957). Cited in Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 574). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[148] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 574). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[149] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 578). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[150] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 595). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[151] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 600). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[152] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 598). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[153] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 605). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[154] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 617). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[155] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 618). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[156] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (pp. 618–619). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[157] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 534). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[158] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 534). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[159] Morris opts for the second view. Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 619). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[160] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 535). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[161] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (pp. 619–620). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[162] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 537). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[163] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (pp. 538–539). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[164] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 623). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[165] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 631). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[166] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 633). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[167]  Brown, C. Vol. 2: New international dictionary of New Testament theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1986. 48.

[168] Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991. 437.

[169] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 636). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[170] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 655). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[171] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 576). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[172] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 658). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[173] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 578). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[174] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 658). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[175] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 578). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[176] Cited in Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 675). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[177] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 589). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[178] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 591). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[179] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 595). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[180] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 683). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[181] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 683). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[182] Whitacre, R. A. (1999). John (Vol. 4, p. 447). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[183] Evans, C. A. (2001). Mark 8:27–16:20 (Vol. 34B, p. 490). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[184] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 598). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[185] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 706). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[186] See footnote. Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 715). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[187] William Barclay, The Gospel of John, 2 vols. (Edinburgh, 1956). Cited in Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 717). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[188] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 719). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[189] In a period that dates to the second and third century AD, Grenfell and Hunt write, “The fourteen papyri here grouped together are receipts for various taxes paid by persons transporting goods on baggage animals from the Fayoum to Memphis [in Egypt] and vice versa across the desert road… The formula in these fourteen papyri is with some variations as follows. It begins with the abbreviation tetel (which in one case… written out in full, tetelestai).” Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt, New Classical Fragments and Other Greek and Latin Papyri (London: Oxford University Press, 1897), 78, 79.

[190] Edwards, William D. Wesley J. Gabel, and Floyd E. Hosmer, “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ,” Journal of the American Medical Association. Vol. 255. No. 11. 21 March 1986. 1463.

[191] For instance, Boa and Bowman write, “The common assertion that Jesus ‘walked through walls’ is incorrect; the texts state that he suddenly appeared in or disappeared from the room, not that he walked through a wall.” Kenneth Boa and Robert Bowman, Sense and Nonsense About Heaven and Hell, 69.

[192] Carson writes, “As his resurrection body passed through the grave-clothes (v. 6–8), so it passed through the locked doors and simply ‘materialized.’” D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991), 646.

[193] Morris writes, “But since Scripture says nothing of the mode of Jesus’ entry into the room, we do well not to attempt to describe it closely. We can scarcely say more than that the risen Jesus was not limited by closed doors.” Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 745). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[194] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 745). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[195] See footnote. Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 671). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[196] John uses many synonyms in his gospel with no explicit meaning (Jn. 3:5). For instance, John is called the “disciple whom Jesus loved (agapao),” but in John 20:2, John uses the word phileo, rather than agapao. The terms are also used interchangeably for the Father’s love (Jn. 3:35; 5:20) and Jesus’ love for Lazarus (Jn. 11:5, 36). Even in this section, Jesus switches between “lambs” (v.15) and “sheep” (vv.16-17). Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 770). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 676). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[197] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 773). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.