Declining Churches Searching for the Silver Bullet Pastor

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Examining the Debate Surrounding the Authorship of the Fourth Gospel

by Bart L. Denny 

Originally written on June 29, 2014 and edited only slightly since.


All available evidence, both internal and external, shows convincingly that the Apostle John, son of Zebedee, is the author of the Fourth Gospel. While this gospel is formally anonymous, the Church has historically (since the second century A.D., at least) affirmed the Johannine authorship of the Fourth Gospel. However, the last two centuries have seen considerable debate over the subject, with scholars advancing numerous alternatives to apostolic authorship. Most of these alternate theories attach the Fourth Gospel to sources later in the second century. These proposed sources include a Johannine community, a postulated John the Elder, another relatively unknown John, and gnostic sources, to name a few. Indeed, today, most scholars outside of conservative evangelical circles, particularly outside of the United States, are of the opinion that the Apostle John is not the author of the gospel the church has, for centuries, attributed to him. [1]

This paper will also examine the prevailing alternatives and show them severely lacking, at best, and often premised on faulty presuppositions. Additionally, this paper will demonstrate that the Apostle John is the most logical solution to most of the problems connected to the authorship of the Fourth Gospel. Finally, this paper will assert that the answer to the question of the Fourth Gospel’s authorship does indeed matter, contrary to the thinking of many scholars.

Evidence for Johannine Authorship

Before the 18th century, the notion that the Apostle John authored the Fourth Gospel remained essentially unquestioned. [2] However, beginning in the 1700s, and in the more than 200 years ensuing, liberal scholars, particularly the likes of Ferdinand Christian Baur, have strongly questioned the Johannine authorship of the Fourth Gospel. Liberal scholarship concludes, with Andrews, that, “The internal data make apostolic authorship appear doubtful,” and that, “the external witness plainly contradicts the idea of apostolic authorship.” [3]

Individually, most pieces of evidence do not conclusively solve the problem of Johannine authorship of the Fourth Gospel. Indeed, many of the pieces of evidence do raise additional questions of their own. However, considered in total, both the internal and external evidence for John bar Zebedee as the author of the Fourth Gospel is overwhelming.

Internal Evidence for Johannine Authorship

Even when cast in the light of more recent scholarship, B. F. Westcott’s classic argument remains a suitable framework for examining the internal evidence for the Johannine Authorship of the Fourth Gospel. As Westcott argued over a century ago, readers may deduce from the text of the Fourth Gospel several characteristics of its author, namely, that the author was a Palestinian Jew, an eyewitness, and an Apostle—namely, John bar Zebedee. [4]

The Fourth Gospel never explicitly identifies its author. Likely, the gospel’s original recipients knew precisely who wrote it. [5] John 21:20-24 apparently identifies the gospel’s author, but not by name. “(T)he disciple whom Jesus loved” (Jn 21:20) is the one “bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things” (Jn 21:24).[6] Obviously, if John and the Beloved Disciple are one and the same, then John is the author of the Fourth Gospel. The text of the gospel itself gives ample internal evidence that this is exactly the case. The gospel’s author possesses an accurate knowledge of Palestinian topography. Moreover, the Dead Sea Scrolls show the gospel’s language bears far more similarity to Qumran writings than to Hellenistic works. In fact, in some places, the gospel’s quotations are closer in form to Hebrew or Aramaic than to Greek. [7] For Carson and Moo, these are ample proofs that the author is a Palestinian Jew, not a Hellenistic writer, as some have alleged.[8]

Analyzing John 1:14, “and we have seen his glory,” Odeberg sees the author is the Beloved Disciple, an eyewitness, someone with a special understanding of the “mystery of the person of Christ.” Moreover, the author is someone who was with Jesus from the beginning to the end of His ministry. [9] Further, the Beloved Disciple not only claims to be the writer of the gospel but says that he bears witness of the things in the book, and attests to the truth of his “testimony” (Jn 21:24). For Bauckham, the language in John 21:24 cannot be more convincing; the Beloved Disciple is an eyewitness. [10] According to each of the Synoptics, only the apostles joined Jesus in the Last Supper (Matt 26:20, Mk 14:17, Lk 22:14). The Fourth Gospel records the Beloved Disciple as present at the Last Supper (Jn 13:23). The Beloved Disciple, then, is one of the twelve apostles. [11] This eliminates such wildly postulated authors as Lazarus, Martha, Mary Magdalene, and John Mark, among others who were not among those in the upper room the night of Jesus’ arrest. [12]

