Imatges de pÓgina





I. Its Authorship

II. Its Sources

III. For what Readers and with what Object it was written

IV. At what Place and Time it was written

V. In what Language it was written

VI. Its Genuineness

VII. Its Style and Character

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I. Its Authorship .


II. Its Sources


III. For what Readers and with what Object it was written

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1. THE universal belief of the Christian Church has ascribed this Gospel to the Apostle John. I shall not here anticipate the discussion respecting its genuineness (see below, § vi.), but assume that it has been rightly so ascribed.

2. John was son of Zebedee and Salome, and younger (?)1 brother of James. His father was a Galilæan, and by occupation a fisherman on the lake of Galilee. Where he resided, is uncertain: perhaps at Bethsaida: but the circumstance of Simon Peter, who was of that place, being (Luke v. 10) partner in the fishing trade, or perhaps, in that particular expedition only with the sons of Zebedee, is no proof as to their residence there also.

3. The family of John seems not to have been one of the lowest class: we find hired servants in the ship with Zebedee, Mark i. 20; their mother Salome was one of those women who came with Jesus from Galilee, and ministered to him of their substance, Luke viii. 3; xxiii. 55, compared with Mark xvi. 1; the same Salome was one of those who bought sweet spices and ointments to anoint Him (Mark, as above); and, John xix. 27, we find John himself taking the mother of our Lord "to his own home," which though (see note there) it need not imply that John had then a house at Jerusalem, certainly denotes that he had some fixed habitation, into which she was received. If, as is most likely, John be meant by the "other disciple" of ch. xviii. 15, he was personally known to the High Priest Caiaphas. From all these facts the inference is that his family belonged to the middle class of society; the higher grade of those who carried on the by no means despised or ungainful business of fishermen on the sea of Galilee.

4. If (see note on John i. 41) the second of the two disciples who heard the Baptist's testimony to Jesus, and followed Him in con

1 This is by no means certain. While Matt. and Mark always write 'Peter, James, and John'-Luke, ix. 28, and Acts i. 13 (in the older MSS.), has 'Peter, John, and James;' although in the other catalogue of the Apostles, Luke vi. 14, he keeps the usual order. It is impossible to say whether the order arose from any account at all being taken of mere seniority.

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sequence, was John himself,—we have his acquaintance with our Lord dating from the very beginning of His ministry. And to this agree the contents of chapters ii. iii. iv. v., containing particulars of the Ministry at Jerusalem and in Galilee which happened previous to the commencement of the official record of the other Evangelists. It seems that John accompanied our Lord to Jerusalem,-with perhaps those of the Apostles already called,-and witnessed those incidents which he has related in that part of his Gospel.

5. In the intervals of our Lord's first circuits and journeys, the Apostles seem to have returned to their families and occupations. Thus in Luke v. 1-11, we find the sons of Zebedee, as well as Simon Peter, again engaged in fishing, and solemnly and finally summoned by Jesus to follow Him; an incident which, as Lücke acknowledges, would be inexplicable even by the miracle, unless there had been a previous acquaintance on their part with our Lord.

6. From that time John belonged to that chosen number known as 'the Twelve,' who were nearest to the Person of Jesus during His ministry. And of that number, he seems to have been the most personally beloved by our Lord. For the assumption that he is the author of our Gospel, also identifies him with the disciple whom Jesus loved,' so often mentioned in it. (See ch. xiii. 23; xix. 26; xx. 2; xxi. 7, 20, 24.) He, together with his brother James, and Peter, was witness of the raising of Jaïrus's daughter, Mark v. 37: also of the transfiguration, Matt. xvii. 1 ff.; and of the agony in Gethsemane: he lay on the bosom of Jesus at the last supper; and was recognized by Peter as being the innermost in His personal confidence, John xiii. 23. To him was committed the charge of the mother of Jesus, by Himself when dying on the Cross, John xix. 26, 27.

7. And to this especial love of the Redeemer John appears to have corresponded in devoted affection and faithfulness. He fled, it is true, with the rest, at the dark hour of the capture of Jesus: but we find him, together with Peter, soon rallying again,-and from that time, John xviii. 15, 16, even to the end, xix. 25 ff., an eye-witness of the sufferings of his divine Master. In John xxi. we find the same personal distinction bestowed on the beloved disciple by our Lord after His resurrection.

8. In the Acts of the Apostles, John comes before us but very seldom, and always in connexion with and thrown into the background by Peter. See Acts iii. 1 ff.; viii. 14-25. The history leaves him at Jerusalem: where however he appears not to have been on Paul's first visit to Jerusalem, Gal. i. 18 ff., a.d. 38—40 (see chronological table in Introduction to Acts), for he states that he saw none of the Apostles save Peter and James. On his second visit, Acts xi. 29, 30, about A.D. 43 (see as above), we have no intimation whether John was there or not. If the

journey to determine the question about circumcision, Acts xv. 1, was identical with Paul's third visit, Gal. ii. 1 (which I have maintained in the Introduction to Acts), then at that date (i. e. about A.D. 50) John was in Jerusalem. After this time, we lose sight of the Apostles, nor can we with any approach to certainty point out the period of their final dispersion. It took place probably some time between this council and Paul's last visit to Jerusalem, Acts xxi. 18 (about A.D. 60), when we find only James resident there.

9. For the after-history of John, we are dependent on tradition. And here we have evidence more trustworthy than in the case of any other Apostle.

(a) It is related by Polycrates Bishop of Ephesus at the end of the second century,-in his Epistle to Victor Bishop of Rome on the keeping of Easter,-that John, whom he numbers among the great lights of Asia, died and was buried in Ephesus.

(b) Irenæus also, the scholar of Polycarp, who himself was a disciple of John,-relates that John remained in Ephesus till the times of Trajan. To the same effect testify Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, and Jerome.

10. But assuming as a fact the long residence and death of the Apostle at Ephesus, we in vain seek any clue to guide us as to the time when, or the place whence, he came thither. The Asiatic Churches were founded by St. Paul, who made it a rule not to encroach on the field of labour of any other Apostle, Rom. xv. 20:—who never, in his Epistles to the Asiatic Churches, makes any mention of nor sends any salutation to John:—who, in his parting speech to the Elders of the Ephesian Church at Miletus (Acts xx.), certainly did not anticipate the coming of an Apostle among them. So much then we may set down as certain, that the arrival of John in Asia must have been after the death of St. Paul.

11. We may perhaps with some appearance of probability conjecture that the dangers which evidently beset the Asiatic Churches in Paul's lifetime,—and to which Peter in his first Epistle, written to them, not indistinctly alludes (see 1 Pet. i. 14: ii. 1, 2, 7, 8, 12, 16, &c.),—had taken so serious a form after the removal of Paul their father in the faith, that John found it requisite to fix his residence and exercise apostolic authority among them. This is supposed by Lücke and Neander.

12. But we are as far as ever, even if this conjecture be adopted, from arriving at any method of accounting for the interval between John's leaving Jerusalem, and his coming to Asia Minor: a period, on any computation, of nearly six years, A.D. 58-64. It is not necessary, however, as Lücke also observes, to reject a tradition so satisfactorily grounded as that of John's residence and death at Ephesus, on this account-especially when we consider that we seem compelled to inter53] e 2

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