The Gospel of John: Three Things to Know


The Gospel of John is a fascinating unique account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. But before you read the book, it may help to learn a few things about the author and his reason for writing about Jesus. John is a self-described beloved disciple of Jesus. John was the youngest of all the disciples who walked with Jesus during his earthly ministry and notably the only disciple that did not abandon Jesus during his crucifixion. John is the disciple Jesus would appoint to care for Mary as his own mother. But scholars agree he wrote his gospel account much later than the other three gospel accounts we have. And the gospel of John reads much differently than the other gospel accounts. Why? Because at this point, wise elderly John is wanting to give us a very clear explanation of why he wrote the book: 

John's Clear Thesis Statement

Do you remember writing papers in school and your English teacher insist you begin with a thesis statement? These are typically one sentence where you state the clear purpose of your paper and what it is you are arguing. Thesis statements can be a pain to write, but it sure makes reading a book easier!

John gives a clear thesis statement for what he wants us as readers to take away from his gospel account at the end of the book of John (20:30-31):

The Purpose of This Book
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

This purpose is clear: John writes so that we recognize the signs that Jesus gives that he is the Messiah (John 1-12) so that we may understand the significance of his death and resurrection to have life in his name.

Jesus' Final Days on Earth

The final week or so of Jesus' life on earth is likely the most well-documented period of any person's life in antiquity. We know more about the days leading up to the resurrection (John 12-20) than we know of any single week in the life of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, or any other historical figure. John gives us more details than any of the other three gospel writers provide for us.

As you read the second half of the gospel of John recognize this is all happening in a single week. Much of these chapters are in the night of his arrest and the day of his crucifixion. John gives us intimate details of Jesus final meal with his disciples and provides a window into the aspects of Jesus' teaching and ministry that he deemed to be most important.

The Gospel in a Nutshell

If you have only heard one verse of the Bible in your life, it is probably John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." This is the gospel in a nutshell. If you only could read one verse to understand John's gospel, this is the most important. In fact, it is a good summary of the entire Bible. The whole Bible leads us to an understanding of God's love for sinful people and faith in Jesus alone opening the door to eternal life.


Michael McAfee is the president and co-founder of Inspire, a worship pastor at Council Road Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, and an ethics and public policy PhD student at The Southern Theological Seminary.  Michael is happily married to his Sunday-school sweetheart, Lauren Green McAfee. Together, they co-authored Not What You Think.  They have a daughter, Zion.  You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

View more posts from Michael McAfee.

Listen Now
Read Now