John 21: Choosing Details
Posted by Zak Schmoll
For our final day in the gospel of John, I want to focus on the final two verses of chapter 21.
Joh 21:24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
Joh 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
I think this is a very important point to remember that John did not write down everything that Jesus did. To be fair, what biographer does? It seems to me that it is important to remember that as the author, John made the editorial decisions of what to include under the direction of the Holy Spirit. I don’t believe that John ever mentioned what Jesus had for breakfast on any day, but it seems reasonable that Jesus would have done that from time to time. I know that is kind of a funny example, but this is important to remember when we evaluate the Gospels. Just because John does not mention it does not mean that it never happened. He made choices about what facts were simply not very important.
Each author would have had a slightly different perspective on the events. They might have chosen to emphasize different events for different reasons. Certain details might have seemed particularly important to John, but they might not have seemed as important to the other writers.
That is okay. In fact, if all four Gospels were 100% identical, we would think that they were copies of each other. The fact that there are different emphases supports the fact that there were different writers. Naturally, four different people might have slightly different understandings of what happened, and that is what we get when we look at the Gospels. Some people will complain about contradictions, but these contradictions are generally speaking not theologically significant and often times easily reconcilable by looking at context.
As John said, there was no way to write everything Jesus ever did or said, but there is a reason why John chose to write what he did when he was divinely inspired.