Introduction to the Mindset of the Apostle John (Minset Book 4)

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Contents

  1. John the Apostle
  2. I.The Life of the Apostle John
  3. John the Apostle
  4. Saint John, the Apostle and Evangelist
  5. The Gospel of John

On the other hand, early church tradition suggests that that John composed his Gospel in Ephesus Asia Minor. An example of this is the testimony of Irenaeus: John specifically states his purpose in Eusebius argued that John wrote in order to complement the Synoptics where they were lacking, [7] while the Muratorian Canon suggested that his fellow disciples in Asia Minor urged him to write an account.

The specific recipients are not clearly spelled out in the Gospel. Conjecture, along with the Muratorian Canon, would suggest that it was written for the disciples in Asia Minor, but there is no certainty in this. John presents man as either belonging to one of two things: There is no in between. The darkness is associated with death, while the light is associated with life. This theme is developed throughout the Gospel. John the Baptist came to bear witness of the light in order that men would believe through him.

In the third chapter Jesus states that the light has come into the world, but men have loved the darkness instead of the light because their works were evil.

John the Apostle

Evildoers hate the light and are afraid to go into the light lest their works be exposed. On the other hand, the ones who practice the truth come into the light so that it can be seen that their works were done through God. Jesus is also referred to as the Light of the World 8: He also tells the crowd to believe in the Light in order to become sons of the light.

The Gospel of John also develops a Christology that is unique from the other Gospels.

I.The Life of the Apostle John

One of the overriding themes throughout the New Testament is that Jesus is the Messiah. In presenting this, John's Gospel also makes it clear that Jesus is God. In the opening verse 1: Throughout the Gospel many references are made to Jesus' deity. Most notable of these are 8: In this instance Jesus said, "I and my Father are one.

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At the end of the Gospel The prologue to the Gospel begins by saying, "In the beginning was the word logos , the word logos was with God, and the word logos was God. Heraclitus BC first used the word in reference to a fixed principle in a world of change; it was his expression of God. The Logos would have helped John to present Christianity to Greeks who were familiar with the idea. Philo a first century Jew from Alexandria , being influenced by the Greeks, related the idea of the Logos to Yahweh, the God of Israel.

When the 'word of God' is used throughout the Old Testament, it often refers to God being in action, particularly in regards to "creation, revelation and deliverance. The majority of the occurrences of logos in John take place in a "syntactical sequence with Jesus or God. The Gospel of John varies from the Synoptic Gospels in more ways than one. Ramsey Michaels categorizes them into two types of variation: Concerning this, Clement of Alexandria stated that John was concerned with details and wrote a "spiritual gospel. Chapter 21 is commonly called the epilogue.

On the surface this section This has led some to believe that the epilogue was a later addition by John or one of his disciples. There is, however, no reason to think that John did not write it. There are 28 words in the last chapter that are not found elsewhere in the Gospel, but most of these are caused by the subject-matter in the first 14 verses.

More importantly, as one commentator put it, it "completes" the Gospel by "illustrating the result of belief. Hendrickson Publishers, , p. The Priority of John. Yet the same night, thank God, we find in his Gospel, in chapter 13, that he was leaning on the breast of Jesus. It is beautiful and it is an encouragement to know that on the very same night when they had been arguing which of them should be the greatest John could be leaning on the bosom of the blessed Lord Jesus, but it is a discouragement to realize that on the very night that he was that close to the Lord Jesus he and the others could still be arguing which of them should be the greatest.

Are we not like this? We learn by fits and starts. Often those things which are absolutely inconsistent one with the other are found side by side in our lives. At Gethsemane John was one of the three disciples that the Lord took a little further than the others and asked them to watch with Him, but he fell asleep. John was one of whom the Lord expected a little more.

A few hours before he had been leaning on His breast, had been in His bosom, and yet John, and I suppose we can all say this was not able to come up to the Lord's expectation that night. When the Lord was betrayed and arrested He submitted to it, allowing Himself to be led away. They all forsook Him and fled.

That was the initial reaction because later on we find that John followed and Peter also followed at a distance. John came to the high priest's palace and he, being known, was admitted, and a little later Peter arrived and while at the gate, on John's word, he was let in.

