Introduction by Alfred E Garvie, edited by J E Bradburn.

Comparison with Other Gospels.

Any careful reader of the Gospels will at once be struck by the likeness to one another of Matthew, Mark, and Luke on the one hand, and the unlikeness to them of John on the other, and a closer scrutiny only confirms the impression. (So says Garvie of The Abingdon Bible Co). These three Gospels are called the Synoptic, because they mainly give a common view of the ministry of Jesus, almost entirely different from that of the fourth Gospel by John.


Reply E W Bullinger (The Companion Bible KJV)

The Divine purpose in the Gospel by JOHN is to present the Lord Jesus as God. This is the one great feature which constitutes the differences between this Gospel and the other three. It has already been noted that in the first three Gospels the Lord Jesus is presented respectively as Israel’s King, Jehovah’s Servant, and the ideal Man; and that those incidents, words, and works are selected, in each Gospel, which especially accord with such presentation.

Thus they present the Lord on the side of His perfect humanity. It is this that links them together, and is the real reason for them being called the “Synoptic”, and for the marked difference between them, taken together, and the fourth Gospel.

It would have been a real marvel had there been perfect similarity between the selected words, and works which characterise the first three Gospels and those of the fourth, where presentation is on the side of Deity. That would have indeed presented an insoluble problem.

The differences which have been noted are not due to any peculiarity of literacy style, or of individual character, but are necessitated by the special presentation of the Lord which is the design of each Gospel. Hence, in the structure of the fourth Gospel, when compared with the other three, it will be noted that there is no Temptation in the Wilderness, and no agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. The reason for this is obvious, (but not to the ABC), for both would have been entirely out of place, and out of harmony with the purpose of the Gospel as a whole.

For the same reason, while the Transfiguration is recorded in the first three Gospels, no mention is made o9f it in John, the reason being it concerned the sufferings and the earthly glory of the Son of man, (see App 98 XVI and 149, while in John the presentation of the Son of God (App 98 XV) is concerned with His heavenly and eternal glory.

The only incidents which John records in common with the first three (synoptic) Gospels are seven in number.App10; Seven.  Denotes spiritual perfection.  It is the number or hall-mark of the Holy Spirit's work.  He is the Author of God's Word, and seven is stamped on it as the water-mark is seen in the manufacture of paper.  He is the Author and Giver of life; and seven is the number which regulates every period of Incubation and Gestation, in insects, birds, animals, and man.


1.      The Work of John the Baptist.

2.      The Last Supper.

3.      The Anointing at Bethany.

4.      The Passion, and,

5.      The Resurrection, and,

6.      Two Miracles: the feeding of the 5000, and,

                       the Walking on the Sea.

In the other Gospels, miracles are so called, or “mighty works”, but in John they are always called “signs” (See App 176), because they are recorded not as to their facts or their effects, but as to their number and signification.

In John it is the Person of the Lord that is presented, rather than His offices; and His ministry is mainly in Jerusalem and Judea rather than in Galilee.

Hence the Lord’s visits to the Feast find a special place  (John 2:13—3:21; 5:1; 7:10; 10:22; 11:55 &c); while His ministry in Galilee is constantly assumed, rather than described (6:1; 7:1; 10:40).

These differences are due, not to the condition of religious thought prevalent in John’s day, but to the presentation of the Lord for all time.


BEHOLD YOUR GOD” (Isaiah 40:9).

The purpose of the Holy Spirit by John, in his presentation of the Messiah, is to say to us, one and all, “Behold your God”; and His Deity is observed throughout this Gospel. See 1:3, 14, 33, 34, 49; 3:13—14; 5:23, 26; 6:61—62; 8:58; 13:33, &c.

This is emphasised by the first and last references (1:1 & 20:28, 31).

The same purpose and design are seen in the presentation of the Lord as having the Divine attribute of Omniscience. This is not entirely absent in the other Gospels; however, it pervades the fourth Gospel, and is manifested by much more frequent reference (see the Table below).

In this connection the presentation of the Lord as God required special words which are not needed and are not found in the other Gospels. Attention is called to some 84 in the notes.

But of important words which are characteristic of this Gospel, and are found in other Gospels, the necessity of their frequent use will be seen from the following examples which are set out below, and referred to in the notes. In most cases the number of the occurrences is more than all the other three put together.

The characteristic words are: -                                    Matt—Mark—Luke--John

abide = menō 1                                                                                                           8        2          7        41

believe =pistēuō                                                               11      15        9        99

the Father = ho Patēr (used of God) Ap 98 III                  44      5          17      121

My Father Used by the Lord2                                           14      -           4       35

finish = teleioō                                                                  -       -           2       19

flesh = sarx                                                                      5       4          2        18

glory = doxa                                                                    8       3          13       19

glorify = doxazo                                                              4        1          9        23

Jews =Ioudaioi (Inc Mark 1:5 & John 3:22).                     5       7           5        71

Judge = krinō                                                                  6       -           6        19                                                                

know = oida App 132 I I                                                 18      13         14       61

know = ginōskō App 132 I ii                                           20      13        28       56

lay down His life                                                             -         -          -         6

light =phōs See App 130. 1                                             7        1          6         23

life = zōē App 170                                                          7        4          6         36

life = (give life to) = zoōpoieō                                         -         -           -         3

live =zaō See App 170                                                    6        3          8         17

love (Noun) = agape App 135 II 1                                   1        -          1          7

love (verb) = agapaō App 135 I 1                                   7        13        13       37

love (verb) = phileō App 135 I 2                                     5        1          2        13

parable = paroimia                                                        -         -          -          4

send = pempō App 174 4                                                4        1          10       33

sign = sēmiion                                                              13       7          11       17

true (Adj) = alēthēs (faithful) App 175 1                       1         1          -         13

true (Adj) = alethinos (genuine) App 175 2                   -          -          1         8

truth = alēthēa                                                             1          3         3         25

truly = alēthos                                                              3         2          3         10

verily, verily = Amēn, amēn3                                        -          -           -         25

witness (bear) = martureō4                                            1         -           2         33

witness = marturia                                                       -          3          1         14

works = pl of ergon                                                     5         2          2         27

world = kosmos See App 129 1                                    9         3          3         17

                                                                                   253      123      188       941


It is not only the use of certain words that characterise this special presentation of the Lord, but the absence of others is equally instructive. For, as in Matthew and Luke the Lord is constantly addressed as “Lord”, but not often in Mark, when it would not be in keeping with his presentation as Jehovah’s servant; so in John the Lord is never represented as praying5 to the Father as in the other Gospels, but always as saying or speaking to Him. This is a special characteristic of the fourth Gospel, wonderfully in harmony with its great design. On the other hand prayer is especially required on the part of a king (as in Matthew) in respect of his delegated authority (Matt 14:23; 26:36, 39, 42, 44); also on the part of a servant, in respect of his assumed subjection (Mark 1:35; 6:46; 14:32, 35, 39); and of an ideal Man in respect of his dependence on God at all times (Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28, 29; 11:1; 22: 41.44,46).

Thus, while in the first three Gospels the Lord is presented on the side of His humanity, as in prayer on eight occasions, not once is He so presented in John’s Gospel.5 And the reason is obvious . Moreover, He “lays down” His life: no one takes it from Him. This occurs only in John.


The historical Value of the Fourth Gospel. (A.B.C.)

The complex character of the fourth Gospel excludes the two extreme solutions of the problems of its historicity, namely, that on the one hand this Gospel can be regarded AS (an) ACCURATE historical narrative to the same extent as the Synoptic Gospels