Book of Signs/Book of Glory

It is difficult to outline the Gospel of John [just check a couple of commentaries and see how widely the outlines diverge].  Undoubtedly one of John’s purposes in writing his gospel was not to have a tidy outline that would conform to the western mindset 2000 years in the future.  I know, what was he thinking, right?

We are on to the second half of the Gospel of John and theologians can help us think through a very broad structure of John.  Don Carson in his excellent commentary points out that one way to broadly divide John’s book is to think of the first half as the Book of Signs and the second half as the Book of Glory.  I do think that this is a good way of setting the broad outline of the book firmly in our minds.  In the first half of the book [I say chapters 1-11, many others say chapters 1-12], John is setting forth Jesus’ signs to the world, his living proof that he was the person that he claimed to be.  John shifts radically in the second half of his book and I think it is useful to think of it as the Book of Glory.

The Book of Glory is about Jesus preparing for crucifixion and [unbeknownst to his disciples] his resurrection, and the promised coming of the Holy Spirit.  Again and again he explains to his disciples that he will depart from them, but also promises that he will return.  In other words, chapters 12-21 are a relentless look forward; it is Jesus accomplishing the purpose for which he was sent by God the Father, and in doing so glorifying both himself and his Father.

As we dig in to the Book of Glory we need to keep in mind that every part of it, along with the Book of Signs, was constructed with one purpose in mind: “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30–31 HCSB)

The Book of Glory was written so that you, dear reader, may believe that Jesus is the Christ and that by believing, you may have life in Jesus’ name.

Breath-taking, isn’t it?

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