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Bible Study Helps: John and Acts

Sep 26, 2018

These two books complete the narrative portion of the New Testament. The rest of the NT is composed of various epistles and writings. While I might properly have grouped Luke and Acts together (as they share the same author), I already did a piece on Luke and the synoptic gospels, so for convenience sake I will combine John with Acts here.

John

In my earlier piece on the synoptic gospels I noted how the Gospel of John is quite unique, differing from the first three gospels in various respects. That article is found here: billmuehlenberg.com/2018/09/25/bible-study-helps-the-synoptic-gospels/

Let me say just a few more words about John. The fourth gospel is the one most devoted to the deity of Christ and showing him to be the long-awaited Messiah. This is done both by what Jesus said and by what he did. Consider for example his various “I am” sayings.

Harking back to the self-identification of God to Moses as the great “I am” at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14), Jesus repeatedly established his divine identity by these sayings. The deity of Christ is of course affirmed throughout this gospel, beginning with the claim of him being God (John 1:1). But these sayings reinforce this theme and make clear his Messianic self-consciousness. They are:

I Am He – John 4:1-26
I Am the Bread of Life John – 6:25-51
I Am the Light – John 8:12-30
I Am (before Abraham was,) – John 8:31-59
I Am the Door of the Sheep – John 10:1-21
I Am the Good Shepherd – John 10:1-21
I Am the Resurrection and the Life – John 11:1-27
I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life – John 14:1-14
I Am the True Vine – John 15:1-8

And then we have the seven signs, or miraculous deeds. They attest to the divine nature and eternal godhead of Christ. Indeed, one of the reasons John gives for writing his gospel is that people might come to faith in Christ. John highlights the many miracles (or signs) performed by Jesus as a means to that end:

“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written 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 20:30-31).

Signs therefore play a very important role in John’s gospel. As Beasley-Murray says in his commentary, “The major part of this Gospel is taken up with the narration of the signs performed by him and expositions of their meaning.” The sign miracles are these:

-Turning the water into wine – John 2:1-11
-Healing of the nobleman’s son – John 4:46-54
-Healing the paralytic at Bethesda – John 5:1-17
-Feeding the 5000 – John 6:1-14
-Walking on water in John 6:16-21
-Healing a blind man – John 9:1-11
-The raising of Lazarus – John 11:1-44

John commentaries – devotional, expository

Boice, James Montgomery, The Gospel of John, 5 vols. (Baker, 1985, 1999)
Pink. A. W., Exposition of the Gospel of John (Zondervan, 1945, 1975)
Sproul, R. C., John (Reformation Trust, 2009)

John commentaries – scholarly, academic

Beasley-Murray, George, John (WBC, 1987)
Brown, Raymond, John, 2 vols. (AB, 1966, 1970)
Burge, Gary, John (NIVAC, 2000)
Carson, D. A., The Gospel According to John (PNTC, 1991)
Keener, Craig, The Gospel of John, 2 vols. (Hendrickson, 2003)
Klink, Edward, John (ZECNT, 2016)
Kostenberger, Andreas, John (BECNT, 2004)
Kruse, Colin, John (TNTC, 2004)
Michaels, J. Ramsey, The Gospel of John (NICNT, 2010)
Michaels, J. Ramsey, John (NIBC, 1989)
Milne, Bruce, The Message of John (BST, 1993)
Morris, Leon, Gospel According to John (NICNT, 1971)
Ridderbos, Herman, The Gospel of John (1997)
Tasker, R.V.G., Gospel According to John (TNTC, 1960)
Tenney, Merrill, John (EBC, 1981)
Thompson, Marianne Meye, John: A Commentary (NTL, 2015)
Wright, N. T., John for Everyone, 2 vols. (WJK, 2002, 2004)

Other studies on John

Bauckham, Richard, Gospel of Glory: Major Themes in Johannine Theology. Baker, 2015.
Bauckham, Richard, The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple: Narrative, History, and Theology in the Gospel of John. Baker, 2007.
Blomberg, Craig, The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel. Apollos, 2001.
Edwards, Ruth, Discovering John: Content, Interpretation, Reception. Eerdmans, 2015.
Kostenberger, Andreas, Encountering John: The Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective, 2nd ed. Baker, 1999, 2013.
Kostenberger, Andreas, A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters. Zondervan, 2009.
Smalley, Stephen, John: Evangelist & Interpreter. IVP, 1978, 1998.
Thompson, Marianne Meye, The God of the Gospel of John. Eerdmans, 2001.

Acts

The books of Acts is also called the Acts of the Apostles, and rightly so, as it details the lives, activities, and mission of the apostles and their immediate followers. It extends from the time of the death of Christ to the arrest and imprisonment of the Apostle Paul. Given that it does not mention his death, it is assumed by many scholars that the book was written by Luke around 62 AD.

The story of the birth and spread of the early church is recounted here. It details important events such as the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, the conversion of Saul, the Council at Jerusalem, and Paul’s missionary journeys.

Acts commentaries – devotional, expository

Boice, James Montgomery, Acts (Baker, 1997)
Lloyd-Jones, Martyn, Authentic Christianity: Sermons on the Acts of the Apostles, 6 vols. (Banner of Truth, 1999-2006)
Sproul, R. C., Acts (Crossway, 2010)

Acts commentaries – scholarly, academic

Bock, Darrell, Acts (BECNT, 2007)
Bruce, F. F., Acts (NICNT, 1954)
Bruce, F. F., The Acts of the Apostles (Greek Text) (Tyndale Press, 1951)
Blaiklock, E. M., The Acts of the Apostles (TNTC, 1959)
Keener, Craig, Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, 4 vols. (Baker, 2012-2015)
Larkin, William, Acts (IVPNTC, 1995)
Longenecker, Richard, Acts (EBC, 1981)
Marshall, I. Howard, Acts (TNTC, 1980)
Pelikan, Jaroslav, Acts (BTCB, 2006)
Peterson, David, The Acts of the Apostles (PNTC, 2009)
Polhill, John, Acts (NAC, 1992)
Schnabel, Eckhard, Acts (ZECNT, 2012)
Stott, John, The Message of Acts (BST, 1990)
Wall, Robert, The Acts of the Apostles (NIB, 2002)
Witherington, Ben, The Acts of the Apostles (Eerdmans, 1997)
Wright, N. T., Acts for Everyone, 2 vols. (WJK, 2008)

As is so often the case, with so many works on offer here, some might be pleading that I narrow things down somewhat. So let me offer a few highlights. As to John, Carson, Kostenberger, and Ridderbos might top my list. As to Acts, Bock, Peterson, and Schnabel may be the ones to run with. Of course if you have the time, money and book shelf space, you might try devouring the 4,500 pages of Keener’s massive 4-volume set.

Happy reading and happy study.

(For Australian readers, many of these titles can be found at Koorong: www.koorong.com/ )

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