He Is Worthy : The Gospel According to John
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In this text Paul describes what it means to walk worthy of this gospel so that we can live in a manner that honors Christ and his sacrifice for us. Big Question: What does it mean for a Christian to walk worthy of the gospel of Christ as seen in Philippians and how can we practically live out this reality? In order to walk worthy of the gospel, we must remember our citizenship is in heaven.
He said:. Politeuomai conduct is the main verb in verses 27—30, which in the Greek is a single sentence. It comes from the root word polis city , which in earlier times usually referred to the city-states to which inhabitants gave their primary allegiance. The verb carries the basic meaning of being a citizen. But, by implication, it means being a good citizen, one whose conduct brings honor to the political body to whom one belongs. One of the ways that we walk worthy of the gospel is by making our aim and focus to reflect our citizenship in heaven.
This would have resonated with the Philippian church. Philippi had earned the distinction of a Roman colony. In fact, it would grant veteran soldiers citizenship if they went out to settle these colonies.
III. Faith moves us to worship Jesus
After years of faithful service, these colonies established by Rome eventually became Roman colonies—with all the rights and privileges of Rome. These colonies took great pride in their citizenship. They spoke the Latin language, wore Roman clothes, and their magistrates bore Roman titles. We see something of how important Roman citizenship was in Acts Paul was in Jerusalem and his presence in the temple caused a great uproar. Therefore, he was taken into custody by the Roman guard. When the soldiers heard this, they were shocked, and no one would flog or question him.
Great privileges and esteem came with being a citizen of Rome. Likewise, we should take great honor in our heavenly citizenship. As citizens of heaven we must have a new language, different clothing, and different attitudes. Always live as citizens of heaven. Application Question: How do we live as citizens of heaven with new language, clothing, and character? Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Paul says that one of the ways we stop conforming to the ways of this world is by changing our views.
We must change our thinking on what it means to be a success in life. In the Jewish culture the youngest served everybody, and therefore age was desired so one would no longer have to serve. However, Christ confronted their understanding of greatness—their understanding of success. He said greatness in the kingdom of heaven is the opposite of the world.
Greatness is in being last—it is in serving everybody. Christ said this was true greatness. Let your understanding and pursuit of success reflect your heavenly citizenship, not your earthly citizenship. We must change our thinking on what it means to be a man or a woman. Often the world perverts things. Men walk around thinking they must conquer as many women as possible. This thinking does not reflect the ethos of heaven.
Peter said this to Christian women:. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. Citizens of heaven are focused on the inward because this is the aspect that pleases God, not the outward. We must change our thinking by constantly studying and thinking on the Word of God.
The Word of God teaches us what a citizen of heaven should live and think like. Are you constantly transforming your thinking according to the Word of God? This is how a citizen of heaven should think. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices Colossians Being a citizen of heaven means continually taking off wrong thought patterns, wrong attitudes, and wrong actions in order to conform to our new citizenship.
As citizens of heaven we must keep ourselves from the pollution of the world. We must daily get rid of character traits unfitting of our new citizenship. Paul exhorted Timothy to not only flee evil desires but to pursue righteousness—to run after it. Being a citizen of heaven does not mean that you are perfect, but it should mean that you are in pursuit of perfection.
You are pursuing righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Can people tell that you are different? Can they tell that you talk differently, think differently, and have different goals in life? We must walk worthy of the gospel. The gospel has made us citizens of heaven, and we must live in a manner that represents that.
We should constantly be changing our thinking and getting rid of wrong attitudes and sin in our life. We must pursue godly character as a citizen of heaven. Christ purchased our heavenly citizenship, and it would be dishonoring to him and his gospel to live with disregard for it. Application Question: What are some other ways in which citizens of heaven should think and act differently than the world? What characteristics of the world is God calling you to get rid of?
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ so that—whether I come and see you or whether I remain absent—I should hear that you are standing firm in one spirit Philippians , NET. Paul says that one of the things that Christians should do in order to walk worthy of the gospel is to stand firm. But, what does it mean to stand firm?
Standing firm is war terminology. It is a picture of an army advancing against the gates of a kingdom and the soldiers standing firm fighting at the gates—not giving up any ground. This is the reality of the Christian life. Christians are always under attack both individually and as a community. In the context of Philippians, the church was receiving persecution, much like Paul was. Paul, at this time, was in prison for preaching the gospel. Some Christians might have been tempted to fall away from the faith—to go back to their former life styles—instead of continuing to follow Christ amidst persecution.
This is not only true with persecution, but it is also true with the influence of the world system. The world system is always trying to conform Christians into its very image Rom It confronts Christians in the classroom, the work place, the media—through TV and music—in order to make Christians give up their ground. Today we see the church being confronted with many issues. It is confronted on the issue of marriage. Scripture teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman, but many Christians have given up this belief in order to conform and show compassion for the world and their beliefs.
Some have given up their beliefs because they realize this view could cost them opportunities. It could cost them a promotion or a friendship. Therefore, many Christians have chosen to not stand firm. The church is confronted with issues like abortion—the value of life. It is confronted constantly on exclusivity of the gospel. Christians are told that the gospel is too narrow—too bigoted. They are challenged to accept many ways to God—to be pluralistic. Paul challenges this church and us to stand firm—to stand our ground in following God.
But we should also realize our attacks are not just from the world, but they are also from Satan specifically. This is what Paul taught in Ephesians Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Sometimes his attacks come emotionally through spiritual depression. They come physically through sickness, sleeplessness, and weariness. They come through harassment and sometimes persecution. These attacks come to push a Christian away from the faith. Remember what Christ said to Peter when Satan asked to sift him like wheat. He wanted Peter to doubt God.
He wanted Peter to ultimately turn away from Christ, and it is the same with us. Many Christians have left the church. They no longer believe the Bible. They have accepted the liberalism of the world and turned fully away from God. Interpretation Question: How can Christians stand their ground against the enemy? One of the ways that Satan turns people away from the faith is by division. He brings conflict and discord in a church in order to conquer it. We cannot fight this battle if we are walking in discord with our brother or sister.
