John 1 Bible Study

Bible Study of John Chapter 1

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Gospel of John Chapter 1


JOHN 1:1-3  1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

Whatever this "Word" (John 1:1) is, what claims are being made above?
A. The Word is someone who can be referred to as a "Him" (John 1:3).
B. He was "with God" (John 1:1).
C. He "was God" (John 1:1).
D. He existed from "the beginning" (John 1:1 & 2).
E. Everything was "made through Him" (John 1:3).

To start, are these 5 claims at least internally consistent with the rest of the Bible?
Since John 1:1 talks about "in the beginning", let's go to the beginning of the Bible and look for the answer in the opening chapter of Genesis: "1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. 6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” 7 Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day. 9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the third day. 14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day. 20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day. 24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." (Genesis 1:1-26)

What are the second and third words of Genesis chapter 1, verses 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24 and 26?
"God said," so according to the Bible, God created everything not with a magic wand or a snap of His fingers but through "Word" (John 1:1), hence "E" above.

When does this passage say all of this took place?
"In the beginning" (Genesis 1:1),  hence "D" above.

What is the fifth word in Genesis 1:26?
"Us", which means that whoever God is referring to is: (1) also God; (2) with God; and (3) someone who can be referred to by a personal pronoun, hence "A","B", "C" above. So A,B,C,D,E above are internally consistent in the Bible.

To whom does the "Us" refer?
God the Father, God the Son (see John 1:14 below) and God the Holy Spirit.

Is the Holy Spirit mentioned in the Genesis passage above?
"And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." (Genesis 1:2)

What did God create on Day 1?
“Light” (Genesis 1:3).

What did God create on Day 2?
"Waters" (Genesis 1:6) and the "firmament" (Genesis 1:7) that divided "the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament" (Genesis 1:7) - i.e., the sky that divides the waters on the earth's surface below from the water vapors, also known as clouds, above.

What did God create on Day 3?
"Land" (Genesis 1:9) and its plant cover.

What about on Day 4?
Sun, moon and stars: "God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also." (Genesis 1:16)

What about on Day 5?
"Sea creatures" (Genesis 1:21) - i.e., fish - and "birds" (Genesis 1:20).

And on Day 6?
"Beast of the earth" (Genesis 1:24) - i.e., animals - and "man" (Genesis 1:26).

When you carefully consider the first 3 days from the second 3 days, what pattern do you notice?

  God Formed:   And Filled Them With:  
on Day 1, Light  Sun, Moon & Stars on Day 4
on Day 2, Waters & Sky Fish & Birds on Day 5
on Day 3, Land
Animals & Man on Day 6

What God formed on day 1, He filled on day 4. What He formed on day 2, He filled on day 5. And what He formed on day 3, He filled on day 6. This may not be the order in which we might have done it. For example, we might have had the sun, moon and the stars precede the light, but we are not God, whose ways are far above ours, just as He told us: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Did the above really only take six days as the Bible claims?
Yes, and only as the Bible claims: "But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter 3:8). The plural form of chilia, the Greek word translated "thousand", means "innumerable" or "a large number beyond computation", so those six days could have been six 24 hour periods or include days - perhaps days 1 and 2, which precede the creation of life - that represent a large number of years beyond computation.

JOHN 1:4-13  4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

What role was John the Baptist sent to perform?
John 1: 7-8 state that he was to, "bear witness of the/that light."

Who is the "light"?
John 1:10 onwards refers to the light as "He" and "Him", and states that the "world was made through Him", equating Him to the "Word" above. So the "Word" above is now being referred to as the "light."

Where is this "light"?
John 1:10 states, "He was in the world," and John 1:11 states, "He came to His own," although "His own did not receive Him."

What is "his own" in John 1:11?
The Israelites.

Who can become children of God?
"Those who believe in His name." (John 1:12)

JOHN 1:14-18  14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'" 16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

What happened to the "Word"?
"Became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14) - i.e., He became a human being and lived among us.

What is His name?
"Jesus Christ". (John 1:17)

What additional precision is there about His relationship with God the Father?
John 1:18 states that Jesus is the Father’s "only begotten Son", and monogenes, the original Greek word translated "only begotten" literally means "one of a kind" - i.e., "unique" or "incomparable", and connotes derivation instead of birth, indicating no defined start to Jesus’ existence; He had always existed from the "beginning" (John 1:1) with the Father.

How can A,B,C,D,E above be stated more precisely with these additional details?
A. Jesus is someone who can be referred to as "He" or "Him".
B. Jesus is the only begotten son of God the Father.
C. Jesus is God.
D. Jesus existed from "the beginning."
E. Everything was made through Jesus.

According to the Bible, Jesus isn’t a 30-year old man who lived 2000 years ago. The verses above state that He is God who came to live with mankind in human form for some 30 years 2000 years ago.

JOHN 1:19-27  19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." 21 And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." 22 Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?" 23 He said: "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah said." 24 Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, saying, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" 26 John answered them, saying, "I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. 27 It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose."

