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A close reading of John’s Gospel Epiphany 2020


Readings in John Review of Introduction Written so “you may come to believe” Jesus as Son of God and “have life in his name.” (20:31) Conversion AND continual process of growth COURTROOM language: “testimony” - YOU choose The “Book of Signs” — not ‘merely’ miracles. 7; 5 of which are unique to John All POINT to identity of Jesus as “son of God” and his mission


John vs Synoptics Long speeches rather than parables Very little about “Kingdom of God”… emphasis: “eternal life” you can have NOW Ministry happens mostly in Judea, most in Jerusalem (whereas Synoptics mostly in Galilee) Beginning context is THEOLOGICAL, not HISTORICAL… no birth narrative; rather: origin focus = DIVINITY and SPIRITUAL ID


“Arche” In the beginning •

Echo of Genesis 1:1. Many connections

“en arche” first words in LXX (Septuagint — Greek OT)

• • •

Word creating at beginning / again! 7 days, signs, organizing CREATION Light vs darkness (1st day creation)

Word became “flesh” / lived among us, XMAS

• •

“pitched his tent” — Israel in tents Against Gnostics, challenge GK philosophy


MORE Echoes of Genesis • Darkness can not “overcome” or extinguish, comprehend, understand • “Life” is also theme of Gen (living creatures) • Yet here “eternal life” rather than natural (Tree of life would have provided but human sin cut us off) • “This life was the light of humans” because the tree of life was closely associated with the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If Adam had survived the test, we would have had eternal life and enlightenment. • The attempt to “overcome” the light by darkness ties to the “Fall” of Adam. But hope was given in Gen 3:15 when it says the serpent would NOT overcome Eve’s offspring! The seed of Adam and Eve in NT theology is Christ — who would be victorious over Satan (Rev 7 where the victory of Jesus is pictured in the victory of the woman’s child over the serpent!)


In the beginning was the WORD—“Logos” • “WORD” = LOGOS; GK philosophy controlling and organizing force.

• Hebrew “word” represents creative power of God. Each of six days, God speaks creation into being.

• “Then God said, Let there be light and there was light.”

• “Word” connected also with revelation (Jer 1:4; Is 9:8); deliverance / salvation (Ps 107:20; Is 55:11); Wisdom (Pro 8)

• NOT concerned Trinitarian definitions


John 1 — Other Worthy of Note John is witness to the light… NOT the light He comes to his own, but they don’t accept “Power to become children of God” The one who baptizes (not with water) but the Spirit Calls: Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip, Nathaniel Lamb of God & Omniscience— fig tree, etc


Wedding at Cana Weddings were weeklong demonstration of “hospitality” — to run out of wine is social disgrace. Note Mary gives “testimony” to Jesus identity by her assumptions Water jugs are for rites of “purification,” now become holders for “celebration”. The old covenant could prepare you. Christ goes beyond. Sign is that Christ brings JOY — and ABUNDANT joy.


Trouble in Temple

Similar account in the Synoptics, BUT in others this is near the end, not the beginning. In Synoptics, this becomes the motivation for the chief priests to plot the arrest and crucifixion. What is the incident for cause for their decision in John? Practice of selling animals for sacrifices is for convenience of worshipers. What is complaint of Jesus? Temple should be “light to nations” but corruption makes it less so — light challenging darkness “Destroy Temple” Incident shows the beginnings of conflict with authority in culture and faith


Questions to consider Where do you see “darkness” trying to extinguish light? What keeps light on? How is John the Baptist a model for our life and ministry? If John is a “preparer” for others to receive Christ, how can you do that for someone? “Grace and Truth” — How is Christ our “Truth” (Note: Moses challenges us to conform our lives around God’s Truth. Jesus IS truth.) How does the “lamb of God” take away the sin of the world? What ways does the sign at Cana apply today?

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The Gospel of John, Week 2, Good Book Club  

The Gospel of John, Week 2, Good Book Club