John 20:30-31 – Gospel Writing and Signs

John 20:30–31 (ESV) — 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 21:25 (ESV) — 25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

I want to deal with a couple of things quickly and then spend more time on:
·  John’s role in writing his Gospel.
·  The signs he wrote about.

John tells us that he wrote his Gospel “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ” (vs. 31).
·  We spoke last week of Thomas’ confession that Jesus is the “kyrios” which includes Jesus as Messiah.
·  So we needn’t revisit the meaning of this confession now.
·  However, we can quickly survey John for the presence of His stated purpose.

Jesus the Messiah – a few examples:
·  John 3:28 (ESV) — 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’
o   John the Baptist testifies that Jesus is the Messiah.
·  John 4:25–26 (ESV) — 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
o   Jesus tells the woman at the well that He is the Messiah.
·  John 7:40–43 (ESV) — 40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people over him.
o   A crowd at Jerusalem testifies that Jesus is the Messiah.

Now, the purpose of this purpose, John tells us, is to bring life.
·  If we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, we will “have life in his name” (vs. 31).
·  What is this life?

We recently spent 12 weeks or so studying resurrection.
·  We learned that the phrase “eternal life” literally refers to “life in the age to come”.
·  And in second-Temple Judaism, “life in the age to come” is bodily resurrection life.
·  Is John alluding to this?

I think it is clear that resurrection is a significant part of John’s meaning.
·  The intermediate stage of heaven, and even the present life lived before death under Jesus’ Messiahship can certainly be in view as well.
·  But the following texts are unmistakably resurrection verses.
·  John 5:24 (ESV) — 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
o   We know this is resurrection life both because judgment happens at resurrection and eternal life is “life in the age to come” which is resurrection life.
·  John 5:29 (ESV) — 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
·  John 6:40 (ESV) — 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
o   “life in the age to come” = “eternal life” = “raise him up on the last day”
·  John 6:54 (ESV) — 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
·  John 11:25 (ESV) — 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
o   Live how? – Through resurrection life.

D.A. Carson sums up well John’s stated purpose and the purpose of his stated purpose.
·  “He writes in order that men and women may believe a certain propositional truth, the truth that the Christ, the Son of God, is Jesus, the Jesus whose portrait is drawn in this Gospel. But such faith is not an end in itself. It is directed toward the goal of personal, eschatological salvation: that by believing you may have life in his name. That is still the purpose of this book today, and at the heart of the Christian mission (v. 21)” – D.A. Carson.


which are not written in this book” (vs. 30) & “many other things that Jesus did
·  When we think about the inspiration of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16) it is worth considering to the extent possible, what the writers’ role in this process was.
·  Clearly, we believe, as Jesus taught in John, that the Holy Spirit aided the disciples in remembering the words of Jesus and what they meant.
o   John 14:26 (ESV) — 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

But we need to be aware that the Gospel writers compiled Jesus’ teachings, His signs and wonders, and His actions in ways that reflected their personalities, style and purpose.
·  For example, “Peter and the Beloved Disciple represent two different kinds of discipleship: active service and perceptive witness” – Richard Bauckham.
·  These perspectives manifested themselves in their writings.

For example, John admits to us that he edited His Gospel to exclude many of Jesus’ signs – “Jesus did many other signs…which are not written” (vs. 30).
·  But he did so for a specific purpose – “so that you many believe” (vs. 31).
·  “John restricted his choice of signs to a group that were especially instructive” – Beasley-Murray.

Another example that may demonstrate John’s “perceptive witness” is how he weaves into his Gospel the story of a “cosmic lawsuit” – Richard Bauckham.
·  This lawsuit, “includes the literal events of judicial proceedings against Jesus by the Jewish authorities, acting in the name of the ‘law’ of Moses, and by Pilate. In deutero-Isaiah [Isaiah 40-55] YHWH brings a case against the gods of the nations and their supporters in order to determine the identity of the true God. He calls on the worshipers of the other gods to demonstrate their reality and supremacy, while he himself calls as witnesses his people Israel and the figure of the Servant of YHWH. It is this lawsuit that the Gospel of John sees taking place in the history of Jesus, as the one true God demonstrates his deity in controversy with the claims of the world. He does so by calling Jesus as chief witness and by vindicating him, not only as true witness but also as incarnate representative of God’s own true deity” – Richard Bauckham.

