Week 1 Discussion – Come and See: Exploring the Gospel of John

Published March 7, 2023

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Week 1 Discussion – Come and See: Exploring the Gospel of John

Welcome to our 12-week Bible study, Come and See: Exploring the Gospel of John, covering the life, teachings, and miracles of Jesus. “Come and See” how the Gospel of John reveals the depth of God’s love and grace, and how it can transform your life.

Through this study, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of who Jesus is, what he accomplished, and how to respond to him in faith, obedience, and love. You’ll also learn about his role as the Son of God and what his life and death mean for us today.

Each week, we’ll explore a different theme from the Gospel of John, including love, grace, and forgiveness. We’ll also take time to reflect on what it means to be a follower of Christ and how we can apply these teachings to our lives.

If you haven’t registered, no problem at all. Register now (yes, right now!) for this in-person Bible study and experience a deeper understanding of the Scriptures, fellowship with other believers, and the joy of growing in your faith as you share the Gospel of Jesus with others.

Week 1: Overview

Here’s a quick recap of what we covered in week one using Justin Buzzard’s John: A 12-Week Study (Knowing the Bible) as our weekly discussion guide:

  • The authorship, purpose, structure, and date and historical background of the Gospel of John.
  • How the Gospel of John is uniquely juxtaposed to the Synoptic Gospels.
  • What the Gospel of John contributes to Christian theology.
  • How the Gospel of John’s account of the life of Jesus teaches us about God, humanity, sin, redemption, and other doctrines.
  • The perplexing nature of the Gospel of John.
  • How the Gospel of John fits in the larger story of the Bible.

Who is this John we speak of?

The name John is a popular name used frequently by the Jewish people and throughout the Bible, which means “God has been gracious” in Hebrew — Yehohanan. In the New Testament, the name John is given to five different people with varying levels of importance: 

Will those who are named John but are not apostles rise?

John the Baptist
John the Baptist, a relative of Jesus, baptized people including Jesus in the Jordan river and was beheaded by Herod for condemning his marriage as adulterous.

John (father of Peter the Apostle)
Simon’s brother Andrew introduced Simon to Jesus, who called him “Simon son of John” and gave him the name Peter (John 1:42). Peter’s father, John, was likely a fisherman, but little else is known about him. 

A Mark named John
“John Mark” is listed in Acts (12:12) and is believed to be the same as St. Mark the Evangelist, but scholars debate whether they are the same person.

John (a member of the High Priest’s family)
John is briefly mentioned in Acts 4:5-6 as a member of the high-priestly family who attended the trial of Peter.

Will the real John stand and rise?

The John we’re speaking of and the one we’ll study is known as John the Apostle. Also known as the Apostle John, John, the son of Zebedee — a prosperous fisherman, and John’s mother based on scriptural evidence was likely Salome, who was also the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus, making John and his brother James cousins to Jesus — authored the Gospel of John, the letters in the New Testament bearing his name, and the book of Revelation. 

John the Apostle was not just a witness to the life and ministry of Jesus, he was also his best friend. His writings provide a unique insight into the teachings and miracles of Jesus, and reveal John’s love for the structure of sevens, as seen in the “I am” statements and “signs.”

John’s personality was characterized by zeal, passion, and ambition, earning him and his brother James the nickname “sons of thunder” from Jesus. However, as he matured, John learned the importance of humility and love for people. He became known as the “apostle of love” and was passionate about proclaiming the truth while also exhibiting compassion and grace.

As we learn from John’s life, our zeal for truth must always be balanced by love for people, and confidence and boldness must be tempered with compassion and grace. By reflecting the humility and grace of Jesus, we can effectively serve and represent Him to others.

What is the purpose of the Gospel of John?

The Gospel of John aims to present Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, for the purpose of inspiring belief in Him and obtain eternal life, according to John 20:30-31.

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John highlights Jesus’ divinity, His role as the world’s Savior, and His relationship with God the Father. Overall, the Gospel of John provides a theological and spiritual perspective on Jesus’ life, teachings, death, and resurrection.

What does the Gospel of John uniquely contribute juxtaposed to the Synoptic Gospels?

The Gospel of John provides a unique perspective on Jesus and his message compared to the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke).

John’s Gospel emphasizes Jesus’ divinity and presents a more theological and symbolic approach to his life and teachings, rather than focusing on his actions and parables. John’s Gospel also includes distinct teachings and events that are not found in the Synoptic Gospels, such as the wedding at Cana, the raising of Lazarus, and the “I am” sayings of Jesus.

