The Purpose Of John’s Gospel: Part One -- By: G. Ted Martinez

Journal: Michigan Theological Journal
Volume: MTJ 03:1 (Spring 1992)
Article: The Purpose Of John’s Gospel: Part One
Author: G. Ted Martinez


The Purpose Of John’s Gospel: Part One

G. Ted Martinez

Competing Views Of John’s Purpose

In this first of a two-part series, a number of views will be surveyed concerning the purpose of the Gospel of John. Such a survey will enable us to see how various scholars over the years have understood the Evangelist’s aim for writing the Fourth Gospel. These purposes include: to replace, interpret, or supplement the Synoptic Gospels; to restate the Christian Gospel in Hellenized terms; as polemic or apology; for liturgical use; John’s personal need; andfor evangelism andlor edification.

In the introduction of his commentary on the Gospel of John, Leon Morris observes,

I like the comparison of John’s Gospel to a pool in which a child may wade and an elephant can swim. It is both simple and profound. It is for the veriest beginner in the faith and for the mature Christian.1

William Hendriksen states that the “Gospel according to John is the most amazing book that was ever written,”2 and as such is applicable to the widest audience. When involved in personal evangelism, we are often encouraged to direct the new believer in Christ to begin his study of God’s Word in the Gospel of John.3 And, as Morris indicates above, the more

mature Christian will never be at a loss for spiritual nourishment through his study of the Fourth Gospel. Certainly, all Christians ought to make the Fourth Gospel a subject of serious investigation at least once.

In delving into John’s Gospel, as in the study of any book of the Bible, it is most helpful to discover the purpose of the book.4 Knowing the purpose of the biblical book, one is better able to arrive at the actual meaning of a portion of the book including individual verses and phrases.5 When the Fourth Gospel is considered, however, determining the purpose of the book has proven to be both a simple and difficult matter.

This writer has read what fifty scholars stated is the purpose of the Gospel of John.6 Out of the fifty, forty-six referred to John 20:30–31 as expressing the Evangelist’s major, if not exclusive, purpose in writing his Gospel. This passage reads.

Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not writte...

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