Syllabubs for the Gospel of St. John

Course Description

 The Gospel of John, students will examine the following as related to the Fourth Gospel:  background context, author's purpose, literary structure, the picture of Jesus and other figures found in the Gospel of John, theological themes, comparisons and contrasts with the Synoptic Gospels, and contemporary relevance.


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Download and read textbooks and articles

The Problem with the Fourth Gospel

The Modern Readers Guide to the Gospels

John and the Synoptics

Dualism Contained in the Gospel of St John

The Gospel of John as a Document of Faith in a Pluralistic Culture

Sources of the Gospel of John

The Johannine Community and its Jewish Neighbors

The Community of the Beloved Disciple

Gospel Signs

The Gospel of John and the Dead Sea Scrolls

A Study in the Prologue in the Gospel of St John

Commentary on the Gospel of St John by St Aquinas Book 1

Commentary on the Gospel of St John by St Aquinas Book 2

British Museums Virtual Tour

Art Work for the Gospels

Symbols of the Four Evangelists

Reference links:

Greek Alphabet link


-St Augustin-Homilies on the Gospel of John -Homilies on the First Epistle of John

St Chrysostom-Homilies on the Gospel of St John and the Epistle to the Hebrews

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes

The professor trusts that at the conclusion of the course the students will

1. Know the basic facts, terms and concepts of the Gospel of John, as evidenced by being able to

  1. identify the major divisions and events in the Gospel.
  2. identify the principal personages and groups, as well as the relevant historical and cultural features, related to the Gospel.
  3. locate the principal places related to the Gospel.
  4. state the author's explanation of the purpose of Jesus' life and death.

2. Understand the critical issues related to interpretation of the Gospel of John

  1. identify the authorship and corresponding dating issues.
  2. relate the organizational structure of the Gospel to the author's stated purpose
  3. identify the value of the Prologue to other parts of the Gospel.
  4. differentiate the religious positions held by those who opposed Jesus from those who trusted Jesus.

3. Apply Gospel of John teaching to current life situations, as evidenced by taking part in a group presentation of a selected chapter of the Gospel of John.                                       

Required Books:

  1. The Bible:

  2. One large commentary on the Fourth Gospel (provided online)

  3. The Fourth Gospel Textbook (provided Online)

List of Commentaries

Calvin | Clarke | Darby | Geneva | Gill | Henry | Jamieson | Johnson | McGarvey | Robertson | Wesley


Course Work/Expectations:


  1. Four Quizzes, one on the Greek Alphabet, one on the basic outline of John, one on the Gospel Characteristics, and  one on the contents of the  Fourth Gospel

  2. Three Shorter Written Exercises: word study, character analysis,  and book review (one each).

  3. One Longer Research Paper (10-15 pp.)



Various Outlines of the Fourth Gospel

The Gospel according to John (the basic outline accepted by most scholars)

Prologue:  1:1-18  (Logos Hymn: The Word in the Beginning with God; The Word becomes Flesh )

“The Book of Signs”:  1:19 -- 12:50 (Wedding at Cana, Dialogue with Nicodemus, Samaritan Woman at the Well, Healing at the Pool of Bethesda, Bread of Life Discourse, Man Born Blind, Raising of Lazarus, etc.)

“The Book of Glory”:  13:1 -- 20:31 (Washing the Disciples’ Feet, Farewell Discourses, Jesus’ Prayer, Passion Narrative, Crucifixion Scene, Resurrection Appearances, esp. to Mary Magdalene and Thomas)

Epilogue:  21:1-25  (Another Resurrection Appearance at the Sea of Tiberias/Galilee - added later)

