Click to donate today!
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
John, Gospel of.
The fourth in order of the evangelical narratives in nearly all editions, though a few MSS. place it immediately after Matthew. (See GOSPELS).
I. Genuineness. — There is no reason to doubt that the fourth Gospel was from the beginning received in the Church as the production of the apostle whose name it bears. We may decline to accept as a testimony for this the statement at the close of the Gospel itself (John 21:24), for this can have the force of an independent testimony only on the supposition that the passage was added by another hand; and though there is an evident allusion in 2 Peter 1:14 to what is recorded in John 21:18-19, yet, as that saying of the Lord was one which tradition would be sure to send forth among the brethren (compare John 21:23), it cannot be inferred from Peter's allusion to it that it was then put on record as we have it in the Gospel. We may also admit that the passages in the writings of the apostolic fathers which have been adduced as evincing, on their part, acquaintance with this Gospel are not decisive. The passages usually cited for this purpose are Barnab. Ep. 5, 6, 12 (comp. John 3:14); Herm. Past. Sim. 9, 12 (compare John 10:7; John 10:9; John 14:6); Ignat, Ad Magnes. 7 (comp. John 12:49; John 10:30; John 14:11). See Lardner, Works, vol. 2. All of them may owe their accordance with John's statements to the influence of true tradition, or to the necessary resemblance of the just utterance of Christian thought and feeling by different men; though in three other passages cited from Ignatius (Ad Romans 7; Ad Trall. 8; and Ad Philad. 7) the coincidence of the first two with John 6:32 sq., and of the last with John 3:8, is almost too close to be accounted for in this way (Ebrard, Evang. Joh. p, 102; Rothe, Anfä nge der Christl. Kirche, p. 715). But Eusebius attests that this Gospel was among the books universally received in the Church (Hist. Eccles. 3, 25); and it cannot be doubted that it formed part of the canon of the churches, both of the East and West, before the end of the 2d century. (See CANON).
It is in the Peshito, and in the Muratori Fragment. It is quoted or referred to by Justin Martyr (Apol. 1, 52, 61; 2, 6; c. Tryph. 105, etc.; compare Olshausen, Echtheit der Kan. Evv. p. 304 sq.), by Tatian (Orat. ad Groecos, 4, 13, 19), who, indeed, composed a Diatessaron (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. 4, 29; Theod. Hoeret. Fab. 1, 20), in preparing which he must have had this gospel before him; in the Epistle of the Church at Vienne and Lyons (Euseb. 5, 1); by Melito of Sardes (see Pitra; Spicileg. Solmense, 1, Prolegom. p. 5, Paris, 1852); by Athenagoras (Leg. pro Christ. 10); by Apollinaris (Frag. Chronicles Pasch. p. 14, ed. Dindorf); by Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus (Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 5, 24); and in the Clementine Homilies (19, 22, ed. Dressel, 1853), in such a way that not only is its existence proved, but evidence is afforded of the esteem in which it was held as canonical from the middle of the 2d century. Still more precise is the testimony of Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, who not only composed a Harmony of the four evangelists (Jerome, De viris Illust. 25; Ep. 151, ad Algasiam), but in an extant work (ad Autol. 2, 22) expressly quotes John 1:1 as part of holy Scripture, and as the production of the apostle, whom he ranks among the πνευματοφόροι .
More important still is the testimony of Irenaeus (Hoer. 3, 11, 3, p. 218, ed. Grabe), both because of his acquaintance in early youth with Polycarp, and because of the distinctness and confidence with which he asserts the Johannean origin of this Gospel. (See IRENAEUS).
To these testimonies may be added that of Celsus, the enemy of the Christians, who, in preparing his attack upon them, evidently had the four canonical Gospels before him, and of whose citations from them some are undoubtedly from that of John (compare Olshausen, ut sup. p. 349, 355; Lü cke, Comment. 1, 68 sq., 3d edit.); which shows that, at the time when he wrote, this Gospel must have been in general acceptance by the Christians as canonical. The heretic Marcion, also, in rejecting this Gospel on dogmatical grounds, is a witness to the fact that its canonical authority was generally held by the Christians (Tertull. c. Marcion, 4, 5; De Carne Christi). That the Gospel was recognized as canonical by the Valentinians, one of the most important sects of the 2d century, is placed beyond doubt by the statement of Irenaeus (Hoer. 3, 11), and by the fact that it is quoted by Ptolemaeus, a disciple of Valentinus (Epiphan. Hoer. 33, 3), and was commented on by Heracleon, another of his disciples, both of whom lived about the middle of the 2d century. That Valentinus himself knew and used the book is rendered probable by this, and by the statement of Tertullian (De Proescr. Hoeret. 38), that Valentinus accepted the Biblical canon entire, though he perverted its meaning; and this probability is raised to certainty by the fact that, in the recently discovered work of Hippolytus, Valentinus is found twice (Philosoph. 6, 33, 34, ed. Miller) citing the phrase ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, as applied to the devil, which occurs only in John's Gospel, and repeatedly there (12, 31; 14:30; 16:11); and also quoting the saying, John 10:8, as the word of Christ. From the same source also (7, 22, 27, p. 232, 242) we learn that Basilides was acquainted with John's Gospel, and cited it; and this brings us up to the beginning of the 2d century, within a short time of the apostle's death.