The Philippian church, though in many ways was a model church, it also had problems. In Philippians two women were fighting. Since Paul mentions this in the letter, it must have been a serious situation that was probably causing the church to separate into factions. In chapter 3 some false teachers were teaching circumcision in the church. The enemy was very much involved in this church trying to divide it. However, while under attack, they needed to stay unified—walking in one spirit and as one man.
Paul realized that anger and unforgiveness in the church simply opened a door for the evil one to bring destruction. Anger and unforgiveness give Satan a strategic piece of property that he can attack from and potentially bring total devastation through. Christians stand their ground by being unified. We have to look at the context to tell how the word is being used.
One of the reasons many believe this could be referring to the Holy Spirit is because of similar language Paul used elsewhere. Another support could be how Paul calls the Ephesian church to stand firm against spiritual warfare, not in their own power, but by putting on the full armor of God. We need supernatural power to not be conformed to this world. We need supernatural power if we are going to stay unified in the church.
We need supernatural power to stand against the growing animosity and persecution coming from the world. We gain this power by being filled with the Spirit of God on a daily basis as we live in worship, prayer, the Word of God, and fellowship with the saints Ephesians We, as branches, must abide in the Vine, Jesus Christ, to have his power flow through us John You will find anger, jealousy, lust, and selfish ambition ruling over you.
You will find yourself slowly being drawn away from God and living more like the world. You can only fight this battle through the power of the Spirit of God. If we as a church are going to stand our ground, we must fully depend upon God. This is why the early church was a praying church. When persecuted, they would throw prayer meetings as in Acts After the apostles were threatened to no longer preach the Word of God, they called up the members of the church to pray, and God empowered them by the Spirit. Acts says this:. After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind. To be honest, as I look at the persecution the church is going through even in Western society, with homosexual marriage and the like, I cannot but feel it is a serious time to pray and fast. There will be a great exodus and a great falling away. In this hour we must stand firm in the Holy Spirit. We must be a praying church, an abiding church—otherwise we cannot hope to stand.
The time where complacent Christianity could survive is no more; we must be full of the Spirit, or we will not stand at all. Furthermore, as we look at the church today in comparison to the early church, we can easily tell why the church is no longer advancing. While the early church was dependent upon prayer and the Holy Spirit, we are dependent on programs, entertainment, and business principles instead of the power of the Spirit of God.
Paul said the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for casting down strongholds 2 Corinthians Our weapons are not secular—they do not come from secular wisdom. Our weapons are the weapons of God himself. If we are going to stand as a church in this increasingly dark age, we must be unified in truth, and we must be filled with the Spirit of God. We need his power to stand. Application Question: Do you agree that much of the contemporary church relies on secular wisdom and tactics instead of the power of God to stand and therefore is giving up much ground to the enemy?
If so, in what ways do we see this happening? How can the church again begin to be filled with the Spirit and the power of God in order to stand? Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ so that—whether I come and see you or whether I remain absent—I should hear that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, by contending side by side for the faith of the gospel Philippians , NET. It could refer to faith as in trusting the gospel.
It could refer to faith as in the doctrines in the gospel—the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. In the early church there were many attacks on the faith, just as there are today. In the church of Colosse a cult was attacking the deity of Christ. In the Corinthian church some were teaching that there was no resurrection at all 1 Cor In the Galatian church some were teaching salvation by works Gal Cults were attacking the foundation of the gospel.
We have the attacks of salvation by works—some teach salvation comes by faith plus works. We have attacks on the exclusivity of the gospel—some teach that Christ is just one way to salvation or that all will ultimately be saved. Some have attacked the very need for salvation by saying there ultimately is no judgment at all—there is no such thing as hell.
Many attack the foundation of the gospel primarily by attacking the reliability of the Word of God. This was the very first attack of Satan on Adam and Eve. In the same way, liberalism is attacking the foundation of the gospel in churches throughout the world. If the enemy can get us to doubt the Word of God, then soon we will doubt the gospel itself. The enemy also attacks the gospel by bringing persecution.
If you share that you are a Christian or your belief in the teachings of the faith, you will be attacked—left out when it comes time for promotion and mocked by friends. Satan works hard through shame and fear of retaliation to keep believers from sharing their faith. As in the early church, there is still a need to contend for the faith of the gospel.
Are you willing to contend for it? Are you willing to work together as a team to do so? Application Question: How can we contend for the faith of the gospel like an athletic team? Christians contend for the faith like a team by developing chemistry as each person does his part. No team can excel unless each person fulfills his role. This includes praying, giving, encouraging one another, and using our spiritual gifts. Every person must do his part in order for a team to be successful. When Christ sent the disciples out to share the gospel, he sent them out in twos in Mark 6.
He called them to go as a team in Acts The gospel advances as we work together—each person doing his part. We see this need for team work clearly in the life of Paul. While Paul was in prison, he constantly asked for prayer for open doors and for the Word of God to be spoken clearly and boldly through him.
Look at what he said to the Colossians:. Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Colossians Paul knew that if the gospel was going to advance, it would only happen with a team effort.
He could not do it on his own. He needed the support of the church. The church must be brought to complete unity in order for the work of the gospel to prosper. This is not just referring to the local church but churches throughout the world working together. Instead of competing, they must pray together, put their resources together, and support one another so that the world will know that God sent the Son.
Christians contend for the faith like a team by playing holy defense as they guard the gospel. One of the ways that Christians contend for the faith of the gospel is by guarding it. Look at what Paul said to Timothy:. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
The problem is to state the closest conceivable relationship and yet maintain a distinction. The discourse on the bread of life following the feeding of the multitude is found only in John ch. This is the closest John comes to a teaching concerning the Eucharist.
