The Gospel of John: When Love Comes to Town

When Love Comes to Town

Paul Louis Metzger;

The Resonate series recovers the ancient wisdom of Scripture and helps us understand how it resonates with our complex world. The stories and insights of each book of the Bible are brought into conversation with contemporary voices of hope and lament–the cultural messages we interact with on a daily basis. The Scriptures become a meeting ground where God speaks to the pressing concerns of our day, and we are confronted in turn with a fresh experience of God’s truth. In this journey through the Gospel of John, Paul Louis Metzger wrestles with the question of what happens when God, who is love, comes to town and takes up residence among us. For some this new neighbor love is welcome; for others, unusual; for still others, suspect–even dangerous. We learn from John’s Gospel what it means to be called friends and lovers of God, what it means to put love to death and what it means for love to rise again in our midst and in our lives.

Praise for The Gospel of John: When Love Comes to Town

“By taking seriously distinct voices from contemporary culture and bringing them into conversation with John’s Gospel, Paul Louis Metzger succeeds where so many fail, achieving relevance without sacrificing intellectual responsibility, and accessibility without sacrificing academic depth. Like all good conversations, this one brings new depth to our knowledge of the Other: not only does John cast its light on the needs of today’s world, but fresh insights into the Fourth Gospel are gleaned as it is read in the context of contemporary culture.” —Dr. Grant MacAskill, lecturer in New Testament studies, School of Divinity, University of St. Andrews

“I am reading Paul Metzger’s book and thinking of how ‘Love comes to town.’ It’s not a one-night-stand kind of affair. This Love is here and it’s here to stay. We know it’s the real thing, because it doesn’t begin demanding of us but understands and knows who we are, how we got to this place of readiness. When ‘Love comes to town,’ it captures us more than anything we’ve ever known before. We go willingly, and the scars and burdens drop from us. That’s what it’s like, in John’s Gospel, when Love comes to town.” —Lee Cantelon, music and film producer, and author of The Words (of Jesus)

“Paul Louis Metzger asks the questions that biblical scholars and contemporary readers pose concerning the Gospel of John and provides fresh, vivid explanation of the Gospel that is substantive in biblical insight and illuminating in contemporary application. Whether you’re perplexed by John’s Gospel or struggling to apply it to your life, this book deftly addresses both with a friendly, conversational style.” —Ed Cyzewski, author of Coffeehouse Theology (read the full review)

“The need for practitioners and theologians to come together to engage Scripture and its import in our lives has never been more apparent. The first of what promise to be many exciting volumes, The Gospel of John: When Love Comes to Town offers an exploration of the text that is accessible to the average reader without compromising the depth and complexity in the process. I cannot wait to see more!” —Jamie Arpin-Ricci, inner-city missionary (Youth With A Mission) and church planter

“The Gospel of John is simple enough for children to understand and yet so deep, the greatest scholars will never get to the bottom of it. In this new volume, Dr. Metzger focuses on Jesus’ encounters with ordinary people. How did they understand his message? How did they respond? The answer is often unexpected and always challenging.” —Brian Boys, contributing author, Holy Bible: Mosaic

“Paul Louis Metzger is one of the important biblical voices in our time. Here he guides us through one of the most significant biblical texts of all time. And it’s really readable to boot. What’s not to like?” —Alan Hirsch, author of The Forgotten Ways, Untamed and The Shaping of Things to Come (

“Dr. Metzger’s volume on the Gospel of John not only provides the gift of solid contextual exegesis, it also reveals how the gospel is continually springing to life in powerful, personal, surprising ways.” —Alex Davis, director of arts and communications, Imago Dei Community

“The love of Jesus compels us to serve without reservation and to protect from harm the ‘least of these,’ including, in my experience, terminally ill children with HIV/AIDS. That love propels us to a compassionate offering of grace and truth. I’m grateful for this powerful new volume by my dear friend Dr. Paul Metzger. May this book shower you with the love of Jesus, creating in you the desire to convey his love in fresh, bold and courageous ways.” —Susan K. Slonaker, founder of REACH Ministries

