Skip to content

“The World” as Character in the Gospel of John (Conclusion)

August 18, 2011


In the previous eight posts I have been systematically discussing the role “the world” (Greek: kosmos) plays as a character in the Fourth Gospel. I have examined a number of specific texts, against the backdrop of several concerns expressed by other scholars. We have arrived at a few conclusions. The Johannine Jesus is from above. The Johannine kosmos consists of both the realm and the people down below. This simple positional contrast is symbolic of the greater divide that exists between Jesus and the world (as character) in John’s Gospel. The two are at odds, but only insofar as the world conspires to bring this about. As the one who comes from above, Jesus has set off on a mission to make God known to humanity. He is both the creator and savior of the world. Like a wayward child, the world will ultimately reject its creator and destroy its savior. The world’s rejection of Jesus amounts to a rejection of the Father who sent him, and by extension, the coming Paraclete as well as Jesus’ followers. Thus, as a character in the Fourth Gospel, the world represents the human forces that stand in opposition to Jesus, and in this way, functions even if surreptitiously, as the story’s primary antagonist. As a character, the world carries the promise of great things but consistently betrays that promise for a darkened perspective that opposes rather than celebrates the plan and people of God.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: