Church tradition claims that John the Apostle wrote the fourth Gospel when he was close to the end of his life. The Gospel of John was most likely written after the previous three Gospel and contains a lot of new material about the life of Jesus. This is a great article on what makes the Gospel of John different. So who wrote the Gospel According to John?
Like the other gospels, the Gospel According to John does not have a direct claim to authorship in it, but there are a lot of internal clues about who the author may be. The phrase “The disciple whom Jesus loved” appears in the Gospel of John five times. This phrase is not found in the other three Gospels.
There has been a lot of research that has been put into this question, but the most likely conclusion is that “The one whom Jesus loved” is John. If you want to know why it is John, this is a great article on this topic, but it’s too much information for this post. Now if “The one whom Jesus loved”, was John, and “The one whom Jesus loved” is only mentioned in the Gospel in which John allegedly authored, it makes the most sense that John is the author or source of the Gospel of John.
First off, Iraenous, who lived from 130-200 AD said that:
Further, they teach that John, the disciple of the Lord, indicated the first Ogdoad, expressing themselves in these words: John, the disciple of the Lord, wishing to set forth the origin of all things, so as to explain how the Father produced the whole, lays down a certain principle,—that, namely, which was first-begotten by God, which Being he has termed both the only-begotten Son and God, in whom the Father, after a seminal manner, brought forth all things.Iraneous, Against Heresies
In this quote, it can be seen that Iraaenous believed that John was the author of the Gospel of John. In addition, Clement of Alexandria, who lived from 150-215 AD, was quoted by Eusebius who lived from 263-339 AD. Clement said this:
Again, in the same books Clement has set down a tradition which he had received from the elders before him, in regard to the order of the Gospels, to the following effect. He says that the Gospels containing the genealogies were written first, and that the Gospel according to Mark was composed in the following circumstances:—
Peter having preached the word publicly at Rome, and by the Spirit proclaimed the Gospel, those who were present, who were numerous, entreated Mark, inasmuch as he had attended him from an early period, and remembered what had been said, to write down what had been spoken. On his composing the Gospel, he handed it to those who had made the request to him; which coming to Peter’s knowledge, he neither hindered nor encouraged. But John, the last of all, seeing that what was corporeal was set forth in the Gospels, on the entreaty of his intimate friends, and inspired by the Spirit, composed a spiritual GospelEusebius, Ecclesiastical History
So regarding The Gospel According to John, there is unanimous confirmation that John is the source of the Gospel of John. It is entirely possible that one of John’s close associates wrote down the Gospel at his dictation.
Some think this because when the Gospel talks about “the disciple whom Jesus loved” some scholars think that this most likely was a reference added to the Gospel by someone else, probably a close associate of John. Whether John put the pen to the paper, or one of his disciples did, I think it’s pretty clear that the source for the Gospel of John, is John.
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