In Isaiah, we saw that the chief witness was the Servant of YHWH.
·  In John’s Gospel, this is Jesus.
·  But John also presents us 6 more witnesses for a total of seven.
o   We will encounter this number seven again in a moment.

“The seven witnesses, in order of appearance, are John the Baptist (1:7, etc.), Jesus himself (3:11, etc.), the Samaritan woman (4:39), God the Father (5:32), Jesus’ works or signs (5:36), the Scriptures (5:39), and the crowd who testify about Jesus’ raising of Lazarus (12:17)” – Richard Bauckham.
·  Isaiah 43:10 (ESV) — 10aYou are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.”
·  John 5:36 (ESV) — 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.
·  John 20:30–31 (ESV) — 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Luke also shows us the nature of the Gospel writers’ involvement.
·  Luke 1:1–4 (ESV) — 1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
·  He tells us that he “followed all things closely” and that he was a recipient of eyewitness testimony.
·  So from both the eyewitness testimony and his own research, he decided to “write an orderly account” of what Jesus did and taught.

There are a few important implications concerning the writers’ of the Gospel from these insights.
·  (1) They weren’t robots.
·  (2) “The first Christians were not all illiterate peasant laborers and craftsmen, as the form critics supposed, but evidently included people who studied the Scriptures with current exegetical skills and could write works with the literary quality of the letter of James” – Richard Bauckham.
·  (3) “The early Christian movement was interested in the genuinely past history of Jesus…” – Richard Bauckham.
o   As we said last week, Christianity is not just spiritual it is profoundly historical.


John admits that there were many other signs Jesus performed.
·  However, he chose not to write about them.
·  What he did choose to do is to highlight signs that helped serve his stated purpose.
·  And in fact, He specifically highlighted seven signs just as he highlighted seven witnesses.

What are the signs?

Kostenberger, who specializes in John, spent a great deal of time seeking a definition of a “sign” from John’s Gospel and came up with the following:
·  “A sign [in John] is a symbol-laden, but not necessarily ‘miraculous,’ public work of Jesus selected and explicitly identified as such by John for the reason that it displays God’s glory in Jesus who is thus shown to be God’s true representative (cf. 20:30–31)” – Andreas Kostenberger.

There are six signs in John that are recognized indisputably as signs – Kostenberger.
·  1) Water into wine (2.1-11)
·  2) The official’s son (4.46-54)
·  3) The paralysed man at the pool (5.2-9)
·  4) Multiplication of loaves (6.1-14)
·  5) The man born blind (9.1-7)
·  6) The raising of Lazarus (11.1-44)

And most agree, given the symbolic importance in John of “seven”, that there must be a seventh sign.
·  The problem is that though “commentators widely agree on six Johannine ‘signs’” there is not much consensus on the seventh – Kostenberger.

The most common candidate is when Jesus walked on water in John 6.
·  Andreas Kostenberger makes a very good case that the seventh sign is when Jesus cleared the temple.
·  N.T. Wright, however, argues that the seventh sign is Jesus’ crucifixion.
o   I find his reasoning fascinating.

He says, “the crucifixion is the climax and culmination of the ‘signs’ which Jesus has given, following the sevenfold sequence of the old creation” – Wright.
·  The “climax and culmination” of creation was the sixth day – a Friday.
·  The “climax and culmination” of Jesus’ work was the sixth day – a Friday.
·  Wright suggests John wants us to make the connection.
·  Why?

He says that the sequence of the seven signs “was always about the new creation bursting in on the old” – Wright.
·  John wants us to see the parallel between these two creations and how Jesus was at the center of both.
·  In Genesis, creation burst into existence from nothing through the “Word”.
·  In John 20, new creation burst into existence from the resurrection of the “Word”.

How does John’s Gospel make this connection?

“John declares from the start, with the obvious allusion to Genesis 1.1, that his book is about the new creation in Jesus” – N.T. Wright.
·  Wright, and virtually everyone else, says that “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1) is a clear allusion to the beginning of creation in Genesis – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1).
·  And let’s not forget the parallel between the breath of life from Genesis and the resurrection breath of Jesus in John 20.

