Introduction to the Gospel of John
and Study of John 1-2
November 1st

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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The Gospel of John is significantly different than the other three Gospels in a number of ways. John provides a different perspective that features a unique set of stories and a distinct style. This is why the first three are often referred to as the Synoptic Gospels (viewed from a single eye).

With regard to style, John’s chapters and verses are like complex poetry while the other three are more akin to historical accounts. In addition, John tends to have included longer descriptions of events during which Jesus speaks, in contrast to the terser versions in the other Gospels. In terms of content, John includes many incidents and miracles not mentioned in the other Gospels, such as the turning of water into wine at the wedding in Cana.

If we think we understand the Gospel story after reading the first three books than we are ready to dive into John. The additional stories and phrasing may cause us to pause and reflect and see the Word in a different light.

The book of John could be divided into several sections (1):

  • Birth and Preparation of Jesus (Chapters 1-2:11)
  • John 1-2 (The Word) - November 1st

  • Message and Ministry of Jesus (Chapter 2:12-12)
  • John 3-4 (For God So Loved the World) - November 2nd
    John 5-6 (The Words of Eternal Life) - November 3rd
    John 7-8 (The Light Illuminates But Does Not Condemn) - November 4th
    John 9-10 (I Was Blind but Now I See) - November 5th
    John 11-12 (Look How the Whole World Has Gone After Him!) - November 6th

  • Death and Resurrection (Chapters 13-21)
  • John 13-15 (I Call You Friends!) - November 7th
    John 16-17 (In a Little While You Will See Me No Longer) - November 8th
    John 18-19 (Adjudication) - November 9th
    John 20-21 (Just a Sampling) - November 10th

References used for the analysis of this book include the following:

  • Barclay, William, The Gospel of John, Volume 2, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1956

  • Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version , Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI; 1993

  • Hunter, A. M., The Gospel According to John, Commentary, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, 1965

  • Life Application Study Bible, New International Version, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, M; 1991 (with commentary from an inter-denominational team of experts)

  • Men's Devotional Bible, New International Version, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI; 1993 (with daily devotionals from Godly men)

  • The New American Bible, Sponsored by the Bishop's Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Catholic Bible Publishers, Wichita, KS, 1970

  • “Sermon Library,” Noroton Presbyterian Church, Darien, CT

  • Peterson, Eugene, The Message, The Bible in Contemporary Language, NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO, 80920, 2005

John 1-2 (The Word)

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

- John 1:1 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

Each of the Gospel writers chose a different starting point for their story. Matthew chose to begin with a genealogy of Jesus, Mark began with a description of John the Baptist, and Luke began with the scene of Angels appearing before parents-to-be to announce the coming birth of John the Baptist and Jesus.

In his first chapter, John goes as far back as possible - to the very beginning. He identifies Jesus as “the Word” and notes that he has always been there and that everything had been made through him. John also explains that we are saved through faith in Jesus, not deeds: "But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13 - NRSV)." This quote is featured in the today's picture of the day, which you see as a closeup nearby and in full context at the top of the page, as observed by one of our ministry team members in Auckland, NZ.

John then fast forwards from the beginning of time, leapfrogging past the delivery of the law, beyond the lives of the Prophets, and goes directly to the story of John the Baptist, who came to witness the Light.

John the Gospel writer reports that John the Baptist testified that he saw the Spirit come down to rest on Jesus and declare that this man is the Son of God. Later in the chapter, Jesus begins calling his disciples, including two that had been following John the Baptist, plus Simon-Peter and others. One of them doubted that anybody important could have come from Nazareth, but his brother, Phillip gave him simple encouragement:

    Philip went and found Nathanael and told him, “We’ve found the One Moses wrote of in the Law, the One preached by the prophets. It’s Jesus, Joseph’s son, the one from Nazareth!”

    Nathanael said, “Nazareth? You’ve got to be kidding.”

    But Philip said, “Come, see for yourself.”

    John 1:45-46 (MSG)

In chapter 2, John records that Jesus' first miracle occurred on the third day after witnesses observed the Spirit resting on him. This first miracle was the changing of water into wine at the wedding in Cana. In this chapter, John also records a trip to Jerusalem when Jesus drove out the moneychangers and animal sellers at the temple. He remained in Jerusalem for a while and performed many miraculous signs.

Reflection and Application

John picks up a concept not directly addressed by the other Gospel writers. Although Jesus is the Son of God, he had been in existence with God forever. Although Jesus was born on earth long after the human race was established, he actually preceded the creation of the first human.

This might be a hard concept for us to fully understand, but also helps us to understand how Jesus had power over any person or element on earth – because he was involved in the Creation. No request is too big or complicated for him to fulfill, as long as it’s in his will to do so. Therefore, there is no reason for us to hold back on requests thinking that perhaps Jesus can’t do it.

One of the remarkable aspects of the first miracle was the obedience of the servants. Why did they decide to follow the instructions of one of the guests when their loyalty was to the head steward and the master of the house? Jesus told them to bring jars of cleansing water to the head steward and ask him to taste it. If Jesus had been a two-bit magician or a phony, they would have lost their jobs for participating in such a stunt. Yet they acquiesced. Maybe they obeyed because Jesus had such a commanding presence and they had humble and trusting hearts.

John records that Mary, the mother of Jesus told the servants at the wedding to “do whatever he says.” The same goes for us in our daily lives. If we can sense what Jesus is saying to us through the scripture and through any additional messages, then we ought to do what he says.

Johnny Cash penned a tribute to this miracle in his song "He Turned the Water into Wine," which he played during his prison ministry concerts. This song was included in the Live at Folsom Prison album. A YouTube version of the song can be seen by clicking the object below:

"He Turned the Water into Wine" - Johnny Cash:

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is your favorite fruit-based drink?
    2. What is the significance of John’s revelation that Jesus has existed since the beginning?
    3. Jesus told the servants to fill the water jugs and bring them to the head steward as if they were filled with wine. What improbable task is he asking you to do?

    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know that Jesus was there at the beginning and is here now. Help us to do what he says.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Waiters, Waitresses, and other hospitality workers


    (1) Life Application Study Bible, New International Version, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, M; 1991, p. 1867

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: John 3-4 (God So Loved the World)

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