Furthermore, John’s Gospel portrays Jesus differently in terms of his character, dialogue, and actions, which contributes to a deeper understanding of Jesus and his mission, providing invaluable perspective on Jesus’ life and teachings.

What is the historical background of the Gospel of John in contrast to the Greco-Roman Gnosticism of its day?

The Gospel of John was written during a time when various philosophical and religious movements were influencing the Greco-Roman world. One of these movements was Gnosticism, which was characterized by the belief in secret knowledge (gnosis) that could lead to salvation and the idea that the material world was inherently evil.

The Gospel of John presents a contrasting perspective to the Greco-Roman gnosticism of the day. While gnostic texts emphasized secret knowledge and mystical experiences, the Gospel of John emphasizes the public nature of Jesus’ teachings and the importance of belief in him as the Son of God for salvation.

Moreover, the Gospel of John presents Jesus as the embodiment of divine wisdom (Logos), which stands in contrast to the gnostic idea of hidden wisdom accessible only to a select few. The Gospel of John also affirms the goodness of the material world, as seen in Jesus’ physical incarnation and his miracles, which involve physical healing and transformation.

Overall, while there may be some similarities between the Gospel of John and Gnosticism, the Gospel of John presents a distinct theological and philosophical perspective that sets it apart from Greco-Roman Gnosticism.

What is the Gospel of John’s contribution to Christian theology?

The Gospel of John contributes to Christian theology in several ways. It emphasizes the full humanity and full divinity of Jesus, and presents a high Christology that underscores his pre-existence as the eternal Word of God. John also emphasizes the importance of belief in Jesus and presents salvation as a matter of personal relationship with him.

The Gospel also offers significant teachings on the Holy Spirit, the nature of God, and the nature of discipleship. Additionally, John provides a unique perspective on Jesus’ life and teachings that complements the Synoptic Gospels and offers a valuable contribution to Christian theology.

What does the Gospel of John’s account of the life of Jesus teach us about God, humanity, sin, redemption, and other doctrines?

The Gospel of John contributes significantly to our understanding of God, humanity, sin, redemption, and other key doctrines of the Christian faith.

The Gospel of John’s account of the life of Jesus teaches us that Jesus is the Son of God in full divinity and that He came to reveal God’s love and truth to all of humanity. It also teaches that humanity is in need of salvation and that this salvation is found through faith in Jesus Christ.

John’s Gospel further teaches us about the nature of sin, the reality of eternal life, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the importance of loving and serving others.

What is perplexing or can be perplexing about the Gospel of John?

The Gospel of John can be perplexing in several ways due to its symbolic and metaphorical language can be difficult to understand, and its theological concepts can be complex. Additionally, some scholars debate the authorship and dating of the Gospel, which can add to the perplexity. Lastly, John’s Gospel often presents a different chronology and perspective on Jesus’ life and teachings compared to the Synoptic Gospels, which can also be confusing for readers.

How does the Gospel of John fit into the larger story of the Bible?

The Gospel of John, along with the other three Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, fits into the larger story of the Bible as a testimony to the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is the central figure of the Bible. The Gospel of John, in particular, emphasizes Jesus’ divine nature and his unique relationship with God the Father, which is in line with the larger biblical narrative of God’s redemptive plan for humanity.

The Gospel of John also echoes several themes and motifs from the Old Testament, such as the concepts of light and darkness, the significance of water, and the imagery of the shepherd and his flock. Additionally, the Gospel of John presents Jesus as the fulfillment of several Old Testament prophecies, such as the suffering servant of Isaiah and the new exodus from slavery to sin.

In summary, the Gospel of John contributes to the larger story of the Bible by providing a unique perspective on Jesus’ life and teachings, while also connecting to and building upon the biblical narrative that came before it.

Take a moment now to ask the Lord’s blessing and help as you engage in this study of John.  And take a moment also to look back through this unit of study, to reflect on a few key things that you would like to learn throughout this study of John.

We hope these notes have been helpful in catching up on what we’ve covered so far. We’re excited to continue our study of John together next week in week two!

In the meantime, explore a very engaging animation video from the Bible Project team that explains the first twelve chapters of the Gospel of John. Additionally, you can read Mark L. Strauss’ article John: The Gospel of the Eternal Son Who Reveals the Father.”

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