SESSION ONE: THE WORD BECOMES FLESH (JOHN 1:1-18)
INTRO: What is your full name? What is your nickname? Where did these names come from?
- Why does this Gospel begin "in the beginning" rather than at Jesus' birth?
- What facts about "the Word" can you find in verses 1-5? Verses 10-18?
- Who or what fails to comprehend the light (vv. 5, 10-11)? Why?
- How would someone "full of grace and truth" treat others?
- From this passage, how can a person come to know God?
- Are you keeping Jesus at the door? In certain rooms of your "spiritual house?" Why? Or have you given Him the keys? How?
- What does John's emphasis on the pre-existent, creative Christ mean to you?
TAKEAWAY: What is your greatest takeaway from this passage? What specific life changes do you need to make? How will you hold yourself accountable?
COMMENTARY: John 1:1-18
John begins his gospel like the Bible itself begins: "In the beginning was the Word..." The Greek word for "word" is LOGOS. For the Jew, this word meant "word," as in the WORD of God. In the beginning, God spoke (word). Throughout Israel's history, God had spoke (word) to the Jews. For them LOGOS was an intimate idea. It was about relationship. The Greeks saw the word differently. For them, LOGOS meant "reason." It's where we get words like bioLOGy or theoLOGy or anthropoLOGy. These words mean we'll be reasoning about life (bios), God (theos) or man (anthros). John wanted the Greek to know that God was a rational being and we could approach Him with reason. Furthermore, God was a God of order (not chaos), purpose and design.
WHO IS THE AUTHOR?
While there is some debate among Bible scholars today, tradition has long sided that John the Apostle, the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the brother of James, wrote this gospel. John deals with facts and stories the other gospel writers do not. John will eventually wind up in Ephesus (Greece) and his gospel carries a clearly Greek flavor, unlike the other writers who focus more on Jewish themes.
John preferred to use metaphors like light, water, rebirth and bread to show the nature of Jesus. John was a fisherman on Galilee. That's where he knew Jesus. Because his mother Salome was the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus, it's likely Jesus knew James and John very well. James and John were nicknamed "the sons of thunder." They were both known to be ill-tempered, boisterous and, sometimes, violent (such as desiring to destroy a city that rejected Jesus).
In the book of Acts, John will be Peter's companion. In Galatians 2:9, the only time John is mentioned by Paul, he's cited as one of the three main apostles (pillars of the early church), alongside Peter and James. Later church historians will tell us that John was boiled in oil (but survived) and was then banished to the island of Patmos (where he wrote Revelation). After his release, John ends up in Ephesus where he wrote his gospel and three epistles, and lived many more years. Tradition has long suggested this release didn't happen until after Domitian died in 96 A.D. But, if that's true, John lived well over 100 years. Other scholars suggest that Nero was the likely emperor one who banished John and he was released after Nero's death in 68 AD. Assuming John was at least 20 (to follow Jesus) this would make him around 58 years old in 68 AD, plenty of time to live more years and do more work in Ephesus. According the early church father Jerome, the last words John uttered was "love one another."
That was John! He referred to himself in his gospel as the "disciple whom Jesus loved." To be loved, and to love, was all he needed.
WISDOM, LIGHT AND WORD:
John connects two metaphors (word and light) into a single powerful idea of wisdom. Jesus is the WORD and in Him is a LIGHT that "enlightens" man (making him wise). Essentially, the WORD of God and the WISDOM of God are the same thing. The Jews viewed wisdom at God's eternal, creative, illuminating power. If Jesus was the WORD and the WISDOM, there was a new powerful LIGHT in the world.
THE WORD IS THE WORD IS THE WORD
John provides three insights about WHO Jesus is. First, Jesus was not a created being "in the beginning" but Jesus was there before the beginning. Jesus' pre-existence is what makes Him God. Second, John says that Jesus was with God. This suggests a Divine Relationship. Finally, John reveals Jesus was God. Jesus isn't "a son of god" (as the Jehovah Witness proposes) or another "god" (as the Mormon thinks), Jesus IS actually God in the flesh. The phrase "made his dwelling among us" (1:14) literally means God "tabernacled" with us. He was 100% God and 100% human. It's what makes Jesus unbelievably unique.
Discipleship. Fellowship. Prayer. WORSHIP.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer...
"A biblical community for the spiritually curious."
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.