This concurrence of external testimony is the more noticeable as there are certain peculiarities in the fourth Gospel which would have thrown suspicion on its genuineness had not that been placed beyond doubt by the knowledge which the Christians had of its having proceeded from the pen of John. Such pre the prominence given to the extra-Galilean ministry of our Lord the record of remarkable miracles, such as the healing of the impotent man (ch. 5), of the blind man (ch. 9), the raising from the dead of Lazarus, and others, omitted by the other evangelists; the insertion of so many discourses of Jesus, of which no hint is found in the other Gospels, as well as the omission of remarkable facts in the evangelic history, especially the institution of the supper and the agony in the garden; and certain important apparent discrepancies between this and the synoptical Gospels. In perfect keeping with this assumption, also, is the entire tone, spirit, and character of the Gospel; it is emphatically, as Clement of Alexandria calls it, the πνευματικὸν εὐαγγέλιον, and breathes throughout the spirit which was characteristic of "the disciple whom Jesus loved." The work is evidently the production of one who was, as the writer professes to be (John 1:14 [comp. 1 John 1:1; 1 John 4:14]; John 19:35; John 21:24), an eyewitness of what he narrates; and there is a simplicity, a naturalness, and a vividness in the whole narrative, which no forger of a later age could have attained — which the very consciousness of composing what was intended to be an imposition would have precluded.
The remarkable manner also in which the writer avoids introducing John by name (John 13:23; John 19:16; John 20:2-4; John 21:7; John 21:24) affords additional evidence that John himself was the writer. It has been urged also by some (Bleek, Ebrard, Credner) that the use of the simple Ι᾿ωάννης, without in any case the addition of the usual ὁ Βαπτιστής, to designate the Baptist, in this Gospel, is an evidence of its being the production of John the apostle, on the ground that, "supposing the apostle not to be the writer, one would expect that he should, like the Synoptists, discriminate the Baptist from the apostle by this epithet, whereas, supposing the apostle himself to be the writer, he would feel less prompted to do so" (Bleek, Einleit. in das N.T. p. 148); but to this much weight cannot be attached; for, though it is probable that a writer, taking his materials from the other evangelists, would have designated John as they do, and though, as Meyer suggests (Krit. Exeget. Comm., Einleitung in das Ev. des Johannes, p. 23), it is probable that John, who had been a disciple of the Baptist, might prefer speaking of him by the name by which he had been accustomed to designate him during their personal intercourse rather than by his historical name, yet, as we cannot tell what considerations might have occurred to a forger writing in the apostle's name to induce him to drop the distinctive epithet, it is hardly competent for us to accept this omission as a proof that the work is not the production of a forger. It is needless to press every minute particular into the service of the argument for the genuineness of this Gospel; it is impossible to read it without feeling that it is Johannean in all its parts, and that, had it been the production of any other than the apostle, that other must in mind, spirit, affection, circumstances, and character, have been a second John. Attempts to impugn the genuineness of this Gospel have been comparatively recent (Guerike, Einleitung, p. 303).
The work of Bretschneider, entitled Probabilia de Evangelii et Epp. Johannis apost. indole et origine (Lips. 1820), is the earliest formal attack of any importance made upon it; and this, the author has himself assured us, was made by him with a view to exciting anew and extending inquiry into the genuineness of the Johannean writings, an end which, he adds, has been gained, so that the doubts he suggested may be regarded as discharged (Dogmatik, 1, 268, 3d ed.). Since that work appeared, the claims of the Gospel have been opposed by Strauss in his Leben Jesu; by Weisse in his Evangelische Geschichte; by Lü tzelberger (Die Kirchliche Tradition ub. d. Apost. Joh. Lpz. 1848, and in many other forms since); by Baur (Krit. Untersuch. ü ber die Kanonischen Evang.); by Hilgenfeld (Des Evang. und die Briefe Joh. nach ihrem Lehrbegr. dargestellt, Halle, 1849), and by others. But the reasons advanced by these writers have so little force, and have been so thoroughly replied to, that even in Germany the general opinion has reverted to the ancient and catholic belief in respect of the authorship of the fourth Gospel. See Tholuck, Glaubwü rdigkeit der Evangel. Gesch.; Ebrard. Kritik d. Evangel. Geschichte (Zü r. 1850, 2d ed.); Ewald, Jahrbuch, 3, 146; 5, 178; Meyer, Kritik. Exeg. Comm. 2, Th. 2 Abt. (Gö tt. 1856, 3d edit.); Bleek, Einl. in das N.T. (Berlin, 1862); Davidson, Introduction to the New Test. 1, 233 sq.; Schaff, Church History (Apostolic Age), § 105. The importance of the fourth Gospel as a proof of the divine character of Jesus Christ led to this special assault on its genuineness by the Rationalists of the Tü bingen school and their imitators elsewhere, but without shaking the convictions of the Church at large. (See JESUS CHRIST).