Who is "John" (John 1:19 & 26)?
It's John the Baptist. So John the writer of this Gospel is writing about another John.

What is John the Baptist saying in John 1:23?
John the Baptist is answering by referring to the prophet Isaiah, who had declared: "'Comfort, yes, comfort My people!' Says your God. 'Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.' The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God...'” (Isaiah 40:1-3)

What is the context of that declaration?
The book of Isaiah was written for the Jews returning to the promised land from exile. The first 39 chapters of Isaiah emphasize God’s judgment. The passage quoted above (from Isaiah chapter 40) marks the shift to the ‘comfort’ that God will provide and alludes to the Jesus' role of opening a way for humanity to return to where we were with God, before the fall from Eden.

What is John the Baptist saying about loosing "sandal straps" (John 1:27)?
In those days the roads were nothing more than dirt paths littered with animal excrements, and foot coverings were crude sandals. Given how dirty people's feet became from walking through the dust and filth, the job of washing someone else's feet was considered so low that only the lowest slaves were obliged to perform it. John the Baptist is saying that compared to Jesus, he is so worthless that he isn't even worthy to be Jesus' foot washing slave.

JOHN 1:28-34  28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.' 31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water." 32 And John bore witness, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God."

What and where are "Bethabara" and "Jordan" (John 1:28)?
Bethabara was a place on the other (east) side of Jordan, which is the river that runs along the eastern border of Israel.

Does baptism wash away sins?
John 1:29 states that Jesus "takes away the sin of the world."

Why does John the Baptist call Jesus, "The Lamb of God" (John 1:29)?
Throughout the Old Testament, lamb "without blemish" (Exodus 12:5) is the animal God designated to be killed for the sins of His people as a symbol of the lamb that "God will provide for Himself" (Genesis 22:8) so that those who were to die for theirs sins could be spared.

Then what did John’s Baptism do?
It was a sign of repentance. Those baptized were saying that they wanted to turn away from their sins.

But wasn't Jesus also baptized by John the Baptist?
Yes.

Is the Bible saying that Jesus also had sins?
No, since Hebrews 4:15 states, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."

Then why was Jesus baptized?
Matthew 3:13-17 provides additional details about Jesus' baptism: " 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?" 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" Jesus' baptism initiated His 3 year ministry and was the occasion God the Father used to declare His Son to the crowd that Matthew 3:5 describes as having come from "Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around Jordan."

What is the meaning of baptism today?
It is an outward sign of having accepted Jesus as one's personal Savior and Lord whose sacrifice washes away the sin of the person baptized.

Does one “need” to be baptized to go to heaven?
No.

How do we know that?
Luke 23:32-33 and 39-43 describe a criminal who went to paradise without being baptized: "32 There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. 33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left... 39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." 40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." 42 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." 43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." To be clear, baptism is not what washes away sin. Jesus' sacrifice is what washes away sin, and baptism today is just the acknowledgement of that.

How did John recognize Jesus as the "Lamb of God" (John 1:29)?
God the Father had told him to look out for the one on whom the Holy Spirit would descend, as per John 1:32-33 above.

JOHN 1:35-42  35 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" 37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, "What do you seek?" They said to Him, "Rabbi" (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), "where are You staying?" 39 He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour). 40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, "You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas" (which is translated, A Stone).

Until what time did Andrew stay with Jesus that day?
The "tenth hour" (John 1:39) was the tenth hour from sunrise, which was set as 6AM, so they stayed with Jesus until 4PM.

Andrew was originally a disciple of whom?
John 1:35 and 40 indicate that he was a disciple of John the Baptist.

What did John the Baptist do with Andrew?
Pointed out Jesus for him to follow.

JOHN 1:43-51  43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” 

What and where are Galilee and Bethsaida?
The body of water most often referred to as the "Sea" of Galilee is actually a lake through which the Jordan River flows in northern Israel. "Galilee" (John 1:43) also refers to the region around this body of water, and Bethsaida, which means, "House ('Beth') of fishing" is a fishing village on its north shore.

How do you think Andrew and Philip said what they said in verses John 1:41 and 45?
They were most likely very excited and said those words in raised voices. The Bible records events, including many that are highly emotional, in a dry, matter-of-fact manner. There is no embellishment or hyperbole, and this will become increasingly apparent as we progress through the rest of this Bible study.

What do you think of Nathanael's first reaction?
It was based on his preconceived ideas, his 'prejudices'.

How does Philip respond?
He told Nathanael to "come and see" (John 1:46) Jesus for himself.

How applicable is his advice for people today?
The vast majority of people who don't believe in Jesus base their beliefs, or the lack thereof, also on preconceived ideas. They may have heard people who claim to know the Bible talk about Jesus but they've never considered the evidence - the Bible - for themselves. They may have heard some movie critics, but they've never watched the movie for themselves. To them, Philip's invitation to "come and see" Jesus - the World of God - for themselves applies as much today as to Nathanael two thousand years ago.

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