The early Gospels were not available in the Canon we have today during the first century. Each Gospel writer crafted their narrative for a specific audience, much like tracts, meant to be read individually. This is particularly evident in the Gospel of John, the last of the Gospels to be written. John’s Gospel was intended by John to stand alone. It is clear that John believed he was providing all the necessary information for one to achieve eternal life through faith in Christ, as indicated in passages like John 20:30-31:

“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

What is Left Unsaid in John’s Gospel:

Interestingly, John’s Gospel omits significant/sacraments found in the other Gospels—namely, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Neither of these is explicitly or implicitly taught in his Gospel.

Even if it was implicit in some passages, it was far too vague for readers of John’s day to understand. For instance, the reference to being ‘born of water and the Spirit’ in John 3 is ambiguous and not explicitly linked to baptism.

Furthermore, despite detailing an extensive Upper Room discourse from chapters 14 to 17 (the longest of all the Gospels), John does not mention the Lord’s Supper. If it was essential for salvation, this seems to be quite a mishap by the Gospel writer.

Nor can the necessity of the Lord’s table be explicitly inferred from John 6, where Christ tells his disciples that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. Even an implicit reference to the Lord’s Supper/Eucharist/the Mass is hardly evident.

However, let’s say I give it to you that these sacraments are referred to in John 3 and 6, would their oblique inclusion really mean that they are meant to be understood as salvific?

Imagine yourself in the era of Christ, encountering these stories for the first time. Could you honestly conclude that the doctrines of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, particularly as practiced today across various traditions, are essential from the ambiguous references in these passages? A straightforward assessment would likely answer no. This suggests that John did not regard these practices as critical for understanding or achieving salvation.


These omissions are critical: they suggest that John did not consider these acts essential for salvation. Instead, the consistent theme across his narrative is that belief in Christ is the sole requirement for eternal life. This perspective aligns with the Gospel’s purpose and suggests that the early Gospel readers, encountering these texts separately, would understand salvation as accessible through faith alone.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

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