What is the most popular Gospel, the writings about Jesus’s life and ministry, in the Bible?‌ Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite Gospel is!‌‌

If you were interested in learning about Jesus, and you asked me where to start in the Bible, I would most likely, almost always, point you to the Gospel of John.‌‌But why? We’ll get into that shortly.‌‌

The Bible‌

When it comes to picking up a bible, it is hard to know where to begin.‌ It isn’t a single book.‌ There are 66 total books contained in the Bible.‌ These 66 are then divided into sections, and even those sections are then divided up into themes, writing styles, and more.‌ Some are historical, some are poetic, and some are also prophetic, to name a few of the themes.‌

While I wouldn’t suggest to a new believer to pick up the bible for the first time and read it from cover to cover, in the order, as it is put together, the Bible does truly begin with an “In the beginning...” found in Genesis.‌ And it has a real ending, found in Revelation…also written by the same author as the gospel of John…that tells the readers that Jesus is coming back in the next to last verse.‌

The Bible contains the writings of at least 40 different authors spanning at least 1,500 years of actual writing.‌

The largest divisions of the Bible are known as the Old and New Testaments.‌ The OT contains the writings of events and people before the birth of Jesus Christ.‌ The NT then contains the writings of the events and people after Christ was born.‌

The NT begins with the writings of 4 of what we call “Gospels,” recorded by 4 different authors and though they tell about the same person, Jesus, they each have an emphasis or purpose for their writing.‌‌ The first 3 are known as Synoptic, meaning “seeing the same,” or “seeing together.” These 3 writers record what they knew of the events and teachings of Jesus similar to one another.‌ Though they are all very similar, they each tell the story from their point of you, recollection, or even by recording what the others had already written.‌‌

Mark is the earliest gospel, probably written between AD 66 and 70.‌

Matthew and Luke were likely written between AD 80 and 100, and both appear to have used Mark as a source.‌

John is the latest gospel, probably written between AD 90 and 110.‌

Again, each writing is different and has the author’s purpose in why they wrote what they did.‌‌

Matthew focuses on Jesus as the King of the Jews, and the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies.‌ Mark is a straightforward account of the major events in Jesus’ ministry. He also includes the accounts of the most miracles of Jesus. His Gospel is action-packed and fast-paced. It is the shortest Gospel.‌ Luke focuses on Jesus as the Savior of all people…most notably what would be called, gentiles…non-Jews.‌ John focuses on Jesus as the Son of God, the Word at the beginning, and the right ruler of all things. His Gospel is often called the Spiritual Gospel.‌‌

There is no consensus, but it is possible that some of these writers either actually lived and ministered along with Jesus, or were direct companions of the person that did.‌ We do know for sure that Luke was a gentile that worked alongside the Apostle Paul as noted in the book following the Gospels called, “Acts” or “The Acts of the Apostles.”‌‌

John is believed to be the only author of John, because in the Gospel, on multiple occasions, he speaks of being a witness to these things he is recording stating, “‘This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things.”‌‌

Each Gospel is believed to have been written from 30 to 70 years after Jesus’s death, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven. And for many, they believe each writing was written by actual witnesses of the events, or by knowing actual witnesses.‌‌ This is important because, if true, it means their writings aren’t just hearsay that they recorded.‌‌

Again, 3 of them contain very similar stories and teachings of Jesus.‌ John, however, while he does record some of the same stories and teachings, his writing is different from the synoptic Gospels.‌ With him being the latest writer, it is possible he knew of the other three writings already and he didn’t want to record the same things…or shall we say the Holy Spirit who inspired his writings…and so he focused mainly on a specific purpose in his writing which we will get to shortly.‌

We’re going to begin this first part of our Gospel of John series, or deep dive, by getting an overview of the book, and then next week, we’ll begin looking at the words actually recorded.‌


Today we will look at:‌

  • Who wrote the book?
  • What was the writer’s purpose for the book?
  • How does he go about reaching that purpose?
  • Why I think it is the most popular book of the Bible.‌

Are we ready to dive in?‌

The Book

‌It has been treasured writing for centuries.‌ Origen, one of the early church theologians, dating back to the 2nd century, said, “The Gospels are the first fruits of all Scripture and the Gospel of John is the first fruit of the Gospels.”‌

Did You Know? The Gospel of John represents the earliest manuscript fragment of the NT. A small fragment known as the “Rylands Fragment” dates to between A.D. 125-150. It contains Greek text from John 18:31–33, 18:37–38.‌

Who wrote the book?

