Faith in the Gospel of John

This post is part of a series on faith in the New Testament.

[H]ere is a look at our forth book in the New Testament filtering through all the examples we see of the word faith. This post will exhaustively look at every example we see in the Gospel of John with a brief commentary on each.

John 12:42-43

“Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.”

That’s it. One time in the book of John do we find the word faith.

For those of you who have previously read my posts about all of the examples of this word in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, you’ll probably need a moment to wrap your mind around this. John’s gospel includes only one mention–and it is a passage unique to him. What’s going on here?

Here we see John using faith as a synonym for our relationship with Christ. John uses it in a very negative context of a group of people who hide their faith because they are focused primarily on what others think.

One cannot help but wonder what point John is trying to make by omission. Did he feel that the other Gospel writers had addressed the topic so that he didn’t need to? Did his portrayal of Jesus elicit a different response from people?

John’s Gospel is heavy on the understanding that Jesus is God. Whereas other writers like Mark seem to get to it eventually, John comes right out of the gate with this reality and never looks back. His first statement leaves nothing to be questioned: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We see another example of this at the end of chapter eight:

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (John 8:58-59)

Or consider another example of this in chapter ten:

“I and the Father are one.” Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” (John 10:30-33)

There may be an obvious point here. The greater your understanding of Jesus the less faith is required. Conversely, the less your understanding of Jesus the more faith you need to follow Him.

While this does not directly address the question of faith, we see that maybe the best way to increase our faith is to increase our understanding of who Jesus truly is.

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Jeremy Jernigan

This is the personal blog of Jeremy Jernigan. Husband to Michelle and father to Gavin, Madsen, Adelyn, Aiden, and Abel. Author of Redeeming Pleasure and Lead Pastor at Abundant Life Church in Portland.

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