Morris finds it curious that, unlike the Synoptics, never mentions John bar Zebedee by name. At the same time, the Fourth Gospel’s author otherwise takes pains to carefully identify his characters, such as when he distinguishes between Judas Iscariot and “Judas not Iscariot” (Jn 14:22) and identifies Thomas as “called Didymus (Twin)” (Jn 20:24). However, also unlike the Synoptics, the Fourth Gospel refers to John the Baptist simply as, “John.” Morris argues that these literary features of the Fourth Gospel add to the case that the gospel’s original readers understood the Apostle John was the writer. [13]

The Synoptics repeatedly portray Peter and his partners (Lk 5:10), James and John (the sons of Zebedee), as Jesus’ closest confidants. Likewise, where Peter is often named in the Fourth Gospel as part of the inner circle, so too is the Beloved Disciple, who is seen reclining at Jesus’ side (Jn 13:22-23), and at the foot of Jesus’ cross (Jn 19:26). Testifying to the Beloved Disciple’s place in Jesus’ inner circle, the Fourth Gospel recounts Mary Magdalene as reporting Jesus’ missing body to Peter and the Beloved Disciple (Jn 20:2). Again, the author depicts the Beloved Disciple with Peter in an intimate moment with the resurrected Lord (Jn 21:20-23).

Odeberg sees further evidence in that, where the Fourth Gospel consistently shows a close relationship between Peter and the Beloved Disciple, the Book of Acts likewise depicts a similarly close relationship between Peter and John during a period occurring not long after the events of John 21. [14] In John 21, the Evangelist records that seven apostles go fishing, and among them is the Beloved Disciple. The gospel account specifically records the seven as Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee (James and John), and two unnamed disciples. The Beloved Disciple is either James, or John, or one of the two unnamed disciples. James bar Zebedee was the first apostle to perish, around A.D. 41-44 (Acts 12:1-2), while the Beloved Disciple, on the other hand, lived long enough to give rise to a rumor that he would never die (Jn 21:23). [15] The Beloved Disciple cannot be James. Moreover, the apparent place in Jesus’ inner circle that the Beloved Disciple holds also strongly suggests he cannot be one of the two unnamed disciples in John 21.

A number of scholars have advanced the claim that, despite its clear wording, the Gospel’s postscript (Jn 21:24) does not represent a claim of authorship by the Beloved Disciple. Indeed, as Carson admits, one of the strongest arguments against Johannine authorship is that it seems unusual, even boastful, for a man to refer to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” [16] Morris finds merit to the argument that it seems strange for an author to refer to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Morris thinks it likely that the term is used in a way similar to that of the Apostle Paul, who refers to Jesus as, “the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). [17]

On its face, this argument seems to add almost no weight to either side of the debate concerning the identity of the Beloved Disciple. However, Jackson’s in-depth treatise on ancient self-referential conventions convincingly dispels any notion that John 21:24 refers to anyone other than the Beloved Disciple as the author of the Fourth Gospel. [18] The weight of the internal evidence, then, convincingly identifies the Apostle John as the Beloved Disciple and author of the Fourth Gospel.

External Evidence for Johannine Authorship

If only the internal evidence suggested the Apostle John authored the Fourth Gospel, it might be relatively easy to dismiss such a claim. However, as Carson and Moo write, “The external evidence that the fourth evangelist was none other than the apostle John, then, is virtually unanimous, though not impressively early.” [19]

The tradition of the early church is a witness to the Johannine authorship of the Fourth Gospel. However, given that the first unequivocal statement to that effect doesn’t occur until late in the second century, it is worth examining whether early church traditions are reliable accounts or merely the stuff of legends. If the tradition is reliable, then the late second-century writings are also reliable.

