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The Fourth Gospel
A Study of the Gospel according to JOHN
pp. 126 - 130
The four inspired records which we call the Gospels give us the basis of the finished
work of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are historic facts, His birth, death, resurrection and
ascension, and are fundamental to the Christian faith. In them we find recorded His
words, work and witness, and presented in four different aspects. Doubtless God could
have inspired a single complete account of that life and ministry, but He has not seen fit
to do so.
The character of each Gospel determines for whom it was written. It is evident that
Matthew was written for Jewish believers as witness its references to prophecies fulfilled,
to the "city of the great King", to David, and so on. Mark and Luke had Gentiles in view;
Mark specially for Romans, and Luke for Greeks, Mark emphasizing the ideal of power,
and Luke the ideal of perfection.
As the Hebrews, the Romans, and the Greeks were the three great representative
peoples of the world, we may ask for whom John could write. The answer is found in a
consideration of the author, the date of the Gospel and its contents. It is certain that this
Gospel was written after the other three and that the writer was acquainted with them.
There were aspects of Christ's ministry which had not been recorded by the Synoptic
Gospels. John omits much which the Synoptists record, and records much that they omit.
He is often full where they are concise and concise where they are full, and this gives the
impression that the Evangelist intended to supplement the other Gospels. This is borne
out by the early Fathers. Clement of Alexandria, quoted by Eusebius, says, "last of all,
John, observing that in the other Gospels those things were related that concerned the
Body (of Christ), and being persuaded by friends, and also move by the Spirit of God,
wrote a spiritual Gospel". The witness of Papias, Irenaeus, Jerome, and Augustine is to
the same effect.
Date and Place of Writing.
The consensus of reliable testimony points to the close of the first century as the time
the Gospel of John was written. The evidence for an early date is poor and unreliable.
Dr. R. 5: G. Tasker writes in The New Bible Dictionary on John the Apostle and ends
his quotation in this way:
"Westcott concluded that nothing is better attested in early church history than the
residence and work of St. John at Ephesus. It is true that Westcott wrote before evidence