Chapter-by-Chapter List of the Contents of John

1 - Prologue;  The Witness of John (the Baptist);  The First Disciples of Jesus
2 - The Wedding Feast at Cana;  Jesus’ First Passover in Jerusalem: The Cleansing of the Temple
3 - Jesus’ Conversation with Nicodemus;  John (Baptist)’s testimony
4 - The Samaritan Woman at the Well;  Healing of a Royal Official’s Son
5 - The Sabbath Healing of a Sick Man at the Bethzatha Pool in Jerusalem;  Ensuing Controversy
6 - The Second Passover in Galilee:  Feeding of 5000;  Walking on Water;  Bread of Life Discourse
7 - The Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem;  Jesus Teaches in the Temple;  Diverse Reactions to Jesus
8 - [Adulterous Woman 7:53--8:11];  Jesus as "Light of the World";  Truth;  Origin & Identity of Jesus
9 - The Sabbath Healing of a Man Born Blind near the Pool of Siloam; Ensuing Controversy
10 - The Good Shepherd Discourse; Feast of Dedication; Jesus Retreats across the Jordan
11 - The Raising of Lazarus at Bethany; Final Plot against Jesus; Jesus Retreats to Ephraim
12 - The Third Passover in Judea; Anointing at Bethany; Final Entry into Jerusalem; "the Hour"
13 - The Last Supper: Washing of Disciples’ Feet; Foretelling of Judas’ Betrayal & Peter’s Denial
14 - The Farewell Discourse (Part I),  incl. Fear Not, Paraclete, Peace
15 - The Farewell Discourse (Part II),  incl. Vine & Branches, Love & Hate, Paraclete
16 - The Farewell Discourse (Part II - cont.),  incl. Persecutions, Paraclete, Joy, Prayer, etc.
17 - The Great Prayer of Jesus
18 - The Passion Narrative: incl. Arrest in Garden, Meeting in Annas’ House, Peter’s Denial, Jesus’ Trial before Pilate
19 - The Passion Narrative (cont.): Trial continues, Crucifixion, Death, Burial
20 - The Empty Tomb;  the Risen Lord appears to Mary Magdalene, to the Disciples, to Thomas;  First Conclusion (20:30-31)
21 - Epilogue:  Breakfast Appearance by Sea of Tiberias; Peter’s Love & the Beloved Disciple; Second Conclusion (21:24-25)

Division of John from "The Jerusalem Bible"
("Introduction to Saint John", p. 142; emphasizes the Jewish Feasts)

O. Prologue: ‘In the beginning…’ (1:1-18)
I. First week of the messianic ministry: Jesus revealed as the Messiah. The week ends with the first ‘sign’ at Cana (1:19--2:11)
II. First Passover with its accompanying events, ending with the second ‘sign’ at Cana (2:12--4:54)
III. Sabbath ‘of the paralytic’: Jesus cures the man at the Bethzatha pool (5:1-47)
IV. The Passover ‘of the bread of life’: miracle of the loaves and the subsequent discourse (6:1-71)
V. The feast of Tabernacles with the cure of the man born blind (7:1--10:21)
VI. The feast of Dedication and the resurrection of Lazarus (10:22--11:54)
VII. Week of the Passion and the crucifixion Passover (11:55--19:42)
VIII. The resurrection and week of apparitions (20:1-29)
IX. Appendix: concerning the Church and the expectation of Christ’ return (21:1-25)

Outline of the "HarperCollins Bible Dictionary"
(by D. Moody Smith; emphasizes Jesus’ actions)

I. Introduction (1:1-51)

A. Prologue (1:1-18)
B. Encounter with John Baptist and call of disciples (1:19-51)

II. Jesus’ manifestation of God’s glory to the world (2:1--12:50)

A. Wine miracle (2:1-11)
B. Cleansing of the Temple (2:12-22)
C. Discussion with Nicodemus on birth from above (2:23--3:21)
D. The second appearance of the Baptist (3:22-36)
E. Conversation with Samaritan woman (4:1-42)
F. Healing of official’s son (4:43-54)
G. Healing at Pool of Bethzatha and related discourse (5:1-47)
H. Feeding of 5000 and related incidents and discussions (6:1-71)
I. Jesus at Feast of Tabernacles (7:1-52)
    [Woman taken in adultery 7:53--8:11 - a later addition]
J. Jesus the Light of the World (8:12-59)
K. Restoration of sight to blind man (9:1-41)
L. Jesus the Good Shepherd (10:1-42)
M. Raising of Lazarus from the Dead (11:1-44)
N. Condemnation of Jesus (11:45-57)
O. Triumphal entry and related events (12:1-50)

