This series of books on John’s Gospel are quite unique. John focused on the Holy Spirit working in the back ground throughout Jesus’ ministry. In other words, John’s Gospel is a text book about how the Spirit works in this world as well as our lives. Here is the first chapter from the book. I hope you enjoy it, and there are links to sites that sell both the print book and eBook versions. If you have any questions, let me know. Feel free to leave a comment.
John Chapter 1
John 1:1-51 NLTse In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He existed in the beginning with God. (3) God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. (4) The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. (5) The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (6) God sent a man, John the Baptist, (7) to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. (8) John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. (9) The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. (10) He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. (11) He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. (12) But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (13) They are reborn–not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. (14) So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (15) John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.'” (16) From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. (17) For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. (18) No one has ever seen God. But the one and only Son is himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. (19) This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” (20) He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.” (21) “Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?” “No,” he replied. “Are you the Prophet we are expecting?” “No.” (22) “Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?” (23) John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way for the LORD’s coming!'” (24) Then the Pharisees who had been sent (25) asked him, “If you aren’t the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet, what right do you have to baptize?” (26) John told them, “I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not recognize. (27) Though his ministry follows mine, I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandal.” (28) This encounter took place in Bethany, an area east of the Jordan River, where John was baptizing. (29) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (30) He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ (31) I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” (32) Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. (33) I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.‘ (34) I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” (35) The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. (36) As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” (37) When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus. (38) Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” (39) “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day. (40) Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. (41) Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”). (42) Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John–but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”). (43) The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” (44) Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. (45) Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” (46) “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied. (47) As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel–a man of complete integrity.” (48) “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” (49) Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God–the King of Israel!” (50) Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” (51) Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”
I have to confess, I’ve been looking forward to writing this book on John’s Gospel for some time. John’s book is the most passionate Gospel about Jesus, including a number of chapters about lessons Jesus taught not found in the other three Gospels. Matthew seems to have the most events, which makes writing stories rather easy. Mark unfolded on its own showing two main themes, how Jesus taught to understand all scripture and the relationship Jesus was looking for. Luke had a tendency of skipping over some details while lingering on others. Luke’s book was perfect for showing how God’s Spirit worked behind the scenes to set up every event so Jesus was able to fulfill every prophecy about Himself. Which brought me to one of the biggest surprises I’ve seen in the Bible.
The end of John’s first chapter describes how Jesus was sent to be a connection between Heaven and earth, the perfect description of the book I wrote on Luke’s Gospel showing how God’s Spirit worked throughout Jesus’ ministry. John’s description not only says there is a connection, he says we will see that connection.
John 1:1-9 NLTse In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He existed in the beginning with God. (3) God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. (4) The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. (5) The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (6) God sent a man, John the Baptist, (7) to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. (8) John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. (9) The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
I always loved the beginning of John’s book. I wonder how long he thought about the beginning of his book before he sat down, picked up a pen and started writing. I can see how words just flowed for John. Out of the four gospels, John’s is the most poetic. Words and sentences flow like a man writing to his love half way around the world. But in this case, John’s first love is a universe away.
Let’s pause for a moment to estimate that distance between Jesus and John. We can’t estimate that distance in meters or miles. We can’t estimate that time in hours, days, or years. Looking at the other side of the coin, we can’t estimate the closeness they shared until we experience it ourselves. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
(Romans 8:38-39, Psalms 103:1, 1 Corinthians 2:9 NLTse)
If it’s one thing I’ve learned about writing, it really slows you down, allowing you to concentrate on each word, and God’s still, small voice. Highlighting key words also slows you down. Making a list of key words helps to see the main points the author is emphasizing. Let’s look at the list of keys words John gave us up to this point.
Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to his main thought, point, or lesson. Key words are words that are the SAME, SIMILAR, or RELATED.
It may take a bit of practice to develop a pattern highlighting key words. I look at it as a fundamental and necessary way for God’s Spirit to slow you down and get you to listen. It’s difficult to thoroughly highlight all the key words in one pass. You have no choice but to go back and forth over scripture to do a complete job. Many people have heard of other texts in the Bible that show us how to study, such as line upon line, and using a churning method of going back and forth over scripture. Now you know what that means.
The key words John repeated paint a picture all their own. We have a saying here on earth, “a man is known by his words and actions.” John covered both those aspects at the very beginning of his book. He also covered another aspect of Jesus he had to learn, Jesus’ divinity. Jesus lives in a different time as well as place.
John tells us, the Word is God and existed in the beginning. What beginning? John described the beginning as creation. John also pointed out how God created everything through Jesus. What does it mean to create everything through Jesus? I’m not going to speculate. Writing on the gospels has also taught me, there are some things we have to leave in God’s hands.
God’s Word gave life. We could go on and on about that. But we will stick with the context of this book and not wander away from John’s written words and main theme he is trying to convey. I am sure we are going to see that life unfold as we go through John’s book.
John tells us, Jesus’ life brought light to everyone and His Word gave life to everything. This is a reference to creation as well as Jesus’ ministry. One story could not have been fulfilled without the other. That’s why it’s important to study Jesus’ ministry as a whole. John pointed out that ministry began before creation. Maybe that’s why it’s difficult for people to comprehend Jesus as a person, friend, and all the other things He wants out of our relationship together. How can normal human beings tie in all the aspects of God’s Word, light, and life? They can’t. Not without God. Anyone whose listened to God through His Word will know, many of the most important aspects of those three are difficult if not impossible to explain. It seems strange to be in God’s Word, in His presence to see details that seem so simple to understand, but a minute later feel impossible to explain. That’s another one of those mysteries of God’s Word. Some things are better left to God’s Spirit to explain. Only God’s personal light can piece that darkness. If there was an easier way, Jesus would not have had to come here in person to feel the heat, cold, pain, suffering, ridicule, and temptations of this world. Of course Jesus came to this world to accomplish much more than face temptation. That is one aspect on the surface of Jesus’ life. Once you know Him, you will see much more about His ministry.
In addition to His Word, God works through other avenues of communication. John introduced one of those in the introduction, His messengers. John the Baptist was one of them. John not only introduced Jesus’ ministry, he also confirmed God’s Word. That’s one of the ways God communicates with us. Did that ever happen to you? There you are reading God’s Word, then suddenly see a lesson or detail that seems so clear and makes so much sense, you wonder why you never saw it before. Your excited, but not sure how other people will accept it. How does God get around that problem? If He showed you the lesson in His Word three times, your still not going to be convinced it is something to share. God goes to plan B. He puts someone in your life you meet during the week who studied the same subject. You begin talking and can’t believe your not the only person to see those details. Has that ever happened to you? If you start studying, it will.
There is another rule of context we need to look at. That rule tells us to look back in scripture to see how the Author led into this story. This rule also works with chapters. You might ask how could that work at the beginning of a book? Don’t forget who actually wrote these books in the Bible. It was God!Human hands may have put pen to paper, but John told us how God’s Word existed before the creation of this world.