The Gospel according to John presents Jesus as the eternal Word of God, who “became a human being and lived among us.” (1.14) As the book itself says, this Gospel was written so that its readers might believe that Jesus is the promised Saviour, the Son of God, and that through their faith in him they might have life (20.31).
After an introduction that identifies the eternal Word of God with Jesus, the first part of the Gospel presents various miracles which show that Jesus is the promised Saviour, the Son of God. These are followed by discourses that explain what is revealed by the miracles. This part of the book tells how some people believed in Jesus and became his followers, while others opposed him and refused to believe. Chapters 13—17 record at length the close fellowship of Jesus with his disciples on the night of his arrest, and his words of preparation and encouragement to them on the eve of his crucifixion. The closing chapters tell of Jesus' arrest and trial, his crucifixion and resurrection, and his appearances to his disciples after the resurrection.
The story of the woman caught in adultery (8.1–11) is placed in brackets because many manuscripts and early translations omit it, while others include it in other places.
John emphasizes the gift of eternal life through Christ, a gift which begins now and which comes to those who respond to Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. A striking feature of John is the symbolic use of common things from everyday life to point to spiritual realities, such as water, bread, light, the shepherd and his sheep, and the grapevine and its fruit.
Outline of Contents
John the Baptist and the first disciples of Jesus 1.19–51
Jesus' public ministry 2.1—12.50
The last days in and near Jerusalem 13.1—19.42
The resurrection and appearances of the Lord 20.1–31
Epilogue: another appearance in Galilee 21.1–25
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