Study Guide

Gospel of John Power

Power

"For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man." (NRSV 5:26-27)

For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. (KJV 5:26-27)

In the Gospel of John, God has given Jesus the power to act in God's place. Luckily, he doesn't let it go to his head. Not too much, at least.

Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. The Jews were astonished at it, saying, "How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?" Then Jesus answered them, "My teaching is not mine but his who sent me." (NRSV 7:14-16)

Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. (KJV 7:14-16)

The religious authorities are none too pleased that Jesus has wandered in from Galilee and started preaching about God with such authority. After all, he's just an uneducated peasant and they've got the fancy degrees (and student loans) to prove their clout.

"For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father." (NRSV 10:17-18)

Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (KJV 10:17-18)

Who's got the power now? Unlike in the other gospels, here Jesus's death is not portrayed as a moment of powerlessness, but a moment of might. Take that, other gospels.

"What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father's hand. The Father and I are one." The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, "I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?" The Jews answered, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God." (NRSV 10:29-33)

My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. (KJV 10:29-33)

The crowds think that no one has the authority to make this statement. What would you do if someone ran around proclaiming to be the son of God?

"The ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father." (NRSV 14:30-31)

The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. (KJV 14:30-31)

The ruler of this world is Satan (a.k.a. Lucifer, the Devil, the Prince of Darkness… you know the guy) and he's about to be run out of business. Jesus didn't come from this world—he came from God—so Satan has no authority when it comes to him. Check and mate.

"Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him." (NRSV 17:1-2)

Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. (KJV 17:1-2)

Time to pass the reign of power. Jesus and God share in heavenly power and Jesus asks that it be passed onto the disciples once he's gone for good.

[Pilate] entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, "Where are you from?" But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, "Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?" Jesus answered him, "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above." (NRSV 19:9-11)

[Pilate] went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above. (KJV 19:9-11)

Once again, Jesus rebuffs someone who thinks they know what's going on. Pilate isn't deciding whether or not to have Jesus executed—God has already decided that it will be so.

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