Additionally, we can’t forget the “first day” parallel.
·  And there was evening and there was morning, the first day” (Gen. 1:5).
o   In Genesis, creation began on the first day.
·  In John 20, John makes sure that we are aware that “Easter was ‘the first day of the week’” – N.T. Wright.
o   Now on the first day of the week” (John 20:1)
o   the first day of the week” (John 20:19)

In other words, in John 20, the “first day” brought the beginning of a new creation grounded in Jesus’ resurrection.
·  So “with the resurrection itself, the ultimate ‘sign’ which will explain what Jesus has been doing” new creation has begun – N.T. Wright.
·  “Easter is the start of the new creation” – N.T. Wright.

It is worth repeating.
·  In Genesis, creation burst into existence from nothing through the “Word”.
·  In John 20, new creation burst into existence from the resurrection of the “Word”.

Wright also suggests that the parallels John is drawing to Genesis 1 go beyond the first day of creation.
·  He argues that John intends us to note direct parallels to days 6 and 7 of creation as well.
·  “On the sixth day of the creation narrative, humankind was created in the divine image; on the sixth day of the last week of Jesus’ life, John has Pilate declare, ‘Behold the man!’ echoing the creation of humankind on the sixth day of creation” – N.T. Wright.
·  “And, On the cross [on the sixth day] Jesus finishes the work the father has given him to do (17.4), ending with the shout of triumph (tetelestai, ‘it is accomplished’, 19.30), corresponding to the completion of creation itself” – N.T. Wright.
·  “The seventh day is the day of rest for the creator; in John, it is the day when Jesus rests in the tomb” – N.T. Wright.
o   Genesis 2:2 (ESV) — 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.
·  We need to remember, the link is metaphorical here not literal.

 We could continue by now showing how these seven signs and resurrection demonstrated that Jesus is the Messiah.
·  The very thing John intended then to show.
·  But we dealt with that a little last week.
·  I think we get it.
·  They not only show that Jesus is the Messiah, but that the Messiah is God.


John 20:24-29 – Biblical Belief

John 20:24–29 (ESV) — 24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

not with them” (vs. 24)
·  When Jesus first appeared to the disciples, Thomas was absent.
·  We don’t know why.
·  But that makes little difference to an important principle revealed here.
·  Whether for good reason or bad, when we are absent from the fellowship of our Church, we will miss out on the blessings of fellowship.

We have seen the Lord” (vs. 25)
·  When Thomas got the report from the other disciples his response is hardly surprising.
·  Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (vs. 25).
·  We need to remember that as a second-Temple Jew, Thomas had no category of a risen Messiah or one person rising ahead of everyone else.
·  The other disciples and Mary Magdalene were no better.
·  They “got it” when they saw the risen Jesus just like Thomas did.

Interestingly, his statement sounds a lot like the post-modern skeptics of our day.
·  “If God exists, why is He hidden?”
·  “Surely, if He wanted me to believe in Him, He need only show Himself”
·  But, does seeing a resurrected Jesus mean you will trust in Him as Savior?

John then tells us that “eight days later” Jesus made His second appearance to the disciples (vs. 26).
·  This time, “Thomas was with them” (vs. 26).
·  And as before, “although the doors were locked” (vs. 26), Jesus just sort of appeared.
·  And as before, He said “Peace be with you” (vs. 26).
·  A dead, buried and risen Messiah says, “Peace be with you”.
·  You got think this is loaded with all sorts of meaning!

John then brings us to the moment that was set up in verse 24 – an encounter between Thomas and Jesus.
·  Jesus, as He did with Nathanael in John 1, reveals He knows what the disciples thought and said even when He wasn’t there.
·  And he doesn’t scold Thomas.
·  In fact, we need to keep in mind that, “but for the fact that Thomas and the other apostles saw the incarnate Christ there would have been no Christian faith at all” – D.A. Carson.
·  So, Jesus lovingly says to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe” (vs. 27).

John doesn’t make clear if Thomas actually did touch Jesus.
·  But John does make clear what Thomas said.
·  In response to Jesus’ words Thomas said, “My Lord and my God!” (vs. 28).
·  This is well known as the strongest confession of Jesus’ identity in the Gospels.
·  Even more so than Peter’s, Matthew 16:16 (ESV) — 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
·  And to this response Jesus replied, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (vs. 29).

