McGee J. Vernon McGee Notes and Outlines

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Introduction to John

John, the apostle, son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James (Mark 1:19-20; Matthew 20:20; John 21:20-24). His authorship has been seriously questioned by the Tubingen school of critics; however, the objections have been fully answered by the Dead Sea scrolls and also by the dating of carbon 14, and the Johannean authorship is received by competent Bible scholarship.

It is interesting to note that the following early church fathers ascribe the fourth Gospel to John: Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch—A.D. 180; Iranaeus—A.D. 190, pupil of Polycarp, who in turn was pupil of John; Clement of Alexandria—A.D. 200; and the Muratorium fragment says the fourth Gospel is by John.


A.D. 90-100

Some suppose that this is the last book of the New Testament to be written. However, it seems appropriate to consider the writings of John in sequence: namel, the Gospel of John, the three Epistles, and the Revelation. All were written evidently during the last ten years of the life of the "beloved apostle."


There are several striking features about the structure:

  1. The first 3 Gospels are called the Synoptic Gospels because they are written from the same viewpoint. The fourth Gospel is different.

    1. Matthew and Mark emphasize the miracles of Jesus, and Luke gives attention to the parables; John does neither.

    2. The miracles in John are given as signs and were chosen with a great deal of discrimination in order to interpret certain great truths (e.g., Jesus fed the 5000, and following it is His discourse on the Bread of Life). There are eleven specific signs in John.

    3. There are no parables in the fourth Gospel. The word "parable" occurs one time (John 10:6), but is not the regular Greek word parabole but paroimia. The story of the Good Shepherd is not a parable but a discourse. The record of the lost sheep in Luke 15 is a parable. In John, the figures that Jesus used are in the nature of metaphors.

  2. The simplicity of language has caused some to label John's record as the "simple Gospel." The fact that so many monosyllabic and disyllabic words occur has deceived many. This is the most profound Gospel, and the most difficult to fathom its meaning. Consider this simple statement and then try to probe its depths: ". . . ye in me, and I in you" (John 14:20).

  3. John gives a chronological order which is well to note (e.g., "the next day," John 1:29, 35, 43). he presents a logical and chronological sequence of events. He also gives attention to places and cities (e.g., "Bethabara beyond the Jordan," John 1:28, "Cana, of Galilee," John 2:1).

  4. Although the deity of Christ is in the foreground, the humanity of Christ is peculiarly emphasized (e.g., "Jesus . . . being wearied with his journey," John 4:6).

  5. The name Jesus is used almost entirely to the exclusion of Christ. This seems strange in a Gospel that sets forth His deity.

  6. The word Jew occurs over 60 times.

Why John Wrote

Several explanations have been offered as the reasons why John wrote his Gospel:

  1. To correct Synooptic Gospels (invalid since he did not deal with their material);

  2. To correct a wrong view concerning John the Baptist;

  3. To refute errors of Cerinthus;

  4. John's own reason—John 20:30-31.


During the entire life of the church there have been many glowing tributes paid tothe fourth Gospel. Some have called this "the heart of Christ," the "spiritual Gospel," and in Europe it is called "the bosom of Christ."

Origen said, "The Gospel [of John] is the consummation of the Gospels as the Gospels are of the Scriptures."
Jerome said, "John excels in the depths of divine mysteries."
Culross said, "I believe the writings of John have been blotted by more penitents' tears and have won more hearts for the Redeemer than all the rest put together."
Dr. A. T. Pierson said, "It touches the heart of Christ. If Matthew corresponds to the court of the Gentiles, John leads us past the veil into the Holy of Holies."
D. A. Hayes said, "As we read we are assured that here at last is the worthy and adequate picture of the life of Jesus among men.


The deity of Jesus is the paramount purpose. The Messianic character also holds priority. This is succinctly stated in John 20:31—"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."

There is a mighty movement stated in John 16:28—"I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go to the Father." God became a man; this is the simple statement of the sublime fact. John Wesley expressed it, "God contracted to a span."

These things are recorded to beget faith in the heart of man. Believe is used over 100 times in John's Gospel. It occurs fewer than 40 times in the Synoptic Gospels. The noun faith does not occur in John but is used in the other Gospels. Eternal life occurs 35 times in John, but only 12 times in the Synoptic Gospels.


