Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “certify” as “to attest as being true or as represented or as meeting a standard.”
My youngest son is completing his Associate’s degree at our local community college. He started this process several years ago but let life distract him. Now, however, he has realized that an education is valuable. To begin his Bachelor’s degree, he needed his transcript certifying the classes he’d completed and the associated grades. He also required that piece of paper certifying he had completed his Associate’s degree.
At the close of the book of St. John, we find a “certification.” We discover this in John 21:24, which states: This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. The commentary in the “Reformation Study Bible” for this verse states: “we know”: This is the certification of a contemporary who was in a position to know John personally. Therefore, the whole Gospel, including ch. 21, was accepted immediately by the early church.
This certification is somewhat exceptional in Scripture. Long before the synods and canonization of the books of the Bible, we see here a formal attestation that the Book of John is from the Apostle John and the contents are accurate.
Why is this important? Let’s do a brief review of what the Apostle John, as guided by the Holy Spirit, declared:
- God became flesh and blood. (John 1:1, 1:14)
- That flesh and blood “is” Jesus, the promised Messiah, the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God. (John 1:14, Luke 1:31-32)
- The truthfulness of Christ’s claims recorded in the book of John is certified by the words of Jesus, by the testimony of God the Father, by the miracles Jesus performed, by Christ’s enemies, associates, disciples, and apostles, as well as the inerrancy of the life of Jesus exactly matching the prophecies regarding the Messiah – most notably the details of His death, and by the testimony of many that saw Jesus after His resurrection. (John 14:9, John 10:38, John 11:5)
- The truth of the Trinity of God is affirmed in John’s accounts of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, each within the context of God (ex. “my Lord and by God” Jn. 20:28)
- The purpose John’s account is summed up in John 20:30-31, which states: “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
So, within the book of St. John we have:
- Our promise of God’s abiding presence in this life
- Our salvation from the just punishment for our sins
- Our hope of our resurrection
- Our education as to how to live as a citizen of the kingdom of God
- Our promise of Jesus, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit abiding within us
- Our peace from the love of God for us
These are all declared by the Holy Spirit via the Apostle John, and certified as accurate by people that said, “we know”. Now that is good news!