Bet You Didn’t Know These 5 Facts about John’s Gospel

Margaret —  March 19, 2014 — 72 Comments

Bet You Didn’t Know These 5 Facts about John’s Gospel

A couple of years ago, I fell in love with John’s poetic and captivating writing style. I poured over his gospel in preparation for the 6 session DVD Bible study, Pursuing God’s Beauty: Stories from the Gospel of John.

You know,

If you want theology, read Paul.

If you want ethics, read James.

But if you want love, read John. [Tweet this]

Before we begin, here are 5 things you should know about John’s Gospel:

1. Who is John?

John is one of Jesus’ 12 original disciples and author of John’s Gospel, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John, and Revelation. Jesus nicknames John and his brother, James: sons of thunder. John’s primary theme is to convince readers that Jesus is God in human flesh—believe in him! And—get this—he wrote his gospel for everybody.

2. Why so much seven?

Throughout Scripture, the number “7” is used to describe completion and perfection. John depicts seven signs (miracles) to prove Jesus is the Son of God. You’ll also notice seven “I AM” statements all proclaiming who Jesus is. Each “I AM” statement reflects a motif from Judaism that challenges listeners to recognize who Jesus is and believe in him. Put a star next to each of the seven miracles and circle each use of “I AM” as you read.

3. John’s Gospel can be divided into four sections:

  • The prologue—1:1-18
  • The book of signs—1:19-12:50 (Psst… each of the seven signs (miracles) of Jesus show up in this section).
  • The book of glory—13:1-20:31
  • The epilogue—21:1-25

Make a note of these transitions before you dive into John and jot down any differences you notice between each section.

4. Jam packed with symbolism.

Light and darkness, water, bread, sheep, and vines are all examples of imagery John uses. Underline these words when you see them as you read.

5. John is one of a kind.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are considered the Synoptic Gospels because they share much of the same content in a similar order. But as you read John’s Gospel, you’ll notice significant differences. Not just in content and order, but in tone and theme. The Synoptic Gospels present Jesus’ teachings as sermons, but John presents them as conversations.

As we read this week for the #LentChallenge, my hope and prayer is that with a word, passage, or story we will be wonderstruck by Scripture and fall in love with the Bible once again, or maybe for the first time.


Watercolor Print of John 15 by Watercolor DevoThis week we’re giving away this beautiful watercolor print made by Amarilys from Watercolor Devo.

Amarilys has had a flair for the arts as long as she can remember. But it wasn't her formal training that made her creativity burst forth... it was having a baby, an awakening of her passions: Truth, Life, and Beauty. These keep bringing her back to her watercolor devo[tional] times. Discover more of her work at

To win a print this artwork, leave a comment on the original blog post at Winners will be selected and announced on Wednesday.

Congratulations to the winners: Jenny G, Jenni, Jan Hicks

What questions do you have about the #LentChallenge reading so far? We have a brilliant Bible scholar ready to weigh in.

*Original Photo Source

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72 responses to Bet You Didn’t Know These 5 Facts about John’s Gospel

  1. Thank you Margaret for helping me go deeper in the book of John. I love your writing!

  2. Wow! I needed to read this at just this time. Not only is John 15:5 the first verse I memorized after finally understanding what it meant to have a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus -not just go through the motions- but The book of John was the first in-depth Bible study I did that same year. I often recommend that new Believers start with the book of John and then rad the rest of the Bible. I accepted Christ at 13 but only came to know him at 31. Both John 15:5 and the message of John have carried me over the past 13 years. Today it was just the reminder I needed. Thank you!!!

  3. This wa great and a useful tool to share with young people.

  4. I’m currently reading the Gospel of John so I’m very grateful for your post today. I’m printing this out to use as I read. THANK YOU.

  5. Love this 40 day challenge!

  6. Morning sweet Margaret,
    Just want to thank you for further awakening my soul to the simplicity and depth of The Word! The book of John is so rich… like the ‘black gold’ compost my hubby uses to grow his spectacular tomatoes! I pray that throughout my life I will continue to grow through the fertilizing of The Word!

  7. John. It’s the study we are in at church right now…. almost a year. Beautiful. All about love. Teach me God more about loving people your way!

  8. Thank you Margaret! I have studied John before but I am refreshed and wonderstruck this morning looking at The Word from this perspective you shared. Also, I am moved by the thought of Amarylis’ worship through watercolor! A great reminder to live in a constant posture of worship in all I do. Thanking God for this today!

  9. What a beautiful watercolor! Thank you for ALL the Bible studies you’ve written. You faithfully present God’s word in a way that glorifies Him and bring new understanding to everyone who goes through the study.