The visit to Jerusalem referred to in John has no parallel in the synoptic accounts. This visit was characterized by an acrimonious dialogue between Jesus and His friends who registered an increasing degree of skepticism The growing conviction on the part of the populace that He is what He claims to be is matched by a contrasting degree of hostility to the claim that He is the expected Messiah.
This conflict is dramatically portrayed following the healing of the blind man at the Pool of Siloam. The reader is enabled to see the issues laid bare. Effective use of contrast is made as the author delineates the reactions of the man himself, his parents, the Pharisees, and Jesus. The concept of shepherd was a familiar one to users of the OT Pss 23 ; 80 ; Ezek The raising of Lazarus is presented as a historical event, but the account leaves the reader wondering why it was not mentioned in the other gospels. Only John reports the interpretation voiced by Caiaphas concerning the necessity of putting Jesus to death - Especially prized by readers of the gospel are chs.
The role of the Paraclete —Comforter, Counselor, or Advocate—is found nowhere else in the Scriptures except in the first epistle of John 1 John An interesting parallel to the Spirit of Truth is seen in the Qumran lit. The conversation with Nicodemus well illustrates this sequence. John In this gospel, Nathanael and Thomas are given special attention. The relation of the beloved disciple and Peter is given prominence, with the beloved disciple on at least three occasions being the first to perceive the spiritual significance of what was being said and seen, and then sharing it with Peter ; ; Nicodemus is mentioned three times in John and nowhere else in the NT.
He appears first as a seeker, then as a defender in the Sanhedrin of justice and of Jesus, and finally as one of the last to place Him in the tomb ; ; These indicate that the fourth gospel presents an independent report from that of the other three. Although some scholars view this as a protest or a correction to the other three, most agree that it is designed to supplement rather than to alter the report of the other gospels.
Luke and John appear to have the most in common, but both show independence in presentation. All four evangelists drew on a common oral tradition. The fourth gospel is designed for the world at large, to convince the uncommitted The other gospels are written with a somewhat different purpose. Luke, for example, writes to believers to confirm their faith Luke It has been suggested that Matthew had in mind people of the Jewish nation because of his emphasis on fulfillment of prophecy. It has been suggested that Mark was concerned primarily with the Rom.
The eschatological element is not stressed in John. In the synoptics, John the Baptist predicts a coming judgment with the Messiah serving as judge, gathering the wheat and burning the chaff. This eschatological motif of judgment is lacking in the fourth gospel. In the synoptics, many of the parables deal with the last judgment, such as the parable of the tares and of the fish; John has nothing comparable.
The warning against hell fire, where the worm dies not and the fire is not quenched, prominent in the synoptics, is completely lacking in John. The synoptists, esp. In this gospel, therefore, the stress is upon evidence, witness to the evidence, belief and hindrances thereto. Demonology, so prominent in the synoptics, has no parallel in John, although three times Jesus is accused of being demon possessed John ; ; ; cf.
Mark In John is no specific mention of the ascension into heaven as is true of the synoptics and Acts. The theme of ascension, however, does appear in the gospel chs. This has led some scholars, with C. The relationship between Jesus and the Spirit is the most intimate, with the Spirit being subordinate to the Son The concept of righteousness is less prominent in John than in Paul. Whereas Paul speaks of the righteousness of God as the dominant factor with which man must reckon, John stresses such attributes of God as love and light.
Rom Paul is more concerned with Mount Sinai and its application to the Christian Gospel Gal 4 ; John dwells more in the wilderness with its symbolism of manna, fire, and water John By the ascension, John includes His death upon the cross that in itself is an ascension ; ; Because Paul thought in terms of law, his nomenclature is that of a court of law; hence his terms are adoption, justification, propitiation, and reconciliation.
John prefered the biological analogy of birth John ; ; cf. In eschatology, Paul gives much greater prominence to the return of Christ, the last judgment, and the restoration of all things to the jurisdiction of Christ. John seems less influenced by Jewish apocalypses. Both the gospel of John and the first epistle of Peter stress the concept of persecution and suffering for the sake of the Gospel. According to 1 Peter, the suffering is caused by external pressures, reflecting a period of persecution, presumably by the leaders of the Rom.
In the fourth gospel, however, the persecution is anticipated in the future and its similarity to the persecution of Jesus by the Jews is pointed out. In John, the chief antagonists of the Gospel light are the Jewish leaders, whereas in Peter, the opposition is not pinpointed, but presumably it is the pagan world. In John, the hostility is portrayed more in general principles, as the conflict between light and darkness, the two being mutually antagonistic. This is esp. Common to the first epistle of Peter and the fourth gospel is the concept of the new birth.
In both, the contrast between the newly born and the spiritually born is striking. In John, the two genealogies, or family trees, are conspicuous, esp. The same parallel is seen in the Qumran writings, esp. In Peter, the birth is through the Word of God. It is the Word that brings to birth and the Word that nourishes the newborn 1 Pet , 23 ; Another concept common to both John and Peter is that of shepherd.
The concept of feeding the sheep is found only in the fourth gospel and 1 Peter. In John, the prime virture is spiritual insight that leads to belief and hence to life and witnessing. In Peter, the virtues most urgently needed are those of constancy, of patience under test, of submission to authority, and of quiet continuing witness in a hostile world John ; cf.
The eschatological emphasis in 2 Peter is not paralleled in the fourth gospel, nor does the gospel give a great deal of attention to the matter of growth in grace of the believer as is true of 2 Peter Second Peter is a stirring summons to holy living in view of the imminent return of the Lord. In John, the emphasis is more upon embracing Christ as Lord and Savior and walking henceforth in His way of love.
Although C. Dodd and others doubt whether the same person wrote both the gospel and the epistle, the preponderance of evidence favors a common authorship of both. Even a superficial examination indicates the prominence in both gospel and first epistle of such elemental concepts as witness , light , love , truth. Common to both is the simplicity of diction linked with profundity of thought.