“InterVarsity Press is to be congratulated in sustaining and expanding their three series of Bible commentaries now into a fourth venture, called Resonate. Promoting biblical theology has been their consistent purpose. Dr. Metzger, the series coeditor of these new Resonate commentaries, ‘vibrates’ a thematic approach to John’s Gospel, with contemporary culture, to effectively open ‘the strange world’ of John’s profound Gospel to the modern reader, whether already versed in Scripture or not. Metzger’s able scholarship and passionate evangelism conjoin to reach both the heart and mind of the reader. Its unique genre is controlled by the trinitarian mystery of God, in producing a reliable yet stimulating introduction to John’s Gospel that many of us will want to share with our youth, Christian or non-Christian alike.” —James M. Houston, founding principal and Emeritus Professor of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, Vancouver

“Paul Metzger’s exposition of John’s Gospel is the ideal resource for students or those who want to take a step deeper into the Gospel beyond reading the Bible itself. Easy to read, filled with popular examples, and accurate on cultural and historical detail, Metzger has offered a practical and beneficial tool for believers in the modern church.” —Gary M. Burge, professor of New Testament, Wheaton College

“Here is a lively, modern mind colliding with a divine, ancient text. We know what a commentary is, and this book is not one (though it does explain and expound the text of John like conventional commentaries). We know what a sermon is, and this book is not one (though it does apply the Word of God to our lives and our culture like good sermons do). Nor is it a commentary with sermons spliced in; give up trying to fit it into existing categories. Metzger’s take on John, as the initial offering in the Resonate series, is a genre-defying performance that provokes, interrogates and ponders, and invites the reader to join in the process.” —Fred Sanders, associate professor of theology, Torrey Honors Institute, Biola University

“Thank God! A charmingly written, culturally engaged, theologically informed and spiritually captivating book. This spiritual commentary on John’s Gospel is for those who don’t just want to know about the meaning of the text, but who want to encounter afresh the triune God to which it bears witness. Metzger draws readers in and opens up the text–but not so that we see only the text, but so that we see through the text to God, so that God speaks through the text to us. Theology for the church to the glory of God!” —Robin Parry, author of Worshipping Trinity and Lamentations (The Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary)

“In this book, Paul Louis Metzger has provided a fresh and yet profound look at one of the most beloved accounts of Jesus’ time on earth. Metzger has rendered the oftentimes mysterious words of Jesus in the Gospel of John into a structured set of essays that explain and instruct just as the Savior intended. As he does this, he paints a very different picture of what it means to follow Jesus, the real Jesus–the One who ‘comes to town,’ looking for his to love.” —Seda Mansour, Stanford University

“Interpreting the Bible is the task of every Christian, and most of us get lost somewhere between what it meant then and what it means now. Both are necessary if our understanding of the text and our living out the text is to have any integrity. Dr. Paul Louis Metzger’s Resonate volume on the Gospel of John helps us bridge this divide, taking us back to John’s original meaning–and walking us forward to today so that we might live and be the light this dark world so desperately needs.” —Brett C. Blair, founder of and

“This combination of pop culture, social critique and serious evangelical theology would probably become a discordant mess in less skilled hands. But Paul Louis Metzger blends them into a highly readable harmony in this thought- and heart-provoking book.” —Tom KrattenmakerUSA Today board of contributors, and author of Onward Christian Athletes

“Paul Louis Metzger is that rare breed: a theologian who feels the pulse of culture and hears God’s heartbeat in Scripture with equal insight. He’s brought that considerable talent to bear on John’s Gospel, and the result is a delight for those who’ve never read it and those who already think they have.” —Steven Mitchell, communications director, Beaverton Foursquare Church

“Dr. Metzger is a master weaver intertwining the love story of the Scriptures with the stories of life, past and present, so that we might ‘see God’ and be inspired to follow him with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. He brings salient and succulent pieces of yarn from the Gospel of John, John Steinbeck, John Perkins and others, and invites us to clothe ourselves in the beauty of God’s tapestry that we in turn might beckon and clothe others.” —Michael Tso, M.D., director of training, His Mansion Ministries

“We have theologians, we have cultural critics, and we have biblical exegetes, but it is difficult to find people who aim to blend the three together in a lively and faithful way. Paul Louis Metzger is such a person, and in this new series he aspires to gather folks who share these passions, aiming to make it ever more clear how the Gospel illuminates the world in which we live. This series ably attempts to keep the ‘two horizons’ always in view: one looking to the ancient text, and the other looking to our day in which we read and apply the text. This is no easy task, and the landmines are many. But Metzger is worth listening to as he carefully yet freshly seeks to chart a path that blends together the story of redemption and cultural engagement, all the while writing in a very accessible manner. May Metzger’s book and this whole series help us all to do just that.” —Kelly M. Kapic, professor of theological studies, Covenant College

