“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39, ESV).
Several years ago, I researched and presented a paper on the deity of Jesus in John’s gospel. Although all the gospels help develop this subject, John’s gospel was written with this specific matter at the heart (John 20:30-31), and does so to a degree not achieved by the others.
I developed an arbitrary (yes, I made it up) research method to quantify just how much of the language of John’s gospel was dedicated to making this presentation. Here’s how it worked:
1) Any time John wrote a sentence, or even used a phrase that implied or directly affirmed the deity of Jesus, I gave that phrase a point value of 1. For example, “All things were made by him” (John 1:3). 1 point.
2) Also, any time Jesus, or a disciple, or any other witness to his deity, or even enemy uttered such a phrase, I followed the same procedure. For example, here is a statement by Jesus with a value of 1: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19).
3) Of course, there are numerous times that one sentence contains several phrases that affirm or imply the deity of Jesus. For example, in John 3:13, Jesus speaking of himself said, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” The first two phrases work together, and have a value of 1, and the last phrase is distinguished enough from the first two to qualify for a value of 1 as well. This sentence gets a point value of 2.
After doing this for every chapter through 17 (I ran out of time to do any more before the presentation, and I’ve never finished the latter chapters of the book), I took the total amount of instances in each chapter, and divided that by the number of English verses in the chapter, and acquired a ratio of phrase-to-verse.
Using this method, the results astonished me. Of all the verses that make up the first 17 chapters of John’s gospel, over 2/3 of them (about 68%) include phrases and/or sentences, made by John, Jesus, or other witnesses, that either explicitly state, or imply the deity of Jesus. There were several times that the number of references to Jesus’ deity in a given chapter actually outnumbered the number of verses in that chapter.
Once again I stress, this was a purely arbitrary assessment. But still, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the results point in the right direction. John’s gospel, as many have discovered, and as John stated in his purpose statement (John 20:30-31) is supremely rich in its presentation of the deity of Jesus.
Have you ever done anything similar?