A New and Better Beginning
I was taught to use a five-step method for interpreting scripture:
- Understand the text in their historical/cultural context.
- Assess how we differ from their historical/cultural context.
- Find the principles taught in the text that apply in all historical/cultural context.
- Consult the metanarrative of the Bible.
- Apply the universal principles that agree with the metanarrative of Bible.
What am I Driving at?
For the past seven years I have been reciting a portion of the Gospel According to John every day. In addition to my daily reading of Scripture I have been reciting one chapter out of the Gospel According to John a day; and therefore, recite the whole book every three weeks. The Gospel According to John is obviously different than the other three gospel accounts; Matthew, Mark and Luke are called synoptic gospels because their content overlaps, not so with the Gospel According to John.
The chapter divisions commonly used today were developed by Stephen Langton, an Archbishop of Canterbury. Langton put the modern chapter divisions into place in around A.D. 1227. The Wycliffe English Bible of 1382 was the first Bible to use this chapter pattern. Since the Wycliffe Bible, nearly all Bible translations have followed Langton's chapter divisions. The Hebrew Old Testament was divided into verses by a Jewish rabbi by the name of Nathan in A.D. 1448. Robert Estienne, who was also known as Stephanus, was the first to divide the New Testament into standard numbered verses, in 1555. Stephanus essentially used Nathan's verse divisions for the Old Testament. Since that time, beginning with the Geneva Bible, the chapter and verse divisions employed by Stephanus have been accepted into nearly all the Bible versions.The Bible that I read (New American Standard Bible, 1995) is filled with pericope. Pericope are highlighted text (not scripture) added by the translator to summarize what the translator believes the passage is about. For this reason, every English translation has different pericope because they are the translator’s own thoughts about the content, but all translations use the same chapter and verse setup first employed by Stephanus in 1555. I wanted to remove all chapter, verse and pericope from my eyes in order that I may see the meaning originally intended by the author.
The gospel according to John is a topical book containing several small stories that combine to make a single larger story. I decided to breakdown the entire text into its individual stories rather than chapter and verse. In order to do this, I needed to figure out where each story ended, and a new story began. I also needed to figure out which stories are intended to give meaning and which stories are intended to connect the meaningful stories to one another in a single storyline. While doing this work I made a discovery that I believe was purposely placed there by the author who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit within his historical-cultural context.
Narratives of Jesus earthly ministry from its beginning in Galilee, preaching the Gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel," (Mk 1:15, NASB95) to His bodily resurrection from the dead; commissioning His disciples to go make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy spirit, teaching them to observes all that He commanded them (Mt. 28:16-20) had already been sufficiently done.
So, why was the Gospel According to John written? The purpose for writing the Gospel according to John is expressed by the author in the text:
Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (Jn 20:30-31, NASB95)Theologians have put a great deal of emphasis on the seven miraculous signs and seven predicate I Am statements recorded in this book. But what about the resurrection? Most have said that the resurrection is the final and great sign that demonstrates that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. I agree, but from a different perspective considering the discovery that I made.
Here is the Claim that I am Making
The Gospel According to John is a retelling of Genesis chapters 1-3 with a new and better ending or shall I say beginning. The author uses true stories that were witnessed by the author to show that Jesus is the fulfillment of a promise made by God in the garden of Eden. The Gospel According to John remarkably parallels the first three chapters of Genesis. Up until recently I saw similarities but did not realize the extent. John 1:1 like Genesis 1:1 begins with the words "In the beginning." Then in John 19:30 while on the cross Jesus said, "It is finished!" Also take note that Genesis 2:1 says, "Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts."
The Greek word ἐπαύριον epaurion: -- occurring on the succeeding day, tomorrow, day following, morrow, next day, after, on the morrow, the next day.When I was dividing up the Gospel According to John into its individual stories I noticed that the phrase, "next day" is used three times in the first chapter. Being curios about this and wanting to find out how the author put the book together, I sought to see how many times this phrase occurs in the book. The phrase "next day" occurs five times in the book:
- In the beginning, Jn. 1:1.
- The next day, Jn. 1:29.
- Again the next day, Jn. 1:35.
- The next day, Jn. 1:43.
- The next day, Jn. 6:22.
- On the next day, Jn. 12:12.
But what of the seventh day? Genesis 2:2-3 speaks of God resting after His creative work on the seventh day; and therefore, God sanctified the seventh day. However, in the Gospel According to John we see a change from the storyline of Genesis. In John’s storyline the Incarnate Word is not resting on the seventh day as God did in Genesis 2:2-3. In John 19:31-42 the Incarnate Word is dead! The stories that comprise John 19:31-42 are placed there to demonstrate that the incarnate Word was dead without a doubt. Thus, John 19 ends at the conclusion of day 6 with the incarnate Word dead and placed in a tomb. The seventh day is missing from the text; the next day mentioned in the book is not the Sabbath, but the first day of the week. (cf. Jn. 20:1)
Why is the seventh day missing?
