Did The author of the Gospel of John take liberties in changing or adding the words of historical Jesus?

Did the author of the Gospel of John take liberties in changing or adding the words of the historical of Jesus?

A lot of Jesus’ teachings and identity are not fluid with the synoptics.
For example : Jesus is secret in his identity in the synoptics

Mark 8:29-30 MEV
'He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered Him, “You are the Christ.” He warned them that they should tell no one about Him. Matt:16:20, Lk:9:21

Another is Matthew 21:23-27
In other passages Jesus is not direct about his Identity but rather secret in revealing it in his sayings?

Jesus’ preaching his divinity in John are not secret like in the synoptics.

such a John 6:22-59 (35) (I am the Bread of Life), 8:12-39 (12,58) (I AM )

Did Jesus really say those things he proclaim or were they added by the author? (This is coming from a brother in Christ who is faithful to the Lord, but he’s struggling and doubting that Jesus said those things in gospel of John because that doesn’t seem like His character in the line of synoptics Gospels.

There was a couple of articles I read and here is one of the them

  • If Jesus said things like “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” or “I am the Vine and you are the branches,” or "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, the whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life

," we would expect this kind of language to show up all over our sources " *

In the Synoptics there is no account recorded in those passages. why is this?

Another thing may help what I’m talking about is like Bart D. Ehrman criticisms on this subject.


I suppose a basic answer would be these are eye-witness accounts (except for Mark who put together ‘an orderly account’ probably from the Apostle Peter)… if, for example, a police officer gets eye-witness statements that are completely identical, would they suspect collusion? a slightly different angle and perspective on Jesus life is to be expected.

The other thing is you have to ask who the 4 authors were writing to. The different authors were writing to a different audience and shared information that was relevant to them. for example, you might ask why was there no genealogies in Mark and John.

Matthew presents Jesus as the Messiah, the coming King. Jesus’ genealogy is recorded from Abraham to Joseph, making Jesus a legal heir to the throne of David.

Mark presents Jesus as the Suffering Servant, prophesied in Isaiah. There is no genealogy provided because a slave’s genealogy was insignificant and not worthy of being recorded.

Luke presents Jesus as the Son of Man, a messianic title from the prophecy of Daniel. Luke presents Jesus as 100% man, a son of David. The genealogy begins with Joseph, as the husband of Mary, and traces Jesus’ ancestry through Mary’s bloodline all the way back to the first man, Adam.

John presents Jesus as the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. Jesus’ genealogy is recorded as the eternal God, co-existant with God the Father from everlasting.


also have you seen the resource put together by Biblical scholars to response to Ehrman? in particular there is a section on the Gospels.

in particular:

in reference to your question about why Jesus wanted to operate in secret; this may be of interest…


@Jeremybrosch I love that you are diving in!

@matthew.western has offered you a nice chunk of resources to chew, so I will not offer further ones at this time. I just want to offer a few thoughts for perspective.

First, it is important not to be intimidated by credentials. Dr. Luke commended the Berean Jews for checking the Scriptures to make sure that the Apostle Paul was on the up-and-up (Acts 17:11). Learning does not equal wisdom.

Second, we, who live two thousand years after the fact, should have the humility to admit that we know a lot less about Jesus than his contemporaries. We also need to admit that our culture did not govern theirs and, therefore, should not govern how we interpret their writings beyond basic principles of integrity and common sense. To expect them to meet twenty-first century, Western standards of scholarly documentation is silly. It is arrogant and condescending of us to “credit” ancient writers with good intentions if what they write is a lie. John proclaims that he wrote eyewitness testimony, including his own (John 20:30-31; 21:20-25; 1 John 1:1-4). To say that what he wrote did not happen is to say that he wrote a lie and gives him no credit at all.

Third, experts tend to lose the forest for the trees. How many different species of trees inhabit a given forest? How many different styles do we see among writers? If Dr. So-And-So were to tell you that a pine tree is not a tree because it has needles, not leaves, would you give his opinion much weight?

Textual criticism has its uses. We should credit this field for great advances in translation and interpretation not only of the Bible, but of other ancient texts. There is a point, however, at which the critic becomes like a sea-captain on land. On what logical basis does one conclude that Jesus could not have said something just because three out of the four gospels does not have that statement in it? How many things are not recorded from the three years of his ministry in which he interacted with tens of thousands of people? How does someone presume to know that Jesus did not say something two millennia after the fact, just because three out of four documents do not have it? On what basis does anyone second-guess the testimony of someone who claimed to be an eyewitness?

I have found that when I start being influenced by people like Prof. Ehrman, that is the time when I need to read the Bible for myself and take a look at the forest. The Bible has a way of speaking for itself. Let God speak to you.


Hey @Jer , good question there. Just wanted to say Jesus told the disciples that it is not time yet on multiple occasions. He came to fulfill the Old Testament and he had a plan and knew it is going to end with his death. You remember how after feeding the 5000 they wanted him to be their king and he had to flee from there. Jesus brought an upside down kingdom. He wanted to teach us that the Messiah was not some military leader that came to wipe out Rome but a God who wants to change the evil of our hearts that is found in man. So he didnt want them just believing. He didnt do miracles just for the show. He did it out of compassion for the ones suffering but there were many that stuck on and wanted to promote their ideology. He didnt do miracles when they asked him for miracles because he didn’t want that to distract them from his main message. God’s thoughts are above ours. It’s always good as a Christian to first think why did a certain thing happen in such a way than to say they must have lied or it is incorrect. Let the Holy Spirit continue to reveal to us. :pray:t5: Keep up the good work.

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Hello @Jeremybrosch, just to add on to all the wonderful responses the other gospels also have Jesus publicly claiming to be God. Here are some examples with a bit of commentary from Constable Notes and the site Cross Examined.

Mark 12:35-37
35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he said, “How is it that the experts in the law say that the Christ is David’s son? 36 David himself, by the Holy Spirit, said, ‘The Lord said to my lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ 37 If David himself calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” And the large crowd was listening to him with delight.

It was a common belief in Judaism that Messiah would be David’s son in that he would come from the lineage of David. On this point, the Pharisees agreed and were correct. But their understanding was nonetheless incomplete, for Messiah is also David’s Lord. With this statement, Jesus was affirming that, as the Messiah, he is both God and man.

-Luke 24:52 Jesus receives worship and doesn’t stop anyone.
-Matthew 14:33 Jesus receives worship and again doesn’t stop them.

He claimed to be able to forgive sins, which only God could do: “And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 ‘Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” (Mark 2:5-7)

In the baptismal formula he gave at the Great Commission, he claimed equality with the Father and Spirit: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)

You see when it comes to the subject of Jesus claiming to be God he did do it publically otherwise how can you explain him being crucified? If he only claimed to be God in secret then they couldn’t truly accuse him of blasphemy. I hope this along with the other answers helped you some.

God Bless :slight_smile: