It’s always good to keep a world-renown, New Testament scholar up your sleeve.
Your stellar questions deserve smart answers.
That’s why I’m leaning into my friend and New Testament professor Craig Blomberg to answer your tricky and tough questions about the Gospel of John.
Craig Blomberg’s latest book, The Historical Reliability of the New Testament, released from B&H Academic last year.
Let’s dive in…
On John 6:15-35
One thing that stood out to me was the line “The disciples wanted to take him in the boat…” Why did they not take him in the boat. Still afraid? Reached the shore suddenly? –Gail
The text does not say that they didn’t take him into the boat. The text says they wanted to do so. That presumably means that they did! There may have been initial reluctance because they were not sure who he was. Mark 6:49 says they at first though he was a ghost. But once there was recognition then they wanted to have him join them. Mark 6:51 says explicitly that he climbed in.
On John 8
I don’t suppose anyone knows what Jesus was writing on the ground in John 8:6 and John 8:8. Also, there are several references to His body position in this passage. What are your thoughts on its significance? –Candi
Nope. No one knows, which means there have been endless proposals! I would prefer to remain silent where Scripture is silent.
In 8:2 we read that he sat down to teach them. This was typical for rabbis. On many occasions, especially in synagogues, rabbis sat in a special chair and the people stood to hear him speak. As a teacher, I kind of like those arrangements. But if you are sitting, even on a bench, it requires bending way down if you are going to write in the dirt. The stooping and straightening up again I take just to be the natural posture Jesus would have had to assume both to write on the ground and then to sit up to look at people to speak to them. I doubt there’s any special, hidden meaning there.
The most important thing to remember, of course, whenever we deal with John 7:53-8:11 is that it is not something John wrote in his original Gospel.
Scribes later added it in, presumably because it was too good a story in their minds to leave out. If you look at the footnotes in the ESV or NIV Study Bibles you can see that when it was inserted it wasn’t always put here but sometimes put earlier in John 7, sometimes at the end of John and, in a few manuscripts, added to Luke, either in the middle or the end, and not in John at all.
That means that we dare not treat the passage as on the same level as the rest of inspired, inerrant Scripture, and there may well be some idiosyncrasies in it that we don’t find elsewhere in Scripture, like this emphasis on stooping and straightening. It’s probably a true story; it’s hard to imagine anyone but Jesus in his world acting this way or even imagining Jesus acting this way if it wasn’t a true story. But it wasn’t in the oldest and most reliable manuscripts.
On John 12:12-50
What is really meant by ‘die to live’? Is it dying to your old self, your old life? Like pruning the dead & unhealthy parts of a plant or tree to help the healthy parts stay healthy? –Liz S.
Exactly. And, of course, that new life continues throughout all eternity. One of the distinctives of John’s Gospel is that he thinks of eternal life as beginning now already in this life when one becomes a follower of Jesus. Perhaps the most striking statement of this appears in 5:24: “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” (NIV)
On John 13:27
Scripture says that Satan enters Judas at the Last Supper. This makes it sound like Judas didn’t consciously make the decision to betray Christ. Was it Judas or Satan working through Judas? How does this work? –Taylor
Was it Judas or Satan? Yes! The devil never does anything through people without their willing invitation. Mark 14:10 tells us that Judas had this all planned in advance, days before any mention of Satan being involved in the process.
Jesus says that everything we ask in his name, he will do it. Obviously, this doesn’t refer to literally anything we ask. But what is Jesus referring to? How can we reconcile unanswered prayers according to Jesus’ words in this passage? –Jess
The key is understanding the meaning of “name.” We have become accustomed to closing prayers with an almost rote recitation of “in Jesus’ name,” as if by adding those three words to a prayer we somehow make it more effective.
But in the biblical worlds, someone’s name was often closely associated with their identity, their power, their will, their authority.
In some ways this passage is John’s equivalent to the petition in the Lord’s prayer of saying, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
It wouldn’t be a legitimate translation of John’s Greek but it would be a legitimate interpretation to render Jesus’ words here, “everything we ask according to his will.”
To anticipate a possible follow-up question that some people then ask, isn’t this unnecessary since God always does his will anyway? Actually, no, because James 4:2 teaches us that God chooses, by his will, to give his people some good things only if they ask.
As we dive deeper into the Gospel of John, keep asking great questions! You are making all of us sharper, better, wiser, stronger, more beloved.
Day 33: John 18:12-40 Discussion Questions:
- What compelled Peter to deny Jesus?
- What holds you back from sharing your faith?
- How does Jesus respond to being questioned? What can you learn from the Jesus’ responses?
- Using the Color Method, what stood out to you most from today’s reading?
- What do you find most challenging about today’s reading? What do you find most comforting about today’s reading?