John’s Blog – a short explanatory introduction.

Warning!

This blog is fictional in one sense only.  It purports to be written by the Apostle (Disciple) John, the brother of James, the son of Zebedee.  It clearly is not! John died before or around 100 AD; he wrote at least two major parts of the New Testament, possibly three[1], but not this blog.

This blog is written entirely by me, Derek John McKelvey, Minister of Fisherwick Church, Belfast, to be read alongside a study of John’s first book, the Gospel of John, which is the subject matter of our evening (Sunday Night Live) services starting 23 September 2012 and ending in May 2013 – 7 pm (except for two Sundays at Christmas).

The only fiction is that it is written as if John the Evangelist was speaking, clearing up any misunderstanding of what he said, or filling in the background to what he said.  If anything else is fictional it is my fault. My aim is to draw out the meaning of the text for today’s world by not departing at any time from what John actually said – simply interpreting it for today in the light of all that’s happened since 100 AD.  No small task you may say but, in effect, the adventure every preacher undertakes every time he preaches!

I have attached a link to a Bible Study outline which tackles most of the issues about who wrote it: when, from where, to whom and why?  All these questions are disputed – often, I suspect, because there is not a PhD thesis in agreeing but endless in disagreeing and speculating why.

For the purposes of the blog, I am following the earliest known opinions that the Gospel was written by John, now Bishop in Ephesus, around 85 AD and was written to an audience of Jews of the Diaspora and Jewish Proselytes[2] whom he desired to convince that ‘Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that in believing in Him you might have life’, John 20:31

There is no doubt that Ephesus was a crossroads of cultures[3], religions and ‘new ideas’ so the Christians themselves often found themselves at sea as to what they believed and John also intends that they should have no doubts as to how and in what way Jesus was the Messiah.

I have only one (minor) hesitation in writing this blog as if it were John himself, and that is his own self-effacement in the gospel itself.  ‘The disciple whom Jesus loved’, [4]which in his pseudonym, is always used not as a boast, but as a mark of wonder that he was just that – ‘a disciple loved by Jesus’.  He chooses to be that person amazed at what God has done for him.

I, too, am amazed at what God has done for me – his endless patience, gentle prompting, wonderful forgiveness and strong challenge all at the same time are what gets me out of bed in the morning and motivates me most of the time.  I trust these but particularly the nudging of the Spirit, who inspired the evangelist, and now is my guide, will mean we capture something of the depth, passion and subtlety of John’s writing.

Feel free to send comments or queries to me (derek@fisherwick.net or john@fisherwick.net)  They will not instantly appear in the blog itself but may well inspire me or cause me to write further comments for everyone or to include them where appropriate.  Queries I will attempt to answer by email.  I am totally new to this never having written a blog before (never mind one in the guise of John the Evangelist) so who knows what may happen.  I would deeply appreciate dialogue on what is written so please do send your comments.

Derek

 


[1] I hold that he wrote the Gospel and the First Letter and very possibly, but not certainly, Revelation. The second and third letter are probably from the same church into a developing situation after his death. For discussion of these matters read the relevant commentaries

[2] Long before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD Jews had spread through out the Roman Empire – they and their synagogues were Paul’s first point of contact when he went to a town. Diaspora means ‘scattered’ and a Proselyte is one who has converted to Judaism from another faith or none.

[3] Ephesus is now some miles from the coast and its channel silted up and the town a ruin – then it was a thriving seaport at one end of the cross Asia trade route – it had gathered religions and philosophies from both west and east.

[4] Any of the major commentaries on John have a full treatment of the identity of this pseudonym. No other possibility rather than John, the disciple has much compelling evidence.

 

 .