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Chapter 1: John 1


Our Gift to You

Have you ever wished that someone had painted some pictures of Jesus when He was with us here on earth?  Well, someone did.  His name was John, one of Jesus’ own disciples.  John painted with works, not with brush and canvas.  Someone has described John’s Gospel as a picture gallery of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Good Shepherd Institute courses are intended to help you know the Bible and learn more about Jesus.  This study in John will help you do both.  In it you will learn about the ministry of Jesus from the one whom Jesus called His most beloved disciple.  From John’s heart and pen you will come to know Jesus in a new and personal way.

I am pleased that the International Correspondence Institute, a worldwide ministry committed to evangelism, training and teaching, has permitted us to use some of their very fine courses.  What you will study has been adapted for use from their materials.  Millions of Christians from around the world have benefited from these resources.  You will too!

May God bless you as you explore John’s picture gallery of our Lord.

Pat Robertson

Exploring John's Gospel

By Rex Jackson

Developed in Cooperation with The ICI International Office Staff
© 1980 All Rights Reserved
International Correspondence Institute
Brussels, Belgium

Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, and some drawings are from the Good News Bible (Today’s English Version) © American Bible Society, 1976.  Used by permission.

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First, Let's Have a Talk

A Word From Your Study Guide Author

This course is about a person who was born almost 2,000 years ago.  Why should you study it?  How can it affect your life?  How can these lessons help you?  Whatever your religion may be, you owe it to yourself to know something about Jesus – His life, His teachings and His claims.

Are you looking for a source of new power and happiness in your life?  You can find it in these lessons.  The Good News written so long ago has the best solutions available for twentieth century problems.  Do you want to find reality in your spiritual life?  Or strengthen your faith.  Or know God better?

You will find what you are looking for as you follow the instructions in this study guide.  A modern method of teaching yourself helps you to learn the principles easily and put them into practice immediately.

Your Study Guide

Exploring John’s Gospel is a workbook that you can print out and take with you to study whenever you have some free time.  Try to set aside some time every day to study it.  If you are studying this course with a group, follow the instructions of your group leader.

How to Answer Study Questions

There are different kinds of study questions in this study guide.  Below are samples of several types and how to answer them.

A MULTIPLE-CHOICE question or item asks you to choose an answer from the ones that are given.

Example of Multiple-Choice Questions:

1.  The Bible has a total of

a. 100 books
b. 66 books
c. 27 books

The correct answer is b) 66 books.  In your study guide, make a circle around b).

(For some multiple-choice items, more than one answer may be correct.  In that case, you would circle the letter in front of each correct answer.)

A TRUE-FALSE question or item asks you to choose which of several statements are TRUE.

Example of TRUE-FALSE Question:

1.  Which statements below are TRUE?

a. The Bible has a total of 120 books.
b. The Bible is a message for believers today.
c. All of the Bible authors wrote in the Hebrew language.
d. The Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the Bible.

Statements b and d are true.  You would make a circle around these two choices.

A MATCHING question or item asks you to match things that go together, such as names with descriptions, or Bible books with their authors.

Example of Matching Question:

1.  Write the number for the leader’s name in front of each phrase that describes something he did.

1) for Moses
2)  for Joshua

      1  a.  Received the Law at Mt. Sinai                      
      2  b.  Led the Israelites across Jordan

      2  c.  Marched around Jericho

      1  d.  Lived in Pharaoh’s court

Phrases a and d refer to Moses, and phrases b and c refer to Joshua.  You would write a 1 beside a and d, and 2 beside b and c, as you see above.

About the Author

Rex Jackson is an instructor of journalism at Evangel College, Springfield, Missouri.  Mr. Jackson, an ordained minister of the Assemblies of God, was a missionary in Nigeria for 25 years, and taught for three years at West Africa Advanced School of Theology in Togo, West Africa.  He served as acting president of the school for two years.  During that time he wrote or developed various kinds of church literature, such as training books, Sunday school literature, and correspondence courses.  He has also served as an editor for International Correspondence Institute, Brussels.

Mr. Jackson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible from Central Bible College, Springfield, Missouri, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

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Good News by a Man Named John

John Learns the Good News

Almost 2,000 years ago a young fisherman named John left his boats and nets in order to follow a teacher called Jesus.  For three and a half years he and eleven other men went with Jesus from town to town in the country of Palestine.  They were His disciples or students.