  1. Prologue—incarnation, Chapter 1:1-18
    1. Word is God, 1-3
    2. Word became flesh, 14
    3. Word revealed God, 18

  2. Introduction, Chapter 1:19-51
    1. Witness of John the Baptist, 19-36
      Jesus is Revealer of God (36); Redeemer of man (29)
    2. Witness of Andrew, 17-42
      Jesus is the Messiah [Christ] (41)
    3. Witness of Philip, 43-46
      Jesus is fulfillment of Old Testament (45)
    4. witness of Nathanael, 47-51
      Jesus is Son of God, King of Israel (49)

  3. Witness of works and words ("signs" 20:30-31), Chapters 2–12
    1. Jesus at marriage in Cana (1st work), Chapter 2:1-12
    2. Jesus cleanses temple during Passover in Jerusalem (1st word), Chapter 2:13-22
      Jesus is Resurrection (22)
    3. Jesus interviews Nicodemus in Jerusalem (2nd word), Chapters 2:23–3:36
      Jesus must die for sins of world (3:15)
    4. Jesus interviews woman at well in Sychar (3rd word), Chapter 4:1-45
      Jesus is giver of Water of Life
    5. Jesus heals nobleman's son in Capernaum (2nd work), Chapter 4:46-54
    6. Jesus heals man at pool of Bethesda (3rd work), Chapter 5
      Jesus is equal with God
    7. Jesus feeds 5,000 on east of Sea of Galilee (4th work & word), Chapter 6
      Jesus is Bread of Life
    8. Jesus teaches at Feast of Tabernacles in temple (5th word), Chapter 7
      Jesus is Water of Life; promises the Holy Spirit
    9. Jesus in temple forgives woman taken in adultery (6th word), Chapter 8
      Jesus is Light of World
    10. Jesus opens eyes of man born blind in Jerusalem (5th work), Chapter 9
      1. Record of miracle, 1-7
      2. Reaction to miracle, 8-41
    11. Jesus is Good Shepherd (7th word), Chapter 10
      1. Humanity—Christ in form of servant, 1-21
      2. Deity—Christ equal with God, 22-42
    12. Jesus raises Lazarus from dead in Bethany (6th work), Chapter 11
    13. Witness of Jew and Gentile to Jesus, Chapter 12
      1. Jesus comes to Bethany for supper, 1-11
      2. Jesus comes to Jerusalem—tearful entry, 12-19
      3. Jesus comes to Greeks, 20-26
      4. Jesus comes to His hour, 27-36
      5. Jesus comes to end of public ministry, 37-50

  4. Witness of Jesus to His witnesses, Chapters 13–17
    Upper Room Discourse
    1. Jesus washes feet of disciples, Chapter 13
      Picture of His present ministry
    2. Jesus comforts His disciples, Chapter 14
      Announces His second coming
    3. Jesus is genuine vine; disciples are branches, Chapter 15
      New relationship
    4. Jesus will send Holy Spirit during His absence, Chapter 16
      New ministry of Holy Spirit
    5. The Lord's prayer, Chapter 17
      1. Jesus prays for Himself, 1-5
      2. Jesus prays for disciples, 6-19
      3. Jesus prays for His church, 20-26

  5. Witness to world, Chapters 18–20
    1. Arrest and trial of Jesus, Chapter 18
      1. Arrest in Gethsemane; trial before Annas, 1-14
      2. First denial by Simon Peter, 15-18
      3. Trial before high priest, 19-24
      4. Second denial by Simon Peter, 25-27
      5. Trial before Pilate, 28-40
    2. Death of Jesus at Golgotha; burial in tomb of Joseph, Chapter 19
    3. Resurrection of Jesus; appearances to Mary, disciples, Thomas, Chapter 20

  6. Epilogue—glorification, Chapter 21
    The resurrected Jesus is still God
    • Lord of our wills—directs our service (6)
    • Lord of our hearts—motive for service (15-17)
    • Lord of our minds—lack of knowledge no excuse from service (22)
Another division of the Gospel of John:

John 1–12: LIGHT
John 13–17: LOVE
John 18–21: LIFE

A special thanks to Thru the Bible Radio Network for permission to create and post this version of Dr. J. Vernon McGee's Notes and Outlines. Visit Thru the Bible on the Web at

Introduction: | DarbyGenevaGillJamieson Faussett BrownJohnson LightfootMatthew HenryMatthew Henry ConciseMcGarvey PendletonMcGeeWesleyIndexRead Introduction to John |

Chapter 1:DarbyGenevaGillJamieson Faussett BrownJohnson LightfootMatthew HenryMatthew Henry ConciseMcGarvey PendletonMcGeeWesleyIndexRead Introduction to John |

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