Odeberg lays out two criteria for determining the reliability of a tradition. First, he says, a tradition must be “handed down and carried forward with unchanged content” from person to person, generation to generation, and group to group. Second, that unbroken tradition must be linked all the way back to the people or persons who witnessed the event. The early Christians, particularly those of Jewish heritage, were part of a culture notorious for faithfully preserving traditions. That tradition, Odeberg says, is utterly clear and completely reliable: The Apostle John wrote the Fourth Gospel when he was an old man living at Ephesus. [20]

Church Tradition (Mid-Second through Early-Third Centuries)

Certainly, before the close of the third century, the consensus of church tradition—across widely dispersed geographical areas—was that the Apostle John wrote the Fourth Gospel. This agreement is possible because the church reliably transmitted its earliest traditions. In Against Heresies (c. 180), Irenaeus, a bishop in Gaul, was the first to unambiguously state that the Apostle John was the author of the Fourth Gospel. Presumably, Irenaeus would have learned this from Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John. [21] As Carson says, “The distance in terms of personal memories is not very great.” [22] There seems little reason to doubt someone so little removed from the origin of the tradition. Indeed, the account of Irenaeus satisfies Odeberg’s criteria for the faithful transmission of a tradition, unbroken and in original form beginning with its source. [23]

Likely written around A.D. 170-200, the Muratorian Fragment contains an early list of books the church at Rome held to be canonical at the time. [24] Bauckham says the Fragment is notable in that it lacks any influence from Irenaeus, reflecting an independent transmission of the Johannine authorship tradition. [25] The Muratorian Fragment records that the Apostle John wrote the Fourth Gospel at the behest of his fellow disciples and bishops. Additionally, the Fragment says, the Apostle Andrew also had a revelation that said John should write an account of what he had seen. The Fragment also attested to the canonicity and authorship by the same John, the Apocalypse of John, and two epistles. [26] Researchers should probably temper their view of the reliability of the Muratorian Fragment, however, as it describes the apocryphal Shepherd of Hermas and Apocalypse of Peter as canonical—contrary to the balance of the early church’s witness. [27] Still, the Fragment does provide additional weight to the second-century Asian, African, and European witnesses to the tradition that the Apostle John wrote the Fourth Gospel.

Clement of Alexandria (c. A.D. 215) testified to the tradition that, when John returned to Ephesus from exile in Patmos, he appointed bishops, and that he wrote the last gospel, one that Clement calls a “spiritual gospel.” [28] Clement agrees with the account given in the Muratorian Fragment, probably written around A.D. 165-234. That account is that, as an elderly man, the Apostle John wrote the fourth, and last, gospel in Ephesus, and that others, including his disciples and bishops, as well as the Apostle Andrew, had urged him to write. [29] Active in the first part of the third century, Origen, Clement’s successor in Alexandria, shows clearly in his extensive commentary on the Fourth Gospel that he views John as the author. [30] Early in the third century, in his work, Against Praxeas, Tertullian of Carthage repeatedly quoted from the Fourth Gospel (Jn 1:1, 1:3) and from 1 John, ascribing both works to the Apostle John. [31]

By A.D. 303, Eusebius of Caesarea completed his Ecclesiastical History, and in it unequivocally expresses what was, by then, the universal tradition of the church: the Apostle John authored the Fourth Gospel. The documentary evidence is clear; by the dawn of the fourth century, if not earlier, the early church universally held to the tradition of Johannine authorship. While the evidence is not without problems, taken on the balance, there seems no reason to believe church tradition did not reliably pass down the tradition of Johannine authorship.

Early Second Century: Evidence from Disciples and Hearers of John

The seven preserved letters of Ignatius of Antioch, which date from the beginning of the second century, may provide very early, if not entirely compelling, support for the Apostle John’s authorship of the Fourth Gospel. As a disciple of the Apostle John, Ignatius would have been intimately familiar with the apostle’s theology. Admittedly, many observers wonder whether Ignatius received exposure to the Fourth Gospel; none of his preserved letters explicitly affirms that he had read it. Certainly, many scholars see echoes of the Fourth Gospel in the writings of Ignatius. Still, some have argued—with some merit to their case—that Ignatius’ utilization of Johannine theology could be evidence that a Johannine Community, of which Ignatius would presumably have been a part, wrote the Fourth Gospel.