For further details of the controversy, see Fisher, Supernat. Origin of Christianity (new edit. N.Y. 1870); Pressense, Apostol. Age (N.Y. 1871), p. 509 sq. (See RATIONALISM). The most important other express treatises in opposition to the authenticity of John's Gospel are those of Bruno Bauer (Brem. 1840, Berl. 1850), Zeller (Jahrb. 1845 sq.), Kö stlin (ib. 1853), Volkmar (in several works and arts. in Germ. journals). Scholten (Leid. 1864, etc.), Matthes (ib. 1867), Tayler (Lond. 1867); in favor, Stein (Brandenb. 1822), Crome (Lpzg. 1824), Hauff (Nü rnb. 1831, and in the Stud. und Krit. 1846, 1849), Weitzel (ib. 1849), Mayer (Schaffh. 1854), Schneider (Berl. 1854), Tischendorf (Lpzg. 1865 and since), Riggenbach (Basel, 1866), Witticher (Elberf. 1869), Pfeiffer (St. Gall. 1870), Row (in the Journal of Sacred Lit. 1865, 1866, etc.), Clarke (in the Christian Examiner, 1868); see also the Brit. and For. Ev. Rev. July, 1861, p. 553; Westminster Rev. Ap. 1865, p. 192.
III. Integrity. — Certain portions of this Gospel have been regarded as interpolations or later additions, even by those who accept the Gospel as a whole as the work of John. One of these is the closing part of John 1:2, from ἐκδεχομένων, and the whole of John 1:4, in regard to which the critical authorities fluctuate, and which contain statements that give a legendary aspect to the narrative, such as belongs to no other of the miracles related in the Gospels. Both are rejected by Tischendorf, but retained by Lachmann; and the same diversity of judgment appears among interpreters, some rejecting both passages (Lü cke, Tholuck, Olshausen), others retaining both (Buckner), others rejecting John 1:4, but retaining John 1:2 (Ewald), while some leave the whole in doubt (De Wette).
Another doubtful portion is the section relating to the woman taken in adultery (John 7:53 to John 8:11). This is regarded as an interpolation because of the deficiency of critical evidence in its favor (see Tischendorf or Alford, ad loc.), and because of reasons founded on the passage itself, viz. the apparently forced way in which it is connected with what precedes by means of John 7:53; the interruption caused by it to the course of the narrative, the words in John 8:12 being evidently in continuation of what precedes this section; the alleged going of Jesus to the Mount of Olives and return to Jerusalem, which would place this occurrence in the last residence of our Lord in Jerusalem (Luke 21:37); the absence of the characteristic usage of the ουν, which John so constantly introduces into his narratives, and for which we have in this section δέ, used as John generally uses ο à ν; and the presence of the expressions ὄρθρον, πᾶς ὁ λαός καθίσας ἐδίδασκεν αὐτούς, οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ φαρισαῖοι, ἐπιμένειν, ἀναμάρτητος, καταλείπεσθαι and κατακρίνειν, which are foreign to John's style. On the other side, it is urged that the section contains, as Calvin says, "Nihil apostolico spiritu indignum," that it has no appearance of a later legend, but bears every trace of an original account-of a very probable fact, and that it has a considerable amount of diplomatic evidence in its favor. The question is one which hardly admits of a decided answer. The preponderance of evidence is, undoubtedly against the Johannean origin of the section, and it has consequently been regarded as an interpolation by the great majority of critics and interpreters, including among the latter Calvin, Beza, Tittmann, Tholuck, Olshausen, Lü cke, and Luthardt, as well as Grotius, De Wette, Paulus, and Ewald. At the same time, if it did not form part of the original Gospel, it is difficult to account for its being at so early a period inserted in it. From a passage in Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. 3, 39) some have concluded that Papias inserted it from the Gospel according to the Hebrews; but it is not certain that it is to this section that the words of Eusebius refer, nor is it certain that he meant to say that Papias inserted the story he refers to in the Gospel. (See ADULTERY), vol. 1, p. 87.
More important than either of these portions is chap. 21, which is by many regarded as the addition of a later hand after the apostle's death. This opinion rests wholly on internal grounds, for there is no evidence that the Gospel was ever known in the Church without this chapter. At first sight it certainly appears as if the original work ended with ch. 20 and that ch. 21 was a later addition, but whether by the apostle himself or by some other is open to question. The absence of any trace of the Gospel having ever existed without it must be allowed to afford strong prima facie evidence of its having been added by the author himself; still this is not conclusive, for the addition may have been made by one of his friends or disciples before the work was in circulation. Grotius, who thinks it was made by the elders at Ephesus, argues against its genuineness, especially from John 21:24; but, though the language there has certainly the appearance of being rather that of others than that of the party himself to whom it refers, still it is not impossible that John may have referred to himself in the third person, as he does, for instance, in John 19:35; and as for the use of the pl. οἴδαμεν, that may be accounted for by his tacitly joining his readers with himself, just as he assumes their presence in John 19:35. There is more difficulty in accepting John 19:25 as genuine, for such a hyperbolical mode of expression does not seem to comport with the simplicity and sincerity of John; but there seems to be no valid reason for calling into doubt any other part of the chapter.
