Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | May 15, 2019

John Does Apologetics

(6 Minute Read)

Because the book of John is quite familiar, have you overlooked the drama of its driving purpose?
Do you know the gripping and compelling reason for the fourth Gospel?
Do you know why many people were not convinced by the miracles John reports?

The Apostle John wrote as an apologist (defender) of Christianity with the explicit intent to persuade readers that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of all who believe in Him. He clearly stated his purpose for writing about Jesus’ deeds:
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. (John 20:31)

What was John’s primary evidence for his claims about Jesus?

He based his case on the miracles of Jesus which he personally witnessed. John referred to the miracles as signs because he viewed them as messages from God the Father authenticating the claims of Jesus. (John 2:11)

Nine Signs of John — Miracles of Jesus

1. Turned water into wine at Cana (John 2:1-11)
2. Healed a royal official’s son at Capernaum from Cana (John 4:46-54)
3. Healed a cripple at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-9)
4. Fed 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish (John 6:1-14)
5. Walked on water (John 6:16-21)
6. Healed the man born blind (John 9:1-41)
7. Raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-53)
8. Rose from the dead (John 20:1-29)
9. Appeared at Sea of Galilee; filled net with fish (John 21:1-14)

Because these nine are such an impressive array of divine-nature deeds, and because they are so prominent in Scripture for validating the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ, I had a large handwritten poster of this list hanging from the rafters of our family room for over 20 years. My wife never complained about that rustic banner, because to her the content was so elegant. She said she was always glad to read those beautiful items over and over. She wanted never to forget those lovely deeds and the majestic Savior who showed Himself through them.

These signs are all amazing, miraculous works that the Apostle John personally witnessed. He presents these works as evidence that the claims of Jesus are true.

John urges — even commands — belief in Jesus because he gives his readers solid evidence in support of Jesus’ claims. The Apostle John offers empirical evidence, not fantasy. Along with many others, John saw these miraculous works, and he reports them as historical facts that really happened in space-time history.
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:29)
This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. (1 John 3:23. See also John 3:18; 6:29; 8:24; 12:36; 14:1)

These miracles are crucial evidences, because who could do these things except God? This fact was clearly recognized at the time by both friends and enemies of Jesus.

For example, in the healing of the man born blind in John 9, the Jewish leaders did not believe it at first because such a thing was obviously impossible.
The Jews then did not believe it of him, that he had been blind and had received sight, until they called the parents of the very one who had received his sight, and questioned them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?” His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.” (John 9:18-21)

The man born blind gave the Jews a definitive answer and explanation — which actually applies quite well to all the miracles of Jesus. In questioning the man born blind, the Jews refused to admit that Jesus came from God. So the man replied,
“Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” (John 9:30-33)

The man born blind was right. He clearly saw that his healing was proof that Jesus was God, and the man born blind worshiped Jesus.
Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him. (John 9:35-38)

The Apostle John selected for his gospel only a few signs out of the many that Jesus did. John says many more could have been included. A few of the signs not mentioned by John are reported in the other three gospels by Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book. (John 20:30)
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written. (John 21:25)

Why Did People Refuse to Believe the Signs?

Despite the multitude of signs and miracles that Jesus performed, many people still did not believe that He was the Son of God and Savior of the world. How could this be? Why wouldn’t everybody who saw His signs believe?

Hard as it may be to grasp, Yahweh Himself takes responsibility for blinding eyes and hardening hearts so that people will not believe. John reports:
But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.” These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him. (John 12:37-41)

In fact, all four gospel writers and the Apostle Paul give the same explanation. See Matthew 13:13-15; Mark 4:10-12; Luke 8:10; John 12:37-41; Romans 11:8-10; Acts 28:24-28; 2 Corinthians 3:14-15; Isaiah 6:8-10.

The Apostle Paul goes into great detail in the book of Romans in order to explain the sovereignty of God over the human heart:
What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. (Romans 9:14-24)

The Jews of Jesus’ day were not the first to have their hearts hardened by God. Six times Scripture says that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt so that he would not release the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt. (Exodus 9:12; 10:1; 10:20; 10:27; 11:10; 14:8)
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them. (Exodus 10:1)
Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh; yet the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go out of his land. (Exodus 11:10)

These passages teach that God, not man, is sovereign over the human heart. God opens or blinds men’s eyes as He pleases for His own purposes.

Truthful Eyewitness

John emphasized that he was a truthful eyewitness of these stupendous events:
This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. (John 21:24)
But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life — and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us — what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
(1 John 1:1-5)

John also included apologetic arguments and discourses by Jesus. These will be discussed later in a separate blog article entitled Jesus Does Apologetics.


In summary, the Apostle John implemented a three-pronged strategy for persuading readers to believe in Jesus:
1. Personal experience and reliable testimony — John personally testified about what he himself actually both saw Jesus do and heard Jesus say. He claimed to be a reliable eyewitness of historic events.
2. Miracles — John reported miracles he saw Jesus perform that God alone could do.
3. Discourses — John reported Jesus’ own words in which He stated and defended His claims (Jesus Does Apologetics).

The Apostle John underscored the essence of the Gospel and laid out an unassailable defense of Jesus’ identity in his gospel. His apologetic was based on historical miracles, culminating in the Resurrection of Jesus, that actually happened on earth at specific times. John experienced these events first-hand and testified to their reality. John emphasized his eyewitness testimony — the very best type of evidence historically and legally.

The Christian faith is firmly grounded in history, and history makes a difference. Actions and events have consequences which reverberate throughout time. The central events of the Christian faith, Christ’s crucifixion and His bodily resurrection, are well-attested facts of history that happened on this earth in the city of Jerusalem nearly 2000 years ago. This authenticity is crucial, for if either event did not happen, then Christianity is false and we are still in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).

According to John, Jesus said, “Because I live, you shall live also.” (John 14:19) True hope for the future is grounded on the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Gospel by which we are saved is bedrocked on actual historical events. Christ solved the sin problem by His death. The Resurrection proved He conquered death.

Questions to Ponder

1. Which miracle (sign) in John is compelling enough for you to discuss it with a friend or colleague today?
2. Are there works of God today that people refuse to believe?
3. What arguments in defense of Christianity do you prefer for influencing a present-day skeptic?

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

For Christ and His Kingdom. Soli Deo Gloria.

This is the fourth post in the series on Apologists in the Bible.
Read the prequels:
1. Elijah Does Apologetics
2. Peter Does Apologetics
3. Paul Does Apologetics

Read the sequel:
5. Jesus Does Apologetics

Bible-Science Guy logo

Subscribe – Don’t miss future blog posts!
Click the sidebar’s “SUBSCRIBE” button to follow the
Bible-Science Guy Blog. You’ll automatically receive
new posts free by email. Click SUBSCRIBE NOW!

Click Best of Bible-Science Guy for lists of the best Bible-Science Guy posts of each year.
Click Bible-Science Guy Table of Contents for a list of all blog posts starting in October 2007.

©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday May 15, 2019 A.D.

Jesus: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

Disclaimer: BibleScienceGuy has no control over any advertising that may appear and receives no payment or consideration for it. Ads & “Related” links come from WordPress, not from BibleScienceGuy.

What do you think? Leave a comment. Please pray for the worldwide impact of the Bible-Science Guy ministry!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: