Place Written: Ephesus or near
Writing Completed: c. 98 C.E.
Time Covered: After prologue, 29-33 C.E.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke had been circulating for over 30 years when John wrote his account. Even so, John had much to add to the record of Jesus’ life and ministry; some 90 percent of his account is material not covered in the other three Gospels.
John’s Gospel alone discusses Jesus’ prehuman existence. John’s account starts with that important truth and later includes testimony by John the Baptist and by Jesus himself. (Joh 1:1-3; 3:12, 13; 8:58) Six miracles are unique to John’s account, including Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine and his last miracle, after his being resurrected, of the huge catch of fish.
John was apparently among the first of John the Baptist’s disciples to be introduced to Jesus and one of the first four to be invited to be followers of Christ. (Mr 1:16-20; Joh 1:35-39) John, who may have been a cousin of Jesus, developed a close friendship with Jesus, becoming known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” (Joh 13:23; 21:20, 24) John was present at the heartbreaking scene of execution, where Jesus entrusted the care of his mother to John. Also, it was John who outran Peter as they sped to the tomb to investigate the report that Jesus had risen.—Joh 19:26, 27; 20:2-4.
Rather than featuring Jesus’ public addresses, John records many dialogues with individuals, both disciples and opposers. John gives us an intimate portrait of Jesus, including his longest recorded prayer to his Father.—Joh 17:1-26.
John’s Gospel soars to its greatest heights in making known the warm love between Father and Son, as well as the relationship to be found by being in union with them. John uses the words “love” and “loved” more often than the other three Gospel writers combined.
A small papyrus fragment of John’s Gospel (some verses of chapter 18), cataloged as Rylands Papyrus 457, is considered by many scholars to be the oldest existing Greek manuscript of the Christian Greek Scriptures. It is dated to sometime in the first half of the second century. The fact that a copy of John’s Gospel was circulating in Egypt, where the fragment was discovered, by that time gives strong support that the “Good News According to John” was recorded in the first century C.E. and by John himself.
John wrote his Gospel so that those reading it might “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,” and “may have life by means of his name.”—Joh 20:31.