For his part, however, Burghardt goes the farthest, seeing in Ignatius’ writings an utter textual dependence on the Fourth Gospel. [32] If Burghardt is correct, Ignatius’ acquaintance with, and dependence upon, the Fourth Gospel, is a strong argument that, weighted with other evidence, adds more certainty of the Johannine authorship of the gospel.

Papias and the “Two Johns” Theory

The earliest direct external evidence appealed to in the debate over the authorship of the Fourth Gospel is the testimony of Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis. Eusebius, citing Irenaeus, wrote that Papias was, “the hearer of John, and a companion of Polycarp.” Ferguson concludes that Papias certainly knew the gospels of Mark and Matthew and that he used the First Epistle of John. If John wrote his first letter to counteract the mishandling of his gospel, as scholars such as Ferguson believe, then it follows that Papias was acquainted with the Fourth Gospel and possessed it when he wrote around A.D. 100. [33]

Papias seems to add an element of confusion in his writing, and both Eusebius and modern liberal scholars have seized upon the lack of clarity, even if today’s liberals arrive at a different conclusion from that of Eusebius. In his no longer extant writings, which Eusebius quotes, Papias speaks of a “John the Elder.” It is to this John the Elder that many scholars ascribe the authorship of the Fourth Gospel. To Morris, this John the Elder is hardly a problem, however; he says Eusebius overstates the case for two Johns.[34]

Further, as Manor notes, there are no corroborating witnesses for the “two Johns” Eusebius sees in Papias. Presumably, Irenaeus would have possessed the complete work of Papias. Further, he would have known the Asia Minor tradition, both personally and through Polycarp. Yet Irenaeus makes no effort to distinguish between an Apostle John and an Elder John. Frankly, Eusebius seems to have had an agenda. He held a low opinion of Papias’ intelligence because the latter was a millenarian who expected a paradise on earth at the second coming of Christ. Further, it is probable that Eusebius did not agree with some of what Papias wrote about the origins of New Testament writings. [35]

Given the low opinion of The Book of Revelation that Eusebius held, he was probably all too happy to ascribe the Apocalypse to some John other than the apostle. [36] Eusebius may also have been motivated to “cherry-pick” Papias’s writings to bolster his own views, further adding to the confusion. As Manor sees it, then, the “two Johns” tradition is an embellishment by Eusebius, motivated by a negative view of Papias. [37] Further, even if he believed Papias spoke of two Johns, Eusebius, too, believed that the Fourth Gospel was, unquestionably, the work of the Apostle John. [38] Moreover, where Eusebius distinguishes between apostles and elders, reasoning that elders are disciples of the apostles, Papias never makes any such distinction.[39] In fact, as Carson notes, the Apostle Peter even refers to himself as an “elder” (1 Pt 5:1). [40]

Irenaeus, who was certainly intimate with the work of Papias, referred to “the elders” in such a way as to show he understood the term to mean the senior Christian leaders in a given location. Bauckham contends that this is an understanding that Irenaeus probably gained from Papias. [41] Referring to the Apostle John as “elder” would merely have been an allusion to his status as a leader at Ephesus. The “two Johns” theory becomes even more tenuous in light of these considerations. Papias does little to bolster directly the case for the Johannine authorship of the Fourth Gospel. However, looking to his writings to support alternative theories seems an overreach at best.

The Case Against the Apostle John as Author

According to Morris, many object to dating the Fourth Gospel as far back as the Apostle John—the late first century—because it supposedly contains Gnostic ideas. Certainly, all the evidence shows that fully developed Gnosticism came into its own long after the Apostle John could have possibly lived. If the Fourth Gospel is of Gnostic origin, then clearly, John could not have written it. [42] Admittedly, Gnostics certainly seemed to admire the Fourth Gospel. Furthermore, the Gnostics’ writings do give weight to the gospel’s Johannine authorship. [43] However, Gnostic enthusiasm for the Fourth Gospel does not necessitate Gnostic authorship.

