Click here, John 20:19-31, for an easy to print or email Adobe PDF version.
To begin with the end ...
Verses 30-31 (NRSV) state the purpose for which John has written this Gospel.
Note the direct address to YOU, the reader.
But these are written so that YOU ...
John is not writing an abstract treatise for whoever may happen to come upon it. He is writing with a very specific audience in mind. Namely, those second and third generation believers who are under-going severe persecution at the hands of the current Roman Emperor. (And, now, also to you and me.)
Malina & Rohrbaugh make two points about the English NRSV translation. (See footnote below.)
The first is that "believe" in John is better translated as "believe into." In John, "believe" does NOT mean "hold an opinion about." "Believe" means "trust," "bond with," "be loyal to." Think, "I am the vine and you are the branches." That is what "believe" means.
The second is that in this context, "may come to believe" and "may come to have life" could also be translated as: "may continue to believe" and "may continue to have life."
In either case, it is important to note that "believe" is not the end product. The crucial thing is that:
through believing, you may have life in his name.
That is, the questions we must be asking ourselves as we consider the various signs that John has chosen to write down for us are:
How does this help me to have life?
And not just any old sort of life, but the life that is in Jesus - in his name?