And That, Believing
E. Russell King
What a thrill it is to study the fourth gospel record, written by the apostle John, when one understands the reason and purpose for the writing and the structure used to attain that purpose. John stated the purpose of his gospel record in these words: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30, 31).
John’s purpose was to confirm the validity of the fact that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” and to motivate continued belief in that fact. Brother Hugo McCord in his translation, The Living Gospel, rendered verse 31 thusly, “[B]ut these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that, believing, you might have life in his name” (emp. mine). John’s purpose, therefore, was to give verity to the fact that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,” and that only in His name can life be had.
The entire structure of John’s gospel record was so designed as to verify this fact. To accomplish his purpose, he used a literary structure that differed from that used by the writers of the Synoptic Gospels.
John’s gospel record was not a progressive development in events, but rather it was a progressive development in the recognition of Jesus as the promised Messiah of the Old Testament, and His being the Son of God.
John called upon the events of only about twenty days out of the three and one-half years of Jesus’ ministry to show this progressive development in the understanding, especially on the part of His apostles.
William Hendriksen wrote, “The main topic in John is not the kingdom as in the Synoptics, but the King himself, the Person of the Christ, his deity. Nevertheless, this difference is by no means absolute.” (The Gospel of John, p. 37). Hendriksen also listed twelve strictly Johannine accounts, all of which “...centers in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God..."(Ibid pp. 34-35).
It is easy to see this fact progressively develop in the thinking and understanding of the apostles as we notice in selected statements recorded by John.
John begins his gospel record with a prologue (1:1-18) in which he states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” — a simple but emphatic declaration of the deity of Christ, a summarization of the evidences thereafter set forth. However, he notes, “the world (humankind) did not know Him” (vs. 10). Furthermore, He came to His own (Israel), and His own did not receive Him” (vs. 11). The remainder of John’s record was designed to enlighten the ignorant and dispel all unbelief.
John begins with the record of the witness (John Baptist) whom God sent, who said of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29). From that point on, John recorded sign-after-sign that indisputably proved Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God.
Jesus said, “I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me” (John 8:18). The many signs in confirmation of this fact were, as Jesus said, “that the works of God should be revealed” (John 9:3) and “...that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:29).
The beginning of signs that “manifested His glory” and caused His disciples to believe in Him occurred in Cana of Galilee (John 2:11). That belief progressively developed to be stated in these words by Peter, “...we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:69) and finally expressed from the unshakable conviction of Thomas, “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28).
That belief makes it possible to come into life because “...as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself” (John 5:26). However, obtaining that life is conditional: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12). Therefore, John wrote, “...whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life” (John 3:15 ASV). Having eternal life is dependent upon being “in him” (via baptism, Galatians 3:27). This is possible because He has given “power” (the right) for those who “receive” Him (believe that He is the Christ the Son of God) to “become the sons of God” (John 1:12).
John made clear his purpose in writing: “...these (signs) are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that, believing, you might have life in his name.” -Rt. 5, Box 310-A, Keyser, WV 26726. firstname.lastname@example.org
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