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约翰福音信息之一---约翰福音概述 An Overview of the Gospel of John

The gospel of John is the fourth gospel, it is written in a very simple style, easy to read and understand. According to the statistics, it contains 15420 words, with a total of 1011 vocabularies. Yet its theology is so deep and profound, with so many books of exegesis and commentary, still no one can completely grasp it. Now I will give you a brief introduction of this book, including the following topics.

Author, Date, Place, Audience, Purpose, Theme, Features, structure (outline), Theology, etc.

I. Author(作者)---Who wrote it?

The book itself claimed that “this is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down.” (“为这些事作见证,并且记载这些事的,就是这门徒。”)(John 21:24) This disciple was “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” (“耶稣所爱的那门徒。”)(John 21:20)

The term “the disciple whom Jesus loved” appeared several times in the book of John (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7;20;24), he must not be any disciple whose name is mentioned in the book (Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, Andrew, Philip, etc.), he is “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” therefore he must be one of the three inner circle of the disciples who were very close to Jesus---Peter, James and John. It was not Peter, for Peter’s name was mentioned many times, and James was beheaded by Herod (Acts 12:2) early in AD 40s, so it must be John the apostle.

John was the son of Zebedee, his brother was James, they were both fishermen. He was one of the twelve, and maybe the youngest of the disciples, and most likely he was the disciple of John the Baptist, and later followed Jesus. He was referred to be “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” who was the last one departed from the world, and he was the only one who survived from Nero’s great persecutions, for all others martyred for Jesus Christ. John was standing under the cross, and Jesus entrusted His mother to him. John survived from the Roman emperor Nero, but he was exiled to the island of Patmos during the reign of Roman emperor Domitian. His other writings include the first, second and third John the epistles and the book of Revelation.

II. Date(日期)---When was it written?

AD 85-96

According to the tradition, Apostle John passed away in AD 98, it should be written well after AD 70, the destruction of the Temple, for the book does not mention it at all. This would place the writing during the reign of Domitian (AD. 81-96).

III. Audience(对象)---To whom was it written?

It was originally written to the Christians of Asia Minor. It was written of cause to all man.

IV. Place(地点)---Where was it written?

Ephesus---Where John spent his senior years.

V. Purpose(目的)---Why was it written?

1. Theological(神学性): the gospel of John is the great book of Christology; it records the person and attributes of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. 圣经基督论的重要文献,记述基督的位格和属性。

2. Biographical(补充性): it provides the contents that were not covered by other synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). 补充符类福音所缺乏的内容。

3. Apologetical(护教性): the gospel of John records seven miracles, seven “I Ams” and seven testimonial personals in order to prove that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. 记载主耶稣的七个神迹,七个我是,和七个见证人,证明耶稣是基督,神的儿子。

4. Polemical(辩论性): the gospel of John was written to refute the early heresy in the form of Gnosticism, which denied the Deity and Humanity of Jesus Christ. 反驳诺斯底主义的异端。

5. Spiritual(属灵性): Clement of Alexandria called it a spiritual gospel. It contains a lot of so-called spiritual vs fleshly conversation between Jesus and the Jews as well as His disciples. 革利免称之为属灵的福音。

6. Evangelistic(福音性):it is gospel of evangelism. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 is often called the greatest verse in all the Bible, it is also called the gospel in a nutshell, or a miniature Bible. 约翰福音是传福音的福音书。约翰福音三章十六节被认为是圣经最伟大的经节,被称为浓缩的福音,或称为微型圣经。

VI. Theme(主题)---What is it about?

Eternal Life comes through the belief in Jesus Christ (信靠耶稣基督得永生。)

Key verses/主题经节:


“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (约20:31)


"For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”(约3:16)


“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”(约17:3)


“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”(约1:12)


“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”(约10:10)

VII. Features(特征)---What are unique?

Gospel Matthew, Mark and Luke together are called synoptic gospel(对观福音), because they record almost same stories about Jesus in a similar words and events, each of them overlapped a large portion of the recording. While the gospel of John is distinct in many ways, it is called Autoptic gospel (验证福音). It is unique, there are only 8% of its contents are overlapped with other gospels.

A. The gospel does not cover the following (不包括的内容)

The gospel of John’s main purpose is not biographical about Jesus’ life; therefore, it omits Genealogy(家谱),His birth(出生),Baptism(受洗),Temptation(试探),driving out demons(赶鬼),Parables(比喻),Transfiguration(登山变相),ordaining the holy communion(设立圣餐), prayer in Gethsemane(客西马尼园祷告), His ascension (升天)etc.

The gospel of John focus on Jesus’ ministry in Jerusalem, it emphasizes Jesus’ personal evangelization and service, e.g. His conversation with the Samaritan woman, His talk with Nicodemus, His farewell teaching to His disciples.

