Gospel of John #2 – John 1

John 2 – An Introduction to the Savior


The Basic Organization of John

  • In our last session (John #1) we talked about needing to be familiar with the overall organization of the Bible, a library with nine sections of different types of literature.  We need to know all of the books of the Bible!  So now, we’ll consider how the Gospel of John is organized.
  • John develops a compassionate portrait of the Savior as the Son of God and the Lamb of God through these sections:
    • John 1 – 4 – The Private Ministry of Christ
      • 1 – Personal Introduction
      • 2 – Cana Wedding
      • 3 – Nicodemus
      • 4 – Woman at the Well
    • John 5-11 –  Public Ministry of Christ
      • John 5-7 – The Mission of Christ
      • John 8-11 – Ministry and Opposition
    • John 18-21 – Sacrificial Ministry of Christ
      • John 12-17 –  Preparation for Sacrifice
      • John 18-19 – Crucifixion
      • John 20-21 – Resurrection
  • Here is a chart showing the flow and major emphases in John. You can click on the picture and open it to save to your computer. 


  • The first four chapters are an introduction of Jesus’ public ministry.  Starting with His baptism and introduction of the first disciples, Jesus begins to acknowledge and demonstrate His deity and mission.
  • Consider the dynamic beauty and wisdom God has provided in His inspired Word.  God inspired John to write his Gospel as he thought through his time with the Savior, but as he wrote, God him to weave a beautiful written record that has intricate detail.  As one example of this, note the doctrinal truth of this unique three-way parallel of  John 1:1, 14, 18 as shown in this matrix:

    The first column shows the first phrase of each of the three verses, and ties them together into one Christological statement.  The second column shows the second phrase of each verse and ties them together for a second statement.  Then the third column does the same thing with the third phrase of each verse.  You can probably find additional connections between the phrases of these three key verses. By inspiration, God has enabled John to give us a very strong, all-encompassing understanding of the the person of Christ!  Take a look at these key doctrinal themes:
  • John 1:2 – Trinity
    • Christ’s Deity – uniquely the Son of God, but still fully God, along with the Holy Spirit
    • John 2:6; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3
  • John 1:3 – Creation
      • Jesus began His work of revealing God with Creation – now He is finishing the work
      • 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2; Rev. 3:14
  • John 1:4 – Life
      • Emphasized in John – John 6:27, 33, 35, 40,47-48, 51, 53-54, 63, 68; 10:10; 20:31
  • John 1:5 – Light
      • In John, Light becomes an essential characteristic of Who Jesus Christ is.  He is the “radiance of God’s glory” (Heb. 1:3), unsurvivable brilliance like what the sun would be like if we were foolish enough to stare right at it.
        • Read the whole book of John with this frame of reference.
        • The Word = The mind, will, and work of God
      • How does darkness comprehend? – 9:2
      • Ignorance & sin – John 3:19-20; 8:12; 12:35, 46

Bible Study Journal
Take some time now to scan the Gospel of John and see how the three main sections of the book are recognized.  Note in your journal any major verses that stand out to you.  Also, take a close look at John 1:1, 14, 18 and see if you can follow the themes that are identified in the chart.

A Man Sent From God

  • 1:6-7 – John the Baptist was sent from God
    • He is the “forerunner”, running in advance of the arrival of the Messiah (Mal. 3:1; 4:5; Isa. 40:3; Lu. 1:17), agreed by all biblical authorities to be referred to as a prophet. Jesus referred to him as “Elijah who is to come” (Matt. 11:14) in connection with Mal. 3).  The primary fact of these references is that this is indeed the First Coming of the Messiah, which brings with it God’s offer to establish the Millennial Kingdom, His promise of a literal 1000-year reign of the Messiah (son of David) sitting on David’s throne.   It is important to note that the Messiah and His Kingdom were rejected, and the literal Millennial Kingdom doesn’t occur until the Messiah’s Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation (Daniel’s 70th Week Prophecy) depicted in the book of Revelation.  That is a key perspective needed to understand the End Times and what the Bible teaches about God’s Plan for the Ages.
    • John came to be a witness – a key term for all New Testament Christians, it was inaugurated by the dramatic preaching of this man who was consumed by the need of his people to believe God’s message
    • His work was to point to the Light and Truth of the Promised Messiah
    • He was a student of the Old Testament, especially Isaiah’s prophecies; he focused on the salvation work of the Messiah as well as eschatological truth of the coming kingdom
    • see 1 Pet. 1:10-12
  • John the Baptist showed us what a witness does
    • He was sent from God to a needy world
    • He was focused on God’s person, his message had clarity, it led to a point of decision and provided an emphasis on actionable belief (1:37)
    • John declared “Believe!” This word is in John about 100x, and only another 150x in all the rest of NT.  The message to believe included Jews, warning them to avoid the “wrath to come” (Matt. 3:7; Luke 3:7) which paralleled the preaching of the OT prophets.
  • Note how Paul refers to the teaching of John the Baptist in Acts 18:24 – 19:1-10.
  • He set up his preaching location mid-way between Jerusalem and Galilee, on the shore of the Jordan near the town named Bethany on east shore of the Jordan (the other Bethany where Lazarus was raised is very close to Jerusalem).  People began to recognize his preaching as that of a Prophet – it was a dramatic discovery because there had been no such spokesman from God in 400 years.  Crowds of people began coming out to the Jordan seeking truth, and when they heard his message of repentance and righteousness, they repented and were baptized.