Morris calls the ideas in the Fourth Gospel “pre-Gnostic” with only the most superficial resemblance to fully developed Gnosticism. [44] Köstenberger, for his part, points out that Irenaeus used the Fourth Gospel to refute Gnosticism. [45] If John wrote the Fourth Gospel in the late first century (A.D. 80-85), he died an elderly man. Of course, church tradition holds that this is precisely the case. However, on occasion, theories have arisen contradicting the idea.

One such notion, advanced by Philip of Side, and dating to the fifth century, says John bar Zebedee died at an early age. Another hypothesis dating to fifth-century Syria also holds the Apostle John to have died early in the church age—around the time of his brother James. While both theories would seem to preclude the Apostle John from writing the Fourth Gospel, Borchert finds neither worthy of further consideration. [46] There is no reason to believe that John bar Zebedee did not live long enough to have written the Fourth Gospel.

Some critics have objected to John as the author of the Fourth Gospel because the gospel’s language seems so different from the Synoptics. Others object to Johannine authorship because the Synoptics record John as present at several events that the Fourth Gospel does not even record. Morris sees no problem here; John tells the story from a different vantage point, later, with different purposes in mind. John was probably aware of the tradition behind the Synoptics, if he had not actually read one or more of them, and may have hoped to correct their misuse. [47] An honest examination shows that criticisms attempting on invalidate John’s authorship of the Fourth Gospel, based on differences with the Synoptics, greatly overstate their case.

Others skeptical of Johannine authorship contend that, as an uneducated man (Acts 4:13), John could not have written a document of such nuanced complexity, composed in Greek of such high quality. Supposing that John lacked formal schooling, especially as compared to the rabbinical teachers of his day, does not mean the man was ignorant or illiterate. Carson notes that Jewish boys did learn to read and that, as Zebedee was a man wealthy enough to own fishing boats, his sons may have actually been better educated than average. [48]

Carson also notes that even some noted rabbis of the day also lacked formal education. [49] To the idea that a Palestinian Jew such as John could not have written in Greek of such quality, Carson is certain that most Galileans, such as John, were bilingual, and spoke both Aramaic and Greek. [50] Further, John likely wrote at least 50 years after his time with Jesus and had traveled considerably in the intervening years. It seems strange to confine an older, wiser John intellectually to his Galilean fisherman origins. What’s more, a profound experience such as John’s time as a disciple of Christ during His earthly ministry would have served as such a deep learning experience that John could have written far more eloquently than his formal education belies.

An Evaluation of the Alternatives to Johannine Authorship

Based on internal evidence, this paper has already discounted as possible authors any disciple of Jesus’ who was not one of the twelve apostles, including Martha, Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, and John Mark. This paper has already discounted the only plausible apostolic author other than the Apostle John—his brother, James bar Zebedee. Further, in discussing Papias, this paper has debunked as an implausible stretch the idea that a “John the Elder,” who was not the apostle, could have written the book. The language of the gospel, as this paper has shown, also eliminates Hellenistic authors.

This leaves a “Johannine community,” ostensible disciples of John (and presumably their disciples) who recorded John’s teachings sometime in the early second century. The first problem for proponents of such a theory is that there is no concrete evidence. [51] Moreover, Morris finds it odd that, if a “Johannine community” authored the Fourth Gospel, they never once mention their hero by name within their narrative. [52]

Carson further exposes the enormous problems with the “Johannine community” theory—it makes a tremendous assumption that several spread-out communities of believers, all following the Johannine tradition, would have contributed to the writing of both the Fourth Gospel and the correlating Johannine epistles. This community, it is supposed, would have relied upon “the same traditions, vocabulary, doctrines, and ethical principles” while producing the stylistic and theological unity the reader finds in the Fourth Gospel. Carson finds it much easier to believe that the Apostle John simply wrote the Fourth Gospel and the letters that bear his name. [53]

Hunter says that no reputable modern scholar believes John bar Zebedee wrote the Fourth Gospel. [54] Still, as Ferguson counters, “(T)he burden of proof rests upon those who deny the authorship of John, and since those who make this denial have failed to select an author upon whom they could agree, and since no fragment of trustworthy testimony in favor of any other author than the Apostle John has yet been produced, we must still hold to the commonly expressed belief that John the Apostle is the author of the Fourth Gospel…” [55] Over a century later, Ferguson’s argument remains as true as the day he wrote it, over a century ago.

