The Gospel of John as an Eyewitness Account

by Carey Bryant

In New Testament scholarship, the Gospel of John is often viewed as a late document that adds little value to the historical Jesus. But the more I study John, the more I see the strong internal evidence that it was written by an eyewitness of Jesus’ life. Here are four of those reasons.

1. The author was very familiar with Jewish culture.

The author quotes various books in the Hebrew Old Testament such as Isaiah 6:10 (in 12:40) and Psalm 22:18 (in 19:24). He mentions Jewish feasts like Passover (2:13). In story of Lazarus, the author knows Jewish burial customs such as what kind of tomb Lazarus would be in along with how dead bodies were bound with linen (11:38-44). He gets archaeological details right like the Pool of Bethesda which was discovered in the 19th century. These details are easily explained if he was a Jew living during the time of Jesus. This by itself is by no means decisive, but it is a starting point.

2. The author seems to identify himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved.”

Throughout the Gospel, the author refers to a disciple “whom Jesus loved.” Why does he only give a title like this to a single disciple? It seems obvious to me that it’s because he is referring to himself…

The Gospel of John as an Eyewitness Account