The Gospel of John: When Love Comes to Town, Paul Louis Metzger’s excellent contribution to the Resonate series, balances historical background of John’s Gospel with striking contemporary cultural references that illuminate the intent of the Gospel in vivid, fresh outline. But the true feast in the book is the way Paul unpacks and makes real the impact of Jesus’ Word-in-the-flesh incarnation as it unfolds in the narrative and, correspondingly, in the life of the responsive reader. I strongly recommend this book for individual study, personal meditation and for group Bible studies.” —Bill Griffin, Ph.D., assistant professor of ministry and bible, Simpson University, and assistant professor of Old Testament, A.W. Tozer Seminary

“We have plenty of wonderful academic commentaries out there, and they are extremely needed. But Resonate is showing the raw, honest, wrestling, joyful, struggling, questioning, helpful ways that biblical truths move from the ancient text into the reality of our day-to-day living in the culture that we’re in.” —Dan Kimball, founding pastor, Vintage Faith

“…this book is a strong reminder that the Gospel of Jesus is real. Through simple language, focused themes, helpfully organized sections, stories, and relatable teachings Dr. Metzger finds a way to bring conviction and the call to repentance to the front of the reader’s heart… The theology is sound. The exegesis is easy to follow. The Gospel of John remains intact. The questions about how the Bible connects to our lives in 2012 are answered. Whether you’re a stay at home parent who goes to church on Sundays, a teenage skeptic who hates Christians, a former church member who is now ‘just spiritual’, or a full time seminary professor and pastor, this book will be a benefit to you. I’m relieved to have it on my shelf. I encourage you to not only put it on your shelf as well but to put your nose between its pages.” —Travis Blakenship (read the full review at Amazon)

“When I first picked up the book and thumbed through it, I thought, ‘Oh no! Another verbose commentary—dry, dull, and filled with deplorable writing.’ To my surprise, Metzger avoided these pitfalls. His thematic commentary was engaging, lively, and accessible but not colloquial. At times, Metzger seemed repetitive, but the repetition was not the type that puts you to sleep; it was the type that makes you realize you’re exploring a deep truth and you need to revisit it again and again, from a variety of angles, to begin to grasp it… This book is not only deep, it is also versatile, in that you can move from the biblical text, to a cultural icon, to a theological debate, to a piercing personal challenge, all in the span of a couple paragraphs. I highly recommend this book to anyone high school age or above; and I look forward to reading future volumes in the Resonate Series.” —Omer D. (read the full review at Amazon)

“I thoroughly enjoyed thinking about and connecting to God through Paul Louis Metzger’s When Love Comes to Town… I liken this book to an iPad. The book has a great operating system (the book of John) and is filled with thoughtful and very user friendly applications (references to popular culture) that help the reader experience the system. Bravo to Paul for his good work of helping us experience Jesus and his incarnation in a fresh way.” —John Teter (read the full review at Amazon)

“For a pastor (like me), this commentary is really exciting. I can use it in my study of the Gospel of John, since it delves into the biblical and theological themes of John. I can also recommend it to anyone attending church with me, since it makes itself accessible in culturally relevant ways to the non-scholar, who just wants to know Jesus better. Highly recommended!” —Daniel R. Franklin (read the full review at Amazon)

“…This book far exceeded my previous expectations and will have to be listed as one of the top 10 commentaries on John that I have read up-to-date. I will no doubt be recommending it to all my friends… If you are simply studying John this book will help you make those connections you need for practical application. If you are planning on teaching John I urge you get this book because I think you will find it to be invaluable in your own preparation.” —J.B. Hughes (read the full review at Amazon)

“It’s unique to be able to read a commentary like a book. Most commentaries are not written in an essay style. Don’t be surprised if this becomes a forerunner for others, and that’s not bad. There are plenty of formal commentaries, with more being written all the time. There is a real need for making scholarly learning accessible and relevant to Christians outside the academic community without compromising the truth of Scripture. The author succeeds admirably… This is a wonderful supplement to more formal commentaries. It’s not just something new and fresh; it’s a worthy addition to the growing body of scriptural exegesis. It’s an excellent resource for relating timeless truths to today’s world.” —Michael Dalton (read the full review at Amazon)

