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Gospel of John Introduction

In A Nutshell

Here at Shmoop, we've got some pretty core beliefs:

  • Coke is better than Pepsi. Obviously.
  • The Red Sox are the best baseball team on the planet. And we liked them before 1918.
  • Jacob is obviously the better choice for Bella. Wish we could have told her that before she chose immortal life with a vamp. Oops.

We're pretty sold on these beliefs, but how far would we really go for them? Sure, we'd tell the world via Shmoop. But would we risk alienating our friends and family if they didn't agree? Well, maybe for the Red Sox thing, but generally, not so much.

The Gospel of John is all about sticking by what we know is right. It's true that there aren't many people who would go to battle over the soft drink wars (or at least we hope not). But when it comes to the big questions in life—faith, family, politics, justice, and love—we might risk a little more. But that takes a lot of guts. Just ask Jesus.

The Gospel of John isn't your average Matthew, Mark, or Luke. It also wasn't written by a guy named John, although the people who put it in the Bible thought Jesus's disciple John had written it. Now we're pretty sure that there were actually multiple writers; after all, there are all kinds of awkward transitions and weird edits within the story.

What's so different about John? We're glad we asked:

  • Jesus doesn't talk as much about a "kingdom of God."
  • Jesus doesn't teach in parables.
  • Jesus talks about himself a lot more. Sometimes he even used metaphors to explain who he was. 
  • Jesus didn't perform tons of miracles or heal people possessed by demons.

The main message: the only way they could know God is to know Jesus. Period. Just put your faith in Jesus… or else God will not be amused.

P.S. Don't feel bad if your beliefs don't inspire others to create the most popular religion in the world or anything. Start out slow. Worried about the environment? Start a recycling program. Think bullying is wrong? Stand up to the meanies. Love the Yankees? Hmmm… that one you might want to keep to yourself.


Why Should I Care?

The Bible is for rebels.

What's that you say? Reading the Bible is a pretty tame way to rebel? Oh, we get it. You think the Bible is just for old ladies with musty church hats or little kids forced to sit through boring Sunday school lectures. Well, Doubting Thomas, we're pretty sure you haven't read the Gospel of John.

Not only is Jesus—the star of the Gospel of John—the original rebel (flying in the face of authority and getting crucified is pretty hardcore), the authors of John's Gospel were pretty radical, too. Even though they probably knew about the other three gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—they didn't worry their pretty little heads about making sure their gospel was just Part Four of an unstoppable Jesus quadrilogy. They did their own thing.

As a result, you get all new material. Ever heard of someone casting the first stone? Turning water into wine? How about Lazarus rising from the dead? Ever been called a Doubting Thomas? (Oh, yeah, that was us…) Well, you can thank those rebels over at the Gospel of John. They invented those stories. In fact, the authors of John's Gospel were so revolutionary that nearly 80% of what they wrote is totally unique to their gospel (source).

So, what do you think? Ready to rebel? Hop on your bike and ride over to the first chapter of John's Gospel. We'll meet you there… as soon as we get this weird smell out of our church hats.

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