Like the Hebrew prophet Habakkuk, who taught, “The just one” or each righteous individual will “live by faith,” Yochanan, the apostle who walked with Yeshua, taught that faith, that is, strong belief, and even more, the action connected to that conviction, is the true source of a meaningful life, a life of “ever increasing abundance” (John 10:10). Yeshua came to give life, not merely existence in staying alive, but rather an abundant life. Faith and belief become the purpose that empowers each one to live with greater spiritual meaning. He wrote this eye witness report that everyone who reads may believe. The fourth Gospel is all about faith for living life the best it can be.

Love is of supreme value in this Gospel‟s message, “For God so loved the people of the world that He gave His only Son...” (3:16). Craig Keener noted, “Although love appears as the supreme commandment, the Fourth Gospel emphasizes faith in Jesus, perhaps because faith is what the believers‟ current trials are testing most” (John, vol. 1, p. 325). Faith‟s experience with God‟s love provides strength for hardship, adversity, and persecution. How will the Jesus movement face opposition and tribulation without the physical presence of Yeshua? The Holy Spirit will come alongside to help and give insight into the struggle for holy living. Early tradition has ascribed authorship of the Gospel to the disciple whom Jesus loved, who was none other than John, the son of Zebedee [Zavdi], the brother of James [Yaakov]. Jerome shared this witness: “When he [John] remained at Ephesus until an extreme old age, and could only with difficulty be carried to the congregation in the arms of his disciples, and was unable to give utterance to many words, he used to say no more at their several meetings than this, „Little children, love one another.‟” The call to action, “love God,” and the commandment to “love one another,” form the rock solid foundation for John‟s sphere of influence. Moreover, Irenaeus taught, “John the disciple of the Lord who reclined on his chest and himself published the Gospel at Ephesus.” While the Gospel in its present form may have undergone revision by later followers of John, the core material of the text is connected to the son of Zebedee and was likely published and circulated first from Ephesus.

Pope John Paul II declared, “Whoever meets Jesus meets Judaism” (April 28, 1980). The Hebrew Heritage Bible Translation of the Gospel of John brings out the Hebrew mind-set and the Jewish cultural expressions deeply embedded in the story of Jesus‟ life and teachings. Some translations try to be very literal, like the New America Standard Version. Other translations seek to be more readable with a dynamic equivalency like the New International Version. This is the Gospel of John as you have never read it before, because it is a translation seeking a Hebrew literal dynamic equivalency, going from the Greek text into Hebrew linguistics and culture, and coming back into modern English. Many translations claim to give the reader a modern, easy to understand, up to date, English translation for current and relevant usage. Unlike them, this translation gives the ancient meaning. It seeks the way a Hebrew disciple would have understood and applied the message. Now the twenty-first century disciple can study the life of Yeshua more like a first century disciple. In fact, everyone who really wants to know better how first century Jewish people lived and thought, as well as how the movement connected with a Jew crucified by the Romans in a tiny province of the Mediterranean Sea gained a world-wide following, must read this translation. This is a must read to understand both the faith of Yeshua, as well as the faith in Jesus. Jesus was a Jew. He never changed religions. He was loyal to his people, committed to Torah in faith and practice, loved the land of Israel and all the peoples of the land, spoke Hebrew, but was impacted by the Greco-Roman culture and language, while always remaining true to the vision of the prophets of his own ancient faith tradition.

In the three earlier Gospels, a distinction is made between different Jewish groups, whether they be the disciples of Jesus, the Pharisees, or the Sadducees. In the fourth Gospel, however, the reader discovers a more general term, hoi youdaioi, or simply translated in some versions as, “the Jews.” This general designation, however, makes reference to many different types of Jewish people. In John 8, it refers to the disciples who believe in Jesus. In John 7, it refers to the people of Yehudah, that is Judeans, which is often the meaning of the term “the Jews” in its most basic definition in antiquity. Sadly, throughout much of church history, Christians have viewed the Jews in the Gospel of John as the enemies of Jesus. This has been a justification for anti-Semitism. The Christian faithful have sometimes placed guilt upon all Jewish people collectively for the crime of the crucifixion of Jesus. The fourth Gospel makes it clear that the Roman commander of a thousand came to arrest Jesus and took him into custody. This was a high level commander who was over a tenth of a Roman legion. Pilate, the Roman Governor, had Jesus tortured and then delivered him over to be crucified. Most Jewish people of the time were very much against the Romans crucifying Jews. The Sadducees and their leader, the High Priest Caiaphas, who received power, wealth and distinction by co-operating with Roman rule, were against Jesus. The Romans will persecute and stop Jewish messianic movements. There is a political reason behind the motive of Caiaphas. In addition, one of Jesus’ own close disciples, Judas, betrayed him. But the majority of Jewish people were more sympathetic with Jesus and his fate. In fact, the Gospel of John speaks about divisions within the Jewish people, many of whom came to believe.