“Once again Dr. Paul Louis Metzger amazes the literary and theological world. This time, through Metzger’s tantalizing style and theological prowess, we are exposed to the “Word of life,” the very “self-expression of God,” Jesus Christ, who is the fullness of God’s love that comes to town. Metzger’s latest book, The Gospel of John: When Love Comes to Town is a must read for all who follow Jesus and all who wonder what all the hype about Jesus really is. The importance of this book is due to its ability to transcend the halls of the academy, penetrate the doors of the Church, and break down the walls of societal misunderstanding. When Love Comes to Town is a book worthy of the classroom for instruction, the church for devotion, and for anyone who has ever wondered what it means to be a player in this drama called life.” —Matthew S. Farlow (read the full review at Amazon)

“This emphasis on the whole of John makes the book real unique.  It meets the goal of explaining the Biblical text to a curious, but unChristian world.  I applaud what is a desperately needed vision… Books like this are needed as teachers and pastors seek to translate the Biblical message to a culture grappling with faith.  In times such as ours, the message isn’t about convincing, but placing the timeless Gospel story into a narrative framework that is contemporary.  Paul Metzger doesn’t change the message of Jesus, but he places it at a place where it can change us.” —Chad D. Brooks (read the full review at Outside is Better)

“This commentary drew me into the dust and heat of conflict while at the same time inviting me to follow Jesus away from the poppy field lure of a comfort-seeking life. Metzger blends voices and references from contemporary culture (Will Ferrell!) with the words of scholars like D.A. Carson and Craig Keener, all with a single goal – to help each one of us move off the La-Z-Boy and into the way of Jesus. Highly recommended.” —Michelle Van Loon (read the full review at Pilgrim’s Road Trip)

“Overall, I think the author and series editor have accomplished something unique in the world of commentaries. As someone who swears by tried-and-true, dusty old commentary volumes, the “Resonate Series” is a welcome addition to my growing library of theological resources.  My hope is that the general consumer will accept the honest challenge of loving God with heart, soul, and mind, as this series really requires all three.” —Calvin Moore (read the full review at The Christian Manifesto)

“There are plenty of commentaries on John available, but what I yearned for in my own preaching were books that would help me connect the text to the lives of the people in the pew, and that’s what the Resonate Series seems to do. This is the first commentary in the series that has crossed my desk, but I’m definitely looking forward to more!” —Brandon A. Cox (read the full review at Brandon’s blog)

“The new Resonate Series published by InterVarsity Press is a new type of commentary that seeks to meet the desperate need for Scripture to be applicable and accessible within the 21st century global context. The series acknowledges the distinction between “biblical sense” and “cultural significance” while integrating both considerations through biblical scholarship and theological reflection. Resonate adopts a well researched exegetical approach to the Biblical texts and the inclusion of familiar cultural anecdotes that bring the passages to life. Paul Louis Metzger is the executive editor of the series and the author of the first book published: The Gospel of John: When Love Comes to Town. The commentaries, as reflected in The Gospel of John, seek to provoke people out of spiritual complacency by providing a stimulating alternative that bear witness to the work of God and his people through the written word, compelling stories, and relevance to the broader cultural context.” —Mae Cannon (read the full review at Amazon)

“When Loves Comes to Town has a bit more punch than your traditional exegetical resource. And any gospel commentary that takes a song from Rattle & Hum—a duet between Bono and B.B. King—has got to be great!  Resonate.  Indeed.  It deserves a special commendation of one of the best ideas in the Christian publishing world of 2010. ” —Hearts and Minds Bookstore, Best Books of 2010 (read the full review at Hearts and Minds’ website)

“Refreshing way to look at the Bible. So many ‘commentaries’ are completely rational in their approach and stick with the straightforward approach of unpacking the meaning of the Biblical text. This series is unlike other commentaries and engages the current context of our world. Wonderful to have someone talk about the Bible and also pay attention to culture—not just ancient culture but our own contemporary culture. This kind of commentary is long overdue.” —Andrew (reviewed at GoodReads)

“Metzger is right to demand that our present context be part of our interpretive matrix—a contributing and voting member of the exegetical committee. This focus allows a richly theological gospel like the Gospel of John to speak more directly into our personal lives and world.” —Edward W. Klink III (read the full review at The Gospel Coalition’s ‘Themelios’)


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