Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Karoline M. Lewis draws together the strengths of two exegetical approaches to the Gospel of John in this volume of the Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentaries series. Lewis takes a broad thematic approach to the Gospel while at the same time giving exegetical and homiletical insights about individual pericopes. With attention to both liturgical interpretation and exegetical analysis, Lewis provides a unique preaching resource that will build biblical literacy by assisting both preachers and listeners in understanding John’s Gospel as a whole, not just a collection of vaguely related stories. Those who peruse these pages will discover anew how John’s story of Jesus shapes and gives worth to being a disciple for the sake of the world God loves. In other words, the intent of this commentary is to invite the reader into an encounter with the Jesus of John’s Gospel. Such an encounter witnesses to how an experience of the Jesus of John actually matters. Readers, preachers, and their parishioners will have a deeper appreciation of the book’s unique interpretation of the Christ event and how that influences their approach to living the Christian faith in today’s world.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-3095-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Series Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)

    A preacher who seeks to be creative, exegetically up to date, hermeneutically alert, theologically responsible, and in-touch with the moment is always on the hunt for fresh resources. Traditional books on preaching a book of the Bible often look at broad themes of the text with little explicit advice about preaching individual passages. Lectionary resources often offer exegetical and homiletical insights about a pericope with little attention given to broader themes and structures of the book from which the lection is taken.Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentariesprovide the preacher with resources that draw together the strengths of these two approaches...

  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Index of Passages from the Book of John in the Revised Common Lectionary
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    From the beginning of biblical interpretation and homiletical thought, the Gospel of John has had its share of troubles when it comes to preaching. The perceived challenges in the interpretation of John and a misunderstanding of its homiletical inclinations are due to a number of factors that are helpful to discuss at the front end of this commentary. One of the goals of this commentary will be to offer a counterproposal to the perception of the Fourth Gospel as difficult to preach. It actually longs to be preached and has a fervent conversional urge.

    Several issues have contributed to the...

  8. 1 The Prologue A Summary of the Fourth Gospel (John 1:1–18)
    (pp. 13-26)

    The first eighteen verses of the Gospel of John are typically referred to as the Prologue. The Prologue sets out the major themes of the Gospel and is the lens through which to read the entire book. This chapter will also suggest that the Prologue provides a homiletical strategy for the preacher or a theology of preaching that reveals how this Gospel wants to and should be preached.

    The first verse is deceptively complex. “In the beginning” should stir up biblical resonances. In the Septuagint, these are the very same words that open the book of Genesis. These are not...

  9. 2 The Calling of the Disciples, the First Sign, and the Temple Incident (John 1:19–2:25)
    (pp. 27-44)

    The calling of Jesus’ first disciples, the wedding at Cana, and the temple incident are grouped together in this chapter for the purpose of facilitating connections between key themes in these inaugural events for Jesus’ public ministry. All three incidents articulate aspects of discipleship, point to Jesus’ true identity, and embody the fundamental theological tenets outlined in the Prologue.

    John 1:19 marks the transition in the Fourth Gospel to Jesus’ public ministry with an expansion of the role of John. For the fourth evangelist, John is not John the Baptist but John the Witness, who will give testimony to the...

  10. 3 A Tale of Two Disciples and the Second Sign (John 3–4)
    (pp. 45-74)

    Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman at the well are characters unique to the Gospel of John, and they could not be more different. Nicodemus is male, a leader of the Jews, a Pharisee, and he has a name. He comes to Jesus by night, some think so as not to expose his curiosity in Jesus lest his colleagues see fit to boot him out of the synagogue as they do the blind in chapter 9. In contrast, the woman at the well is female, is a Samaritan, and is nameless. She meets Jesus at noon, the brightest, lightest time of...

  11. 4 The Healing of the Man Ill for Thirty-Eight Years and Jesus as the Bread of Life (John 5–6)
    (pp. 75-104)

    A comparison of the next two signs in the Gospel of John, the healing of the man ill for thirty-eight years and the feeding of the five thousand is valuable for interpretation and preaching these passages because both illustrate the repeated literary pattern in the Gospel of sign, dialogue, discourse. This pattern will occur again in chapters 9 and 10 for the healing of the man blind from birth and in chapter 11 for the raising of Lazarus; it functions as a larger structural pattern for the Gospel as a whole. As discussed previously in this commentary, the structure underscores...

