Notes on John (Pt. 1): Meta-Structure?

[These are some old notes on the Gospel of John that I found last night. I’m thinking of expanding this, but am currently undecided. Let me know your thoughts :)]

The Water/Feast Structure of John

The Gospel of John, it seems to me, can be divided into two halves which each emphasize very important New Testament truths falling under two prominent Biblical symbols: a.) Water (Holy Spirit) and (b.) Feast/Bread (the Body of Christ). I think the book can be divided as follows:

Water Narratives Feast Narratives
1. Baptism by the Jordan River – 1:19-51

2. Baptism by the Jordan River

2a. Woman at the Well – 3:22-4:26

3. Miracle at Bethesda – 5:2-15

4. Jesus Walks on Water – 6:15-21

5. Rivers of Living Water – 7:37-39

5a. Healing at Pool of Siloam – 9:1-12

5b. Beyond the Jordan – 10:40-42

6. Foot Washing (Oil) – 12:3-8[1]

7. Foot Washing (Water) – 13:3-15, et al.

8. Fishing at Tiberias – 21:1-8

i. Wedding Feast – 2:1-12

ii. 1st Passover Feast – 2:13-3:21 (?)

iii. “Feast of the Jews” – 5:1

iv. Feeding of 5,000 – 6:1-14

v. Feast of Tabernacles – 7:1-36

vi. Supper/Foot Annointing – 12:1-2

vii. 2nd Passover Feast – 13:1-2, et al.

viii. Reconciliation Breakfast – 21:9-15a

Below, I’ve listed what seems to be the theological thrust of the sections of John’s gospel corresponding to the above schema.

Water[2] (Holy Spirit)
Faith Repentance Indwelling of the Holy Spirit Love/Service
a.) 1:19-51

b.) 4:28-30

c.) 4:39-42

d.) 9:1-12

e.) 10:40-42

f.) 21:1-8

a.) 1:19-51

b.) 3:22-4:26

c.) 5:2-15

a.) 4:7-14

b.) 7:37-39

a.) 13:3-15

b.) [12:3-8 ][3]

Feasts (Bread/Body of Christ)
Resurrection Christ’s Body Marriage Communion/Fellowship
a.) 2:13-3:21

b.) 21:9-15a

a.) 6:1-14

b.) 7:1-36[4]

c.) 12:1-2

d.) 13:1-2

a.) 2:1-12 a.) 21:9-15a

Notice that in John’s use of water as a symbol for the Holy Spirit, we are given His function, role, and the effects He has upon individual believers (i.e. we are given a detailed pneumatology that we find throughout the remainder of the New Testament). Similarly, in John’s use of the feast/bread as a symbol for the body of Christ, we are given four corresponding truths about the body of the Lord Jesus.[5] By juxtaposing water/bread (feast), we see that John’s Gospel gives special emphasis to two things: (a.) the body of the Lord Jesus in death, resurrection, (our) salvation, and communion (with one another and, most importantly, with Him) which is inseparably linked to (b.) the outpouring and indwelling of the Holy Spirit evidenced in faith, repentance and love and service. The water/bread motif points back, I believe, to two prominent types of the Lord Jesus in the Old Testament, viz. the manna from heaven and the smitten rock.[6]

[Notes on John (Pt. 2)]

[1] Technically, this isn’t a water narrative, but it bears an obvious parallel in ch. 13, so I thought it was significant to add here.

[2] It was difficult for me to categorize 6:15-21, so I left it out.

[3] This is somewhat speculative, although based upon John’s contrast of Judas’ greed and Mary’s liberality.

[4] Because of its proximity to 7:37-39, and the biblical equation of tent/tabernacle/house, etc with body, I drew this conclusion.

[5] His body was (i.) broken, (ii.) raised to give us (iii.) communion with Him until (iv.) the Marriage of the Lamb.

[6] cf. Ex. 16 & 17:1-7


5 thoughts on “Notes on John (Pt. 1): Meta-Structure?

  1. Heather says:

    This looks as though it would be a good study.

    I’m not following your outline well but it’s probably because I’m feeling a bit lazy about looking up your references at the moment. There’s a lot here!


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