I feel a good deal like the late Dr. J. Vernon McGee as I attempt to introduce this study. In his “Through the Bible” series which he did on the radio and in print, Dr. McGee used to speak of each new book in his study as the “greatest book in the Bible.” Let’s face it, they’re all great. But there are certain books of the Bible that just seem to stand out, and the Gospel of John is surely one of those books. It is the book of the Bible we encourage non-Christians to read, in the hope that its message will lead them to faith in Christ (after all, that is the purpose of the book—see John 20:31). On previous occasions when I have taught John’s Gospel in home Bible studies, I have seen people come to faith as the message of this book captivated them. I well remember one woman blurting out during our study, “Well, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think Jesus was claiming to be God.” It wasn’t long before her husband was telling me that they had come to faith in the course of their study of John’s Gospel.
For Christians, the Gospel of John is a source of much truth about our Lord and the Gospel. But it’s much more than this. It is an opportunity for us to “follow Him” as we read, and to identify with the disciples as their knowledge of Him continued to expand. It is our opportunity to get to know the heart of the Savior, and to fellowship with Him through His Word. If men of old found their hearts set on fire as they listened to Him teach in person (Luke 24:32), so we will find our hearts warmed as we seek to listen to Him through this Gospel.
The Gospel of John is of particular interest because of its unique approach—very different from the approach of the other three Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke (sometimes called the “Synoptic Gospels”). Over 90% of the material in John’s Gospel is unique to John, not to be found in the other three Gospels.
This study also provides a unique opportunity to employ a new and exciting translation, known as The NET Bible, or the New English Translation. Several years ago the Biblical Studies Foundation sought to obtain permission to make a modern and accurate translation of the Bible available to readers around the world via the Internet. The cost of purchasing the rights to do so was prohibitive, and thus it was determined that a new translation was the better choice. The New American Standard Bible, famed for its accuracy, is not accepted and used internationally. In America, its popularity and use is diminishing. The NIV is a very readable and enjoyable translation, but it is not precise enough for serious students of the Bible. The New King James Version is becoming more popular, but it still suffers from some of the weaknesses of its predecessor. The NET Bible seeks to reflect the best of these great translations (readability, reliability, and the use of relevant language), in one new translation of the Bible.
The NET Bible is the first translation that has been designed to take advantage of the power of the computer for Bible Study, and the use of the Internet to make the Scriptures and Bible Study tools available around the world. The study notes and translators notes are the most extensive that have been made widely available. The Scripture citations in this series on the Gospel of John will therefore employ and showcase this exciting new translation, which can be used and shared for personal use (at no cost) with friends around the world.
This study in the Gospel of John is in progress. I am a teacher and elder at Community Bible Chapel in Richardson, Texas. As much as possible, a new lesson in the study of John will be posted on the Biblical Studies Foundation web site each week. I challenge you to join me in making the Gospel of John the subject of your study. May God use it to see Jesus Christ as the Son of God, who takes away the sin of the world, who takes away your sin.