  12. 5 Conflict with the World (John 7–8)
    (pp. 105-122)

    Unless you happen to select the alternate Gospel reading for the Sunday of Pentecost in Year A or you are Lutheran and the Gospel reading assigned for Reformation Sunday in every lectionary year is John 8:31–36, you will never have to preach any portion of chapters 7–8 in the Gospel of John. If these two chapters are eliminated by the lectionary why should a preacher keep reading this chapter in this commentary, especially a non-Lutheran preacher? Preaching the Gospel of John with integrity, particularity, and especially with nuance and dexterity necessitates a diligent reading through and careful analysis...

  13. 6 The Healing of the Man Born Blind and Jesus as Door and Shepherd (John 9–10)
    (pp. 123-150)

    The healing of the man born blind and what is typically designated the “Shepherd Discourse” narrates one event in the Gospel of John and follows the same structural pattern as outlined in chapters 5 and 6 of sign, dialogue, discourse. Unfortunately, contemporary versions of the Bible with their convenient chapter and verse settings have separated these two chapters that belong together. While chapter 9 ends at 9:41, Jesus does not stop talking. The Revised Common Lectionary has taken its cue from the set chapter designations, dividing the unit into three distinct parts, separating the sign from its discourse by multiple...

  14. 7 The Raising of Lazarus, the Anointing, and the Last Public Discourse (John 11–12)
    (pp. 151-176)

    Placing the last sign and the last public discourse of Jesus in the same chapter for interpretive and homiletical consideration is in part to recognize the continuity of Lazarus as a character in the Gospel of John. While the raising of Lazarus concludes with the end of chapter 11, Lazarus appears in the very next scene, and his presence at the anointing of Jesus is critical for interpreting his own resurrection. Furthermore, Jesus’ final public discourse will represent a number of themes posed in Jesus’ final sign.

    The raising of Lazarus is a bit of a misnomer when it comes...

  15. 8 The Foot Washing, the Last Meal, and the Farewell Discourse (John 13–17)
    (pp. 177-214)

    Chapters 13–17 in the Fourth Gospel are classically designated as the Farewell Discourse and for good reason. These are Jesus’ final words to his disciples, only for his disciples, where he quite literally tells them good-bye. This observation alone is essential for preaching any portion of this section of the Gospel. The preacher needs to realize the tenderness of this place in the narrative and ask how each pericope communicates the pathos of this last night shared between the disciples and Jesus. It is Jesus at his most pastoral. This is Jesus as pastor, friend, mentor, teacher, lover, and...

  16. 9 The Passion Narrative (John 18–19)
    (pp. 215-236)

    The passion narrative in the Fourth Gospel begins at 18:1, “After Jesus had spoken these words.” As it turns out, “these words” refer to a lot of words, specifically, the entirety of the Farewell Discourse. Jesus and his disciples cross the Kidron Valley, the surprisingly small valley between the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem’s west gate. John 18:1 is the only reference to the Kidron Valley in the entire New Testament. While it is true that the direct route to enter the city of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives would be to cross the short valley of Kidron, we...

  17. 10 The Resurrection Appearances (John 20–21)
    (pp. 237-262)

    The resurrection appearances in the Fourth Gospel include four distinct stories, each unique in its presentation of how Jesus’ resurrection matters for those who believe in him. One of the most interesting features of the resurrection stories in the Gospel of John is the focus on individual characters, Mary Magdalene, Thomas, and Peter. By specifying a single person around which the appearance revolves, John once again emphasizes the importance of the individual encounter with Jesus as central to believing who he is. The necessity of the singular encounter with Jesus recalls the first such meeting in the narrative, between Nicodemus...

  18. Suggestions for Further Reading
    (pp. 263-263)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 264-264)