IV. Design. — At the close of the Gospel the apostle has himself stated his design in writing it thus: "These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that, believing, ye might have life through his name" (20:31). Taken in the general, this may be said to be the design of all the evangelical narratives, for all of them are intended to produce the conviction that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah promised to the fathers, and so to exhibit him in his saving power that men believing on him might enjoy that life which he had come to bestow. We must seek, therefore, John's specific design either in some special occasion which he sought to meet, or in some peculiarity in his mode of presenting the claims of Jesus, by which not merely his Messiahship should be evinced, but the higher aspect of his person, and the spiritual effects of his working, should be prominently exhibited. Probably both of these concurred in the apostle's design; and we shall best conceive his purpose by neither, on the one hand, ascribing to him a merely historical, nor, on the other, a purely dogmatical design. It is an old and still prevalent opinion that John wrote his Gospel to supply the omissions of the other three; but no such impression is conveyed by the Gospel itself, which is as far as possible from having the appearance of a mere series of supplemental notes to previously existing writings; indeed, if this had been the apostle's purpose, it cannot be said that he has in any adequate way fulfilled it. Nor is there any ground for believing that it was a polemical object which chiefly prompted him to write this Gospel, though such a suggestion has often been made. Thus Irenaeus (Hoer. 3, 11, 1) says that the Gospel was written against the errors of Cerinthus. Jerome (De vir. Illust. 9) adds the Ebionites, and later writers have maintained that the Gnostics or the Docetae are the parties against whom the polemic of the apostle is here directed. All this, however, is mere supposition. Doubtless in what John has written there is that which furnishes a full refutation of all Ebionitish, Gnostic, and Docetic heresy; but that to confute these was the design of the apostle, as these writers affirm, cannot be proved. (See GNOSTICS).
At the same time, though he may have had no intention of formally confuting any existing heresy, it is more than probable that he was stimulated to seek by means of this record to counteract certain tendencies which he saw rising in the Church, and by which the followers of Christ might be seduced from that simple faith in him by which alone the true life could be enjoyed. Still this must be regarded, at the utmost, as furnishing only the occasion, not the design, of his writing. The latter is to be sought in the effect which this Gospel is fitted to produce on the mind of the reader in regard to the claims of Jesus as the divine Redeemer, the source of light and life to darkened and perishing humanity. With this view John presents him to us as he tabernacled among men, and especially as he taught when occasion called forth the deeper revelations which he, as the Word who had come forth from the invisible God to reveal unto men the Father, had to communicate. John's main design is a theological one; a conviction of which doubtless led to his receiving in the primitive Church the title κατ᾿ ἐξοχήν of Θεόλογος . But the historical character of his writing must also be acknowledged. As one who had been privileged to "company" with Jesus, he seeks to present him to us as he really appeared among men, in very deed a partaker of their nature, yet, under that nature, veiling a higher, which ever and anon broke forth in manifestation, so that those around him "beheld his glory as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father" (John 1:14). "There is here no history of Jesus and his teaching after the manner of the other evangelists; but there is, in historical form, a representation of the Christian faith, in relation to the person of Christ, as its central point, and in this representation there is a picture, on the one hand, of the antagonism of the world to the truth revealed in him, and on the other of the spiritual blessedness of the few who yield themselves to him as the Light of Life" (Reuss, Gesch. der Heil. Sch. d. N.T. p. 204). As John doubtless had the other Gospels before him, without formally designing to supplement them, he would naturally enlarge more particularly upon those portions which they had left untouched, or passed over more briefly.
IV. Contents. — The Gospel begins with a prologue, in which the author presents the great theme of which his subsequent narrative is to furnish the detailed illustration — "the theological program of his history," as one has called it, and which another has compared to the overture of a musical composition in which the leading idea of the piece is expressed (John 1:1-5). The historical exposition begins with John 1:6, and the rest of the book may be divided into two parts. Of these the former (John 1:6-7) contains the account of our Lord's public ministry from his introduction to it by John the Baptist and his solemn consecration to it by God, to its close in the Passion Week. In this portion we have the Savior presented to us chiefly in his manifestation to the world as a teacher sent from God, whose mission is authenticated by signs and wonders, and whose doctrines, truly divine, transcend in their spiritual import the narrow limits of human speculation, and can be comprehended only by a spiritual discernment. The second portion (ch. 13-21) may be divided into two parts, the one of which is introductory to the other. The former (ch. 13-17) presents to us our Lord in the retirement of private life, in his intercourse with his immediate followers, to whom he pours out his soul in loving counsel, warning, and promise, in the prospect of his departure from them; and in communion with his heavenly Father, with whom, as one who had finished the work he had received to do, he intercedes for those whose redemption from sin and evil is the coveted recompense of his obedience. To this succeeds the account of the Passion, and the appearances of Christ to his disciples after his resurrection (ch. 18-21), which forms the other part of the second portion of the book. See the minute analysis of Lampe in his Comment., and a briefer one in Westcott, Introd. to Study of the Gospels, p. 281 sq.
