Authorship, Date, Purpose, Theme and Style

Gospel of John
Authorship

About the author John the Apostle

The author was a Jew and an eyewitness of what he describes. The author does not identify himself until he comes to the end of his Gospel where he states simply that he is the “disciple whom Jesus loved”, which identifies him at once as the apostle John. The book consists largely of personal experiences of the author with Christ. “One may note all through the book evidences of any eye-witness in the vivid details.” The internal evidence of the Gospel points directly to the Apostle John, the son of Zebedee and Salome, as the author.

John was a fisherman in Galilee, a man of some means who had hired servants. He was a disciple of John the Baptist, and was not hard to convince that he should become a follower of Jesus after His baptism. Together with Peter and James, they form the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples. He also wrote the three Epistles of John and Revelation.

Date of the Gospel

The majority of scholars date the Gospel in the last decade of the first century. Church tradition says John lived to an old age and to have died a natural death at Ephesus about A.D. 100. He was the last survivor of the apostolic group. The Gospel was probably written later than the three Synoptic Gospels, about A.D 80-90.

Purpose

The author clearly states his purpose of writing in John 20:30-31.

Verse 30 – Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book.
Verse 31 – But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

He writes to win others to like faith in Christ. He writes for the specific purpose of bringing people to spiritual life through belief in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This Gospel was written so that its reader might believe that Jesus is the promised Savior, the Son of God, and that through their faith in him they may have life.

Theme

The deity of Jesus Christ is the theme of the book. The Divine Sonship of Jesus is set forth more than in anywhere else in the New Testament. Jesus is none other than “the only begotten of the Father”. The Deity of Christ is found in every chapter.

Style

John’s Gospel is very different from the other three. First, he does not give the attention to the historical framework which the others do. His major was more in the doctrinal and spiritual sides of the Gospel, since the other three writers had well covered other aspects. Again, he majors upon the witnesses to Christ’s deity. Witnessing is one of the most powerful thoughts in this Gospel. John gives more of Jesus’ discourse on the Holy Spirit than any other Gospel writer. He also uses more symbolism for Christ than any other Gospel writer, that is using 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.