It is this last exchange into which we will dive deeper.


At a minimum, before Easter, the disciples believed at least two things about Jesus’ identity.
·  (1) The disciples believed Jesus to be “a prophet mighty in deed” (Luke 24:19).
·  (2) They also believed Jesus to be the Messiah, the “King of the Jews”, “the Lord’s anointed, the promised redeemer” – N.T. Wright.

With Jesus’ resurrection these two views would have been solidified.
·  “The first and most obvious conclusion which the disciples would have drawn, as soon as they came to believe that Jesus of Nazareth had been bodily raised from the dead, was that he was indeed the prophet mighty in word and deed, and that he was, more particularly, Israel’s Messiah. This would not be because they had already believed that the Messiah, when he came, would be raised from the dead, but because the Jesus they knew had been tried and executed as Messiah, and this extraordinary and unexpected event (as it seemed to them) had apparently reversed the verdicts of both the Jewish and the Roman courts” – N.T. Wright.

But, from this, how did Thomas arrive at the fact that Jesus was “Kyrios” and “Theos” – Lord and God?

“Kyrios” carries with it the idea of being Master or King over a particular realm.
·  “The concept of lordship combines the two elements of power and authority” – TDNT.
·  It also carries with it the idea of ownership.
·  And it is worth noting that the LXX uses “Kyrios” for the Hebrew “Yahweh”.

The realm that is in view here, it must be noted, is all of creation.
·  This includes those creatures who claim to be lord themselves.
·  In other words, to call Jesus “Kyrios” means He is “the world’s true lord” – N.T. Wright.

Importantly, identifying Jesus as “Kyrios” is more than the radical theological claim that He is “Yahweh”, the God of the OT, the God of Israel.
·  It is also an “in your face” political statement to all those who think they are in power.
·  Jesus is “Kyrios” of the Jews and the Romans!

So how did Thomas arrive at this conclusion?

The Jews and the Romans crucified Him as the Messiah, the King of the Jews.
·  Jesus’ words, signs and self title, “Son of Man”, all indicated that He did see Himself as the Messiah.
·  His disciples saw Him as Messiah.
·  And by His resurrection, the Father exalted Him to the throne where He, in fact, assumed His place as the Messiah, the King of the Jews and the Romans.

This was His vindication.
·  He was mocked by creation, but the Creator had the last word.
·  This is why the most quoted or alluded to OT verse in the NT is Psalm 110:1.
·  Psalm 110:1 (ESV) — 1 The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
·  Colossians 3:1 (ESV) — 1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Speaking on how Jesus’ resurrection and exaltation confirmed Jesus’ identity, N.T. Wright says:
·  “The New Testament writers draw on all these to express the point that…they had reached by other means: that Jesus was the Messiah; that he was therefore the world’s true lord; that the creator God had exalted him as such, sharing with him his own throne and unique sovereignty; and that he was therefore to be seen as kyrios. And kyrios meant not only ‘lord of the world’, in the sense that he was the human being now at the helm of the universe, the one to whom every knee, including that of Caesar, must bow, but also ‘the one who makes present and visible what the Old Testament said about YHWH himself” – N.T. Wright.

I think John captures Thomas revelation in his opening chapter.
·  John 1:18 (ESV) — 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

“Theos” is Greek for “God”.
·  The Hebrew equivalent is usually “El”.
·  This proclamation of Thomas goes “hand in glove” with “Kyrios”.
·  The “whats” and “whys” from above apply here.

But, importantly, it profoundly links Jesus’ identity to God in the flesh.
·  It is a proclamation that Jesus is God incarnate.
·  And even better, that the Jesus standing before Thomas is the risen God incarnate.
·  John 1:1 (ESV) — 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
·  John 1:14 (ESV) — 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

One other significant thing to consider here is:
·  In Thomas, we have a second-Temple, monotheistic Jew claiming that the person, Jesus, is God.
·  In other words, as a result of resurrection, we have a Jew speaking in Trinitarian language.
·  We can add this to all the resurrection mutations that must be accounted for by historians.


We mentioned that Jesus said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (vs. 29).
·  I want to be sure we understand what Jesus is NOT saying.