Thus in the epistle, the children of the devil and the children of God are in marked contrast not only with reference to their source of life, but in their relation to sin John ; 1 John He that is born of God does not commit sin, whereas he that does sin is of the devil 1 John In both the hostility of the world is stressed.
The central theme of both is spiritual life: it is not merely something temporal, or a continuation of the present life; it is rather a life that is different in nature. Because it is essentially spiritual rather than mental or physical, eternal life begins in the believer when he receives Christ John It is a qualitatively superior type of life that begins with belief and lasts into eternity.
Brotherly love is stressed in both, esp. The epistle is more concerned than is the gospel with expressing love in deeds, thus the epistle is the more practical of the two 1 John Among the differences is the fact that in the epistle there is no expressed concern for the apostasy of the nation of Israel. The Christology is different as well. Both these writings contain the term paraclete comforter , a term found nowhere else in the NT John ; 1 John Although the form and nomenclature is strikingly different, the basic theology of both the epistle to the Hebrews and the fourth gospel is the same.
In both there is stress upon Jesus as the Son of God; in both there is stress upon His condescension in taking human nature. The incarnation is spelled out more in detail in Hebrews, noting that incarnation involves sharing death with the rest of mankind Heb Both John and Hebrews lay stress upon the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness.
This appears in Hebrews chs. However, whereas John stresses belief as that which leads to life—a belief centering in Jesus as the Son of God; in Hebrews, faith is paradoxical in nature in that it is a conviction of realities visible only to spiritual eyes. It is this that enabled the heroes and heroines of old to survive obstacles and inherit life.
The humanity of Jesus is stressed perhaps more in Hebrews than in John. In John, there is little concern for the priesthood as such, either past or present. The purposes of the two are in contrast, as is easily apparent. John was written primarily to win the adherence of the masses to Jesus as Savior and Lord, whereas in Hebrews, the problem is to help the believers to be stabilized and not to abandon their faith in Jesus as their Lord.
The danger confronting Heb. The danger in John was conformity to the spirit of the age that had a basic hostility to divine revelation because it cherished its own ways, its pride, and its prejudices, and did not wish to be disturbed. The thought of the writers is quite distinct. In Hebrews, there is greater concern with the subjective effects of the atonement in cleansing the conscience from dead works to serve the living and true God. In John, relatively less concern is placed upon personal sanctity of the believer and more upon calling his attention to Christ.
In the epistle, Jesus is the leader, the author, and perfecter of faith; in the gospel, He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and the One who is worthy of being king, but who deliberately rejected this role. James and Jude. Parallels between the fourth gospel and the epistle of James are rare. Whereas John speaks of being born of the Spirit, James speaks of being brought forth by the word of truth—a different metaphor, but the same idea James To John, the crucial issue is entering by faith into the Christian fellowship, whereas in James there is an attempt to get Christians to be more than nominal adherents, to become sincere exemplars of the pure faith and of the wisdom that comes from above James Jude, like 2 Peter, is preoccupied with heresy and the Second Coming.
The need for sound doctrine is stressed more prominently than in the gospel of John. The fourth gospel contains phrases and ideas that make an understanding of its background more important and indispensable for adequate understanding of its message. For several decades debate concerning the predominant external influences on this gospel have been current. A generation ago, the prevailing view among critical scholars was that Gr. Recently there is a growing recognition that the prevailing influence was Hebraic. This position has been vastly strengthened by the discovery of lit.
The influence of the OT is very pronounced from the opening words of this gospel. The prologue is evocative of the Genesis account of creation with its account of the origin of light and life. Both Genesis and this gospel speak of all things originating with God through His word. Also included in the first ch.
In Paul, the Gospel replaces the Torah both in time and in splendor. In John, the OT themes of glory, light, water and manna are simply eclipsed by the splendor of the incarnate Son.
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Whereas Matthew goes from the OT to its fulfillment in Christ, John goes from the Incarnation back to its antecedents in the old covenant. The difficulty in ascertaining the extent of rabbinic influence on the fourth gospel arises from the fact that doctrines of the rabbis were not put in written form until the codification of the Mishnah about a. There is reason to believe, however, that the oral tradition behind this document extended, essentially in its extant form, back to the time of Jesus. The evidences that indicate a knowledge of Jewish exegesis on the part of the author of this gospel are quite impressive.
The sentence structure of this gospel is notably akin to that of the rabbis. This may be explained as due to the influence of the Aram. But, in any case, the Sem. In this respect, the evangelist stands closer to rabbinic usage than does either Paul or James.
A Manner of Life Worthy of the Gospel of Christ
The evangelist states that the incarnate Logos fulfills the functions of the Torah, but does it more effectively. Also, whereas the rabbis likened the Torah to water, wine, bread, and light, the evangelist links these concepts with Jesus. A similar defense of circumcising a child on the Sabbath was defended by Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariah. The rabbis maintained that if one of the members of the body was healed on the Sabbath following circumcision, how much more is the healing of the whole body commendable.
In the light of this, Jesus wondered why they were indignant at Him for giving help on the Sabbath to the whole man John In a similar manner, the rabbis agreed that in His capacity as judge, God did not rest on the Sabbath day; God maintains His judicial activities continuously. The rabbis taught that when the Messiah came, He would be hidden during His childhood and suddenly appear as a mature man ready to take control.
Some thought He would be hidden in Rome, others, the N, or Paradise, or in the sea. The author of this gospel must have heard these themes discussed in the synagogues. Scholars have been particularly intrigued by numerous parallels of thought and word between Philo and the fourth gospel, esp. Philo of Alexandria, who flourished during the time of Paul, reflects an intimate knowledge of Hel. His concern was to combine the two by means of allegorization of the OT.
