Gospel of John

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For more information, see the Skeptic's Annotated Bible article:
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Books of the Bible

The Gospel According to John, also known as The Gospel of John, is the fourth, and traditionally last, gospel of the New Testament. Historians generally agree that it was written between 90 and 100 CE, but disagree with the assertion of many Christians that the author was John the Evangelist. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

"Critical analysis makes it difficult to accept the idea that the gospel as it now stands was written by one person. John 21 Bible-icon.png seems to have been added after the gospel was completed; it exhibits a Greek style somewhat different from that of the rest of the work. The prologue (John 1:1-18) apparently contains an independent hymn, subsequently adapted to serve as a preface to the gospel. Within the gospel itself there are also some inconsistencies, e.g., there are two endings of Jesus' discourse in the upper room (John 14:31 Bible-icon.png; John 18:1 Bible-icon.png). To solve these problems, scholars have proposed various rearrangements that would produce a smoother order. [1]"

Some scholars, such as Dr. Steve Hunt of Gordon College, suggest that a more probable author of the Gospel was Lazarus. [2]



The style and teachings of Jesus are significantly different when compared to the synoptic gospels. Jesus is portrayed as more egotistical than before. John 8:12 Bible-icon.png The central message in John is “believe in Jesus and have eternal life (or else)”, although we should also “love one another” John 13:34 Bible-icon.png. The latter is claimed to be a new commandment, which seems in contradiction to the previous statements of “love thy neighbour” being already part of religious law:

"He [Jesus] said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he [a certain lawyer] answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself."

Luke 10:26-27 Bible-icon.png

The synoptic gospels emphasise the duty of obeying god, loving thy neighbour, forgiveness of sin and having faith. These are very minor themes in the Gospel of John. The synoptic gospels have Jesus teaching almost always in parables (Mark 4:2 Bible-icon.png, Matthew 13:34 Bible-icon.png) but in John he generally uses long metaphorical discourses. The discourses in John are quite abstract and contain rhetorical paradoxes e.g.

"Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me."

John 12:44 Bible-icon.png

The abandonment of parables in John seems inconsistent with the other gospels. The discourses in John can be interpreted in many different ways; even his disciples were confused by Jesus's method of teaching. John 8:43 Bible-icon.png In consequence, the Bible is no longer plainly understandable but requires an army specialist bible interpreters (notably a human institution) which provides “the truth”. The metaphorical style in John is basically obscurantism.

John also has significantly less miracles than the other gospels. Since miracles usually were accompanied by the teaching “with faith anything is possible”, this teaching is not as evident in John.

Strangely, Jesus seems to encourage Judas Iscariot to betray him. John 13:27 Bible-icon.png

Notable passages

John 3:16

John 3:16 Bible-icon.png is among the most quoted verses in the Bible. The phrase "John 3:16" is nearly ubiquitous at sporting events, written on signs by faithful fans. The text of the verse encapsulates the basic story of Jesus:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

While this quotation is often used by Christians in conversation with atheists (and anyone else, for that matter), it is not entirely clear what the purpose of using it is. The phrase is so well-known that it is unlikely that any adult atheist in a predominantly Christian society has not heard it before, and since the atheist is unlikely to consider the Bible an authority on the matter of God's existence, it seems like this quotation would have little conversion power. As with any claim about the existence of God, the divinity of Jesus, or the authority of the Bible, the necessary component for belief is evidence. Just because it's widely known doesn't mean it's true.


  1. [1]
  2. Hunt, Steven. The Gospel of John. 2011 Gordon College.

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