Distinctive Characteristics of John’s Gospel

A. John’s Gospel begins with a hymnic prologue that presents Jesus as the preexistent Logos made flesh (1:1–18).

B. John’s Gospel appears to be related in some way to the three Johannine Epistles.

C. John’s Gospel claims to be based on the testimony of someone called the “beloved disciple” (19:35; 21:20–24).

D. John’s Gospel shows signs of having been edited.

The story of the woman caught in adultery (7:53–8:11) is missing in some manuscripts and is located at different places in John’s Gospel in others. (In some authorities the story is found in the Gospel of Luke instead of the Gospel of John.)

“You look for an opportunity to kill me” (8:37) (addressed to the Jews who believe in him [8:31])

“Mary was the one who anointed the Lord” (11:2) (but not until 12:3)

E. Ninety percent of the content in John’s Gospel is unparalleled, and stories in John that are found elsewhere are told quite differently from the parallels.

F. John appears to know numerous minor details not reported by the other Gospels (especially with regard to the passion narrative).

G. John’s Gospel presents a very different chronology for Jesus’s ministry than that of the other Gospels.

H. The content and style of Jesus’s teaching in John’s Gospel is different from the other Gospels.

I. In John’s Gospel, the miracles of Jesus are depicted as signs (2:11; 4:54; 6:2, 14; 12:18) that are intended to lead people to believe (20:30).

J. Misunderstanding is a common motif in John’s Gospel.

K. John’s Gospel makes abundant use of symbolism.

L. John’s Gospel identifies Jesus’s opponents as “the Jews,” a term that is not widely used in the other Gospels (only Matt. 28:15 and Mark 7:3).

M. John’s Gospel emphasizes love for one another as the single new commandment of Jesus and as the distinctive mark of his followers (13:34–35).

N. John’s Gospel emphasizes the role of the Spirit, the Paraclete.

O. John’s Gospel has its own special vocabulary for “salvation.”

having “life” or “eternal life” (3:14–17, 36; 5:39–40; 10:10; 20:31; cf. 1 John 5:12)

knowing “the truth” (8:32; cf. 1:14, 17; 3:21; 5:33; 16:13; 17:17–19; 18:37); compare with John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”

P. John’s Gospel presents Jesus’s crucifixion as his exaltation.

1. Rudolph Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, trans. Kendrick Grobel, 2 vols. (New York: Scribner’s, 1951, 1955), 2:66.