What did Jesus actually say?

Christians have always assumed that the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of John were really spoken by him (in Aramaic of course, not English). Leading and highly respected reference works (authored mainly by Christian scholars) have for a long time thought otherwise, for good historical reasons.

Here is a short quote from the prestigious Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church on the ‘Gospel of St John’. After comparing the Gospel of John (‘the Fourth Gospel’) with the so-called synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) the article continues,

What liberties the author of the Fourth Gospel has taken in rewriting the traditions he received is disputed, but there is general agreement that he is largely responsible for their shape and wording.

So the experts ‘generally agree’ that the famous sayings of Jesus such as,

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.

I am the Light of the World

..the wording and form of these sayings comes from the mind of John – not of Jesus. Christians tend not to know this and assume, wrongly, that these sayings as they are reported in John are the authentic words of Jesus.

Who can fathom what Jesus really said?




Categories: Gospels, New Testament scholarship

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5 replies

  1. Here comes Ken claiming that the authors of the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church are all “liberal scholars with weak faith”

  2. Solid, scholarly defense of the Gospel according John – J. B. Lightfoot, Westcott, Leon Morris, Andreas Kostenberger, R. C. H. Lenski, William Hendrickson:


  3. More defense of the Gospel according to John:

    “Some important references are: the early church father Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons (ca. A. D. 140-ca. 210), who was himself a disciple of Polycarp (ca. A.D. 70-ca. 155-160) and Polycarp, in turn, a disciple of the Apostle John, testifies on Polycarp’s authority that John published the Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia Minor when he was advanced in age (e.g. Against Heresies 2.22.5; 3.1.1.).

    After Irenaeus, all the church fathers assumed John to be the Gospel’s author. Clement of Alexandria (ca. A.D. 150-ca. 215) writes that John, aware of the facts set forth in the other Gospels and being moved by the Holy Spirit, composed a “spiritual gospel” (see Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History 6.14.7).

    In his Against Heresies (3.1.2) Irenaeus expressly says, “John the disciple of the Lord, who leaned on Jesus’ breast, published the Gospel while he was resident at Ephesus in Asia.””

    see here:

  4. Personally, I think Peter and some of the other disciples also contributed to the Gospel according to John, and the apostle John put it all together to record his gospel.

    Mark recorded the “action oriented sermons” from Peter’s memory; but John also includes Peter’s eyewitness testimony to the more private historical events of Jesus’ life with the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples, and events around Jerusalem; whereas the 3 synoptics focus on Galilean ministry in the north, while not totally ignoring events around Jerusalem – especially the trials, crucifixion, empty tomb, and resurrection appearances.

    John 14:26

    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 said to you.

    John 16:12-14

    12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
    13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
    14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.

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