Solitude in a Multitude: An Intercultural Reading of John 5:1-47


The idea of the church as a family of God is present in the practices of Ghanaian Mega Churches. Consequently, various structures have been established to promote that agenda. However, like the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:5-9), members of these churches feel isolated in the crowd. Even though the congregants belong to multitudinous Christian communities ― often captured in national mass media, donating to people outside the walls of their churches ― they do not experience the love and care they expect from their churches, especially in challenging times. Against this background, the research analyses John 5:1-47 in order to examine the problem of ‘solitude in the multitude’ present in the text, and the solutions offered to the Johannine community. Furthermore, it examines the relevance of these remedies to the Ghanaian Mega Churches. The research follows the Intercultural Reading approach proposed by Loba Mkole. The scholar describes Intercultural exegesis as an engagement between a bible culture and an interpreter’s culture. To read the text interculturally, the communicative approach theorized by Ossom-Batsa was employed as theoretical framework. The Ghanaian scholar proposes a three steps method: adherence to the text; attention to the call of action and engagement between the text and the interpreter’s context. The narrative criticism proposed by Daniel Marguerat and Bourquin is applied to reach an informed understanding of the text (first step) and to discover its call to action (second step). Primary and secondary sources were used to ‘exegete’ the interpreter’s context, constituted by three Ghanaian contemporary mega-churches: A.C.I, L.C.I, and I.C.G.C. From the engagement between text and context, the study establishes that the problem of isolation is present in communities where people forget their original call to be ‘humans,’ image and likeness of God (cfr. Gen 1:27). To be ‘human’ is to feel the pain of ‘the brother’ and to feel responsible to remedy the situation. Furthermore, the analysis reveals that there cannot be such a society unless that human community is modelled after the divine community. In fact, studying the fourth gospel with the lens of community, it becomes evident that the role of the human community is to reflect the divine community. As a result, attributes characteristic of the relationship between the Father and the Logos (1:1-2), namely, trust (3:35), love (13:34; 15:20), cooperation (5:20), life giving (3:16; 5:8; 11;38-44), etc. must become operative in the community of the disciples, a community called by God to be testimony and ‘conduit’ of the divine Life. The study ends with recommendations concerning further research on the concept of the ‘family of God’ in the fourth gospel and its significance for Ghanaian Mega Churches. It further recommends that Mega Churches in Ghana should replicate the ‘divine community’ on earth by being ‘person centred’ and exhibiting the attributes, characteristic of the relationship between the Eternal Distinctions. Leaders of Ghanaian Mega Churches, therefore, should follow Jesus’ pastoral approach (5:5-9), ‘knowing’ their members (10:4-5.14), ‘seeing’ the debilitating circumstances that confront them (9:1; 11:36; 19:26), and ‘addressing’ them (9:6-7).

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GHARBIN, G (2021). Solitude in a Multitude: An Intercultural Reading of John 5:1-47. Afribary. Retrieved from

MLA 8th

GHARBIN, GODIBERT "Solitude in a Multitude: An Intercultural Reading of John 5:1-47" Afribary. Afribary, 11 Apr. 2021, Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.


GHARBIN, GODIBERT . "Solitude in a Multitude: An Intercultural Reading of John 5:1-47". Afribary, Afribary, 11 Apr. 2021. Web. 21 Jul. 2024. < >.


GHARBIN, GODIBERT . "Solitude in a Multitude: An Intercultural Reading of John 5:1-47" Afribary (2021). Accessed July 21, 2024.