Thesis: Book of John

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John Gospel

The Holy Spirit as Introduced and Described in the Gospel of John

Modern Christianity is the product of twin evolutions, which have caused both a refinement of the teachings of Christ and an infinite splintering of sects devoted to his teachings. From their earliest incarnations within the Jewish faith though, the provocations of Jesus have instigated innumerable interpretations of the meaning of the content in the New Testament. Much of our understanding of the life of Jesus and the implications of his suffering is derived from the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

The first three of these are known as the synoptic gospels, so-called for providing the canonical basis for the synopsis of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, including the miracles which he commanded and the revolutionary actions which he performed. Typically, these are grouped together in their adherence to certain versions of events. Though marked with specific points of diversion in their separate tellings of the happenings which would foment the spread of Christian belief, "there is enough sustained agreement between the sequence of sayings & deeds that Matthew, Mark & Luke ascribe to Jesus to convince most scholars that the story-line of these gospels comes from the same text." (Smith, 4) in their reconstruction of the story, these gospels serve as testimonial to the ideology which Jesus Christ of Nazareth would introduce to the world, using the events of his life and his martyrdom as demonstrations of the nature of faith.

The Gospel of John, which would become the basis of an early form of Christianity denoted as Johannine, differs from the other gospels in its language, approach and focus. The divergence of principle for those of Johannine description would be evident in that which separated John's gospel from the other three. The various sects which would arise in the Johannine tradition can be characterized then by their emphases on personal faith and the proselytizing of others in the ways of faith. By considering some of the writings of John, with a funneling attention paid to his epistles, we can see that the Johannine faith differs from the forms emergent from the synoptic gospels and from Gnostic forms of Christianity but incorporates both into its canon, ultimately formulating the premises of Christianity which would unfold into the proliferated modern faith which is evident in myriad incarnations today.

Among the most important of aspects would be nothing less than its introduction to the scriptures of the Holy Spirit.

To the point, John 14:15-18 introduces the Holy Spirit in the form that is currently most popularly accepted and understood. Here, Jesus confides in humanity that the Holy Spirit is intended to be something of an emissary of God and his only begotten Son, a manifestation of the spirit shared between them and shown to those who have come to know Jesus Christ. As Jesus explains to his followers, "15 if you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever -- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." (John 14:15-18) Jesus promises that even as he ascends to heaven to sit beside God, the Hold Spirit has been dispatched to watch over man on the behalf of the divine. This is a foundational principle to the relationship between man and god, with the passage here in the Gospel of John providing what is most typically concluded as the originating explanation of this aspect of the relationship.

With this stated, it is appropriate to assess the broader text with some outside textual assess. Whereas the historiographical tendencies of the synoptic gospels tied them to a certain practical reason, "the knowledge that John would bring to men is not pure intellection; it is a response of mind and heart and will to an acceptance of and trust in what God has done, in the gratitude of obedience and the devotion of love." (Dodd et al., 1) His gospel was not a direct product of the experiences of Christ like the others, but was directly resultant of the revelations of Christ.

Its emphasis would be on the Spirit and on faith, teaching that redemption may be achieved with a knowledge that Jesus is the one true son of God and that he sacrificed himself so that we could earn salvation. The connection between them, and represented by that sacrifice in the gift of the Holy Spirit, would produce a fundamental emphasis on the connection between spiritual and mortal things.

The followers of this gospel, as opposed to its historically-based predecessors, would thus be susceptible in their sectarian divisions to a more phenomenological brand of ideology. It is thus believed by some that John's gospel is uniquely legitimate for its singular contention with the inherently esoteric aspects of Christ's life. Where the life of Jesus serves as the focus of the first three gospels, this fourth gospel uses only selected stories from Jesus' biographical history in order to demonstrate specific points of faith and devotion, and is more explicitly focused on assessments of Christian brotherhood such as will be seen in an evaluation of his epistles. The mortal life of Jesus was employed only to intimate a certain mystical divinity, which would find its way into John's writing in the form of doctrines describing Christian morality.

As to that morality, John told that Jesus commended the Holy Spirit as an ethical guide that would be within all those who can accepted the Christ. Again in John 14, he offers first time testimony to the role instructed upon the Holy Spirit. Here, he tells that "26 the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:26-27)

This correlates the moral teachings of Christ with a commitment to the spiritual experience of finding Jesus. For those, such as members of the New Covenant Church of God, who prescribe to its principles, John's gospel is seen as a preeminent text advocating the embrace of an internalized spirituality and a resultant core of morality. With his work aggressively describing the holiness of those with the knowledge to enjoy this spirituality and decrying the baseness of those incapable of such revelation, John's gospel forms a still current ideological framework in Christianity which attributes to the faith the most important qualities of Christian morality.

Thus, Johannine Christianity is less explicitly driven by the goodness of the deeds of Jesus than by his godliness. The divinity of the Christ takes precedence, with his relationship to God and the spiritual form promoted by his resurrection providing John with the impetus to implore an unbending, heartfelt knowing of God and Jesus. This knowing mirrors yet more mystically enjoined approaches to Christianity such as the Gnostic denomination.

Advocates of Johannine Christianity caustically lament of John's "sacred esoteric custodianship which to all intents and purposes became lost in the wake of the advent of the Catholic and Gnostic heresies." (Warren, 1) With the Gnostic faith especially, though, we can see that there is an explicit link to the principles of the Johannine text in its emphasis on the knowledge of Christ. Literally defined as knowledge, gnosis revolves around the logic and reasoning which were supposed to have been utilized and espoused by Christ in his teachings to intimates. "These teachings," we are told, "elevate our reasoning mind to that of the will/reasoning of God. In this renewed mind, our reasoning supports spiritual values." (Kieferi, 1) Though there is less attention to 'reasoning' and more to the emotional act of 'knowing' the ways of Jesus, there is nonetheless a clear relationship between Gnositicism and Johannine Christianity which is founded in the collective embrace of the Holy Spirit and all which this transcendent form of the Christ implies.

However, the human applications of John's gospel writings help to set it apart from the Gnostics, instead articulating the distinctly ecclesiastical need for the willful and active expansion of the belief that Jesus was the son of God and that their connection is projected in the embodiment which is the Holy Spirit.

His teachings connect the presence of the Holy Spirit amongst men to the spreading of His Word. Therefore, John tells in John 15 that "26 When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27 and you also must testify, for… [END OF PREVIEW]

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