The greater part of the book is occupied with the discourses of our Lord, the plan of the evangelist being obviously to bring the reader as much as possible into personal contact with Jesus, and to make the latter his own expositor. Regarding the discourses thus reported, the question has arisen, How far are they to be accepted as an exact report of what Jesus uttered? and in reply to this, three opinions have been advanced:
1. That both in substance and in form we have them as they came from the lips of Christ;
2. That in substance they present what Christ uttered, but that the form in which they appear is due to the evangelist; and,
3. That they are not the discourses of Christ in any proper sense, but only speeches put in his mouth by the evangelist to express what the latter conceived to be a just representation of his doctrine. Of these views the last has found adherents only among a few of the skeptical school; it is without the slightest authority from the book itself, is irreconcilable with the simplicity and earnestness of the writer, is foreign to the habits and notions of the class to which the evangelist belongs, and is contradicted by the frequent explanations which he introduces of the sense in which he understood what he reports (comp. John 2:19; John 2:21; John 7:38-39; John 12:32-33, etc.), by the brief notices, which evince an actual reminiscence of the scenes and circumstances amid which the discourse was delivered (e.g. John 14:31), and by the prophetic announcements of his impending sufferings and death ascribed to the Savior, which are couched in language such as he might naturally use, such as accounts for those to whom he spoke, even his disciples, not understanding his meaning, but such as it is utterly incredible that one not desirous of reporting his very words should, writing after the fulfilment of these predictions, impute to him (comp. John 7:33-36; John 8:21-22; John 10:17-20; John 12:23-36; John 14:1-4; John 14:18; John 14:28; John 16:16; John 16:19, etc.). Some of these considerations are of weight also as against the second of the opinions above stated; for, if John sought merely to give the substance of the Savior's teaching in his own words, why clothe predictions, the meaning of which at the time of his writing he perfectly understood, in obscure and difficult phraseology? Why especially impute to the speaker language of which he feels it necessary to give an explanation, instead of at once putting the intelligible statement in his discourse? Undoubtedly the impression which one gets from the narrative is that John means the discourses he ascribes to Jesus to be received as faithful reports of what he actually uttered; and this is confirmed when one compares his report of John the Baptist's sayings with those of our Lord, the character of the one being totally different from that of the other.
To this view it has been objected that there is such an identity of style in the discourses which John ascribes to Christ with his own style, both in this Gospel and in his Epistles, as betrays in the former the hand, not of a faithful reporter, but of one who gives in the manner natural to himself the substance of what his Master taught. In this there is some force, which is but partially met by the suggestion that John was so imbued with the very mind and soul of Christ, so informed by his doctrine, and so filled by his spirit, that his own manner of thought and utterance became the same as that of Christ, and he insensibly wrote and spoke in the style of his Lord. Reuss objects to this that on this supposition the style of Jesus "must have been a very uniform and sharply defined one, and such as excludes the very different style ascribed to him by the synoptists" (Gesch. der H.S. des N.T. p. 203). But the facts here are overstated; the style of our Lord's discourses in John is by no means perfectly uniform, nor is it much further removed from that ascribed to him by the synoptists than the difference of subject and circumstance will suffice to account for. As for the objection that it is inconceivable that the evangelist could have retained for so many years a faithful recollection of discourses heard by him only once, we need not, in order to meet it, resort to the foolish suggestion of Bertholdt that he had taken notes of them at the time for his own behoof; nor need we to lay stress on the assurance of Christ which John records that the Holy Ghost whom the Father should send to them would teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance whatsoever he had said unto them (John 14:26), though to the believer this is a fact of the utmost importance. It will suffice to meet the objection if we suggest that, as the apostle went forth to the world as a witness for Christ, he did not wait till he sat down to write his Gospel to give forth his recollections of his Master's words and deeds. What he narrates here in writing is only what he must have been repeating constantly during his whole apostolic career. Still, after due allowance has been made for all these considerations, it must yet be admitted that the decided Johannean cast of all these discourses, as compared with our Lord's sayings reported in the synoptical Gospels, shows that while the evangelist gives the substance and essential form of Christ's public utterances, he nevertheless, to a large degree, molds them into his own style of phraseology and coherence. This is especially true of John 12:44-50, which is evidently a summary of statements made on perhaps more than one occasion not definitely given. Indeed, it is doubtful if any of the evangelists give us the exact words of our Lord, as they certainly do not tally in this particular any more than they do in the order and connection in which these are narrated. (See Tholuck, Glaubwü rdigkeit der evangelischen Geschichte [2d edit.], p. 314 sq.). (See HARMONIES).
V. Characteristics. —
1. As to matter, the peculiarities of John's Gospel more especially consist in the four following doctrines:
(1.) The mystical relation of the Son to the Father.
(2.) That of the Redeemer to believers.
(3.) The announcement of the Holy Ghost as the Comforter.
(4.) The peculiar importance ascribed to love.
Yet these peculiarities are not confined to this Gospel. Although there can be shown in the writings of the other evangelists some isolated dicta of the Lord which seem to bear the impress of John, it can also be shown that they contain thoughts not originating with that disciple, but with the Lord himself. Matthew (Matthew 11:27) speaks of the relation of the Son to the Father so entirely in the style of John that persons not sufficiently versed in Holy Writ are apt to search for this passage in the Gospel of John. The mystical union of the Son with believers is expressed in Matthew 28:20. The promise of the effusion of the Holy Ghost in order to perfect the disciples is found in Luke 24:49. The doctrine of Paul with respect to love, in 1 Corinthians 13 entirely resembles what, according to John, Christ taught on the same subject. Paul here deserves our particular attention. In the writings of Paul. are found Christian truths which have their points of coalescence only in John, viz., that Christ is the image of the invisible God, by whom all things are created (Colossians 1:15-16). Paul considers the Spirit of God in the Church the spiritual Christ, as Jesus himself does (John 14:16), frequently using the words ειναι ἐν Χριστῷ.