John and the other disciples learned very well the lessons Jesus taught about God and His love for all people.  John knew Jesus very well.  He was His closest friend.

John and the other disciples learned from Jesus the good news that we call the gospel.  Gospel means good news.  They learned that Jesus was the Son of God.

Jesus had come to earth to save men, women, boys, and girls from their sins and to give them eternal life.  Before Jesus went back to heaven He told the disciples to share this good news with everyone on earth.

Jesus promised the disciples that the Holy Spirit would help them remember all the things that He had taught them.  The Holy Spirit would help them share the good news with others.

For You to Do

In the following exercises, circle the letter in front of the correct answer.

1. Who was John, the follower of Jesus?
a. John the Baptist
b. A fisherman who became Jesus’ closest friend
c. A carpenter from Galilee

2. How long did he stay with Jesus and hear His teaching?
a. Three and a half weeks
b. Three and a half months
c. Three and a half years

3. What does gospel mean?
a. Good news
b. Message about God
c. Life of Christ

Check your answers with those at the end of this lesson.

John Shares the Good News

John spent his whole life telling people the good news that he had learned from Jesus.  When he was an old man, God told him to write the good news.  Copies would be made of it for people all over the world.  God wanted John to share the good news with us as well as with the people who lived then.

God let John know just exactly what he should write.  The Holy Spirit brought to his memory the very words that Jesus had said.  He wrote down the important truths that Jesus had taught him so carefully.  John recorded these truths in the New Testament book that is called by his name.  We know it as the Gospel of John.

In the same way, the Holy Spirit inspired John to write four other books.  Three of them were letters.  One was a revelation of what would happen in the future.  We have these five books, along with other inspired writings, in the Bible.

John wrote his book in a language that the people would understand:  Greek.  Since we don’t understand Greek, the Bible has been translated into our language:  English.  There are many translations of the Bible into English.  The one which is suggested for the study of this course is the Good News Bible, also known as Today’s English Bible.

For You to Do

Circle the letter in front of the correct answer.

4. Where did John learn the good news that he was to share with everyone?
a. From Jesus
b. From the newspapers
c. From his parents

5. When did John write his book about the life of Jesus?
a. When he was a young man traveling with Jesus
b. When he was an old man, after he had taught many people about Jesus.
c. When he was a fisherman, before he knew Jesus.

6. How did John know what to write in his five books that we have in the New Testament?
a. The Holy Spirit of God put in his mind what he was to write.
b. He was inspired by reading other books about Jesus.
c. A committee planned it.

Check your answers.

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The Word of Life

Read John 1:1-18.

If you are using a Good News Bible, the title used for chapter 1, verses 1 through 18 of the Gospel of John, is “The Word of Life.”

These verses are very important because they tell us who Jesus really is and why He came to this earth.  They are the introduction that John wrote for his book.  All the rest of John’s gospel explains the truths that we have in these first verses.

The Eternal Word

Read John 1:1-3 again.
We let people know what we think by our words.  God has let us know what He thinks in two ways:  through His written Word, the Bible, and through His Son Jesus who came to earth to tell us about God.  Jesus is God’s living Word.  In all these verses John is writing about Jesus, the living Word.  Verse 14 says that the Word became a human being.  Jesus is called the Word because God speaks to us through Him.

God… in these last days… has spoken to us through his Son (Hebrews 1:1-2).

From John 1:1-3 we learn that Jesus was with God from the beginning.  Jesus is God.  This does not mean that there are two Gods.  There is only one God but He is a trinity – three persons in one.  God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Each of the three has a special work to do.  They have always worked together.

God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit have always been.  They are eternal, without beginning or ending.  Jesus was born on earth and is called the Son of God, but he had always lived in heaven before that.

Verse 3 says that all things were made by Him, that is by Jesus.  We read about this in another part of the Bible.

For through him God created everything in heaven and on earth (Colossians 1:16).

Jesus Christ gave life to all things we see in the world.  Also, Jesus gives eternal life to those who repent of their sins and believe in Him as their personal savior.

Whoever has the Son has this life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 John 5:12).

For You to Do

7. Jesus is called “the Word” because
a. God speaks to us through Him.
b. He preached the gospel.
c. We read about Him in a book.

8. When did Jesus’ life begin?
a. When He was born as a baby in Bethlehem.
b. His life never had a beginning; He is eternal.
c. He was created by God when God created the earth.

