An EasyEnglish Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on John’s *Gospel
A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.
The author wrote this *gospel (good news) in Ephesus about 60 years after the death of Jesus. Nowhere does it say that John the *disciple wrote the *gospel. However, the early *church believed that he did. The early Christian writers in about AD 200 agreed that John was the author.
John was the youngest son of Zebedee and Salome. Zebedee owned a boat on the Sea of Galilee.
John is one of the 12 *disciples. Jesus called John, and James, who was John’s brother, to become his *disciples (Mark 1:20). Together with Peter and James, John was a close friend of Jesus. Sometimes Jesus chose just these three to be near to him.
John does not mention his own name in this *gospel, but he writes four times of ‘the *disciple whom Jesus loved’ (13:23-25; 19:25-27; 20:2; 21:20). Twice John says that he saw what happened at a particular time (19:35; 21:24). The other three *gospel writers mention John many times.
Why John wrote this *gospel
John’s *gospel is telling the good news of our *salvation from *sin by Jesus Christ. This *gospel is different from the other three. It does not tell us so many of the events of Jesus’ life. For example, it does not tell of his birth. John wants to tell us more than the story of Jesus’ life; he tries to explain the meaning behind the things that Jesus said and did. He tells us who Jesus Christ is rather than what he does. John wrote about the great mystery - that Jesus is God as well as a man.
John wrote his *gospel for believers in the early *churches. These *churches were in the countries of Greece and Asia. He wanted to help them to develop in their Christian lives. He wanted to show them why they should look at Jesus. They would discover what God the Father is like. Jesus is the one who shows the *glory and greatness of God to the world. God shows his *glory through his Son. He is a man born of a woman. He lives among people (Matthew 1:16).
John tells us why he wrote the *gospel - ‘that all may believe’ (20:30-31). John speaks about ‘signs’. They are things that really happened. They show that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is the ‘*Messiah’. He is a person whom the *Jews were expecting to come from God. This person would save *Israel, God’s people. He would save them from their enemies. (Jesus did provide a way to save *Israel, but not as the *Jews expected.)
The *salvation that Jesus obtained for us at the *cross means that we can have God’s life now, while we are alive. Moreover, we can have it for all time in *heaven after we die.
Part 1 ~ A *hymn to praise Jesus, the Word (1:1-18)
The first 18 verses of John’s *Gospel tell us about the Word. To the *gentile Greeks the Word was the power that made everything to exist and grow. It was the reason and mind behind everything that is. The Word was the power that made the world. However, they did not believe that the Word was a person. Neither did they believe that the Word existed before the world, the sun, moon and the stars. The Greeks did not believe that the Word was *eternal.
There is a difference between the Greeks’ and the *Jews’ thoughts. John understands that the Word became a person. That person was there before there was a world or anything. The *Jews believed that God made everything through the power of his words. They spoke about the Word of Wisdom (Proverbs 8:22). The *Jews also knew how important the Word was when God spoke it. “God said, ‘Let there be light; and there was light’ ” (Genesis 1:3). See also Isaiah 55:11. The book of Revelation describes Jesus as ‘the Word of God’ (Revelation 19:13).
In these first 18 verses, John says that God’s Word became a person, the man called Jesus. The *gospels of Matthew and Luke tell the story of Jesus’ birth. John tries to explain why God sent his Son to earth. He is trying to tell us about a very special person, Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God and the perfect man.
The Greeks had another thought. It was about the world in which we live and the things that we can see. To them this was not the real world. Their world was another world, one you cannot see. That world was a perfect and beautiful place. They saw the world we live in merely as a copy of their real (that you cannot see) world. So John tells us that a real person came into the real world. Jesus is the ‘real’ light (1:9). Jesus is the ‘real’ bread (6:32). Jesus is the ‘real’ *vine (15:1). To Jesus belongs the ‘real’ *judgement (8:16). Jesus is a real person in the Greeks’ world of shadows.
That is what John means when he talks of Jesus’ *miracles as signs. They show what is real in the Greeks’ world of shadows. The real is in God himself. Jesus is the Word who shows the real and true God. The *miracles (signs) that Jesus did healed people. But John does not think so much about what they did. He sees them as ‘for the *glory of God’ (2:11; 11:4 and 9:3). To John these *miracles are like a window. They show Jesus to us. He alone is real and true. Jesus is God come to earth as a person.