B. Key words(关键词)

Believe (信)、Abide(住在)、Ask(求)、Eternal Life(永生)、Father(父)、Glory(荣耀)、Heaven(天)、Time (时候)、Judgment(审判)、Know(知道)、Life(生命)、Light(光)、Love(爱)、Accept(接受)、Send(差遣)、Sign(神迹)、Truth(真理)、Truly Truly I tell you(我实实在在地告诉你)、Testimony(见证)、World(世界)等。

C. The Three Sevens(三个七):

Seven Miracles(七个神迹);Seven “I Am” statements (七个我是);Seven Personals (七个见证人)。

The three sevens confirm the deity of Jesus Christ in accordance with the purpose of this book of John, that you may know Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.(John 20:31)

D. Jesus’ Discourses(耶稣的讲论)

The gospel of John does not have any parables but contains fourteen discourses of Jesus. Out of 866 verses, nearly 50% (419 verses) are Jesus’ Words.

The 14 discourses of Jesus in the book of John(约翰福音记载耶稣十四个重要讲论):

1. The mystery of regeneration(论重生奥秘)(3:1-21)

2. The spring of the living water(论活水源泉)(4:1-26)

3. The source of life (论生命之源)(5:16-47)

4. The bread of life (论生命之粮)(6:22-58)

5. The source of truth (论真理之源)(7:14-24)

6. The Light of the world(论世界之光)(8:12-19)

7. The object of faith(信心的对象)(8:21-29)

8. The truth and the freedom (真理与自由)(8:31-58)

9. The good shepherd(我是好牧人)(10:1-18)

10. The oneness with the Father (与父原为一)(10:22-38)

11. The Savior of the world(世界的救主)(12:23-36)

12. Return to the Father (归回天父家)(13:31-14:31)

13. The Vine and the branch (葡萄树与枝)(15:1-27)

14. The Holy Spirit and His ministry (圣灵及工作)(16:1-33)

John 17 is Jesus’ lengthy prayer, which is called the prayer of the High Priest. (约翰福音十七章,被称为大祭司祷文。)

VIII. Structure(结构)---What is its Outline?

Here is the structural outline of the gospel of John(约翰福音结构纲要):

A. The Prologue (前言) (1:1-18)

1. The Logos(道)(1:1-5)

2. The witness of John the Baptist(施洗约翰)(1;6-8)

3. The light(光)(1:9-13)

4. The Incarnation(道成肉身)(1:14-18)

B. Jesus’ Public Ministry (耶稣的公开事工) (1:19-12:50)

1. The forerunner and disciples of Jesus(先锋和门徒) (1:19-51)

2. Jesus changes water into wine and cleanses the temple court (变水为酒及洁净圣殿) (2)

3. Jesus teaches Nicodemus (会见尼哥的母) (3)

4. Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman (与撒马利亚妇人谈道) (4)

5. Jesus heals an invalid at the pool (医治瘫痪病人) (5)

6. Jesus feeds the five thousand and the Bread of life(五饼二鱼与生命之粮) (6)

7. Jesus the spring of the living water (活水的泉源) (7)

8. The amazing grace and the light of the world(赦罪恩典与世界之光) (8)

9. Jesus heals a man born blind (瞎眼得以看见) (9)

10. Jesus the good shepherd(耶稣好牧人) (10)

11. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead (拉撒路复活) (11)

12. Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem (耶稣荣耀进京) (12)

C. Jesus’ Private Ministry (耶稣的隐藏事工)(13:1-17:26)

1. Jesus washes His disciples’ feet(耶稣为门徒洗脚) (13)

2. Jesus the only Way(唯一的道路) (14)

3. Jesus the true Vine (真葡萄树) (15)

4. The promise of the Holy Spirit (应许圣灵) (16)

5. The Prayer of the High Priest (大祭司祷文) (17)

D. Jesus’ Passion and resurrection (耶稣的受难与复活) (18:1-20:31)

1. Jesus arrested(耶稣的被捕) (18)

2. Jesus’ trial (耶稣的受审) (18-19)

3. Jesus’ death and burial (耶稣的受死与埋葬) (19)

4. Jesus’ Resurrection(耶稣的复活) (20)

E. The Epilogue (后记) (21:1-25)

1. Jesus’ appearance by the lake (耶稣在加利利岸边显现)(21:1-14)

2. Jesus’s reinstating of Peter(彼得的恢复与建立)(21:15-23)

3. The Colophon (结语)(21:24-25)

IX. Theology(神学)---Why is it so profound?

The theology of the book of John(约翰福音中的神学):

1. Theology Proper(神本体论):The Trinity(三位一体)

2. Christology (基督论):

基督的先存性(Preexistence),基督的位格(The Person of Christ),耶稣的神性(The Deity of Jesus),耶稣的人性(The humanity of Jesus),耶稣神的儿子(Jesus as Son of God);耶稣作为人子(Jesus as Son of Man),耶稣基督弥赛亚(Jesus as Messiah),耶稣太初有道(Jesus as the Logos),基督的道成肉身(Incarnation of Christ),耶稣神的羔羊(Jesus as the Lamb of God),基督的死而复活(Jesus’passion and resurrection),基督的荣耀(The glorification of Christ)