  10. Love it that you are drawing people into scripture. Thank you.

  11. After reading today’s blog, I can’t wait to read John.

  12. When I first saw the challenge via email I erased the email thinking, ” I have a one year old, I am always in the kitchen, I help my husband with ministerial things… I won’t have time for this.” Then I saw it on Facebook and again when I visited your blog. Once more, twice more, a third and fourth time in other places. So I threw my hands up, ” Alright! Alright! I’ll do it!” I prayed and ask God to give me grace to start and finish the challenge and he has been faithful beyond my wildest dreams! Not only am I not behind, but I have read passages that I could almost promise you were not there before (except they have been there…for about 2,000 years. Haha!) The stories have been made new and fresh and literally jump off every page and project themselves before me as if heaven’s theater were replaying every scene and story. I wake up eager to read of the adventures found on every page and go to bed wishing I didn’t have to stop reading about His perfect endless love over us. It is making me, changing me, and I’m ever grateful to Him!
    So, thank you. Thank you for inviting all of us to be a part of this incredible journey. I’m so very glad I said yes!

    • I felt that same way last year when the challenge was the whole Bible. I absolutely did not have the time. But I dove in anyway, figuring at the very least, I would read more of the Bible. And that is a good thing. It changed my life. I love the Bible now. (It was a chore before.) good on you!

    • Sounds like a sacred echo, Janice. SO thrilled you’re along for this adventure!

  13. Thank you for this! I knew there was a reason I loved John’s gospel so much…love. This was the first book I read after coming into relationship with Christ. This verse, John 15:15, helped so much getting my husband through a cancer struggle to his healing today, amen!

  14. Thank you for these tips. I definitely will keep them in mind as I read Jonn. am interested in your John study for our WOW Group summer study. Hugs to you, Margaret. How is your Dad? (Still praying for zero).
    #Lent Challenge

  15. Love the facts on John, the sevens/symbolism but especially:
    “If you want love, read John”.
    Thank you Margaret!

  16. Rose Jolicoeur March 19, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Wow , I didn’t know all this about John’s gospel. I am going to have some fun reading times.
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  17. Enjoy so much about learning about those who walked w our Lord! Thank u for the insight

  18. I’m always amazed that although I’ve studied John several times, I always learn something new. Love how the Scriptures are living and active! Thanks for this message.

  19. I had no idea so much was contained in John. Thanks for the insight.

  20. Sherilyn Leath March 19, 2014 at 8:02 am

    I would love more info about the Jewish motifs that John’s symbols of Jesus portray. Where can we find this? And thank you for reminding me of why I love John’s gospel so much!

  21. Traci Harrison March 19, 2014 at 8:11 am

    Thank you for sharing. You have made me want to dig deeper in God’s Word. Seeing you in Greenville this past weekend waa so encouraging. My best friend, who is usually at the conference with me, has just begun her battle with liver cancer. The timing of your story this weekend was perfect. May God bless you as you continue your own battle.

  22. I am loving this #LentChallenge! And that watercolor picture is amazing!

  23. Thank you Margaret for such wonderful insight and direction as we enter John. I have been moved a new through this Challenge.

  24. John is my favorite Gospel! All you need is LOVE! <3

  25. A few years ago, a man at church told the story of a hardened prisoner that he gave a bible. The prisoner said that he would just rip the pages out and use them to roll cigarettes. The man said that was fine, but at least read the page before you do… and start with the Gospel of John. He said that way they’d have something to talk about the next time he visited. The man did, and half way through… he stopped ripping them out and got saved!

  26. Carol Anderson March 19, 2014 at 9:47 am

    So thankful for your ministry!

  27. Paula Middleton March 19, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Great treasures to look for in John. I love that the print is not only beautiful but shows off two of those treasures.

  28. Thank you for the five John facts and the water color is beautiful!

  29. Thank you for the five John facts and the painting is beautiful!

  30. I loved gleaning the gospels in a whole new way as I read in my new chronological Bible, It’s so interesting to read the same verse one after another and gain the perspective of each, but you brought to light what I have been feeling about the four, that John feels like he is sitting down just talking with you, how I envision Jesus doing with his disciples and all those he talked with. Thanks for the new insight and for the chance to win the watercolor, it is my Emmaus verse. I cannot imagine a more perfect verse to have been given to me, and reminds me daily that I am nothing without Jesus!

  31. I have so many favorite verses from the book of John, including the one used in the beautiful watercolor print! Thank you for sharing!

  32. I love, love, love the book of John!

  33. Margaret,
    Thanks for the advice for what to look for as we study John. Like a scavenger hunt. Love that. My journal is full of notes from Matthew, Mark and Luke. Questions too.
    Can’t wait to start John tomorrow with your introduction in my mind.

  34. Every time I study John there are new gems! One of the most impacting this year was seeing John 11:5, 6 &15 together: BECAUSE Jesus loved, He delayed, so that they would BELIEVE!
    Life altering!
    Thanks for all you are and do!

