John wrote his Gospel “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30). In John 8:24, Jesus tells his listeners that faith in him is the only way to find life (see John 3:15–16; 11:25).
Does sin cause illness? Many people in Bible times assumed that if a person suffered, it was because that person had sinned (John 9:2). There are consequences for sin, but suffering is not always directly caused by a person’s sin. But God can use suffering to show his power and mercy (John 9:3).
The Feast of Dedication (John 10:22) commemorated the rededication of the temple in 164 b.c. after Antiochus IV Epiphanes made it unholy. Today, this feast is called Hanukkah.
Burial garments (John 11:44) were made of expensive Egyptian white linen. The face was bound with a scarf. The rest of the body was laid on a sheet of linen wide enough to wrap around the body and long enough to fold over the head and down to the feet.
The Greeks who came to see Jesus (John 12:20–21) were not necessarily from Greece. The term could refer to any Gentile in the Greek-speaking world. Like other Greek people such as the centurion in Luke 7:5 or Cornelius in Acts 10, they were attracted to the teachings of the Jewish Scriptures. Now, they wanted to hear more from this man who claimed to be the Messiah.
In NT times, it was common for a host’s servant to wash the feet of guests (see Luke 7:44). But in John 13:1–20, Jesus himself performs this task for his disciples, setting an example of humility and service for believers to follow.
Jesus promises his disciples that the Holy Spirit will live within them, to teach them and remind them what Jesus has said (John 14:16–17, 26; see also 16:5–15). The Holy Spirit is also called the “Helper,” which can mean “Advocate” or “Counselor.”
In John 13:31–16:33, Jesus prepares his disciples for his departure from them. This is often called the Farewell Discourse. Jesus shows his disciples that his death and resurrection will bring them blessing.
Praying in Jesus’ name (John 16:23; compare 14:13) is not about whether or not the prayer ends with the exact words “in Jesus’ name.” It means acknowledging that Jesus is our advocate or mediator before God the Father (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 2:1).
Jesus’ final prayer. In John 17:1–26, Jesus prays for himself (vv. 1–5) and for his disciples (vv. 6–19). He also prays for people in the future who will believe in Jesus because of the disciples’ words (vv. 20–26). He asks God for unity and love among them all.
The Jews believed that high priests were appointed for life, but the Roman authorities replaced them often. Perhaps this is why the Jewish officers consulted Annas, who had been high priest from a.d. 5–15, before consulting his son-in-law Caiaphas, who held the office at that time (John 18:12–24).
The English word excruciating is related to the word crucify. It should remind all English-speaking believers of the intense pain Jesus bore on the cross to accomplish their salvation.
The inscription on Jesus’ cross stated that he was “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Some of the onlookers urged Pilate to change it to read, “This man said, I am king of the Jews.” But Pilate let the sign remain as it was. Ironically, then, Pilate proclaimed the truth, for Jesus truly is the King of all who believe in him (John 19:19–22).
Why John believed. Upon seeing the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene thought someone had stolen Jesus’ body. If someone had done this, however, they probably would have taken everything of value in the tomb, including the expensive burial linens. Instead, the linens were neatly placed on the bench. When “the other disciple” saw this, he was convinced that Jesus had truly risen from the dead (John 20:1–8).
“Stretch out your hands” (John 21:18–19) refers to the way in which people were crucified. The victim’s hands were bound to the horizontal bar of the cross. Jesus predicted that Peter would die in the same horrific way that his Lord and Savior had died.
Acts is the sequel to the Gospel of Luke. Its main purpose is to record a selective history of the early church after Christ’s resurrection and ascension. Both books are dedicated to a man named Theophilus (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1) and written by Luke.
Nations at Pentecost. The list of nations in Acts 2:9–11 covers most of the first-century Roman world. Many Jews who lived outside Palestine traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost, an annual feast. The Holy Spirit enabled them to hear the disciples speak in their own languages (Acts 2:6).
Solomon’s portico was a covered walkway along the eastern wall of the temple area. It was about 300 yards (274 m) long and was lined with pillars 40 feet (12 m) high. It was apparently a popular meeting spot for the very first Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 3:11; 5:12).
Not a needy person among them. The earliest Christians in Jerusalem were very generous in helping each other financially (John 4:34–35). Later, during a severe famine, new believers from all over the Roman Empire contributed to the needs of the Jerusalem church (see John 11:27–30).
Gamaliel was considered the greatest Jewish teacher of his day. Known for his humane interpretations of the law, he intervened on behalf of Peter and the apostles (John 5:33–39). As a young man, the apostle Paul learned the Law of Moses from Gamaliel (John 22:3), and he was apparently a very good student (see Gal. 1:14).