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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible


- John

by Arthur Peake



Relation to the Synoptic Gospels.— The differences between the Fourth and the other Gospels are too obvious to need emphasis. From the second century onwards, they have constituted a difficult problem. The answer of Alexandria in the second century, that the “ Spiritual” Gospel was written later, when the “ bodily” events had been recorded in the first three, still holds the field. Details must be dealt with, so far as space permits, in the notes, but the chief lines of difference may be conveniently summarised here.

( a) Subject-matter.— With the exceptions of John 1:19-34 (the Baptist), John 2:13-16 (Temple cleansing), perhaps John 4:46-54 (healing of nobleman’ s son), John 12:1-8 (anointing), John 12:12-16 (triumphal entry) and the history of the Passion and (?) Resurrection, the Fourth Gospel breaks altogether new ground. In the common sections it is claimed that it shows literary dependence on the Synoptic Gospels, and the author certainly assumes that his readers know their contents. But he has other independent sources of information.

( b) Duration of the Ministry.— The old contrast of a synoptic account of one year’ s ministry (the “ acceptable year of the Lord” ) and a ministry of 3½ years (in Jn.), needs serious modification. Mk. suggests a ministry ending with a Passover, in which the period of ripe corn occurred, not at the beginning, i.e. a ministry of more than one year. Jn., even if the reference to a Passover in John 6:4 is part of the original text, need not imply a ministry of much more than two years (p. 653). Jn. does, however, leave the impression of a longer ministry than the Synoptists suggest.

( c) Scene of Ministry.— In the Synoptic Gospels this is Galilee, [81] with one first and final visit to Jerusalem, at the Passover, when He was crucified. In Jn. the scene passes backwards and forwards between Jerusalem and Galilee, the former being the scene of His most important work. The exact order of events and number of visits to Judæ a and Jerusalem depends on the question whether the gospel, as we have it, represents the original arrangement of the matter out of which it has grown. But there is no doubt as to the prominence of work in the south. The cleansing of the Temple is recorded in connexion with the earliest public visit to Jerusalem, its natural place if more than one visit occurred.