Posts Tagged With: theology

BONUS: An Introduction to the Gospel of John

Though the book does not say so, there is widespread acceptance that this gospel was written by the apostle John, who often refers to himself in the book as “the apostle whom Jesus loved” (13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20, 24).  Though one of Jesus’ inner circle of apostles, John is never mentioned in the book, which makes sense if John wrote the book but doesn’t if he didn’t.

Traditionally, because of its developed theology, the Gospel of John was considered the latest of gospels, likely written around 85 or later.  A good case can also be made that John was written before the destruction of the Temple and much of Jerusalem in 70 because the book refers to places in that city in the present tense.  A developed theology does not have to indicate a late date.

Scholars have argued that John had various goals in writing his gospel.  Maybe he was trying to write a gospel to a Greek audience, hence the emphasis on Jesus as the “word” (logos).  It is certainly possible that John was trying to combat false teaching through his account of Jesus’ life.  But John himself tells us the simple evangelistic purpose of his book:

These are written that you may believe (or continue to believe) that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (20:31)

Therefore, one of the fitting characteristics of John are the seven “I am” statements of Jesus, thought by many to be John’s twist on God’s self-revelation as “I AM.”  John would not have us miss the point that Jesus was more than just a man.  This is one of the reasons why John is often the first book non-believers are encouraged to read.

John is unlike the other gospels in many ways, supporting the belief that the other three were trying to borrow from each other and tell similar stories while John was attempting to do something very different, maybe for a very different crowd.  There are no parables in John.  Miracles (or “signs” as they are called in John) are not as common.  John tells stories not included in the other gospels.   Instead of fast action like Mark, this gospel is full of long teaching sections.  For these reasons and others, John is a favorite of many people.

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Acts 27: Shipwrecked!

Today’s chapter is immensely interesting for three reasons.

One, Luke is writing good literature.  We are coming down to the end of the book.  We have a goal we know the main character has — to get to Rome — but further, seemingly insurmountable complications come.  Luke knows how to push us along in the book!

Two, Luke is writing convincing history.  Scholars who study the book of Acts marvel at how historically accurate and detailed this chapter is.  This chapter is one of the best accounts of ancient nautical practices in all ancient literature.  This is not the kind of chapter an author makes up.  This was written by a smart researcher and eyewitness, as we know from the “we” in the first verse.

Three, Luke is ultimately writing theology.  It is not entirely correct to call Acts an historical account.  It is too theological to be pure history in genre (that is no denial of the factual nature of Acts).  Acts is selective history written for a specific theological point.  I was struck by how even this account of a shipwreck became a way for Paul to preach the gospel and also a great test of faith:

“So take heart my friends.  I believe God, that it will be as he said to me.” (27:25)

“If these men don’t stay in the ship,” he said, “there is no chance of safety.” (27:31)

What did you see in this chapter worth noting?

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