Peter then got himself into tremendous difficulty. John apparently witnessed the trial of the Lord Jesus and, while we do not read that he stood at His side or that he raised his voice in defense of his Lord, at least he was there. I am sure that this in itself was appreciated by the Lord Jesus.

At the cross John was the only disciple mentioned as being there although there were several women including the mother of the Lord Jesus, John's mother if Salome was indeed John's mother , Mary Magdala, and Mary the mother of Clopas and John. Then the Lord Jesus, during those first three hours, turned to His mother and said, referring to John, "Woman, behold thy son! The Lord committed His mother to John's care and John rose to the occasion. This was a responsibility that John took on himself for the rest of Mary's life.

In John 20 when Mary Magdalene came with the news of His resurrection Peter and John ran to the tomb, John outstripped Peter and got there first but Peter, the bold one, actually went into the tomb to check out the report. Then John writes, "Then entered therefore the other disciple also who came first to the tomb, and he saw and believed; for they had not yet known the Scripture, that He must rise from among the dead" vv. This was when John really believed the resurrection. Then he was one of the ten when the Lord appeared in their midst that evening and then a week later the Lord appeared when Thomas was with them also.

John the Apostle

Yet in chapter 21 we find that when Peter said "I go fishing" John was one of those who went with him. Six disciples followed Peter at that time, among them James and John, but John was the first one to detect who the stranger on the shore really was. He did not say, "It is Jesus" but "the Lord", and at the end of the chapter following Peter asked, "What shall this man do? At Pentecost John was one of the one hundred and twenty who were together in the upper room upon whom the Holy Spirit came.

When the crowd gathered wanting to know what was happening, we read that Peter, standing up with the eleven, preached the gospel to them. Peter did the preaching that day; the others stood with him backing him up.

Saint John, the Apostle and Evangelist

It is beautiful to see from the resurrection of the Lord Jesus onward that the strife for supremacy amongst the disciples was gone. Subsequent to the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus in Acts 1 we find a togetherness amongst the apostles.

In Acts 3 Peter met a lame man at the gate of the temple and John was again with him. They were working together, for "at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall a matter be established" Deut. It is good for two to work together and John and Peter were working together there. Later the apostles sent Peter and John to Samaria after Philip had preached there because the Samaritans had not yet received the Holy Spirit. There they laid hands on them, prayed for them, and they received the Holy Spirit and in this way a potential division amongst Christians was averted.

The Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans and the Samaritans were glad to reciprocate.

This ill-feeling could have developed into a 'Jewish' church at Jerusalem and a separate 'Samaritan' church in Samaria if the Spirit of God had not come in in this way, if He had not refrained from coming upon the Samaritans directly. Peter, and John, who previously had asked if he could call fire down from heaven upon the Samaritans, were sent by the Holy Spirit to pray for them that they should receive the Holy Spirit. We do not find any resistance on John's part at that point. It was part of the work the Lord had given him to do.

We find in Acts 8 that once this had happened, "they [Peter and John] therefore having testified and spoken the word of the Lord returned to Jerusalem and announced the glad tidings to many villages of the Samaritans" v. John had got so close to the Lord that now the very people whom he was once willing to call down fire from heaven upon he now evangelized.

His brother James was the first of the apostles to lose his life for the Lord's sake Acts After this we read of another James coming into the picture and in Galatians 2 we find that Cephas Peter , James and John are pillars in the assembly in Jerusalem. It was not that John had advanced one notch. The Lord had put James in ahead of him: John did not mind taking a back seat.

The Gospel of John

We appreciate brethren who are like that. He was one of the pillars in the assembly at Jerusalem and he gave the right hand of fellowship to Paul and Barnabas according to the service that God had given him. John was not striving for a position for himself, he was ready to recognize the grace of God in others and the service that God had given others who were not part of the select twelve.

There was one whom God had called in a different way for a different service, but he gave to this man the right hand of fellowship. It was not now "We forbade him because he does not follow us". Paul had a different ministry but John extended the right hand of fellowship to him.

The Lord said to Peter, and this was recorded at the end of John's Gospel, "If I will that he abide until I come, what is that to thee? The other disciples misinterpreted this statement and there were those who said, 'John is not going to die', but he said, 'That is not what the Lord said. We are not sure at what time the apostle John left Palestine, Judea or Jerusalem, but if he had not left before, certainly after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70, he had.

