Thursday, February 26, 2015

NT: John 17 - 21

I thought I'd already posted the finale to the Gospel According to John, but I hadn't. Here goes!

John Chapter 17 contains text that is wholly absent from other Gospels - surprised? It’s Jesus praying to God to bless his believers:

26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare [it]: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Gotta ask yourself: how did the author of John come across this inside info? We have a candidate explanation - “that other disciple”.

Chapter 18 dovetails largely with the previous Gospels (there are no new pericopes!) - what with Jesus’ arrest and handing over to Pilate, the trial, Peter’s denial, and the brief dialogue regarding releasing Barabbas or Jesus.

Chapter 19 builds to the climax of Jesus’ crucifixion. There are some differences with the other Gospels, for instance, Jesus expires peacefully “it is finished”, and a centurion pierces His side to insure that he’s dead.

Chapter 20 dives right in to the resurrection, when Mary Magdalene “seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre”. She doesn’t explicitly see that Jesus is gone (!) She gets Peter and “that other disciple”:

3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.
4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

And the fun begins! Note that “that other disciple” has been referred to other places throughout John, and is (presumably) synonymous with “the disciple that Jesus loved”. Very mysterious! Peter and the gang enter the tomb, find Jesus missing and two angels in attendance. We go on to find Jesus reappearing to disciples, allaying Thomas’ doubts, and other stuff:

30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

In Chapter 21 appears to be all new, with additional whiteners and brighteners. Or, maybe it just elaborates on his reappearance to his disciples to an extent not found in the other Gospels.

1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he [himself].
20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

...and “the disciple whom Jesus loved” rears his ugly head again, and is identified as the source for this testament. Amen.


As I’ve said throughout my blogging on the Gospels, I’m purposely doing a shallow treatment, mostly to document their outline for my own future reference. Consequently, I don’t feel a need to get into depth about how different John is from the Synoptics - yet. Still, we saw that John’s Jesus was “large and in charge”. He agonizes very little over his fate, accepts it stoically, and drives on.

Obviously, with John being the most different of the four Gospels, the Gospel Parallels are as good reference to set you off on your search for details. To recap, John Chapter 17 is wholly unique, while 18, 19 & 20 are largely organized in the same manner as the other Gospels, with a few gaps and mismatches. John Chapter 21 is - again - unique. Since John is written so late in the first century, we expect some divergence from the Synoptics, but NT heavyweights will commonly attribute these differences to political and “inter-denominational” squabbles, which the author of John may have wanted to address. Regardless, the Gospel according to John is a pleasure to read - it almost sounds Shakespearean in comparison to Mark.

Next - Acts!

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