The factors that have led many to conclude that the fourth gospel derived many of its ideas from Philo includes the following considerations. Both the evangelist and Philo emphasize light as symbolic of God. In Philo, the light of God is said to be the archetype of every other light De Somn. The conflict between light and darkness is also common to both. Philo observes that the Creator was aware of the essential conflict between light and darkness and parted them one from another by a wall of separation, evening and dawn being the boundary lines Philo, On the Creation IX, 33, Although both could have received the emphasis upon light from the OT, the conflict between light and darkness is less prominent in the OT than it is in either John or Philo.
Both John and Philo spoke of water as symbolic of life. Both emphasized the role of God as Shepherd and King, perhaps because both were influenced by the OT. Many of the parallels can best be explained as both authors drawing from a common source, rather than the evangelist borrowing from Philo. The differences are far more extensive than the similarities. The logos in Philo is impersonal; in John, personal. There is nothing in Philo comparable to the concept of the logos becoming flesh.
Whereas John is interested in symbolism, he did not allegorize as did the Alexandrian philosopher. After weighing the evidence, it seems clear that the significance of Philo is not that of a source for the thought of the fourth gospel, but rather as an evidence of an audience to which the fourth gospel sought to appeal. John, therefore, was a witness not of Greek ideas but to Greek ideas.
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls bears particularly upon the background of the fourth gospel, as they are contemporary. Particularly significant is the fact that all the Qumran lit. The numerous similarities between these people and their lit. The Essenes at Qumran believed themselves to be children of light and members of the New Covenant who were preparing in the desert for the coming of the Lord as urged by Isaiah Isa The scrolls speak of the spirit of truth, as does the fourth gospel, and also stress in common with John the eternal conflict between light and darkness, truth and error.
Like John, their dualism was a modified moral dualism, a conflict between the good and evil rather than a metaphysical dualism between matter and spirit. In both, the spirit is truth and is the vehicle of divine revelation 1QH ; cf.
- Pentti and Deathgirl.
- The Tale Hunters;
- The Gospel of John;
The verbal similarities between the fourth gospel and the Qumran lit. This fact virtually compels one to conclude that the dominant influence on the fourth gospel is Hebraic rather than Hel. It has been the contention of Rudolph Bultmann that the chief external factor in the fourth gospel is Gnosticism of the early 2nd cent. Gnosticism was a complex eclectic system of religious thought.
It was widespread throughout the Near E, esp. Previously, our knowledge of Gnosticism was dependent almost entirely upon the Christian apologists who looked upon it very negatively. Recent discoveries in Egypt, esp. There are many verbal similarities—but few ideological similarities between the Gospel of Truth , discovered in , and the gospel by John.
One similarity is in the concept of the logos who, in John, enables the believer to know the Father and who is called the Savior because His work is that of redemption. The logos of these writings, however, redeems not from sin but from error. This work appeared before the end of the 1st cent. In both cases, creation by way of the logos is affirmed. Common to both John and the Gnostics is the emphasis upon knowledge. Synonyms for knowledge appear frequently both in the first epistle of John and the gospel.
Divine life is said to come through the knowledge of God John The Gnostics also stressed that knowledge is that which gives life. Like the classical Greeks, the Gnostics named knowledge as the supreme virtue, placing it above obedience or love. Salvation was deliverance from ignorance rather than deliverance from sin.
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Those who were saved were those who professed knowledge or divine illumination. Salvation was not by faith but by insight. In John, however, the emphasis is upon belief, and knowledge was not regarded as an end in itself. Moreover, knowledge in the fourth gospel, like wisdom of the OT, is the knowledge of God, and it is something to which everyone may come by faith. It is not limited to a few. There are, of course, interesting parallels between Gnosticism and modern Christian Science : in both, the emphasis is upon salvation from matter rather than salvation from sin—the main interest in religion centering in the realm of knowledge rather than in grace and faith.
The same may be said for many facets of contemporary philosophical theology with its emphasis upon sophistication rather than on faith, love, and hope. In John, the emphasis is upon life—divine life clothed in humanity yet transcending it; not contaminated by proximity to the world and the flesh but transforming and redeeming it.
It is a qualitatively different type of life, which may begin now by acceptance of the light and extends in unbroken sequence into eternity, into the life of God. This obscure Mesopotamian sect came to the attention of Ger. The Mandeans professed to be disciples of John the Baptist. Walter Bauer and Rudolph Bultmann compared statements in the three extant books attributed to them—the Book of John, The Ginza, and the Qulasta—with the fourth gospel, and concluded that John had borrowed from the Mandeans the concept of a Redeemer who descends and ascends for the salvation of mankind.
Other parallels include that of the unity of Father and Son, the concept of the divine Shepherd, and the role of Son in bringing light. The parallels are rather impressive until one considers the contexts. Bultmann assumes that the Mandeans came from Pal. Burkitt, C. Dodd, and others, however, have shown that neither of these assumptions is true. The evidence demonstrates that this lit. In recent discussion of the Johannine problem, interest has shifted from authorship to purpose. The ostensible purpose is clearly stated: it is to provide evidence upon which to base faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God with the view of obtaining life eternal John It often has been observed that whereas Matthew had a Jewish audience in mind as he labored to show how OT prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus, and whereas Luke and Mark may have had the Gentile church esp.
Beyond this explicitly stated purpose of the fourth gospel, modern scholarship has pressed further into the underlying purpose. Oscar Cullmann, for example, believes that the gospel was designed primarily for Palestinian Jews who were influenced by Gr. Christians, whereas the fourth gospel reflects those ideas prized by the Gr. The fourth gospel, he believes, is designed to rehabilitate the latter. This intriguing hypothesis, however, rests upon rather scant evidence. Van Unnik argues that the gospel is designed primarily for the Jews of the dispersion—a missionary book designed to convince Jews outside of Pal.
He notes that the Johannine use of the term Messiah agrees with that of Paul, Apollos, and other evangelists as they labored among the Diaspora Acts ; ; , However fascinating these theories may be or however eager an innovator may be to devise some new theory in the light of recent literary and archeological evidence, a mature scholar is likely to be reticent.