Bible Study Journal
“Believing” in John:  Compare and make notes about believing in these passages:  Jn. 1:12; 3:16; 4:42; 20:31; 1 Tim. 2:4; Tit. 2:11; 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Jn. 2:1; 4:14

God With Us

  • Mark 1:9-11  is the first mention in all the Gospels of Jesus arriving on the scene, as He steps into public view at the shores of the Jordan River to be baptized by John.  Imagine yourself standing on the shore in the crowd listening to John preach, and then watching this happen – God Himself walking right here among “us”!  Then John the Baptist declares loudly “BEHOLD, the Son of God!”  You can get the thrust of history that John mentions in his first epistle, “we saw and heard and touched the Word of Life!”
  • Jn. 1:9-18 – There was the True Light
    • 10, standing right here with us! Unfiltered deity – In Exo. 33:18-23, when Moses pled with God to “show him His glory” God would only permit him to see “His glory passing by” and not see His face – yet now, God Himself in the person of His Son is looking into the face of His people, manifesting the glory of God
    • 11, the tragedy of rejection – “after all that work” (Phil. 2:5-8), His own turned their backs on Him (what a twist of Exo. 33!)
    • 12-13, Note the incredible message of salvation is that in spite of rejection, in spite of our determined rebellion against God & His holiness, He delivered Redemption!  These verses are a clear and significant statement of being born again by God, by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9).  Be sure you know these verses well so that you can effectively share your faith with an unbeliever!
    • 14, The Word became flesh and enabled “us” to behold His glory (through the eyes & ears of the disciples) –  note the key theme of John that the sign miracles displayed God’s glory.
    • 16, Full of grace & truth… literally, grace upon grace, superabundance, one demonstration of God’s longsuffering goodness rolled on top of another!
      • This is the exceedingly abundant grace of God see 1:5-8; 2:7; 3:17-21
      • This is the message of God’s “hesed” longsuffering love demonstrated throughout the Old Testament
      • This is the “Wonderful Grace of Jesus” that every New Testament believer rejoices in, God’s exceedingly abundant grace which overflows our expectation… beyond what we ask or think (Eph. 3:17-20).
    • 17-18 – grace and truth, not only foretold and anticipated, but fully realized
      • God’s demand for holiness is now God’s offer of righteousness by grace based on the Son’s sacrifice – God offers to each of us sinners the gift of salvation, to be rescued out of our rebellion and resulting judgment and eternal death, the gift of instead possessing eternal life in God’s presence and blessing.
      • The Only Son, begotten of God, the One True God – there was only One Who could completely fulfill the requirements of being the “once for all” sacrifice for all mankind
      • Christ Has “explained” God – He “exegeted”, interpreted, He has opened up the truth and reality of God to us, just like one such as your pastor or Bible class teacher who is expounding a passage of Scripture – see 14:8-10

The First Week Begins

  • 1:19-28 – John the Baptist explains his ministry as the narrative is ready to shift to focus on Jesus.
    • John begins a chronological accounting of events in v.19, showing events from the first week of Jesus’ public ministry.
    • On this first day, Jewish leaders approach the Baptist asking “Who are you??”  Answer we know today:  He is one of the most important people who ever lived!  This question was asked of John the Baptist, also of Jesus (Jn. 8:25; 21:12) and Paul (Acts 9:5).  These men’s preaching made the Jewish leaders and all sinners  uncomfortable, the words reminded the listeners of key eschatological themes and terms from the OT prophets.
    • He was not Elijah, but he was very much like Elijah (Lu. 1:17)
    • He ministered to the outer man – Jesus cared for the soul
    • John is not just a baptizer – he is most importantly a Witness and he bore witness to Christ to three groups of people in verses 19, 29, 35
    • As the Baptist ministers, he gained some followers, among them James & John

      Picture Jesus coming through the trees down to the water’s edge, John is in the river preaching, points to Jesus and declares “Behold!”
  • 1:29-34 – The second day…
    • v29, he declares “Behold! The Lamb of God”
    • God endorsed Jesus at the Baptism with the dove of the Holy Spirit descending on Him and then the Father declaring “this is the Son of God”
    • John is beginning to have some followers
  • 1:35-42 – Again the third day…
    • v.36, “Behold! The Lamb of God!”
    • James & John are followers of John, but when they realize Jesus is the Messiah, they leave John to follow Jesus
    • Special thoughts in this passage: the disciples ask Jesus where He’s staying and Jesus invites them to “Come and you will see”  – then one of the two, Andrew– “We have found the
  • Messiah 1:43-51 – “The next day…”
    • This is the fourth day of John’s sequence – when John says “on the third day” in John 2:1,  it is probably referring to 3 days after “Day 4”
    • Jesus plans to take a “short” journey north to the upper coast of the beautiful Sea of Galilee, to Capernaum  – the three days that allows for the trek north
      • Philip & Nathanael – it is not real clear when Jesus encounters during this trip, they are both from Galilee,  Philip a fellow fisherman; Nathanael is from Cana and could possibly explain how Jesus knew about the wedding
    • Note Philip’s comfortable reference to OT truths,  which leads us to see this small group of Jewish fisherman as understanding the teachings of the Messiah
    • In response to Nathanael’s own prophetic declaration of Jesus’ true identity, Jesus declares that they will be seeing much greater works.  It didn’t take long…


  Bible Study Journal
John the Baptist, the Forerunner – If you would like to study more of how John the Baptist fits the “mold” of the forerunner spoken of by Isaiah, check these verses:  Isa. 11:16; 26:7; 35:8; 40:3; 42:16; 49:11; 57:14; 62:10.