‌It is most likely John, the Apostle and Son of Zebedee himself that wrote the book, but as with many writings of antiquity, this is highly debated.‌ But we do have sources of antiquity that make the claim of John being the author himself.‌ Irenaeus, a second-century bishop of Lyons in France, commented: ‘Finally John, the disciple of the Lord, who had also lain on his breast, himself published the gospel, while he was residing at Ephesus’. Irenaeus is said by the historian Eusebius to have gotten this information from Polycarp of Smyrna, who was actually acquainted with the apostles, (namely Paul and John) (Ecclesiastical History 5, 8, 4).‌ This does not appear to have been seriously questioned, except by a few groups who did not like some of the teachings in the Gospel.‌

What was the writer’s purpose for the book?

‌Any time one sets down to write a letter or a book, there is a purpose behind it. Why would you spend time writing a book, and not have a purpose in the writing?‌

The Gospel of John is about 15,000 or so words. It’s 21 chapters long.‌ And in fact, he states his purpose for writing quite explicitly near the end. Even in that, he makes sure the reader understands why he records all he did about Jesus.‌‌ John says his point in recording his words about Jesus:‌​

John 20:31 ESV- 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.‌‌

His point was so that the reader, you and I, would believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior, the Son of God and that by believing we would be saved.‌‌ John was the ultimate evangelist in his writing. Like any good evangelist, he knows his purpose and methodically sets about it in his writing.‌‌

How does he go about reaching that purpose?

‌To reach his purpose, we can look at the outline of his Gospel.‌‌ 

The Prologue‌

The first part of the book, the prologue, is about laying out Who Jesus is. He is the Word-made-flesh.‌ He ties this Logos, this Word, all the way back to the beginning, Genesis.‌​

Genesis 1:1 ESV In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.‌​

John 1:1–3 ESV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.‌‌

So He sets up here in the prologue, Jesus as the Word, and the Creator. We’ll get to dive much deeper into this next week.‌‌

The Signs‌

After the setup in 1-19, he then goes on to tell about Jesus’s activities, often speaking of the “signs,” the miracles Jesus did while on the earth.‌

All of the Gospel writers record miracles, with Mark recording the most at 20.‌ Only two miracles, the feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus walking on the water are recorded in all 4 gospels.‌ John chooses to only record seven miracles in his Gospel. The least of the four writers. But again, he has a purpose in what he shares.‌‌


Littered throughout the 12 chapters are found Jesus’s most important statements, called the “I Am’s.”‌‌ John is reminding his readers of when Moses questioned God in the burning bush wanting to know God’s Name, and God responded, “I AM.”‌‌​

Exodus 3:13–14 ESV Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”‌‌

Jesus’s I Am statements were a witness to who He was in the flesh:‌‌

  • I am the bread of life (John 6:35)‌
  • I am the light of the world (John 8:12)‌
  • I am the door (John 10:7)‌
  • I am the good shepherd (John 10:11)‌
  • I am the resurrection and the life (John 11:25)‌
  • I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)‌
  • I am the true vine (John 15:1)‌‌

We will break these down in the coming weeks, as well as explaining their connection to Exodus 3:13-14.‌‌

He spends nearly 12 chapters on Jesus’s 3 years of ministry activities.‌‌

The Glory‌ (Or Passion)

But then he spends 7 chapters focused on the final week of Jesus's life, including his passion, death, and resurrection.‌‌

The Epilogue‌

When you begin with a prologue you have to end with an epilogue, (Conclusion/Summary Statement).

John ends his book with chapter 21 detailing a few more of Jesus’s resurrection appearances, including restoring Peter who denied Jesus, to being one of the leaders of the upcoming Church movement, and then John leaves us with a couple closing statements.‌​

John 21:24 ESV This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.‌​

John 21:25 ESV Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.‌

Why I think it is the most popular book of the Bible.

‌‌So there’s a little of the background on the Gospel of John. And we have so much to go through and learn.‌‌

I believe John is the best book for the faith-curious or new believers, primarily because John’s purpose in writing it was explicitly on point “so that would know Jesus is the Christ, believe, and be saved.”‌ His Gospel shares the Gospel clearly and completely.‌ He shares enough about the life of Christ to prove to the reader Jesus’s passion for His people, God is love, Jesus is the Son of God, Jesus is the Messiah, and that only God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, can save His own creation.

He is the I Am.‌

He is the exclusive way to eternity with God.‌

He is the only God that saves.‌

He is the One you need to place your faith in.