Why Is the Gospel of John So Different From the Other Gospels?

We analyze the most noticeable "inconsistencies".

The attentive reader of the Gospel of John will be greatly surprised at how many details it contains seem to be completely at variance with the stories of the other three evangelists. The article discusses the most mysterious of these "discrepancies".

Why do the future apostles meet Christ in a completely different place according to John?

In fact, it may seem that there is no unity in the story of the acquaintance of the apostles with Christ even between the three evangelists - "the synoptics". That is what they call them in Greek (Greek σύνοψις means "joint review") Matthew, Mark and Luke, whose stories fit well and complement each other.

For example, the apostle Luke recalls how Christ preached to the people gathered on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, standing in a boat that He borrowed from Peter. He thanked Peter and his companions - James and John - with an unprecedented catch of fish, and then called them to follow after Him (Luke 5: 1-11).

Matthew and Mark tell a slightly different story - how, passing by this lake, Jesus first saw Peter and Andrew casting their nets into the sea, and then James and John mending their nets in a boat with their father Zebedee, and he called them both ( Mt 4: 18-22, Mk 1: 16-20). 

And the apostle John has a completely different story. First, Andrew and one of his comrades get to know Christ (most likely, it was the narrator himself - John: this was the opinion, for example, of the professor of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy Alexander Pavlovich Lopukhin). Both at that time were disciples of John the Baptist, it was he who pointed them to Jesus. After spending the day with Jesus, Andrew finds his brother Simon - the future Peter - and brings him to Jesus, saying: "We have found the Messiah, which means: Christ." And then Jesus Himself calls another friend of theirs, Philip, who takes his friend Nathanael with him: "We found the One about whom Moses wrote in the law and the prophets." Nathanael is skeptical, but then it is revealed to him that Jesus is the true Son of God, and he joins His disciples (John 1: 35-51) ...

All of these events are so different that they even take place in different places! Lake Genesaret is in Galilee, northern Palestine. And Bethavara, where John the Baptist preached, is in Judea, on the banks of the Jordan River.

You mean, one does not fit with the other? They shouldn't - the evangelist are just talking about different events that happened at different times. The first meeting of the future apostles (or rather, some of them) with Jesus took place thanks to John the Baptist and happened even before Jesus, seeing them on the shore of a lake in Galilee, called to follow Him. I must say that this looks much more reliable than the idea that the Galilean fishermen rushed after Christ as soon as they first saw Him.

Well, the final call to the apostleship followed, apparently, after that wonderful fishing trip, after which Peter and the other disciples left their former occupation forever.

Why are the names of the apostles in the Gospel of John different from those of the other evangelists?

Even the first three evangelists have slight discrepancies in the names of the apostles. For example, Matthew and Mark talk about Simon the Canaanite, and Luke about Simon the Zealot. It is clear that they mean one person: the nicknames "canaanite" and "zealot" mean the same thing - "a devoted adherent", just the first word is Aramaic, and the other is Greek. Another example is Lebeas Thaddeus: this apostle bears this name only in the Gospel of Matthew; in Mark he is simply Thaddeus, and in Luke he is Jude the son of James.

The fact is that one person in those days often had several names at once. For example, the supreme apostle received the Greek name Peter from Christ Himself, and in "ordinary life" he was called Simon. The Apostle Paul, before he embarked on missionary travels, was called Saul (Acts 13: 9), one of his companions, Barnabas, was Josiah (Acts 4:36), and the other, Mark, was John (Acts 12:25) ...

John the Evangelist alone does not list the names of all the twelve apostles. He does not want to repeat himself, because he writes his Gospel as the last of four, when three others have already been written, and his goal is only to add. John has only eight disciples: Simon Peter, Andrew, Philip, “the two sons of Zebedee”, including “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” “Thomas called the Twin,” Judas Simon Iscariot and Nathanael. All interpreters unanimously believe that Nathanael is the first and "main" name of the Apostle Bartholomew, because the Aramaic Bartholomew is rather a patronymic: the son of Tholomei. In the same way, Peter is called in the Gospel "Simon the son of Jonah", and the disciple who betrayed Jesus is called "Judas Simon Iscariot."

In the Gospels of Matthew and John, the Apostle Peter confesses Jesus to be the Son of God, but in completely different circumstances. Why?

Because these are two episodes, not one.

In one case, the event takes place near Caesarea Philippi. On the way, Jesus asks his disciples who people believe Him to be, and hears a variety of options: from John the Baptist to one of the resurrected Old Testament prophets ... “And who do you think I am?” Jesus asks, and Peter on behalf of all twelve confesses Him as Christ, the Son of the Living God (Mt 16: 13-21; Mk 8: 27-31; Luke 9: 18-22). The Lord confirms his rightness and promises that on the “rock” of faith in Him He will erect His Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against her; the apostles will give the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Matt 16: 17-19).

In the Gospel of John there is a similar episode, but it takes place in another place - the Galilean city of Capernaum - and under different circumstances: after a significant part of the disciples departed from Jesus Christ, who said a strange and frightening thing for them: it turns out that the condition of eternal life is to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood (John 6: 24-66). Christ asks the remaining disciples: “Would you like to leave too?” - and Peter answers: “Lord! who should we go to? You have the words of eternal life: we also believed and knew that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God ”(John 6: 67–69).

This answer by Peter is similar to the first, but the situation itself is completely different. Even Christ responds differently to these words. If in Caesarea Philippi He praises Peter: “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you, but my Father who art in heaven” (Mt 16:17), then here in Capernaum he speaks with bitterness: “Didn't I choose you twelve? but one of you is a devil ”(John 6:70), meaning Judas, who will soon betray Him.

