Lesslie Newbigin on the Gospel of John

In case some of you are unaware of it, I want to point out Lesslie Newbigin’s exposition of the fourth Gospel: The Light Has Come.  It isn’t a critical-exegetical commentary, so it won’t replace those on your shelves.  However, Newbigin does interact with the story of John quite well and draws out some threads and themes that most readers might overlook.  There are some places in this book that are amazingly brilliant and profound, which leads me to recommend it to those of you who want another good resource on John’s Gospel.  Here’s one example from Newbigin’s commentary on John 6:35-40.

“To those whom the Father so gives to Jesus that they become believers, there is a triple promise.  First, that he will receive them and will not cast them out.  The penitent thief on the cross is received instantly and unconditionally into the fellowship of Jesus.  The love of Jesus is total and without limit.  Secondly, they will receive now the gift of eternal life.  They will share already in the life of heaven because they share the life of Jesus in whom the life of heaven is present in the form of loving obedience to the Father.  Thirdly, they can look forward with assured certainty to sharing in the victory of Christ ‘at the last day.’  Thus the past, the present, and the future are secure.  The sin of the past has been blotted out and the believer is accepted forthwith into the fellowship of Jesus.  The present is lived in that fellowship with Jesus which is a sharing in the life of heaven.  The future is secure because Jesus whose resurrection is the dawning of a new age will raise up those who belong to him at the end” (p. 82).

Again, this commentary will not take the place of exegetical ones.  But it is a big help because it draws out the threads and themes of John in a masterful way.  Actually, I’d not only recommend it to those of you who are studying John’s Gospel (or plan on studying it), but also to those who want a devotional commentary for personal reading.  The text of John is in the book, so it would be a good book for anyone to read if they want a deeper understanding of John’s Gospel.  Though some new copies of this book are quite expensive, you can get used ones online for a decent price.

Lesslie Newbigin, The Light Has Come (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982).

shane lems

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