First, as we stated earlier, the reason we have Christianity and all its Jewish mutations is because the disciples and Paul actually saw the risen Jesus Christ in person.
·  Remember, 1 Corinthians 15 begins with the early Christian resurrection creed that cites the list of eyewitnesses that saw the risen Jesus Christ.
·  So, yes, they believed Jesus was “Kyrios” and “Theos” because they saw Him bodily standing in front of them after He had been crucified and buried.
o   Not discounting, of course, that the Holy Spirit had provided them with new hearts to “hear” and “see” this truth.
·  This physically seeing Jesus is necessary and fundamental to the birth of Christianity.

But, seeing the risen Jesus is a one-off event.
·  So what about the rest of us?
·  Our belief is based upon the historical testimony of the eyewitnesses (Thomas, Peter, Paul, etc.) as revealed in Scripture.
o   Not discounting, of course, that the Holy Spirit has regenerated our hearts thereby enabling us to respond with belief to this testimony.

So Jesus is not saying that a “seeing” belief, in this case, is not as real as a “non-seeing” belief.
·  And Jesus is not saying that because we haven’t seen, our belief has no object.
·  In other words, He is not saying that our faith is a blind faith.

Blind Faith - A Common Mistake:
A blind faith is just wishful thinking.
·  It is, as Greg Koukl says, irrationally hoping that thin ice will support your weight.
·  It is a faith that pretends it can exist when contrary to the facts.
·  This is not the faith Jesus is describing.
·  This is not the faith of the Bible.

Too many people think the opposite of faith is knowledge – such as Thomas’ need to see Jesus for himself.
·  They think that this type of belief does not require faith and so it is not as “good”.
·  This is false, false, false.
·  The opposite of faith is unbelief, not knowledge.

Can we have more faith?

And to speak of having “more” faith makes no sense unless your faith is a blind faith.
·  I fell through the ice because I just didn’t have enough faith that thin ice would hold me up.
·  I just need to have more faith that something that is not true will be true.

The NT never speaks of faith in this way (that I could find).
·  You will not find the command to have “more” faith.
·  A Biblical faith is qualitative not quantitative.
·  A Biblical faith is milk or meat not less or more.

Biblical Faith – Just the Facts:
A Biblical faith is traditionally described as consisting of knowledge, assent and trust.
·  We can rationally determine that a Biblical claim is legit – we can know it.
·  We can then assent or accept this knowledge in our minds as the truth, and thus authoritative over the pretenders to the truth and over our own lives.
·  And then we can trust in it with full assurance that it will deliver what it says it will.

Another way to look at Biblical faith is that “to have an object of our faith” is Biblical faith.
·  And, of course, the object of our faith is Jesus Christ and all the things we can learn about Him.
·  And the quality of our faith is related to the truth of the object of our faith and what we know about this object.
·  So, if the object of our faith is found to be false, our faith is false.
·  Remember, Paul said that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, we need to move on.

But a blind faith will continue on in ignorant bliss, completely detached from the truth.

A text from John gives us a beautiful picture of Biblical faith.
·  John 2:23–25 (ESV) — 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

We need to know here that “entrust” is actually the exact same word translated as “believed” in verse 23.
·  In fact, it is the exact same word used for “believed” in our John 20:29 text.

So in this text, Jesus demonstrates a belief/trust (pisteuo) that is firmly based on knowledge, assent and trust.
·  The object of Jesus’ belief/trust would be the “many” who “believed in his name”.
·  However, Jesus knows something of this object.
·  He knows this because He, “knew all people”.
·  And the thing that He knows is “what was in man”.
·  So because Jesus knows something of the object that is problematic, He cannot assent to it.
·  He therefore will not trust in the object – the “many”.
·  No matter how much Jesus may love them, He cannot blindly “entrust himself to them” – or literally, He cannot “believe in them”.

Our faith, Biblical faith, is the very same!

BTW – Hebrews 11:1 makes clear that our faith is also wrapped up in what will happen, not just what has happened.
·  We can trust in the future promises made by the object of our faith – Jesus!
·  This is related to why Paul connects the resurrection of Jesus with ours.
·  If ours doesn’t happen, then Jesus’ didn’t happen.