Gospel of John: a partial account of signs and wonders

In the Gospel of John 21:30-31, Jesus said:

“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.”

Sidenote: a fragment of an Egyptian papyri containing a text of Gospel of John 21:20-23

These few verses are rarely discussed, as to its implications, in how we perceive Jesus’ earthly ministry. Upon taking a closer look at what the writer of John’s Gospel said himself, the Gospel represents only a partial account of the totality of Jesus’ earthly ministry because he explicitly said, “…which are not recorded in this book” meaning there are many more signs and wonders that we haven’t read about but that were performed and witnessed by the apostles.

If so, then is it possible that we also may have a partial written account of miraculous signs in the Acts of the Apostles, and of the New Testament epistles? 

Then does the bible as a whole represent a full or partial account of Jesus’ and the apostles’ history and ministry on earth? 

On the surface, this question itself is suspect and smells of heresy because the sufficiency of scripture is questioned.  Before I went to seminary, I might have thought so because I was taught to believe the bible was the entire revelation of God. The word of God was the be-all and end-all.  Do I believe that God is fully revealed in Jesus and that the gospel is fully sufficient for our salvation?  Yes, indeed! But this differs from what some call Bibliolatry.

Acts 5:12 says,

“Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles.”

Let’s allow ourselves to ponder… how many of these signs and wonders were actually recorded in the book of Acts?  Back then, it is a fact that few people knew how to write, and to even find a scribe or writer to record everything would have been next to impossible.  The actual total number of acts of God’s miracles and healings would fill up multiple volumes of books. The books of the Gospel of John and the Acts of the Apostles are only a fraction of what Jesus and his apostles actually did on earth. It only gives us a small impression of what their earthly ministry was like.

Moreover, to say that some things were not recorded means that the accuracy, validity and historicity of recorded signs were important to the writer of John’s Gospel. He also implicitly understood that the visible and powerful signs of God would have a major influence in the faith of future generations of believers.

He says that these were written with the intention that future Christ-followers would come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God; and that by believing, we may have eternal life.  Today, this has come true.  Our belief in Jesus as the Son of God was the goal of the disciples in these written instances of God’s signs.

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Author: Kevin S.

A follower of Jesus, a husband and a father. Hobbies include biking, keeping fish if they don't die on me, blogging when I can, theologizing and ministry, and pondering about world affairs.

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