More historical studies and more archaeological finds have provided deeper insights into the Johannine authorship debate. Even if one acknowledges the problems surrounding Johannine authorship—and Westcott was certainly aware of all the objections of liberal scholars—nothing has come to light that proposes an alternative author who more simply and plausibly answers all the questions in the debate.


It seems clear that by the end of the second century, the church universally regarded the Fourth Gospel as authoritative, canonical, and written by the Apostle John. Church tradition in the first and second centuries is demonstrably reliable and, thus, the external evidence for John’s authorship of the Fourth Gospel is thoroughly sound. No character in the biblical narrative, other than John bar Zebedee, fits the internal evidence as the author of the Fourth Gospel.

Those who argue for other solutions to the authorship of the Fourth Gospel do so from silence and speculation, without producing a shred of reliable documentary evidence in favor of their theories. Further, such arguments raise more questions than they answer. In the case of the Fourth Gospel’s authorship, the most logical explanation, answering the most questions, is also the simplest. However imperfect it is, the sheer mountain of evidence for the Johannine authorship vastly outweighs the alternative arguments.

To those who argue that who wrote the Fourth Gospel matters not so much as what the gospel says, this author counters with strong disagreement. If the inerrancy and authority of Scripture are of the utmost importance, as this author and the preponderance of the evangelical Christian community would contend, then the authorship of John matters. If the Fourth Gospel is of a late or pseudonymous origin, then it is not what it clearly claims for itself—the account of an apostle of, and eyewitness to, Jesus Christ. If the Fourth Gospel misrepresents itself, then it cannot speak with the authority of God, regardless of whether the book’s teachings agree with theological orthodoxy or not. Fortunately, the preponderance of the evidence says that is not the case.

While not beyond any doubt, that the Apostle John wrote the Fourth Gospel is ultimately, historically, and theologically, the least problematic of all theories.


Andrews, Mary E. “The Authorship and Significance of the Gospel of John.” Journal of Biblical Literature 64, no. 2 (June 1945): 183-92.

Bauckham, Richard. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2006, Kindle.

Borchert, Gerald. John 1-11: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture. New American Commentary. Vol. 25A. Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 1996.

Bruce, Frederick F. The Canon of Scripture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988.

Burghardt, Walter J. “Did Saint Ignatius of Antioch know the Fourth Gospel?” Theological Studies 1, no. 2 (May 1, 1940): 130-156. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed June 19, 2014).

Carson, D. A. The Gospel According to John. Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1991.

Carson, D. A., and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005.

Ferguson, W. L. “The Fourth Gospel After a Century of Criticism.” Bibliotheca Sacra 53, no. 209 (January 1896): 2-27.

Grant, Robert M. “The Origin of the Fourth Gospel.” Journal of Biblical Literature 69, no. 4 (December 1950): 305-22.

Jackson, Howard M. “Ancient Self-Referential Conventions and their Implications for the Authorship and Integrity of the Gospel of John.” Journal of Theological Studies 50, no. 50 (April 1999): 1-34.

Köstenberger, Andreas J. Encountering John. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013.

——. John. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Edited by Robert Yarbrough and Robert H. Stein. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.

Köstenberger, Andreas J., and Stephen O. Stout. “‘The Disciple Jesus Loved’: Witness, Author, Apostle—A Response to Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses.” Bulletin for Biblical Research 18, no. 2 (2008): 210-31.

Manor, T. Scott. “Papias, Origen, and Eusebius: The Criticisms and Defense of the Gospel of John.” Vigilae Christianae 67 (2013): 4.