2. As to form, there is something peculiar in the evangelist's manner of writing. His language betrays traces of that Hebraistic character which belongs generally to the N.T. writers, and the author shows his Jewish descent by various incidental indications; but he writes purer Greek than most of the others, and his freedom from Judaic narrowness is so marked that some have founded on this an argument against the genuineness of the book, forgetting that the experiences of the apostle in his more advanced years would materially tend to correct the prejudices and party leanings of his earlier career. The apostle's style is marked by ease, simplicity, and vividness; his sentences are linked together rather by inner affinity in the thoughts than by outward forms of composition or dialectic concatenation they move on one after the other, generally with the help of an ουι, sometimes of a καί, and occasionally of a δέ, and favorite terms or phrases are repeated without regard to rhetorical art. The author wrote evidently for Hellenistic readers, but he makes no attempt at Greek elegance, or that wisdom of words which with many in his day constituted the perfection of Greek art. One of the peculiarities of John is that, in speaking of the adversaries of Jesus, he always calls them οιΙ῾᾿ουδαῖοι . The simplicity of John's character is also evinced by the repetition of certain leading thoughts, reproduced in the same words both in the Gospel and in the Epistles, such as μαρτυπία, testimony; δόξα, glory; ἀλήθεια, truth; φῶς, light; σκότος, darkness; ζωὴ αίωνιος, eternal life; μένειν, to abide. — Kitto. See Kaiser, De speciali Joan. Grammatica, etc. (Erlang. 1842); Westcott, Introd. to Study of the Gospels, ch. 5.
VI. Place of Writing. — Ephesus and Patmos are the two places mentioned by early writers, and the weight of evidence seems to preponderate in favor of Ephesus. Irenaeus (3:1; also apud Euseb. H.E. 5, 8) states that John published his Gospel whilst he dwelt in Ephesus of Asia. Jerome (Prol. in Matthew) states that John was in Asia when he complied with the request of the bishops of Asia and others to write more profoundly concerning the divinity of Christ. Theodore of Mopsuestia (Prol. in Joannem) relates that John was living at Ephesus when he was moved by his disciples to write his Gospel.
The evidence in favor of Patmos comes from two anonymous writers. The author of the Synopsis of Scripture, printed in the works of Athanasius, states that the Gospel was dictated by John in Patmos, and published afterwards in Ephesus. The author of the work De XII Apostolis, printed in the Appendix to Fabricius' Hippolytus (p. 952 [ed. Migne]), states that John was banished by Domitian to Patmos, where he wrote his Gospel. The later date of these unknown writers, and the seeming inconsistency of their testimony with John's declaration (Revelation 1:2) in Patmos, that he had previously borne record of the Word of God, render their testimony of little weight.
After the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70, Ephesus probably became the center of the active life of Eastern Christendom. Even Antioch, the original source of missions to the Gentiles, and the future metropolis of the Christian patriarch, appears, for a time, less conspicuous in the obscurity of early Church history than Ephesus, to which Paul inscribed his Epistle, and in which John found a dwelling place and a tomb. This half Greek, half Oriental city, "visited by ships from all parts of the Mediterranean, and united by great roads with the markets of the interior, was the common meeting place of various characters and classes of men" (Conybeare and Howson, St. Paul, ch. 14). It contained a large church of faithful Christians, a multitude of zealous Jews, an indigenous population devoted to the worship of a strange idol, whose image (Jerome, Proef. in Ephes.) was borrowed from the East, its name from the West — in the Xystus of Ephesus free thinking philosophers of all nations disputed over their favorite tenets (Justin, Trypho, 1, 7). It was the place to which Cerinthus chose to bring the doctrines which he devised or learned at Alexandria (Neander, Church History, 1, 396 [Torrey's trans.]). In this city, and among the lawless heathens in its neighborhood (Clem. Alexan. Quis dives salv. § 42), John was engaged in extending the Christian Church when, for the greater edification of that Church, his Gospel was written. It was obviously addressed primarily to Christians, not to heathens. (See EPHESUS).
VII. Date of Writing. — Attempts have been made to elicit from the language of the Gospel itself some argument which should decide the question whether it was written before or after the destruction of Jerusalem; but, considering that the present tense "is" is used in John 5:2, and the past tense "was" in John 11:18; John 18:1; John 19:41, it would seem reasonable to conclude that these passages throw no light upon the question.
Clement of Alexandria (apud Eusebius, H.E. 6, 14) speaks of John as the latest of the evangelists. The apostle's sojourn at Ephesus probably began after Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians was written, i.e. after A.D. 56. Eusebius (H.E. 3, 20) specifies the fourteenth year of Domitian, i.e. A.D. 95, as the year of his banishment to Patmos. Probably the date of the Gospel may lie between these two, about A.D. 90. The references to it in the 1st Epistle and the Revelation lead to the supposition that it was written somewhat before those two books, and the tradition of its supplementary character would lead us to place it some considerable time after the apostle had fixed his abode at Ephesus.