Rudolph Bultmann discerned a source of miraculous signs in the Gospel of John. He believed that this source was related closely to Gnosticism. Bultmann saw Jesus as the “authentic revealer.” C.H. Dodd leveled convincing criticism against Bultmann’s claims to Gnostic sources. Gnosticism taught salvation through revelation knowledge, often with a sharp dualistic view of the world. Jesus, however, related the new birth to the work of the Spirit, which is like the wind, not to be controlled and unpredictable: “The wind blows where it wills, and even though you hear the sound of it, you do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (3:8). The word for Spirit, ruach in Hebrew, is the same as the word for wind. In the Talmud, the person from a non - Jewish background, who chooses the one true God by faith and commits to live as a Jewish believer, is said to be born again like a newborn child.

Seven miraculous signs lead down the path to the cross. The seventh sign, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, creates conflict. Quite unusual, Imperial Rome is mentioned: “At that, the chief priests and the spiritual leaders gathered together for a meeting, and were saying, „What are we going to do? Certainly this man is performing many miraculous signs. If we leave Him alone to keep this up, all people will come to believe in Him! As a result, moreover, the Romans will take action and destroy both our place and our nation‟” (John 11:47,48). Gospel writers seem to avoid direct mention of Rome because of persecution. The growth and expansion of the faith in the Roman empire has no chance if the early documents of belief speak negatively of the ruling powers. In spite of all that, the fourth Gospel expresses the fears of the Sadducees, namely that the Romans will respond to a messianic movement within the Jewish community. All people will come to believe because of the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and then the Roman soldiers will react by destroying the Temple and will crush any messianic hope violently with the sword. Here are the seven signs of the Gospel of John. Yeshua:

The Gospel of John also answers the question, “Who is Yeshua?” He is referred to as the “Word” [logos in Greek, Hebrew equivalent, meamar] (1:14). He is called the “lamb of God” by John the Baptist (1:29, 36). He is given messianic references, “Messiah” (1:41), “Son of God” (1:49), the “King of Yisrael” (1:49), the “Savior of the people of the world” (4:42), and in a climactic drama following the resurrection, the one who doubted, Thomas, proclaims, “My Lord and my God” (20:28). While the first three Gospels are more biographical, the Gospel of John is much more theological. The Last Supper in the earlier Gospels is a Passover meal. In John‟s Gospel, chapter 13 describes a fellowship meal when Yeshua washes the feet of his disciples. Jesus is being crucified at the time that the Passover lambs are being offered in the Temple sacrifice. This contradiction and its significance is often debated. Quite probably, the best explanation is that Passover was celebrated on more than one night because of the different groups of Jewish people in Jerusalem. Jesus ate Passover with his followers according to the calendar of the Pharisees, while the Gospel of John describes the Passover of the Sadducees. At least, Jesus seems to be nearer to the teachings and the theology of the Pharisees than any other group.

Although the Gospel of John was originally written in Greek, Jewish thought and Hebrew linguistics give insight and meaning to the text. Philip Schaff observed, “He [John] writes pure Greek as far as words and grammar are concerned, but he thinks in Hebrew; the Greek is, as it were, only the thin, transparent veil over the face” (Companion, p. 67). The veil over the face can be lifted to understand the Greek more clearly. Hebrew culture and linguistics provide many insights. Observe the difference in three texts, comparing the authorized version with the Hebrew Heritage Bible Translation. A translation is more than a mindless, literal copying of words from one language to another. Every translation involves interpretation.
“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17, KJV). “For as Torah was revealed through Moshe, grace and truth were intensified more fully through Yeshua the Anointed One” (John 1:17, Hebrew Heritage Bible).

The Gospel Research Foundation (GRF) is dedicated to the scholarly exploration and spiritual restoration of the Jesus' Jewish roots. GRF seeks to interpret properly the teachings of Jesus in their authentic Jewish context giving fresh vitality to Christian experience. GRF works to place the best scholarship in the service of people who want to learn about Christianity’s Jewish heritage. GRF also promotes interfaith understanding between Christians and Jews through mutual respect and appreciation.