Johannine Theology

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Johannine theology focuses on a different dualism from that of the Synoptics. The dualism in the Synoptic Gospels is primarily horizontal: a contrast between two ages — this age and the Age to Come. The dualism of John is primarily vertical: a contrast between two worlds — the world above and the world below. “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world” (Jn. 8:23). The Synoptics contrast this age with the Age to Come, and we know from the Pauline use that “this world” can be an equivalent of “this age” in an eschatological dualism. But in John, “this world” almost always stands in contrast with the world above. “This world” is viewed as evil with the devil as its ruler (16:11), Jesus has come to be the light of this world (11:9). The authority of his mission does not come from “this world” but from the world above — from God (18:36). When his mission is completed, he must depart from “this world” (13:1).

The same dualism is obvious in the language of Jesus descending from heaven to earth and ascending again to heaven. “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven” (3:13). Jesus has come down from heaven to fulfill a mission that he received from God (6:38). He has come down from heaven as the “living bread.” If anyone eats of this bread, she or he shall never die but have eternal life (6:33, 41, 50, 51, 58). When his mission is fulfilled, he must ascend to heaven whence he had come (6:62). After the resurrection, when Mary would cling to him, he told her not to hold him, for he had not yet ascended to the Father. She was instead to go to the disciples and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (20:17).

As the Old Testament begins with the affirmation, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” so the Fourth Gospel begins with the similar affirmation, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). The Word was the medium of Divine action in creation (John 1:3).

In the Word was life, not merely self-existing but self-imparting, so that it became the light of men (John 1:4)–the true light, which, coming into the world, lighteth every man (John 1:9). And finally it is declared that this Divine Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, so that “we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Thus, it is true that John teaches “a distinction of two great classes in the human race—those who are from above and those who are from beneath—children of light and children of darkness.”

The development of the conception of eternal life must be set along with the doctrine of the moral nature of God and the doctrine of the incarnation as one of the greatest contributions of the Johannine theology to New Testament thought. .

Course Assignment:

All of Wicket Gate Bible College courses are essay courses that require independent study and a term paper/essay. Please read at least ten resources on this topic and then write a ten page essay discussing a summary of your resources and your personal opinion on the subjec