Some New Testament scholars believe that the Apostle John tells of an earlier event. In fact, this moment became the moment of the election of the twelve apostles, writes Archpriest Alexander Prokopchuk, senior lecturer at the Department of Biblical Studies at the Orthodox St. Tikhon University for the Humanities: a lot of people who followed Jesus in search of a miracle are now leaving Him, and only those remain who realize: no matter what strange things Christ sometimes said, there is simply no one else to go to. And the words that deserved the praise of Jesus were spoken by Peter just before he left for Jerusalem with the Teacher for the last time.

Others, on the contrary, are of the opinion that first Peter confessed Christ as the Son of the living God, and after that the Lord talked with the Jews about the Bread of Heaven ... One way or another, we are talking about two episodes, and not about the same event.

In all the Gospels, except for John, Christ expels the merchants from the temple at the very end of His earthly ministry. But with John it is almost immediately. How can this be?

Of course, it is difficult to imagine that such a high-profile act as the expulsion from the temple of people who were selling sacrificial animals there, could be done twice.

And nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of interpreters of the Gospel - from Blessed Augustine (IV-V century) to the professor of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy Alexander Lopukhin and the spiritual writer Boris Gladkov (early XX century) - are convinced that Christ expelled the merchants twice. John Chrysostom was inclined to the same version, although he spoke more cautiously: "Perhaps there were two times."

“Three years ago, when the Lord came to Jerusalem ... He found the courtyards and porches of the temple turned into a marketplace, and drove out all the merchants,” writes Archbishop Averky (Taushev). - The next year, the Lord again came to Jerusalem for Passover, but apparently did not find any trade in the temple. On the third Passover of His ministry, the Lord was not in Jerusalem at all. When the fourth Passover approached, then ... knowing that the authorities had already pronounced the death sentence on Him, and thinking that He would not dare to go to Jerusalem for obvious death, the merchants, with the permission of the high priests, again overtook the porches and into the courtyard of the temple, the herds of animals, placed tents with various goods, tables with change offices, benches with pigeons, which were raised for sale by the high priests themselves, and began to trade. " As a result, history simply repeated itself: the Lord entered the inner courtyard of the temple and again expelled the merchants from there who had not been taught by the previous lesson.

According to John, Christ was crucified on the Friday before Passover. But the other evangelists say that the days of unleavened bread have begun, that is, Passover had already come. Where is the mistake?

According to the Old Testament book of Exodus, the seven unleavened days are the days following the nighttime Passover meal, during which the Jews remembered the liberation from Egyptian slavery. On Easter night, they baked and ate a lamb with bitter herbs and took turns drinking from four bowls of wine. And for the next seven days, they were supposed to fast - not eat anything baked with leaven (Ex 12: 15–20).

The Gospel of Matthew says that the Last Supper took place on the first day of unleavened bread (Matt 26:17), and the next day Jesus was crucified. If the evangelist strictly used the Old Testament vocabulary, this would mean that the crucifixion took place two days after Easter.

But by the 1st century A.D., religious concepts were often used in a figurative sense. And the days of preparation for the Easter meal were also called of "unleavened bread", when unleavened bread had not yet been eaten, but only baked. The Evangelists used colloquial language, hence the confusion.

Why the Passover Last Supper took place on Thursday, and not on Friday, on the eve of Saturday, which coincided with the Old Testament Passover that year, is an interesting question indeed. Here one can only make assumptions, which is what the interpreters of the Gospel have been doing for two thousand years.

One of the possible versions is as follows. Jewish law forbade all work on Saturday, but since the day began with sunset, the ban came into force on Friday evening. It is for this reason that the soldiers broke the legs of the robbers crucified next to Jesus, so that they, unable to lean on their feet and take a breath, would die as soon as possible and there would be time to remove them from the cross before dusk. For the same reason, some researchers suggest, the Passover lambs were allowed to be slaughtered that year in advance, on Thursday, so that people could make the necessary purchases and prepare the Passover meal. This was what Christ took advantage of in order to arrange a supper a day earlier than "they should". After all, He had less than a day to live.

And in the end, an absolutely amazing "coincidence" happened: Christ was crucified on the very day when the Passover sacrifice was brought in the courtyard of the Jerusalem temple. And he became a new Passover Lamb, the very one that all the Passover sacrifices of the old times pointed to! Clement of Alexandria wrote about this beautifully at the end of the 2nd century: "The Lord celebrated His last supper not on the legal day of Passover, but on the previous 13th day of the month, but suffered the next day, for He himself was the Passover."

In the Gospel of John there are many long conversations and arguments that Christ had with his disciples, lawyers and others. Are they written down word for word? Who will guarantee the accuracy of what is written?

First, someone who followed Jesus must have memorized and recorded His speeches. In those days, there was a whole culture of memorizing large texts, and Christ probably delivered His sermons, conversations and parables more than once. If people learned Homer's poems by heart, then the speeches of Christ could be reproduced close to the text.

Second, remember what Christ promised his disciples during his farewell conversation with them: God the Father will send the Holy Spirit, “Who will teach you everything and remind you of everything that I have told you” (John 14:26). Those words of Christ, which the disciples themselves could have forgotten, were preserved in their memory by the Holy Spirit - and not only preserved, but helped to understand correctly. And this is perhaps the most reliable guarantee that nothing is "confused" in the Gospel.

Source: https://pravlife.org/ru/content/pochemu-evangelie-ot-ioanna-tak-otlichaetsya-ot-drugih-evangeliy (Russian)

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