The fourth gospel is a product of long reflection upon the synoptic tradition. He writes not so much to inform the reader as to confront him with the necessity for a decision. He is concerned with the moral and spiritual relevance of Gospel history to the issues of life for the reader and the world in general.
Christian tradition usually considered the gospel to have been written during the latter decade of the 1st cent. This is based both upon internal evidence and patristic writings. The tradition is that John the elder lived in Ephesus until a very old age Irenaeus. Critical scholarship for the most part came to favor a later date, early in the 2nd cent.
This was a result of a new understanding of contemporary lit. Scholars as E. Scott, Rudolph Bultmann, and C. Dodd, after noting words and ideas that seem more congenial to Hel. The high percentage of theological material in this gospel, in contrast to the relative paucity of this in the gospel by Mark, was explained as the result of the growth of tradition away from its historical source. Thus, in the words of F. A similar view is the basis for a revised edition of the gospel by D. Runes The Gospel According to St. John, New York . A reaction to this extreme led to another extreme in which some scholars as early as thought of John as among the earliest of the gospels because of its alleged Aram.
Before the recent scroll discoveries, scholars like W. Howard Christianity According to St. John  were pointing out the relative prominence of OT influence on this gospel. The Qumran lit. Grant, Earliest Lives of Jesus . The independence of the fourth gospel is also indicated. Another factor that argues strongly for an early date is the reflection in the gospel of the intense rivalry between church and synagogue. The hostility of the world that is luminous in every page, is not the pagan world as such, nor is it the synagogue exclusively, but it is a basic hostility to the Gospel which is seen first to stem from among the Jewish religious authorities, and which can be equally true of the Gentile world.
It seems unlikely that the issues that are so prominent in this gospel, namely, the Jewish hierarchy and the Temple, could be so prominent had the gospel been written after the fall of Jerusalem and the termination of Temple worship. Prior to a. Evidence from patristics, specifically Papias and Irenaeus, favor the elder of Ephesus who may well have been the apostle himself. When both internal and external evidence is weighed, there seems no compelling reason to deny to John the son of Zebedee the honor of being its author. From internal evidence it is apparent that the author was intimately acquainted with the Pal.
This is confirmed by the Qumran lit. That the author was an eyewitness to the events reported is indicated by the inclusion of details that are not strictly relevant to the story. Psychologically, they can best be explained as reminiscences rather than the result of historical imagination. If an eyewitness, a process of elimination leaves the son of Zebedee as the most probable candidate. In competition with it were many apocryphal gospels.
In other words, it has won its way, not so much on the basis of its alleged apostolicity as upon its intrinsic worth. To what extent is the portrait in the fourth gospel historically reliable? The older critics widely assumed that since John has more narrative, with less emphasis on activity than the synoptics, esp. Mark, it was more subjective and proportionately less valuable as history.
More recently, existential hermeneutics has said that historicity is less important than the kerygma, or proclamation of faith. John, like other writers of the NT, demanded a faith based upon fact, upon observable and verifiable data John ; 1 John Recent critical scholarship has now swung to a position generally favorable to the historical veracity of this account. At the same time it is apparent that this author was highly selective in his use of available material John He not only reports events, but also develops their significance. The author shows remarkable insight into the factors that help and hinder those who seek life eternal.
The items selected for elaboration show the central importance of response in faith to Christ. Scholars often have stressed the contrast between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith. Recently, as a reaction against existential hermeneutics, there has been a renewed demand to ascertain the historical facts surrounding Jesus. The gospel according to John is careful to stress both the historical Jesus and the Christ-centered faith that emerges. This gospel is even more Christological than the other three. For this reason attention is called not only to the idea of resurrection but to the fact that Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the life.
Commentaries : B. Westcott , ; E. Scott ; M. Lagrange , ; J. Bernard ICC ; W. Bauer ; A. Plummer, CGT ; E. Hoskyns, ed. Davey , ; R. Bultmann , ; W. Howard and A. Gossip, IB ; Wm. Hendriksen ; C. Lightfoot, ed. Evans ; W. Barclay ; A. Richardson , ; R. Turner and J. Mantey ; R. Brown, Anchor Bible , ; R. Fortna ; L. Morris Other Books and Articles : G. Stevens, The Johannine Theology ; E. Scott, The Fourth Gospel ; C. Gardner-Smith, St. John and the Synoptic Gospels ; W.
Howard, Christianity According to St. John ; E. Lee, The Religious Thought of St. John ; C. Howard, ed. Davies and Daube ; F. Cross, ed. The Fourth Gospel has a form peculiar to itself, as well as a characteristic style and attitude, which mark it as a unique document among the books of the New Testament. This is followed by a paragraph which describes the purpose of the Gospel, and the reason why it was written Joh , The concluding verses ,25 read: "This is the disciple that beareth witness of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his witness is true.
And there are also many other things which Jesus did," etc. Nor has this earliest testimony been discredited by the attacks made on it, and the natural meaning has been vindicated by many competent writers. The present tense, "beareth witness," indicates that the " disciple" who wrote the Gospel was still alive when the testimony was given. As to the time of the appearance of the Johannine literature, apart from the question as to the authorship of these writings, there is now a growing consensus of opinion that it arose at the end of the 1st century, or at the beginning of the 2nd century.
This is held by those who assign the authorship, not to any individual writer, but to a school at Ephesus, who partly worked up traditional material, and elaborated it into the form which the Johannine writings now have; by those also, as Spitta, who disintegrate the Gospel into a Grundschrift and a Bearbeitung compare his Das Johannes-Evangelium als Quelle der Geschichte Jesu, Whether the Gospel is looked on as a compilation of a school of theologians, or as the outcome of an editor who utilizes traditional material, or as the final outcome of theological evolution of certain Pauline conceptions, with few exceptions the appearance of the Johannine writings is dated early in the 2nd century.
