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Friday, March 8, 2013

"Belief" In John's Gospel

The significance of believing in John's gospel is grounded in the fulfillment of the purpose of the gospel in John 20:30-31, "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." In other words, believing in the unrivaled testimony of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is the prerogative for John's mission and purpose in his gospel. John the evangelist writes for many to believe unto salvation in the Messiah.

The importance of "belief" in John's gospel is supported by the biblical data where the terminology occurs 98 times. Belief in John's gospel, however, carries "irony" towards belief that is thematically and theologically woven in the narrative and linked to the signs of Jesus (e.g. Jesus does signs to believe in him; Jews see signs and do not believe in him, [cf. John 1:11]).

John records the "signs" of Jesus to reveal his deity and manifest his glory, as in John 2:11, "This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him." The term "signs" are repeatedly used in John and wrapped up in the context of belief (cf. 2:23; 3:2; 4:48; 6:2, 26; 7:31; 9:16; 11:47 [12:37; 20:30]). However, the "irony of belief" is defined by the Jews rejecting Jesus in John 12:37, "Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did 'not believe' in him." This verse really points to the bigger theological meaning of "belief" in John. The Jews misunderstood the signs of Jesus, and as a result did not believe in him as the Messiah. The outcasts, however, understood the signs of Jesus, and as a result believed in him just as recorded in John 6:14, "When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!"For this reason, it is appropriate to suggest the "irony of belief" in John's gospel is fundamentally grounded in the biblical data which points to believing in Jesus as Messiah as the most superior determination according the gospel narrative.

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