Ruling Ideas Of The Fourth Gospel -- By: Joseph Elkanah Walker

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 073:292 (Oct 1916)
Article: Ruling Ideas Of The Fourth Gospel
Author: Joseph Elkanah Walker


Ruling Ideas Of The Fourth Gospel

Joseph Elkanah Walker

What was the aim which guided the author in selecting what he did from the “many things that might be written”? He himself tells us. These things “are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name.” The book is characterized by the use of certain words, as light, truth, way; and chief among these is the word Life. The guiding principle is Eternal Life, the never-ending possession of fellowship with God and all that makes this fellowship harmonious and blissful. It is what Paul calls the life “hid with Christ in God,” which Peter describes as being made partakers of a divine nature through acceptance of the precious and greatest promises. It is the perfect attainment in character and condition of all that Christ set forth in the Beatitudes.

The climax of the introduction to the Fourth Gospel is reached in the fourth verse, “In him was life”; and those who receive Him become children of God, being born “not of blood, nor ‘of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” The first miracle is wrought in honor of marriage, that rite which in every land and age safeguards the beginning of human life. Food and drink are the support of life. In the first miracle Christ supplies drink, the fruit of the vine. In the miracle of the Five Loaves he supplies

bread; and these are the two articles which he chose as the symbols of his body and his blood. In the last event which John records, Christ provides a breakfast, and then lays a triple injunction on Peter to feed his flock. Is there not a guiding principle in all this?

Again, the conversations, discussions, and discourses in this Gospel almost always come round to the topic of Eternal Life. Conversing with Nicodemus, Christ at once tells him, Ye must be born again; and soon follow the statements, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” The chapter ends with these words, “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life.” When Christ converses with the Woman of Samaria, who in every circumstance of life is the opposite of the Teacher in Israel, Christ promptly brings in the same thought, “The waters that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life.”

Quite unlike either Nicodemus or the Woman of Samaria were the ang...

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