III. Jesus’ manifestation of God’s glory to his disciples (13:1--20:31)

A. The Last Supper: Jesus washes disciples’ feet (13:1-38)
B. First farewell discourse to disciples (14:1-31)
C. Second farewell discourse to disciples (15:1--16:33)
D. Jesus’ final prayer (17:1-26)
E. The Passion narrative: Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion and burial (18:1--19:42)
F. Discovery of empty tomb and resurrection appearances in Jerusalem (20:1-31)

IV. Appendix: Jesus’ appearance by Sea of Galilee to Peter and others (21:1-25)

Plan of John from "The Gospels and Epistles of John: A Concise Commentary"

1:1-18       THE PROLOGUE
                    An introduction to and summary of the career of the incarnate Word
1:19--12:50    PART ONE: THE BOOK OF SIGNS
                     The Word reveals himself to the world and to his own, but they will not accept him.
13:1--20:31    PART TWO: THE BOOK OF GLORY
                     To those who accept him, the Word shows his glory by returning to the Father in death,
                        resurrection, and ascension. Fully glorified, he communicates the Spirit of life.
21:1-25        EPILOGUE
                    A series of resurrection appearances in Galilee of theological import.

PART ONE may be subdivided into four sections:
    1. seven days of gradual revelation of Jesus (1:19--2:11)
    2. themes in 2:1--4:54
        a) the replacement of Old Testament institutions:
            CANA - replacement of Jewish purifications (2:1-11)
            JERUSALEM - replacement of the Temple (2:13-25)
            NICODEMUS - replacement of the birth into the Chosen People (3:1-36)
            SAMARITAN WOMAN - replacement of worship in Jerusalem (4:1-42)
            Second Cana Miracle closing the section (4:43-54)
        b) reaction to Jesus by individuals representing a class:
            OFFICIAL JUDAISM (at Jerusalem)
                Temple authorities (2:13-25)
                Nicodemus the Pharisee (3:1-36)
            SAMARITAN (4:1-42)
            ROYAL OFFICIAL (Galileans; 4:43-54)
    3. themes in 5:1--10:42
        a) the replacement of Old Testament feasts:
            THE SABBATH - Jesus, the new Moses, replaces the Sabbath ordinance (5:1-47)
            PASSOVER - the Bread of Life (revelatory wisdom and the eucharist) replaces the manna (6:1-71)
            TABERNACLES - the Source of living water, the Light of the world, replaces the water and light ceremonies (7:1--10:21)
            DEDICATION - Jesus is consecrated in place of the Temple altar (10:22-42)
        b) the theme of life (begun in 2:1--4:54) is developed in 5:1--7:52; the theme of light is developed in 8:1--10:42
                (particularly in the healing of man born blind)
    4. the Lazarus theme (11:1--12:36)
        The raising to life of Lazarus leads directly to the condemnation of Jesus. Lazarus is present at the anointing of Jesus
        for burial (12:1-8), and enthusiasm over the miracle performed in his favor occasions the Palm Sunday scene (12:9-36).
        The raising of Lazarus is the culmination of the life-light themes.

PART TWO may be subdivided into three sections
    1. the Last Supper (13:1--17:26)
        a) the washing of the feet and the betrayal (13:1-30)
        b) Jesus’ Last Discourse:
             Introduction (13:31-38)
          Part One (14:1-31; duplicated in 16:4-33)
          Part Two (15:1--16:3)
             Part Three (17:1-26)
    2. Jesus’ passion and death (18:1--19:42)
        a) the garden scene (18:1-12)
        b) inquiry before Annas; Peter’s denial (18:12-27)
        c) trial before Pilate (18:28--19:16)
        d) crucifixion, death, and burial (19:17-42)
    3. the resurrection, ascension, and conferring of the Holy Spirit (20:1-31)

Outline of the Structure of the Gospel From "Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of John"