In their explanation of the creation covenant in Genesis 1-3 Gentry and Wellum give the answer that I believe explains the reason that the seventh day is missing from the Gospel According to John: "Day Six is the climax of the creation week, but not the consummation." Jesus was inaugurated king when He rose from the grave: Jesus said, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." (Mt. 28:18, NASB95) However, when you survey the earth today sin abounds; therefore, the kingdom of God is a work in progress.
The Lord says to my Lord:Genesis chapter 1 tells us why God made man, but Genesis 2:7 tells us how God made man and Genesis 2:8-17 tells us about the covenant between man and God at creation. Man was to have a Covenant relationship with God which required loyal love, obedience, and trust. Man was also to have a covenant relationship with nature as its servant-king. God created man from dirt, after which He placed man in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. Then God commanded the man to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God warned man that doing so would result in death. Finally, God created woman from man as a helper suitable for him. (Cf. Gn. 2:18-24)
"Sit at My right hand
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet." (Ps. 110:1)
Genesis chapter three begins with the woman in the garden being deceived by the serpent; thus, eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil of which she gave her husband and he ate. When the Lord God questioned the man about eating from the tree; the man blamed the woman for his sin, the woman blamed the serpent for her sin, and the Lord God cursed the serpent and made a future promise to the serpent.
And I will put enmityGod told the woman that her labor pains would be increased, but she would have desire for her husband. God told the man that he would now eat by the sweat of his brow, would die after all of his labors, and return to the earth from which he came. After these things God barred them from the way to the tree of life. (Gn. 3:16-24)
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel. (Gn. 3:15, NASB95)
A New and Better Beginning
In the Gospel According to John, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene finds the tomb empty. She then runs to Peter and the author of the book to tell them that the tomb is empty. These two men run to the tomb and find it just as Mary had told them. After they leave, Mary stays behind and sees something miraculous; two angels seated where Jesus had been lying, just like the seraphim atop the Ark of the Mosaic Covenant which could only be viewed by the high priest, one time a year, on the day of atonement. After speaking with them she turns around and sees the risen Lord but mistakes Him for the gardener. Once she realized that the Man she mistook for the gardener is the risen Lord she clings to Him. The Lord then sends Mary to the men with the gospel. (John 20:1-16) Was it truly a silly mistake to think that Jesus, the new Adam, was in fact the gardener? Eve meet the serpent in the garden and ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she gave it to her husband he ate, and they died. Mary Magdalene meet the new Adam in the garden and ate from the tree of life from whom she took fruit and gave it to the men.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (Jn. 6:53-54, NASB95)God is presently at work making all things new through the work of the Spirit. God has declared that He will create a new heaven and new earth, but unlike the first creation where He made the earth first and later made man, in His new creation God is making the people first. When "It is Finished," He will make the new heaven and new earth; then, and only then will God rest. Jesus Christ is the first man to be raised in the new creation. All will be raised on the last day; those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord will be raised to eternal life in the new heaven and new earth which is yet to come, but those who reject Him will go away into eternal punishment. (Cf. Mt. 25:46)
In the Abrahamic covenant circumcision occurred on the 8th day of a baby’s life. God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh. The 8th day is significant to this regard because it indicates a new creation.[10 ] On the first day of the week, in the evening, Jesus appeared to the disciples except Thomas behind a closed door; therefore, Thomas did not believe because he did not see the risen Lord. After eight days He appeared again to the disciples behind a closed door, but this time Thomas was with them. (Jn. 20:19-28) When Thomas saw Jesus he believed. Jesus *said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." (Jn. 20:29, NASB95) The significance of the 8th day is new creation; those who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Jn. 20:30-31) will be children of God in the new creation, (Jn. 1:12) but this does not occur through blood lines or the will of the flesh or because a man makes a decision, you must be born of God. (Jn. 1:13)
I wrote these things while onboard a ship. I had no cell phone, no internet; and therefore, no Facebook or emails to distract me. Every morning I awoke before sunrise that I may read the Scripture’s and recite from the Gospel According to John as the sun rose over the waters to start a new day. It was a wonderful time of relaxation, which God gave me as an opportunity to reflect and write what has been laid on my heart and mind. I hope that what I have written will aide in your sanctification of loyal love, obedience, and trust in God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
 J Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word, 3rded. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 207.
 Got Questions.org, Who divided the Bible into chapters and verses? Why and when was it done? (Got Questions Ministries, 2002-2018), https://www.gotquestions.org/divided-Bible-chapters-verses.html.
 Olive Tree Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary, g1887.
 Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum, God’s Kingdom through God’s Covenants(Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), 86.
 Ibid, 90-93.
 Ibid, 88.
 Ibid, 85.
 Ibid, 122.
 Post update July 5, 2018.