The best way to form a first impression is to read John’s Gospel through, in one sitting if possible. Read quickly for an overall view, not stopping to ponder the details. Notice the passage subtitles in your Bible, if it includes them.
Questions to Keep in Mind
- What are your first impressions of this book? What overall impression does it give you of Jesus? Is there a lot of action, description, dialogue, doctrinal teaching, instructions for behavior, or what?
- What key words and phrases appear over and over?
- If you are familiar with any of the other three Gospels, how is John’s Gospel like and unlike them?
- Make a broad outline as you read through by giving a title to each chapter or section. To come up with a good title, ask yourself, “What was the author’s purpose in including this section? How does this section fit his overall purpose for writing?”
- After you have read through the whole book, pull your thoughts together into a summary statement. What would you say was John’s main purpose in writing this book?
Did this overview suggest questions you would like answered and topics you would like to pursue further as you study the book in detail? If so, jot them down to serve as personal objectives for your study.
Who Wrote the Gospel of John?
Few scholars today, besides conservative evangelicals, believe the ancient tradition that the apostle John wrote this gospel. Readers interested in this debate should consult the commentaries.
Despite the current fashion of opinion, the evidence points to a Palestinian Jew who had access to much eyewitness testimony about Jesus’ life, who had substantial authority in some part of the church, and who wrote before AD 100. The unanimous opinion of the church from AD 180 onward (we have no clear records before then) was that this person was John the apostle.
When Was the Gospel of John Written?
Modern scholars no longer find any good reason to date the book after AD 100, and some evidence suggests before AD 70. Anytime toward the end of John’s life seems reasonable.
Look over your notes so far and ask the Lord to help you see one or two areas He wants you to focus on in applying the passage to your life. Write down those general areas or specific ways in which you want to change and grow.
Content taken from John: LifeChange Bible Study. Copyright © 1988, 2010 by The Navigators. Used by permission of NavPress represented by Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.