Nixon, John A. “Who Wrote the Fourth Gospel? The Authorship and Occasion of the Fourth Gospel According to Patristic Evidence from the First Three Centuries.” Faith and Mission 20, no. 3 (Summer 2003): 82-92.

Morris, Leon. The Gospel of John. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Revised ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1995.

Odeberg, Hugo. “The Authorship of St. John’s Gospel. Concordia Theological Monthly 22, no. 4 (April 1951): 226-50.


[1] Leon Morris, The Gospel of John, New International Commentary on the New Testament, Revised edition (Grand Rapids, MI: 1995), 4-5.

[2] W. L. Ferguson, “The Fourth Gospel After a Century of Criticism,” Bibliotheca Sacra 53, no. 209 (January 1896): 2.

[3] Mary E. Andrews, “The Authorship and Significance of the Gospel of John,” Journal of Biblical Literature 64, no. 2 (June 1945): 187.

[4] D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1991), 70-71.

[5] Andreas J. Köstenberger and Stephen O. Stout, “‘The Disciple Jesus Loved’: Witness, Author, Apostle—A Response to Richard Bauckham’s ‘Jesus and the Eyewitnesses,’” Bulletin for Biblical Research 18, no. 2 (2008): 212.

[6] All Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version.

[7] Morris, 11.

[8] D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005): 236.

[9] Hugo Odeberg, “The Authorship of John’s Gospel,” Concordia Theological Monthly 22, no. 4 (April 1951): 226-227.

[10] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2013), 365, Kindle.

[11] Carson and Moo, 237.

[12] On occasion, scholars also propose John Mark as author of the Fourth Gospel, based on a theory that the early church confused him with the Apostle John. There is simply no convincing evidence to sustain this notion.

[13] Morris, 7-8.

[14] Odeberg, 229.

[15] Carson and Moo, 237.

[16] Carson, 76.

[17] Morris, 8.

[18] Howard M. Jackson, “Ancient Self-Referential Conventions and Their Implications for the Authorship and Integrity of the Gospel of John,” Journal of Theological Studies 50, no. 1 (April 1999): 33.

[19] Carson and Moo, 232.

[20] Odeberg, 230-233.

[21] Morris, 16.

[22] Carson, 68.

[23] Odeberg, 233.

[24] F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988): 159, Kindle, and John A. Nixon, “Who Wrote the Fourth Gospel? The Authorship and Occasion of the Fourth Gospel According to Patristic Evidence from the First Three Centuries.” Faith and Mission 20, no. 3 (Summer 2003): 86.

[25] Bauckham, 427.

[26] Bruce, 164. According to Bruce, the epistles were probably 1 John and 2 John, although he admits, it is possible that 3 John (rather than 2 John) is a possibility.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Odeberg, 234.

[29] Ibid., 233.

[30] Nixon, 90-91.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Walter J. Burghardt, “Did Saint Ignatius of Antioch know the Fourth Gospel?” Theological Studies 1, no. 2 (May 1940): 156.

[33] W. L. Ferguson, “The Fourth Gospel After a Century of Criticism,” Bibliotheca Sacra 53, no. 209 (January 1896): 15.

[34] Morris, 21.

[35] Bauckham, 12-13.

[36] Carson and Moo, 234.

[37] T. Scott Manor, “Papias, Origen, and Eusebius: The Criticisms and Defense of the Gospel of John,” Vigilae Christianae 67 (2013): 4.

[38] Carson and Moo, 232.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Carson, 70.

[41] Bauckham, 17.

[42] Morris, 16-17.

[43] Ibid., 17-18.

[44] Ibid., 12.

[45] Andreas J. Köstenberger, Encountering John, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013): 7.

[46] Gerald L. Borchert, John 1-11: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture, New American Commentary, Vol. 25A (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 1996), 1638, Kindle.

[47] Morris, 15.

[48] Carson, 74.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid., 75.

[51] Morris, 5.

[52] Ibid., 22.

[53] Carson, 81.

[54] Morris, 5.

[55] Ferguson, 25.


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