One of the most distinguished of these exceptions is Schmiedel; another is the late Professor Pfleiderer. One may respect Pfleiderer in the region of philosophical inquiry, but in criticism he is a negligible quantity. And the writings of Schmiedel on the Johannine question are rapidly passing into the same category. Thus, the appearance of the Johannine writings at the end of the 1st century may safely be accepted as a sound historical conclusion. Slowly the critics who assigned their appearance to the middle of the 2nd century, or later, have retraced their steps, and assign the emergence of the Johannine writings to the time mentioned.
This does not, of course, settle the questions of the authorship, composition and trustworthiness of the Gospel, which must be determined on their merits, on the grounds of external, and still more of internal, evidence, but it does clear the way for a proper discussion of them, and gives us a terminus which must set a limit to all further speculation on matters of this kind. Only an outline of the external evidence for the Fourth Gospel, which concerns both date and authorship, can be given in this article.
All these and many others defend the Johannine authorship. On the other side, reference may be made to the author of Supernatural Religion, of which many editions have appeared. The external evidence is as follows. At the end of the 2nd century, the Christian church was in possession of four Gospels, which were used as sacred books, read in churches in public worship, held in honor as authoritative, and treated as part of a Canon of Scripture see Gospels.
One of these was the Fourth Gospel, universally ascribed to the apostle John as its author. We have the evidence on this point of Irenaeus, of Tertullian, of Clement of Alexandria , a little later of Origen. Clement is witness for the belief and practice of the church in Egypt and its neighborhood; Tertullian for the church in Africa; and Irenaeus, who was brought up in Asia Minor, was a teacher at Rome, and was bishop of Lyons in Gaul, for the churches in these lands. The belief was so unquestioned, that Irenaeus could give reasons for it which would of themselves have convinced no one who had not already had the conviction which the reasons were meant to sustain.
To discount the evidence of Irenaeus, Tertullian and Clement on the ground of the desire to find apostolic authorship for their sacred books, is not argument but mere assertion. There may have been such a tendency, but in the case of the four Gospels there is no proof that there was necessity for this at the end of the 2nd century.
For there is evidence of the belief in the apostolic authorship of two Gospels by apostles, and of two by companions of the apostles, as an existing fact in the churches long before the end of the 2nd century. The importance of the testimony of Irenaeus is measured by the efforts which have been made to invalidate his witness.
But these attempts fail in the presence of his historical position, and of the means at his command to ascertain the belief of the churches. There are many links of connection between Irenaeus and the apostolic age. There is specially his connection with Polycarp. He himself describes that relationship in his letter to Florinus, a fellow-disciple of Polycarp, who had lapsed into Gnosticism, in which he says, "I remember the events of that time more clearly than those of recent years.
For what boys learn, growing with their mind, becomes joined with it; so that I am able to describe the very place in which the blessed Polycarp sat as he discoursed, and his goings out and comings in, and the manner of his life, and his physical appearance and his discourses to the people, and the accounts which he gave of his intercourse with John and the others who had seen the Lord" Euseb. We cannot say what was the age of Irenaeus at that time, but he was of sufficient age to receive the impressions which, after many years, he recorded.
Polycarp was martyred in AD, and he had been a Christian for 86 years when he was martyred. Thus there was only one link between Irenaeus and the apostolic age. Another link was constituted by his association with Pothinus, his predecessor in Lyons. Pothinus was a very old man when he was martyred, and had in his possession the traditions of the church of Gaul. Thus, Irenaeus, through these and others, had the opportunity of knowing the belief of the churches, and what he records is not only his own personal testimony, but the universal tradition of the church. With Irenaeus should be adduced the apologist Theophilus circa , the earliest writer to mention John by name as the author of the Gospel.
In prefacing a quotation from the commencement of the prologue, he says, "This is what we learn from the sacred writings, and from all men animated by the Spirit, amongst whom John says" Ad Autol. From Irenaeus and Theophilus we ascend nearer to the middle of the 2nd century, and here we encounter the Diatessaron of Tatian, on which much need not be said.
The Diatessaron is likewise a Harmony of the four Gospels, and this Harmony dates not later than It begins with the 1st verse of the Fourth Gospel, and ends with the last verse of the appendix to the Gospel. Tatian was a pupil of Justin Martyr , and that fact alone renders it probable that the "Memoirs of the Apostles," which Justin quotes so often, were those which his pupil afterward combined in the Diatessaron.
That Justin knew the Fourth Gospel seems clear, though we cannot argue the question here. If he did, it follows that it was in existence about the year But there is evidence that helps us to trace the influence of the Fourth Gospel back to the year How unmistakable these traces are is shown by the fact that not infrequently this dependence of Ignatius upon John has been used as an argument against the genuineness of the Ignatian letters" Zahn, Introduction, III, This argument may now be safely used since the Epistles have been vindicated as historical documents by Lightfoot and by Zahn.
If the Ignatian Epistles are saturated with the tone and spirit of the Johannine writings, that goes to show that this mode of thought and expression was prevalent in the church of the time of Ignatius. Thus at the beginning of the 2nd century, that distinctive mode of thought and speech which we call Johannine had an existence. A further line of evidence in favor of the Gospel, which need only be referred to, lies in the use made of it by the Gnostics. That the Gospel was used by the Valentinians and Basilides has been shown by Dr. Drummond op.
To estimate aright the force of the above evidence, it is to be remembered that, as already observed, there were many disciples of the John of Ephesus, to whom the Johannine writings were ascribed, living far on in the 2nd century--bishops like Papias and Polycarp, the presbyters" so often mentioned by Irenaeus--forming a chain connecting the time of the origin of the Gospel with the latter half of the century.
Here arises the question, recently so largely canvassed, as to the identity of "the presbyter John" in the well-known fragment of Papias preserved by Euseb. Historia Ecclesiastica, III, Were there, as most, with Eusebius, understand, two Johns--apostle and presbyter compare e. Godet --or was there only one?
