"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).
The Gospel of John is the last of the four canonical gospels in the New Testament. It is often referred to as the "spiritual gospel," and has long been recognized as considerably different in tone and focus from the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Key events and sayings included in these three gospels are often curiously left out of John, while John contains stories not mentioned in the others.
Ancient tradition has long identified the author of the Gospel of John as John the disciple of Jesus. However, the gospel itself is silent as to the identity of the author, stating only that it is based on the testimony of the disciple who Jesus loved, but not that it was written by this disciple himself.
The possible sources that the author of John could have used when writing his gospel are also unclear. Scholars and historians speculate that the text could have been based off stories passed down from Jesus' disciples themselves, or perhaps off an early text about Jesus' stories and miracles. The Gospel of John was almost certainly written in the late first or early second century, and tradition has its place of writing as being in Ephesus, and city in ancient Greece.
In an effort to figure out what sort of audience the Gospel of John was meant for, scholars have taken special note of the fact that it often portrays the relationship between Jesus and the Jews as a very hostile one. They have concluded that this is probably a reflection of the times in which it was written. John was likely writing to a certain group of Christian who were separating from the Jewish community.
The Gospel of John differs from all of the other gospels in many ways. While the others offer relatively straightforward stories about Jesus and his ministry, John is full of subtlety, symbolism, paradox, and irony. While the canonical gospels have Jesus speaking in short parables, Jesus in the Gospel of John speaks in long sermons about his relation to God. The Gospel of John is the source of many of the most spiritually inspiring verses in the whole Bible, such as when Jesus tells His followers: "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).
The main purpose for the writing of the Gospel of John is stated clearly and concisely in verses 20:30-31, when the writer tells us that: "Jesus performed many other 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 Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name."
The author considers it to be crucial that people read and believe the signs and sayings of Jesus. He wrote so that he could save souls with Jesus' life-giving message. In the 2000 years since the Gospel of John was written, it is safe to say that it has led countless people to Christ.