Precisely in the East, he enjoyed and still enjoys great veneration. In Byzantine iconography he is often depicted as very elderly - according to tradition, he died under the Emperor Trajan - and in the act of intense contemplation, almost in an attitude of one who is inviting silence. Indeed, without sufficient recollection it is not possible to approach the supreme mystery of God and his revelation. Like him, the 'silent ones' know this mysterious exchange of hearts, they invoke John's presence and their hearts are set on fire" O. May the Lord help us to put ourselves at the school of John so as to learn the great lesson of love in a way that we feel loved by Christ "to the very end" Jn 13, 1 , and give our lives for Him.

I have already spoken about four of the twelve Apostles: His writings that we want to examine today, therefore, are the Gospel and the Letters that go under his name. I would now like to focus attention on the content of his teaching.

The writings that we want to examine today, therefore, are the Gospel and the Letters that go under his name. If there is one characteristic topic that emerges from John's writings, it is love. It is not by chance that I wanted to begin my first Encyclical Letter with this Apostle's words, "God is love Deus caritas est ; he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" I Jn 4: It is very difficult to find texts of this kind in other religions. Thus, words such as these bring us face to face with an element that is truly peculiar to Christianity. John, of course, is not the only author of Christian origin to speak of love.

Since this is an essential constituent of Christianity, all the New Testament writers speak of it, although with different emphases. If we are now pausing to reflect on this subject in John, it is because he has outlined its principal features insistently and incisively. We therefore trust his words. One thing is certain: No, he is not a theoretician. True love, in fact, by its nature is never purely speculative but makes a direct, concrete and even verifiable reference to real persons. Well, John, as an Apostle and a friend of Jesus, makes us see what its components are, or rather, the phases of Christian love, a movement marked by three moments.

The first concerns the very Source of love which the Apostle identifies as God, arriving at the affirmation that "God is love" I Jn 4: John is the only New Testament author who gives us definitions of God. He says, for example, that "God is spirit" Jn 4: Here he proclaims with radiant insight that "God is love". John does not limit himself to describing the divine action but goes to its roots.

Moreover, he does not intend to attribute a divine quality to a generic and even impersonal love; he does not rise from love to God, but turns directly to God to define his nature with the infinite dimension of love. By so doing, John wants to say that the essential constituent of God is love and hence, that all God's activity is born from love and impressed with love: At this point, however, it is indispensable to take another step and explain that God has concretely demonstrated his love by entering human history through the Person of Jesus Christ, incarnate, dead and risen for us.

This is the second constitutive moment of God's love. He did not limit himself to verbal declarations but, we can say, truly committed himself and "paid" in the first person. Exactly as John writes, "God so loved the world", that is, all of us, "that he gave his only Son" Jn 3: Henceforth, God's love for humanity is concretized and manifested in the love of Jesus himself.

By virtue of this oblative and total love we are radically ransomed from sin, as St John writes further: This is how Jesus' love for us reaches us: The Christian, pausing in contemplation before this "excess" of love, cannot but wonder what the proper response is. And I think each one of us, always and over and over again, must ask himself or herself this.

This question introduces us into the third moment of the dynamic of love: John speaks of a "commandment". He is, in fact, referring to these words of Jesus: Where is the newness to which Jesus refers? It lies in the fact that he is not content with repeating what had already been requested in the Old Testament and which we also read in the other Gospels: In the ancient precept the standard criterion was based on man "as yourself" , whereas in the precept to which John refers, Jesus presents his own Person as the reason for and norm of our love: It is in this way that love becomes truly Christian: Those words of Jesus, "as I have loved you", simultaneously invite and disturb us; they are a Christological goal that can appear unattainable, but at the same time they are an incentive that does not allow us to ensconce ourselves in what we have been able to achieve.

It does not permit us to be content with what we are but spurs us to keep advancing towards this goal. In The Imitation of Christ, that golden text of spirituality which is the small book dating back to the late Middle Ages, on this subject is written: Love will tend upwards and is not to be detained by things beneath. Love will be at liberty and free from all worldly affections The lover flies, runs and rejoices, he is free and not held. What better comment could there be on the "new commandment" spelled out by John?