I. THE PROLOGUE (1:1-18)
II. THE BOOK OF SIGNS (1:19--12:50)
        A. The First Days of Jesus (1:19-51)
        B.  From Cana to Cana (2:1--4:54)
            i. The First Miracle at Cana (2:1-12)
                       ii.    Jesus and "the Jews" (2:12-22)
                       iii.   The narrator’s comment (2:23-25)
                       iv.   Jesus and Nicodemus (3:1-21)
                       v.    Jesus and John the Baptist (3:22-26)
                       vi.   Jesus and the Samaritan woman (4:1-15)
                       vii.  Jesus and the Samaritan woman (4:16-30)
                       viii. Jesus comments (4:31-38)
                       ix.    Jesus and the Samaritan villagers (4:39-42)
            x. The Second Miracles at Cana (4:43-54)
        C. The Feasts of "the Jews" (5:1--10:42)
            i.    Jesus and the Sabbath (5:1-47)
            ii.   Jesus and the Passover (6:1-71)
            iii.  Jesus and Tabernacles, I (7:1--8:59)
            iv.  Jesus and Tabernacles, II (9:1--10:21)
            v.   Jesus and Dedication (10:22-42)
        D. Jesus turns toward "the hour" (11:1--12:50)
            i.    A resurrection that will lead to death (11:1-54)
            ii.   The hour has come (11:55--12:36)
            iii.  Conclusion to the ministry of Jesus (12:37-50)
III. THE BOOK OF GLORY (13:1--20:31)
        A.  The Last Discourse (13:1--17:26)
            i.   Making God known: the footwashing and the morsel (13:1-38)
                      ii. Departure (14:1-31)
                            iii. To abide, to love, and to be hated (15:1--16:3)
                     iv. Departure (16:4-33)
            v.  Making God known: Jesus’ final prayer (17:1-26)
        B.  The Passion (18:1--19:42)
              i. Jesus and his enemies in a garden (18:1-11)
                      ii. Jesus’ appearance before "the Jews" (18:12-27)
                              iii. Jesus before Pilate (18:28--19:16a)
                     iv. The crucifixion of Jesus (19:16b-37)
             v. Jesus buried in a garden by his new-found friends (19:38-42)
        C.  The Resurrection (20:1-29)
              i. Scenes at the tomb (20:1-18)
                       (a) Visits to the empty tomb (20:1-10)
                       (b) Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene (20:11-18)
V. EPILOGUE: Further Resurrection Appearances (21:1-25)
              i.   Jesus appears to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias (21:1-14)
              ii.  Jesus, Peter, and the Beloved  Disciple (21:15-24)
              iii. A second conclusion to the Gospel (21:25)


"Amen, Amen" Sayings in the Fourth Gospel

In the Hebrew Bible, the word "Amen" connotes agreement, certainty, faithfulness.  It was simply transliterated amhn in Greek and thus also "amen" in most modern languages.  It is used at the end of some psalms, curses, blessings, prayers, and prophecies to allow the hearers/readers to say, "So be it!" or "Yes, I agree!" (Deut 27:15-26; 1Kings 1:36; 1Chron 16:36; Neh 5:13; Ps 106:48; Jer 28:6).  Sometimes it is repeated twice for emphasis (Num 5:22; Neh 8:6; Ps 41:13; 72:19; 89:52).

Similarly in the NT, “Amen” is used 28 times at the end of doxologies, blessings, and other prayers (Rom 1:25; 9:5; 11:36; 15:33; 16:27;  1Cor 14:16;  2Cor 1:20;  Gal 1:5; 6:18;  Eph 3:21;  Phil 4:20;  1Thess 3:13;  1Tim 1:17; 6:16;  2Tim 4:18;  Heb 13:21;  1Peter 4:11; 5:11;  2Peter 3:18;  Jude 1:25;  Rev 1:6, 7; 3:14; 5:14; 7:12 [twice]; 19:4; 22:20).  It is also used 101 times in the four Gospels, but with some major differences:

Sayings of the Johannine Jesus that begin, "Amen, Amen, I Say to You..." (RSV translation below):

To Nathanael in Galilee:

To Nicodemus in Jerusalem:

To the Jews in Jerusalem after a Sabbath Healing:

To the Crowds in Galilee after the Multiplication of the Loaves:

To the Jews in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tebernacles:

To the Pharisees in Jerusalem after the Healing of the Man Born Blind:

To the Disciples after the Entry into Jerusalem:

To the Disciples after the Washing of the Feet:

To Simon Peter at the Last Supper:

To all the Disciples at the Last Supper:

To Simon Peter after the Resurrection:

