10 Tips from David Ford for Reading, Praying & Living John’s Gospel

10 Tips from David Ford for Reading, Praying & Living John’s Gospel
Photo by Alex on Unsplash

I was grateful for three sessions on John’s Gospel from David Ford at @CarlisleDiocese Cumbria Ministry Development Day 2022.

Here’s 10 tips that I took away from Professor Ford on reading, praying & living John’s gospel:

  1. John talks in ‘waves’ – cumulative sentences that wash up on the beach like breakers, each one slowly building upon the other going higher up the beach.
  2. Try re-reading John’s prologue as a prelude of perspective every time you read any other section of the gospel.
  3. Translating the Greek verb pisteuo as ‘TRUST’ rather than ‘believe’ captures in contemporary language the sense of a relational response John intended.
  4. Prayerfully expect the abundance of life & grace-upon-grace that John often describes to be your experience as you read his gospel.
  5. John expects that his readers – as those who have “not seen” (20:29) – to read and to believe and so find life (20:30-31). The Word is present and active in these words.
  6. Underestimate the presence of the Old Testament in John at your peril! John has less quotations but is pervasively immersed in the Scriptures of Israel.
  7. People sometimes ask, ‘where is the church in John?’ Follow the beloved disciple, follow Mary, and see how they ‘remain’ in Christ, relating as a community formed at the foot of the cross.
  8. As a broad brushstroke structure, John gives you a big horizon of God-and-everything (prologue), then the drama of Jesus, his life and resurrection, then the on-going drama of ourselves as disciples living with the Spirit.
  9. Two key words: AS and SO. Throughout John, AS the Father does, SO the Son. This is crucial – and especially pivotal is 20:21 where we see our place in this. We are sent AS & SO.
  10. You can’t get far in John without bumping into God’s love. The Father loves. The Son loves. We’re called to be loved & to love. This is theologically profound & yet the nature of our hearts means that pastorally it can inevitably be difficult to accept.

I hope I’ve articulated these fairly to Prof. Ford, & all credit to him for these insights. For any unintended errors or misemphasis, my apologies!