  35. I loved the facts about John and I’m really enjoying the 40-day challenge. I’ve never read through the New Testament so fast before. Thank you also for sharing the water color. That’s our theme verse for our Women’s Ministry at church, “the Branch”

  36. Suzanne Oliver March 19, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I’m so enjoying the Lent Challenge, Margaret. It’s been a great discipline for me, in addition to the blessing of reading scripture! In addition, the pictures you post are perfect for meditation. Thank you.

  37. You have motivated me to get back into John and fall in love with Jesus all over again.

  38. susan addington March 19, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Margaret, thanks for cheering us on to read during Lent. The thing I love about John the author is that when he did all of his writing of these final five books of the New Testament he had seen it ALL! He had listened to John the Baptist, lived vibrant life breathing real air along side Jesus, watched His death, resurrection, and ascension, experienced Pentecost and the birth of the church with all the highs and lows, quietly cared for Jesus’ mother, watched the apostles die one by one including his own brother and Paul, saw persecution growing especially under Nero’s blame, and STILL chose to repeat the word BELIEVE over and over and OVER again. In light of it ALL Jesus was worth believing in.

  39. So many people leave John for last… They say “start with Mark” or something easier to digest… I love your post and studying John… What’s more compelling than love?!

  40. Gretchen Millet March 19, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Love studying John! Beautiful watercolor!

  41. My favorite Scripture is John 15:5. I love the imagery of being a branch growing from the vine of Jesus. I’m writing a devotional series for families called Branches that is taken directly from that verse. The writings of John are so rich in imagery and show his love for Jesus. It is easy to see why his gospel is recommended reading for beginning believers.

  42. Leslie Western March 19, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Loved the Wonderstruck study and woul love to win this water color!

  43. Beautiful watercolor of one of my favorite verses. Love John’s Gospel!!

  44. My wife would love this! She is studying this in a group right now.

  45. Margaret, you blew me away last year @ the Extraordinary Women Conf. in Greenville, SC and you did it again this past weekend. I am challenged by your spirit to rekindle my love for Jesus. Thank you for sharing the facts about John. I did know about the symbolism in the Book of John. John is my favorite of the Gospels. The watercolor is exquisite!! You are in my prayers. Hugs!

  46. Thank you for the 5 facts about John. I recently finished reading John. Johns writing is so passionate, I find myself reading there a lot. The watercolor is beautiful. I’ll have to check out her site.

  47. Love this passage! My son sang a song called “A Strong Young Tree” when he was only 8 years old. It’s based off of the John 15:5 verse. Wonderful!

  48. Margaret, I would love that piece of artwork! So beautiful. The Bible scholar doesn’t happen to be Heather Z is it? 🙂 I could ask her personally, but I am confused about Luke 13.6-9. Insights? Thanks again for the Lent Challenge. I know several people who are enjoying it here at NCC.

  49. Interesting facts, some of which I had never considered. I love the watercolor, very meaningful!

  50. Really enjoying the #LentChallenge and the facts on John…thanks!

  51. This #LentChallenge is just what I needed. I wouldn’t have known about it without your blog. Thank you that and for providing this additional context!!

  52. Love that beautiful print!

  53. Thank you for such an indepth resource to help study the writings of John. You help make God’s word much richer !

  54. I love this. Thank you for this post!

  55. I love the book of John because it is written in conversation form. The imagery is so beautiful. Thank you for posting. It will be one I refer to often.

  56. Lovely print. I’m trying to be very deliberate in seed I sow, the fruit I produce, yielding to the spirits leading along the way.

  57. Thanks for inspiring me to dig deeper. Praise be to Him for any wisdom we can share.

  58. Thank you Margret for being God led to for LentChallenge . I enjoy reading His Word daily, LentChallenge enhances my daily devotions . I’m amazed how His Story binds into my daily readings and life. We have an Amazing God! Praying in thanks and for great health all throughout mind , body and soul for you.

  59. Margaret your John study is one of my absolute favorite bible studies I’ve EVER done (and I’ve done a lot)!! So grateful that God used it to open my eyes to new wonders about Himself. xoxo

  60. Kory Plockmeyer March 24, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    While I certainly agree that John is where you go for love, I also find John to be one of the most theologically challenging of the Gospel writers. Take “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh…” (John 6:51). Even as we see the tremendous love of Jesus for the world, we have to stop and think that the response of the Jews certainly makes sense: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (John 6:52).

    In other words, yes, absolutely – John will blow us away with the depths of God’s love. But we must also be prepared to be stretched, challenged, and sometimes downright perplexed by the person of Jesus we meet in John’s Gospel.

  61. I have never read the NT start to finish before. Have loved reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; and comparing their writing styles. Thank you for causing me to dig deeper into the gospels!

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