Contrasts between John and the Synoptics


1) Material found only in the Fourth Gospel (John), not in the Synoptic Gospels (Matt, Mark, Luke)

  • Prologue (1:1-18)
  • "Signs," beginning with the Wedding at Cana (2:1-12)
  • Dialogue with Nicodemus (2:23—3:21)
  • Jesus and/or his Disciples Baptize People (3:22-26; 4:1-2)
  • Samaritan Woman at the Well (4:1-42)
  • Jesus Heals a Sick Man at the Pool of Bethesda (5:1-18)
  • New Details at the Feeding of the 5000 (6:1b, 3-6, 8-9, 12b, 14-15)
  • Bread of Life Discourse (6:22-65)
  • [Woman caught in Adultery (7:53—8:11)]
  • Jesus Gives Sight to a Man Born Blind (9:1-41)
  • Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead (11:1-44)
  • Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet (13:1-20)
  • "Disciple Whom Jesus Loved" (13:23-25; 19:26-27; 20:2-10; 21:7, 20-24; cf. 18:15-16?)
  • Last Supper Discourses, incl. "Paraclete" & "Vine and Branches" (13:31—16:33)
  • Great Prayer of Jesus (17:1-26)
  • New Details at the Trial before Pilate (18:28—19:16)
  • New Details at the Crucifixion (19:20-24, 26-28, 30-37, 39)
  • First Resurrection Appearance to Mary Magdalene alone (20:11-18; cf. Matt 28:9)
  • Resurrection Appearance to Thomas (20:24-29)
  • Another Resurrection Appearance at the Sea of Tiberias/Galilee; Dialogue between Jesus & Peter (21:1-25; cf. Luke 5:1-11)
  • First and Second Endings to the Gospel (20:30-31; 21:24-25) 
  • 2) Material familiar from the Synoptics but not found in John

    3) Material Significantly different in John and the Synoptics

    Synoptics John
    Jesus’ ministry only lasts about one year Jesus’ ministry spans three Passovers (2:13; 6:4; 11:55)
    John the Baptist is “Elijah”; preaches repentance John [baptizer] is not Elijah, but a “witness” to Jesus (1:19-36)
    Jesus’ ministry begins after John the Baptist’s arrest Jesus’ ministry overlaps with John’s (3:22-30)
    First four disciples Jesus calls are two pairs of brothers: Simon & Andrew, James & John First five disciples: Andrew, an anonymous second one,
    Simon Peter, Philip, Nathanael (1:35-51)
    Many “miracles” but few longer speeches Only a few “signs” but several long monologues and dialogues
    Opponents of Jesus include Sadducees, Herodians, etc. Jesus’ opponents usually called “the Jews” or “the world
    Opponents plot to destroy/kill Jesus for various reasons Opponents try to stone Jesus for blasphemy (8:59; 10:31-33; cf. 11:8)
    Only one journey to Jerusalem Multiple visits to Jerusalem (2:13; 5:1; 7:10)
    Temple cleansing occurs one week before Jesus’ death Temple cleansing at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (2:13-22)
    Anointing at Bethany by anonymous woman, and objection by anonymous people Anointing at Bethany by Lazarus’ sister Mary, and objection by Judas Iscariot (12:1-8)
    Last Supper is the Passover Meal; Jesus is crucified on the Day of Passover Last Supper is before the Passover (13:1; 18:28);
    Jesus dies on the Preparation Day before Passover (19:14, 31, 42)
    “Love your neighbors”; “Love your enemies “Love one another” (13:34-35; 15:12, 17; focus within cmnty)
    Peter is first and most prominent of the “apostles Mary Magdalene, Martha of Bethany, and the “Beloved Disciple” are more prominent as “disciples
    Future Eschatology: “Kingdom of God” is coming Realized Eschatology: “Eternal Life” now (3:36; 5:24; 6:47-54)
    Gethsemane”: betrayal through Judas’ kiss Garden” in Kidron Valley: Jesus IDs himself for arrest (18:1-11)
    Women prepare spices to anoint Jesus’ body after his burial Joseph of Arimathea & Nicodemus anoint his body before burial (19:38-42)

    4) "So What?" - Questions for Reflection and Discussion:


    Trinity College of Biblical Studies

    Syllabubs for the Gospel of St. John