JOHN, GOSPEL OF (JorrN, ante), I., was one of the books of the New Testament which were of standard authority in the council of Nice, 325 A.D., as possessed and acknowledged to be of apostolic origin by all the churches of Christendom. In this judgment both the parties, orthodox and Arian, of which the council was composed, were agreed. And the agreement was not disturbed by the fact that the great question in debate between them and in the churches—the proper divinity of Christ—brought this gospel into the center of the arena; so that if there had been any uncertainty respect ing its genuineness the discussion would, inevitably, have made it appear. As an inci dental result, therefore, that great council demonstrated the fact that, in the first quarter of the 4th c., the gospel of John was in universal use throughout the Christian church as his genuine an unquestioned work. This demonstration, in itself so clear, is con firmed by the individual testimony to the same effect given, outside of the council, by Eusebius, Athanasins, and Arius. 11. About the same time the emperor Constantine made provision for building new churches and preparing ew copies of the Scriptures, in which John's gospel was included, to fill the place of those which, at the close of the 3d c., during the persecution under Diocletian, had been destroyed. It is therefore plain that, in the last quarter of the 3d c., this gospel was one of the hooks of Scripture in use throughout the Christian churches. Ill. Crig,en, whose life extended from 253 back to 184A.D. was a diligent student and famous teacher of the Scriptures, as well as a great traveler among Fhe churches: Ile visited almost all parts of Christendom, became acquainted with many presbyters and bishops, taught in many churches, drew students to Alexandria from all sections of the empire, took an active part in the con troversies of his time, and wrote much in defense of the common Christian faith. Thus eminently qualified to be a witness for the whole church, he affirms that " the four gos pels, the last of which is John's, are the only undisputed ones in the whole church of God throughout the wor:d." This is testimony not only that Origen himself received the gospel of John as genuine, but also that, towards the beginning of the 3:1 c., all the churches of Christendom so received it. IV. Clement of Alexandria lived from 220 back to about 105 A.D., and, besides traveling extensively in Italy, Greece, Egypt, and Asia, was a great Christian teacher at Alexandria. Concerning the gospels he says that "those of Matthew and Luke were written first; then Mark's, and last of all, John's." His testimony establishes the fact that John's gospel was in use among the churches of Christendom during the last quarter of the 2d century. V. The oldest known treatise against Christianity was written by Celsns not far from 170 A.D. " IIe studied the Christian doctrines profoundly, drawing his information from the Scriptures. It is undeniable that he knew John's gospel. Indeed, Kelm has proved that the image of Christ which he composed fur himself is taken in great part from John's conception and presentation of him. The whole Christological attitude of the church, as Celsus describes it, is John's. It follows from this that John's gospel was at that time a record of Chris tianity known by friend and foe." VI. Tertullian, who lived from about 240 back to about 100 A.D., testifies that "not only among the apostolic churches, but also among all the churches which are united with them in Christian fellowship, the gospel of Luke has been maintained from its first publication; and the same authority of the apostolic churches will uphold the other gospels which we have, in due succession, through them and according to their usage, I mean those of Matthew and John; although that which was published by Mark may also be Maintained as Peter's, whose interpreter Mark was." VII. Irenmus, whose life extended from 202 back to 130 A.D., says that "John's gospel was the last of the four, was published at Ephesus by the disciple of the Lord who leaned on his breast, and declares the Redeemer's primary and glorious generation from the Father, ' In the beginning was the Word.'" VIII. The Coptic versions of the New Testament, in use probably at the beginning of the 3d c., the old Latin, used still earlier in the province of Africa, and tha Syriac, made not later titan the earlier part of the 2d e., all contain the gospel of John. And as only previously acknowledged books of Scripture would be translated as such, these versions prove that the gospel of John was generally acknowledged as his wom k as far back as the earlier part of the 2d century. 1.X. An additional testimony, covering about the same period, is furnished by the Mum
tedium fragment, a part of a treatise on the books of the New Testament named frmn its discoverer, and assigned by critics to the latter half of the 2d century. It places John's gospel last among the four which were then universally received by the churches as of canonical authority. X. Justin Martyr teas the author of a dialogue with Tryplro the Jew in defense of Christianity, and of two defenses presented to the emperor and senate, the earliest of which was written between 138 and 147 A.D. In these writings, addressed to unbelievers, he quotes, as authority for his statements concerning the life and teaching of Christ, certain works which, Without naming the particular authors, Ire calls " memoirs," " memoirs made by tire apostles," "memoirs, made by the apostles, which are called gospels," and " memoirs composed by the apostles of Christ and their followers." Concerning the use made by Christians of these boas he says: "On time day called Sunday all who live in cities or in the country assemble in one pinee, and the memoirs by the apostles, or the writings of the prophets, are read as long as time permits. 'When the reader has finished, the president admonishes and exhorts to the imitation of these good things." The question whether these memoirs were our four gospels has. in these last days, been strenuously debated. That they were scents clear, because our four gos pels, as has been shown, were at a somewhat later period universally received and read in the churches on Sundays, as the memoirs of Christ written by' apostles and their fol lowers; viz., by Matthew and John, by Mark, the follower of Peter, and Luke, the fol lower of Paul: and there are no traces of any others having been so received and read. But it is impossible that in Justin Martyr's time one set of such memoirs could have been universally received and read in the churches, and in half a century later a rival or different set take their place, without great and multiform evidence being left of collision and substitution. But of any such process there is no trace whatever. That John's gospel was one of those to which Justin referred is also proved by his quotations from it and allusions to it; come of which are heregiven. (I) Ile refers to Christ as tiro Logos in terms which John alone uses: "the Logos was made flesh:" "through Trim God created all things:" " he was the only begotten of the Father of the universe, hay ing been begotten by him in a peculiar manner as his logos and power." (2) Ile cites words of John time Baptist, part of which John's gospel alone gives—" I am not the Christ, but the voice of one crying." (3) As a reason why Christians considered baptism ehligatory„Iustin says: "For Christ also said, 'Except ye be born again, ye shall in no Id3e enter into the kingdom of heaven.' " But in John's gospel only is such a saying of Christ recorded. And with this he makes an explicit reference to the objection which John also ascribes to Nieodemus concerning the impossibility of a man being born a second time. (4) He says: " The Jews arc justly upbraided by Christ as 'knowing neither the Father nor the Son.'" (5) He says, "Christ healed those who were blind front their birth." XI. The Gnostics as well as their opponents generally received John's gospel during the controversies carried on 120-30, giving it very forced interpre tations so as to make it appear consistent with their doctrines. This fact is decisive proof that at this early period, within about a quarter of a century of the time when the gospel was probably written, its genuineness was fully established. XII. At this point we mast take into account the certain truth that Christianity and numerous Christian churches existed before any of the gospels were written. The apostles, among whom John was emvpiettous from the beginning, first preached and taught orally, thus making converts anti founding churches. In this way the churches generally had ,;become well acquainted with the apostolic teaching, and were accurate judges of what professed to be in harmony xvith it, before the gospels appeared. This explains the fact that the publication of them produced no commotion and excited no feeling except satisfaction with having in permanent form that which was loved so much and known so well. It explains also the fact that within so short a time after John's gospel was written it was widely diffused and generally received. The transition from the spoken to the written excited no debate, r.nd left no traces of its having been made, except the almost simul taneous presence of the book itself in all parts of Christendom.