VIII. Commentaries. — The following are the separate exegetical helps on the whole of John's Gospel exclusively (including the principal monographs on its special features), to the most important of which we prefix an asterisk [*]: Origen, Commentaria (in Opp. 4, 1; also Berlin, 1831, 3 vols. 12mo); Jerome, Expositio (in Opp. Suppos. 11, 77, 773); Augustine, Tractatus (in Opp. 4, 385; translated, Homilies [includ. 1st Ep.], Oxford, 1848-9, 2 vols. 8vo); Chrysostom, Homilioe (in Opp. 5-3, 1; transl. Homilies, Oxf. 1848-52, 2 vols. 8vo); also Interpretatio (in Canisius, 1, 217); Nonnus, Metaphrases (Gr. and Lat. in Bibl. Max. Patr. 9, 437; also ed. Heinsius, L.B. 1627, 8vo, 1639, fol.; also ed. Passovius, Lips. 1833, 8vo); Cyril of Alexandria, Commentarii (in Opp. 4, 1-1123); Bede, in Joann. (in Opp. 5, 451); Alcuin, Commentarii (in Opp. 1, 2, 457; also August. 1527, 8vo); Hugo a St. Victor, Annotationes (in Opp. 1, 233); Aquinas, Commentarii (in Opp. 5); also Catena (in Opp. 3; transl. as vol. 4 of "Catena Aurea," Oxford, 1845, 8vo); Bonaventura, Expositio (in Opp. 2, 313); also Collationes (ib. 2, 467); Albertus Magnus, Commentarii (in Opp. 11); Zwingle, Annotationes (in Opp. 4, 283); Melancthon, Enarrationes (Vitemb. 1523, fol.; also in Opp.); Bucer, Enarrationes (Argent. 1528, 8vo); OEcolampadius, Adnotationes (Basil. 1533, 8vo); Ferus [Rom. Catholic], Enarrationes (Mogunt. 1536, 1550, fol., Par. 1552, 1569, Lugd. 1553, 1558, 1563, Lovan. 1559, 8vo; ed. Medina, Complut. 1569, 1578, Mogunt. 1572, Rome, 1578, folio); Sarcer, Scholia (Basil. 1540, 8vo); Cruciger, Enarratio (Vitemb. 1540, Argent. 1546. 8vo); Bullinger, Commentarii (Tigur. 1543, fol.); Musculus, Commentarii (Basil. 1545, 1553, 1554, 1564, 1580, 1618, fol.); Guilliaud, Enarrationes (Par. 1550, fol.; Lugd. 1555, 8vo); Alesius, Commentarius (Basil. 1553, 8vo); Calvin, Commentarii (Genev. 1553, 1555, fol.; also in Opp.; with a harmony, Genev. 1563; in French, ib. 1563; in English, by Feterston, London, 1584, 4to; by Pringle, Edinb. 1847, 2 vols. 8vo); Traheron, Exposition [on part] (London, 1558, 8vo); De Reyna, Annotationes (Francof. 1573, 4to); Marloratus, Exposition (from the Latin, by Timme, Lond. 1575, fol.); Aretius, Commentarius (Lausanne, 1578, 8vo); Danaeus, Commentarius (Geneva, 1585, 8vo); Hunnius, Commentarius (Francof. 1585, 1591, 1595, 8vo); Delphinus, Commentarii [includ. Hebrews] (ed. Sernanus, Rome, 1587, 8vo); Chytraeus, Scholia (ed. Schincke, F. ad M. 1588, 8vo); *Toletus [Rom. Cath.]; Commentarii (Rom, 1588, fol. 1590, 2 vols. 4to; Lugd. 1589, 1614, fol.; Ven. 1589, Brix. 1603, 4to); Hemmingius, Commentarius (Basil. 1591, fol.); Zepper, Analysis (Herb. 1595, 8vo); Rollock, Commentarius (Genev. 1599, 1618, 8vo); Agricola, Commentarius (Colon. 1599, 8vo); Capponus, Commentarius (Ven. 1604, 4to); Pererius, Disputationes (Lugd. 160810), 2 vols. 4to); Pelargus, Quoesita (Francof. 1615, 4to); De Ribera, Commentarius (Lugdun. 1623, 4to); Mylius, Commentarius (Francof. 1624, 4to); Tarnovius, Commentarius (Rost. 1629, 4to); Jansonius, Commentarius (Lovan. 1630, 8vo); Corderius, Catena (Antw. 1630, folio); Lenaeus, Commentarius (Holm. 1640, 4to); Gomarus, Illustratio (Amst. 1644, fol.; also in Opp.); Lyser, Disputationes (Vitemb. 1646, 4to); Virginius, Notoe (Dorp, 1647, 4to); Amyraut, Paraphrase (Fr., Salm. 1651, 8vo); Petrus, Arend, etc. (Dutch. Amsterd. 1653, 3 vols. 4to); Schlichting, Commentaria [including other books of the N.T.] (Irenop. 1656, fol.); Hutcheson, Exposition (Lond. 1657, fol., 1840, 8vo); Nifanius, Commentarius (F. ad M. 1684, 4to); S. Schmidt, Paraphrasis (Argent. 