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

Journal: Michigan Theological Journal
Volume: MTJ 03:2 (Fall 1992)
Article: The Purpose Of John’s Gospel: Part Two
Author: G. Ted Martinez


The Purpose Of John’s Gospel: Part Two

G. Ted Martinez

The Meaning of John 20:30–31

In this second of a two-part series dealing with the purpose of the Fourth Gospel, we will focus upon an exegetical analysis of John 20:30–31. Syntactical matters will be considered first, followed by a study of the immediate and broad context of the passage. Finally a summarial exegetical paraphrase will be given which would express the meaning of 20:30–31, and, therefore, the purpose of the Gospel of John.

Syntax

Of particular relevance to the intent of the Fourth Gospel are the tva purpose clauses in 20:31. We will look first at what two significant authors have said about both clauses taken together; then consider a recent analysis of only the first ἵνα clause,by D. A. Carson. Of all the sources used for this study, only Raymond E. Brown and William Hendriksen deal with these clauses, and though both see John as writing to Christians, their respective analyses are not consistent with each other, as will become evident.

R. E. Brown, in his highly respected work, The Gospel According to John, refers to H. Riesenfeld who analized the ἵνα clauses in John’s Gospel and Epistles.1 The conclusion of the latter, which is adopted by Brown, is that the Johannine tva purpose clauses normally occur in the present tense.

Brown uses Riesenfeld’s conclusion as support for deciding on the present tense usage of the believe-verb in question, and then states that John therefore wrote to Christians.2

On the other hand, Hendriksen conducted his own study of the ἵνα clauses in the Fourth Gospel. He actually lists in his commentary all the places where this purpose clause is used.3 He has the aorist being used seventy-six times, and the present tense thirty-seven times. In other words, Hendriksen’s findings are completely opposite to those of Riesenfeld! Even though this discrepancy is a bit disconcerting, there is other evidence which tends to support the present tense in the first ἵνα clause (“that you may believe”). That evidence will be given later.

D. A. Carson offers a recent syntactical study which deals with the first of...

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