INTRODUCTION TO JOHN
The author of this Gospel is John, the son of Zebedee and Salome, the brother of James the greater; he outlived the rest of the disciples, and wrote this Gospel after the other evangelists; and in it many things are recorded, which are not in the other Gospels; as various discourses of Christ, and miracles done by him; several incidents in his life, and circumstances that attended his sufferings and death: the occasion of it is generally thought to be the errors of Ebion and Cerinthus, who denied the divinity of Christ, asserted he was a mere man, and that he did not exist before his incarnation; and the design of it is to confute them: and it is easy to observe, that he begins his Gospel with the divinity of Christ; asserts him to be God, and proves him to be truly and properly so, by the works of creation, which were wrought by him, as well as shows that he was really man. ClemensF1Apud Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 6. c. 14. calls this Gospel of John, pneumatikon euaggelion "a spiritual Gospel", as indeed it is; consisting of the spiritual discourses of our Lord, on various occasions, both at the beginning, and in the course of his ministry, and especially a little before his sufferings and death: and the same writer observes, that John, the last of the evangelists, considering that in the other Gospels were declared the things relating to the body of Christ, that is, to him, as he was after the flesh; to his genealogy and birth as man; to what was done to him, or by him, in his infancy; to his baptism, temptations, journeys, &c. at the request of his familiar friends, and moved by the Spirit of God, composed this Gospel. Moreover, it is observed by someF2Ib. l. 3. c. 24. , that the other three evangelists only record what was done by Christ, in one year after John the Baptist was cast into prison, as appears from Matthew 4:12 wherefore John, at the entreaty of his friends, put these things into his Gospel, which were done or said by Christ, before John was cast into prison. He was called very early by Christ, though young; and was with him throughout the whole of his ministry, and was an eye and ear witness of what he here relates, and his testimony is to be received; he was the beloved disciple, he leaned on the bosom of Jesus, and had great intimacy with him; and might be privy to some things, which others were not acquainted with; and though he was a Galilean, and an unlearned man, Acts 4:13 yet being endowed with the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, he was abundantly qualified to write this book: for what some ancient writersF3Polycrates in ib. l. 3. c. 31. & l. 5. c. 24. & Hieron. Catalog. Script. Eccles. fol. 96. sect. 55. say of him, that he was a priest, and wore a plate, that is, of gold upon his forehead, cannot be true, since he was not of the tribe of Levi; and besides, only the high priest wore that upon his mitre; unless they mean, as seems most likely, that he was a Christian bishop: perhaps the mistake may arise from John the Baptist, who was of the priestly order, and is called by some Jewish writersF4Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 25. 2. , John the high priest. When and where this Gospel was written, is not certain; some say inF5Hieron. Prolog. Evang. Joannis. Asia, after he had wrote his Revelation in Patmos; and others say particularly, that it was wrote at Ephesus; the title of it in the Syriac version, signifies much, which runs thus;
"the holy Gospel, the preaching of John, which he spoke and published in Greek at Ephesus.'
And to the same purpose is the title of it in the Persic version;
"the Gospel of John, one of the twelve apostles, which was spoken in the city of Ephesus, in the Greek Roman tongue.'