1685, 1689, 4to; also in Germ., Hal. 1716, 8vo); Vassor, Paraphrase (Fr., Paris, 1689, 12mo); Comazzi, Dimonstrazione, etc. (Naples, 1706, 8vo); Sibersma, Explication (in French, Amst. 1717, 4to; in Germ., Basel, 1718, 4to); Guillaers, Adnotationes [includ. begin. of Matthew and Luke] (Gandav. 1724, 4to); *Lampe, Commentarius (Amst. 1724-6, Basil, 1725- 7, 3 vols. 4to; in German, Lpz. 1729, 4to); also Syntagma (Amst. 1737, 2 vols. 4to); Merrick, Annotations [on 1-3] (Lond. 1764-7, 2 vols. 8vo); Lightfoot, Exercitations (in Works, 12); also Chorographia (in Ugolino, Thesaurus, 5, 1117); Semler, Paraphrasis (Halle, 1771-2, 2 vols. 8vo); Mosheim, Erklä rung (ed. Jacobi, Weim. 1777, 4to); Hezel, Anleitung (pt. 1, Frkft. 1792, 8vo); Oertel, Erlä ut. [includ. Epistles] (Frkft. and Gorl. 1795, 2 vols. 8vo); Morus, Recitationes (edit. Dindorf, Prag. 1795, Lips. 1796, 1808, 1821, 8vo); S. Lange, Erklä rung [including Epistles] (Weimar, 1795-7, 3 vols. 8vo); Shepherd, Notes [including Epistles] (Lond. 1796, 4to); Schmid, Theologia, etc. (Jen. 1800, 8vo); Schulze, Charakter, etc. (Lpz. 1803 8vo); Paulus, Commentar (pt. 1, Tü bing. 1806, 8vo); Breitenstein, Anmerkungen (Frkft, 1813, 1823, 8vo); *Tittmann, Commentarius (Lips. 1816, 8vo; tr. in English, Edinb. 1844, 2 vols. 12mo); Mayer, Beiträ ge (Lps. 1820, 8vo); *Lü cke, Commentar [includ. Epistles] (Bonn, 1820-32, 1833-5, 1840-43, 3 vols. 8vo; vol. 3 [epistle] transl. into Eng., Edinb. 1837, 12mo); Moysey, Lectures (Oxf. 1821-23, 2 vols. 8vo); Pitman, Lectures [on 1-10] (Lond. 1822, 8vo); Seyffarth, Specialcharakteristik, etc. (Lpzg. 1823, 8vo);. *Tholuck, Commentar (Hamb. 1826, 1828, 1831, 1833; Lips. 1837, 1844; Gotha, 1857; in Engl. by Kaufman, Boston, 1836, 12mo; by Krauth, Phila. 1859, 8vo); Klee, Commentar (Mainz, 1829, 8vo); Fickenscher, Auslegung (Nü rnb. 1831-33, 3 vols. 8vo); Grimm, Christologia, etc. (Lips. 1833, 8vo); Sumner, Exposition (Lond. 1835, 8vo); Matthai, Auslegung (vol. 1, Gott. 1837, 8vo); Slade, Readings (London, 1837, 1843, 12mo); Simson, Theologica etc. (Reg. 1839, 8vo); Fromann, Lehrbegrif; etc. (Leipzig, 1839, 8vo); Wirth, Erklä rung (Ulm, 1839, 8vo); Patterson, Lectures [14-16] (London, 1840, 12mo); Anderson, Exposition (London, 1841, 2 vols. 12mo); Drummond, Exposition (Lond. 1841, 12mo); Herberden, Reflections (Lond, 1842, 12mo); Kö stlin, Lehrbegriff, etc. (Berlin, 1843, 8vo); Baumgarten-Crusius, Auslegung [includ. Epistles] (Jen. 1843-5, 2 vols. 8vo); Jones, Sermons [13-17 (Oxf. 1844, 8vo); Aislabee, Translation (Lond. 1845, 12mo); Ford, Illustration (Lond. 1852, 8vo); Luthardt, Eigenthü mlichkeit, etc. (Lpz. 1852-3, 2 vols. 8vo); Bouchier, Exposition (London, 1854, 12mo); Cumming, Readings (London, 1856, 8vo); Maurice, Discourses (Camb. 1857, 12mo); 5 Clergymen, Revision (Lond. 1857, 8vo); Reuss, Introd. (in his Hist. de la theol. Chretienne Strasb. 1860, 2, 272 sq.); Fawcett, Exposition (London, 1860, 8vo); *Ewald, Erklä rung [includ. Epistles] (Gott. 1861 sq., 3 vols. 8vo); *Hengstenberg, Erlä uterung (Berl. 1861-64, 3 vols., 1869, 2 vols. 8vo; tr. in English, Edinb. 1865, 2 vols. 8vo); Malan, Notes (Lond. 1862, 4to); Astié, Explication (Genè ve, 1862-4, 3 vols. 8vo); Klofutar, Commentarius (Vienna, 1863, 8vo); Brown, Lectures (Oxf. 1863, 2 vols. 8vo); Baumlein, Commentar (Stuttg. 1863, 8vo); Scholten, Onderzock. (Leyd. 1864 sq., 2 vols. 8vo); Godet. Commentaire (vol. 1, 1864, 8vo); Ryle, Thoughts (Lond. 1865-6, 2 vols. 8vo); Anon. Erlä uterung (Berlin, 1866, 8vo); Von Burger, Erklä rung (Nö rdl. 1867, 8vo); Roffhack, Auslegung (Leipzig, 1871, 2 vols. 8vo). (See GOSPELS).
These files are public domain.
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'John, Gospel of.'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/j/john-gospel-of.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the Fifth Week after Epiphany