Discuss the Gospel of John and what the significance of the Gospel of John is.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The Gospel of John is the fourth Gospel. It is said to have been written between 50 and 84 A.D. It is self-identified as having been written by the disciple John. He identifies himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23) and says, "This is the disciple which testifies of these things" (21:24). The Gospel of John is significant because it begins with a Creation statement then establishes Jesus' identity with the corroboration of a credible witness. It is further significant because John chooses to relay events that further reveal Jesus’ identity and gives him titles. It is yet further significant because the Gospel of John is the only Gospel of the four that elaborates upon the spiritual relationship Jesus has with God through the Holy Spirit (John 17), a relationship that Jesus extends to his followers, to whom love is extolled as the highest value. The Gospel ends with details that occurred after Jesus' resurrection from death when he communes with the disciples. This last is significant as it establishes the doctrine of the followers of Christ and reveals the nature of the resurrection Jesus offers his followers.

John opens with the famous words, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (1:1). John attributes the creation of all things to the Word. He then equates the Word with both life and light: "In him was life; and the life was the light of men" (1:4). Later, when John says "the Word became flesh" (1:14), it is logically inferred that this person (this "flesh") was not only the Word and human but also "life" and "light." After Jesus' baptism by water at the hand of Jesus’ witness, John the Baptist, he is further equated with the "Son of God" (1:34) and "the Lamb of God" (1:36), an allusion to the sacrificial lamb that bears Israel's sins at Passover. John signifies the importance of the manifold identity of Jesus by saying that Jesus provides the right to unity with God: "But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God" (1:12).

Throughout the Gospel, John adds to the titles of Jesus as a way of proving "that whosoever believes may in him have eternal life" (3:15). After various miracles, John relays the words Jesus chooses to identify himself using the "I am" name for God given in the Old Testament (Exodus 3:14). This means of identification is emphasized when he says, "before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58). One "I am" identity John records is, "I am the bread of life" (6:35). Another is, "I am the way and the truth and the life" (14:6). Another is, "I am the good shepherd" (10:11). These are metaphorical statements intended to provide understanding of the nature of the Word’s/the Lamb’s/God’s intended and desired relationship with humankind.

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