Each of the four gospels offer a unique perspective on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. But if you’re not intimately familiar with them, it might be hard to recognize what sets them apart.
Here are 10 facts about the Gospel of John:
All scripture references quote the New International Version unless otherwise noted.
1. John focuses on our life in Jesus
While the other gospels emphasize the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven, John instead emphasizes new life found in Jesus. It’s from John that we get Christ’s famous claim:
“I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” —John 14:6
The word “life” appears a total of 36 times in John. That’s more than twice as much as it appears in all the other gospels combined, and more than any other book in the New Testament. Even if you add up all mentions of “life” in all of Paul’s letters, Paul only uses the word 37 times. “Kingdom” on the other hand, only appears five times in the whole Book of John, whereas it appears 55 times in Matthew, 20 times in Mark, and 46 times in Luke.
John was more focused on life with Christ than the Kingdom of Heaven.
2. John uses the most metaphors for Jesus
Jesus frequently uses metaphors to hint at his identity. John records more of these analogies than any other gospel, giving us some of the most famous word pictures for Christ:
“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” —John 6:35
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” —John 8:12
“‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’” —John 15:5
3. John shows apostles introducing each other to Jesus
Each of the gospels record when Jesus calls his disciples. Only in John, some of his disciples bring their friends and family to meet him, where they too are called to be disciples. Andrew brings his brother Simon Peter (John 1:41), and Philip introduces Jesus to Nathanael (John 1:45).
4. John was written for “those who have not seen”
Thomas insisted that he needed to physically see the resurrected Jesus before he would believe. When he eventually touches Jesus’ wounds, Thomas finally believes what the other disciples have been telling him all along, declaring, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).
“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’" (John 20:29).
The Gospel of John was written for people who couldn’t touch Jesus’ wounds or witness his miracles for themselves.
5. John focuses primarily on communicating that Jesus is Messiah, not his miracles
“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” —John 20:30-31
John’s gospel isn’t a complete history of the life and ministry of Jesus—it’s written to prove he is the Messiah. It stands as a witness for those who weren’t there to see Jesus’ ministry—including us.
6. John focuses a lot on Jesus’ dialogues
While Jesus often taught through sermons and parables, John gives us more insight into Christ’s conversations with people.
When Jesus asks a Samaritan woman for water in John 4, the encounter becomes a powerful lesson. Jesus uses her questions and comments to steer the otherwise mundane conversation towards salvation, worship, and faith, eventually revealing that he’s the Messiah she’s been waiting for (John 4:25-26).
When Jesus told Nicodemus, “No one can come to the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3), the statement left Nicodemus with more questions than answers. Through these questions, Jesus explains what it means to be born again, leading into what is arguably the most famous verse in the whole Bible, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John shows us that sermons and stories aren’t the only way to teach meaningful spiritual lessons.
7. John focuses on belief in Jesus
The Greek root for “believe” and “faith” shows up more in John than in all the other gospels combined. This aligns with John’s stated objective to write an account so that those who hear it may believe.
8. John’s gospel is more theology than history
From the very beginning, the Book of John focuses on the implications of who Jesus was and what he did more than the other gospels. Even when John uses historical narratives, it’s often for the purpose of revealing who Jesus is.
John’s purpose statement and the emphasis on “belief” throughout the gospel makes it clear that this book is more interested in leading people to a life-changing faith in Christ.
9. John addresses misunderstandings about Jesus
Jesus frequently used parables and metaphors and often didn’t explain them until people asked for clarification. John recorded many of the questions that set up Jesus’ explanations.
When Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be born again, he’s met with this response: “‘How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!’” (John 3:4).
10. John introduces Jesus as the Word of God
Where the other gospels record the world events surrounding Jesus’ birth, John shares his divine origin and why he came.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” —John 1:1-5
Experience the Gospel of John in a whole new way
We’ve produced a feature-length film based on the Gospel of John, and you can watch and share it for free. It’s part of our mission to bring the greatest story ever told to everyone, everywhere, in every language.
Watch Life of Jesus online, or in the Jesus Film ProjectⓇ app.