Philippians 1:27-30: A Life Worthy of the Gospel
If only one, was he the son of Zebedee? On these points wide difference of opinion prevails. Harnack holds that the presbyter was not the son of Zebedee; Sanday is doubtful; Moffatt believes that the presbyter was the only John at Ephesus. Zahn and Dom J. Chapman John the Presbyter and the Fourth Gospel, think also that there was only one John at Ephesus, but he was the son of Zebedee. It is hardly necessary to discuss the question here, for the tradition is explicit which connected the Gospel with the apostle John during the latter part of his residence in Ephesus--a residence which there is no sufficient ground for disputing see John, the Apostle.
On a fair consideration of the external evidence, therefore, we find that it is unusually strong. It is very seldom the case that conclusive proof of the existence and influence of a writing can be brought so near to the time of its publication as in the case of the Fourth Gospel. The date of its publication is at the end of the 1st century, or at the latest in the beginning of the 2nd.
Traces of its influence are found in the Epistles of Ignatius. The 1st Epistle of John is quoted in the Epistle of Polycarp chapter 7. The thought and style of the Gospel had influenced Justin Martyr. It is one of the four interwoven in the Diatessaron of Tatian. It was quoted, commented on, and interpreted by the Gnostics. In truth the external evidence for the early date and Johannine authorship of the Fourth Gospel is as great both in extent and variety as it is for any book of the New Testament, and far greater than any that we possess for any work of classical antiquity.
The history of the controversy on the Johannine authorship is not here entered into. Apart from the obscure sect of the Alogi who attributed the Gospel to Cerinthus! The attacks were vigorously repelled by other scholars Olshausen, Tholuck, Neander, Ebrard, Bleek, etc. Some adopted, in various forms and degrees, the hypothesis of an apostolic basis for the Gospel, regarded as the work of a later hand Weizsacker, Renan, etc. From this point the controversy has proceeded with an increasing dogmatism on the side of the opponents of the genuineness and trustworthiness of the Gospel, but not less firmness on the part of its defenders.
The present state of opinion is indicated in the text. The external evidence for the Fourth Gospel is criticized, but it is chiefly on internal grounds that the opposition to the Johannine authorship and historical trustworthiness of the Gospel is based. Stress is laid on the broad contrast which admittedly exists in style, character and plan, between the Fourth Gospel and the Synoptics; on its supposed philosophical dress the Logos-doctrine ; on alleged errors and contradictions; on the absence of progress in the narrative, etc. The defense of the Gospel is usually conducted by pointing out the different aims of the Gospel, rebutting exaggerations in the above objections, and showing that in a multitude of ways the author of the Gospel reveals his identity with the apostle John.
He was, e. The attestation in of those who knew the author in his lifetime is of the greatest weight in this connection. Instead of following these familiar lines of argument for which see Godet, Luthardt, Westcott, Ez. Abbot, Drummond, etc. The study of the Johannine writings in general, and of the Fourth Gospel in particular, has been approached in many ways and from various points of view.
One of the most common of these ways, in recent works, is that which assumes that here we have the product of Christian reflection on the facts disclosed in the other Gospels, and that these facts have been modified by the experience of the church, and reflect the consciousness of the church at the end of the 1st century or the beginning of the 2nd century.
By this time, it is assumed that the church, now mainly a Gentilechurch, has been greatly influenced by Greek-Roman culture, that she has been reflecting on the wonder of her own history, and has so modified the original tradition as to assimilate it to the new environment. In the Fourth Gospel, it is said, we have the highest and most elaborate presentation of the outcome of the process. Starting with Paul and his influence, Professor B.
Bacon traces for us the whole process until a school of theologians at Ephesus produced the Johannine writings, and the consciousness of the church was satisfied with the completeness of the new presentation of Christianity compare his Fourth Gospel in Research and Debate. Hellenistic ideas in Hebrew form, the facts of the Gospel so transformed as to be acceptable to the Hellenistic mind--this is what scholars of this class find in the Fourth Gospel.
Others again come to the Gospel with the presupposition that it is intended to present to the reader a complete view of the life of Jesus, that it is intended to supplement and to correct the statements of the Synoptics and to present Christ in such a form as to meet the new needs of the church at the beginning of the 2nd century. Others find a polemical aim in the Gospel. Weizsacker, e. He says, "There are the objections raised by the Jews against the church after its secession has been consummated, and after the development of the person of its Christ has passed through its most essential stages.
It is not a controversy of the lifetime, but that of the school carried back into the history of the life" Apostolic Age , II, One would have expected that a statement so forcibly put would have been supported by some evidence; that we might have some historical evidence regarding a controversy between Jew and church beyond what we have in the Fourth Gospel itself.
But nothing is offered by Weizsacker except the dictum that these are controversial topics carried on in the school, and that they are anachronisms as they stand. As it happens, we know from the Dial. Perhaps the most surprising of all the presuppositions with regard to the Fourth Gospel is that which lays great stress on the supposition that the book was largely intended to vindicate a Christian doctrine of the sacraments which flourished at the beginning of the 2nd century.
According to this presupposition, the Fourth Gospel set forth a doctrine of the sacraments which placed them in a unique position as a means of salvation. While scarcely contending that the doctrine of the sacraments held by the church of the 2nd century had reached that stage of development which meets us in the medieval church, it is, according to this view, far on the way toward that goal afterward reached.
We do not dwell on this view, for the exegesis that finds sacramentarianism in the Fourth Gospel is hopeless. That Gospel does not put the sacraments in the place of Christ. Finally, we do not find the contention of those who affirm that the Fourth Gospel was written with a view of making the gospel of Jesus more acceptable to the Gentiles any more satisfactory. As a matter of fact, the Gospel which was most acceptable to the Gentiles was the Gospel according to Mt.
It is more frequently quoted than any other. In the writings of the early church, it is quoted as often as all the other Gospels put together. The Fourth Gospel did not come into prominence in the Christian church until the rise of the Christological controversies in the 3rd century.