3. Pneumatology(圣灵论):(The Counselor保惠师)(约1:29-34;3:5;6:63;7:38-39;14:16;15:26;16:8-15)

4. Soteriology(救赎论):Regeneration(重生)(3:5);Redemption(救赎)(3:16-17;12:32;19:28-30;)Belief(相信),Eternal Life(永生)

5. Eschatology (末世论):Resurrection(复活),Judgement (审判)(5:24;28-29)

X. The Three Sevens(三个七)---What are they?

A. Seven Miracles(七个神迹)

1. Changing water into wine(变水为酒) (2:1-11)

2. Healing an official’s son (医治大臣的儿子) (4:46-54)

3. Healing an invalid at the pool of Bethesda (医治瘫痪三十八年的病人) (5:1-18)

4. Feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fishes (五饼二鱼喂饱五千人) (6:5-14)

5. Walking on the water of the sea of Galilee(在海面上行走) (6:16-21)

6. Healing a man born blind (医治生来瞎眼的人) (9:1-11)

7. Raising Lazarus from the dead(使拉撒路从死里复活) (11:1-45)

These signs of Jesus showed His divine power over nature; proved himself the master of space and distance, master of quantity by multiplying; demonstrated His power over time; His authority over disease and death.

All these signs are to confirm the deity of Jesus Christ, His power over substance, quantity, quality, relation, space, time, position, action, state etc. to prove Jesus to be the Son of God. (耶稣的神迹显明祂掌控:物质【质与量】,空间,时间,关系,位置,状态,行动等,证明祂是基督,是神的儿子。)

The eighth miracle was recorded in the epilogue of this book, Jesus made His disciples to have a great catch of a large number of fish. (21:1-13))

The biggest miracle was, of cause, the resurrection of Jesus Himself, He defeated the last enemy of mankind---death. (20:1-9)

B. Seven “I Ams” (七个我是)

1. “I am the Bread of life.”(我是生命的粮) (6:35)

2. “I am the Light of the world.” (我是世界的光) (8:12)

3. “I am the Gate of sheep.” (我是羊的门) (10:7; 9)

4. “I am the Good Shepherd.” (我是好牧人)(10:11;14)

5. “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”(我是复活和生命)(11:25)

6. “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.”(我是道路、真理、生命)(14:6)

7. “I am the true Vine.” (我是真葡萄树)(15:1; 5)

In the biblical Greek language, the subject is always included in the verb, and the subject is reflected by the changing of the form of the verb.

So the Greek word εἰμι is “I am,” the phrase “ἐγώ εἰμι” (I---I AM)has great theological significance, especially in the gospel of John, it is translated as “I AM” in capital letter, which is the name of God.

“Moses said to God, Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is His name?' Then what shall I tell them? God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.’”

“摩西对神说,我到以色列人那里,对他们说,‘你们祖宗的神打发我到你们这里来。他们若问我说,他叫什么名字?我要对他们说什么呢?’ 神对摩西说,‘我是自有永有的。’又说,‘你要对以色列人这样说,那自有的打发我到你们这里来。’”(出3:1-14)

In John 8, Jesus said to the Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing My day; he saw it and was glad. ‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ the Jews said to Him, ‘and you have seen Abraham!’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I AM!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone Him.” (John8:56-59)

“你们的祖宗亚伯拉罕欢欢喜喜地仰望我的日子。既看见了,就快乐。犹太人说,你还没有五十岁,岂见过亚伯拉罕呢?耶稣说,我实实在在地告诉你们,还没有亚伯拉罕,就有了我。于是他们拿石头要打祂。” (约8:56-59)

Apparently, when Jesus said, ‘before Abraham was born, I AM.’ He was claiming: “I am God.”

The Jew’s response showed that they understood what Jesus meant, so they picked up stones to stone Him.

All together of Jesus’ “I AM” statements confirmed His deity, He is equal with God. (John5:18)

In addition to the above mentioned seven “I AM” statements, there are some other “I AM” claims of Jesus in the book of John, also pointed to His deity as Son of God.

“耶稣说,这和你说话的就是祂。” Then Jesus declared, ‘I who speak to you am He.’”(John/约4:26)

“I AM, who is speaking to you.”

“你们若不信我是基督,必要死在罪中。” “If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” (John/约8:24)

“If you do not believe that I AM, you will surely die in your sins.”

(see also John 6:20; 8:28; 18:6)

C. Seven Personals (七个见证人)

1. John the Baptist(施洗约翰): “I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” “我看见了,就证明这是神的儿子。” (约1:34)

2. Nathanael(拿但业): “Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” “拿但业说,拉比,你是神的儿子。你是以色列的王。” (约1:49)

3. Peter(彼得): “We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” “我们已经信了,又知道你是神的圣者 。” (约6:69)

4. Martha (马大): “‘Yes, Lord,’she told Him, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God.’” “马大说,主阿,是的,我信你是基督,是神的儿子。” (约11:27)

5. Thomas(多马): “Thomas said to Him, "My Lord and my God!” “多马说,‘我的主,我的神’ 。” (约20:28)

6. John(约翰): “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” “耶稣是基督,是神的儿子。” (约20:31)

7. Jesus(耶稣): “Why then do you accuse Me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son?’” “祂自称是神的儿子,你们还向祂说,你说僭妄的话吗?”(约10:36)

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (约20:31)



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