Contrasts between John and the Synoptics
by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

1) Material found only in the Fourth Gospel (John), not in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke)
  • Prologue (1:1-18)
  • "Signs," beginning with the Wedding at Cana (2:1-12)
  • Jesus Dialogues with Nicodemus (2:23–3:21)
  • Jesus and/or his Disciples Baptize People (3:22-26; 4:1-2)
  • Jesus Encounters the Samaritan Woman at the Well (4:1-42)
  • Jesus Heals a Sick Man at the Pool of Bethesda (5:1-18)
  • New Details at the Feeding of the 5000 (6:1b, 3-6, 8-9, 12b, 14-15)
  • Bread of Life Discourse (6:22-65)
  • [Woman caught in Adultery (7:53–8:11) - added later]
  • Jesus Gives Sight to a Man Born Blind (9:1-41)
  • Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead (11:1-44)
  • Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet (13:1-20)
  • "Disciple Whom Jesus Loved" (13:23-25; 19:26-27; 20:2-10; 21:7, 20-24; cf. 18:15-16?)
  • Last Supper Discourses, incl. "Paraclete" & "Vine and Branches" (13:31–16:33)
  • Great Prayer of Jesus (17:1-26)
  • New Details at the Trial before Pilate (18:28–19:16)
  • New Details at the Crucifixion (19:20-24, 26-28, 30-37, 39)
  • First Resurrection Appearance to Mary Magdalene alone (20:11-18; cf. Matt 28:9)
  • Risen Jesus Appears to Thomas (20:24-29)
  • Risen Jesus Appears again at the Sea of Tiberias/Galilee; Dialogue between Jesus & Peter (21:1-25; cf. Luke 5:1-11)
  • First and Second Endings to John's Gospel (20:30-31; 21:24-25) 
  • 2) Material familiar from the Synoptics, but not found in John 3) Material Significantly different in John and the Synoptics
    Synoptics John
    Jesus' ministry only lasts about one year Jesus' ministry spans three Passovers (2:13; 6:4; 11:55)
    Only one journey to Jerusalem Multiple visits to Jerusalem (2:13; 5:1; 7:10)
    John the Baptist is "Elijah"; preaches repentance John [the baptizer] is not Elijah, but a "witness" to Jesus (1:19-36)
    Jesus' ministry begins after John the Baptist's arrest Jesus' ministry overlaps with John's (3:22-30)
    First four disciples Jesus calls are two pairs of brothers:
    Simon & Andrew, James & John
    First five disciples: Andrew, an anonymous second one,
    Simon Peter, Philip, Nathanael (1:35-51)
    Many "miracles" but few longer speeches Only a few "signs" but several long monologues and dialogues
    “Love God”; “Love your neighbors”; “Love your enemies “Love one another” (13:34-35; 15:12, 17; focus within cmnty)
    Peter is the first and most prominent of the “twelve apostles Mary Magdalene, Martha of Bethany, and the “Beloved Disciple”
    are more prominent as “disciples” of Jesus
    Future Eschatology: “Kingdom of God” is coming Realized Eschatology: “Eternal Life” now (3:36; 5:24; 6:47-54)
    Opponents of Jesus include Sadducees, Herodians, etc. Jesus' opponents usually called "the Jews" or "the world"
    Opponents plot to destroy/kill Jesus for various reasons Opponents try to stone Jesus for blasphemy (8:59; 10:31-33; cf. 11:8)
    Temple incident occurs one week before Jesus' death Temple incident is at the beginning of Jesus' ministry (2:13-22)
    Anointing at Bethany by anonymous woman,
    and objection by anonymous people
    Anointing at Bethany by Lazarus' sister Mary,
    and objection by Judas Iscariot (12:1-8)
    Last Supper is the Passover Meal (Thursday eve)
    Last Supper is not the Passover meal itself,
    but occurs before Passover, which begins Friday eve (13:1; 18:28)
    Gethsemane”: Jesus is betrayed through Judas’ kiss Garden” in Kidron Valley: Jesus identifies himself for arrest (18:1-11)
    Jesus is crucified at 9:00 a.m. on the Day of Passover itself,
    and dies by 3:00 p.m. that afternoon
    Jesus is condemned to death at noon on the Day of Preparation
    before the Passover; crucifixion & death occur quickly (19:14, 31, 42)
    Women prepare spices to anoint Jesus' body after his burial Joseph of Arimathea & Nicodemus anoint his body before burial (19:38-42)

    4) "So What?" - Questions for Reflection and Discussion:


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    This page was last updated on December 14, 2018
    Copyright 1999--2012 by Felix Just, S.J.