9. What kind of life does Jesus give?
a. He gives life only to things in the world; all things were created by Him.
b. He gives eternal life only to those who trust in Him.
c. He gives both natural life and eternal life; He made the world and saves those who believe in Him.

Check your answers.

Light and Life

Read John 1:4-13 again.

Verse 4 tells us that the life of Jesus brought light to men.  Just as the light lets us see where we are to walk, Jesus shows us how to live.  He shows you the way to heaven.

Many people do not want to accept Jesus.  They would rather walk in the darkness of their own ways.  But those who do receive Jesus as their personal Savior are given the right to become God’s children.

Although we were created by God, this did not make us His children.  We have all done wrong and are sinners by nature.  Ours sins separate us from God.  But when we accept Jesus as our Savior, He takes away our sin and gives us a new nature.  He changes us so that we will not keep on doing wrong.  We call this great change our new birth.  Through it God becomes our Feather and we become His children.

We become the children of God, not through anything that we do for ourselves but through being born of God.  We are not the sons of God by natural birth.  You might say, “I was born a Christian.  My father and mother were Christians.”  You parents being Christians does not make you a Christian. You are a Christian only when you are born of God.

For You to Do

Circle the letter in front of the correct answer.

10. Jesus is called “the Light” because
a. He carried a lamp to show us where to walk on the path.
b. He teaches us how to live and shows us the way to heaven.

11. Who have the right to be called the children of God?
a. Only those you receive Jesus as their personal Savior.
b. All men because all me are created by God.

12. How do we become children of God?
a. By being born of Christian parents who are serving God.
b. By being born in a Christian nation where there are many churches.
c. By being born of God when we receive Jesus as our Savior.

Check your answers.

The Word Becomes a Man

Read John 1:14-18 again.

This is the greatest thing that ever happened in the history of the world: God became a man.  He loved us so much that He came to take our punishment, to die for our sins.

But as God, Jesus could not die.  He had to have a human body in order to die for us.  So Jesus was born as a baby in Bethlehem.  The Son of God became a man so that He could make men the sons of God.

God gave the law through Moses to let us know what He wants us to do.  We couldn’t keep the laws of God.  They let us see that we needed a Savior.  That Savior is Jesus.  In Him, we receive God’s grace:  God’s pardon for our sins and a wonderful new life full of blessing as His children.

For You to Do

Circle the letter in front of the correct answer.

13. Why did Jesus become a man?
a. So that He could die to save us from our sins.
b. So that He could teach us.
c. So that He could know us.

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John the Baptist's Message

Read John 1:19-28.
Read again verses 6-10 and verse 15.  These verses all tell us about John the Baptist, God’s messenger.  This is not the John who was a disciple of Jesus.

Great crowds went to hear John preach.  Some people though that he might be the Messiah or Christ, the Savior that God had promised to send. John let them know that he was only God’s messenger, sent to tell them to get ready to receive the Messiah.  He told them to repent and turn away from sin.  When they did, he baptized them.

When a great king traveled in Bible times, he sent a messenger ahead of him to let all the people know that he was coming.  This is what John did for Jesus.

For You to Do

Circle the letter in front of the correct answer.

14. What did John the Baptist do?
a. He wrote the Good News.
b. He told the people that the Messiah was coming.
c. He said He was the Messiah.

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The Lamb of God

Read John 1:29-34

John the Baptist had known Jesus since they were small boys.  Their mothers were cousins.  Yet John didn’t know who Jesus really was until God revealed it to him.  God showed John that Jesus was the Messiah:  the sacrifice for sinners, the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit, the Son of God.

Many people, as did John, think of Jesus as just a good man.  We all need to meet Him personally and know Him better.  These lessons will help you know Jesus better.

Jesus was called the Lamb of God because lambs were a sacrifice for sin.  Those who had sinned and deserved to die could ask God to accept the death of a lamb in their place.  Jesus is the Lamb that God sent to die in our place to take away our sin.

For You to Do

Circle the letter in front of the correct answer.

For You to Do

Circle the letter in front of the correct answer.

15. In what way was Jesus the Lamb of God?
a. He was as gentle as a lamb.
b. He was a sacrifice for sin.

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The First Disciples of Jesus

Read John 1:35-42.

Two of those who were disciples (followers) of John went with Jesus.  One was Andrew; the other is not named.  He may have been John, the writer of the gospel you are studying. 

Andrew went to get his brother Simon who is called Peter also.  Andrew said that he believed Jesus was the Messiah.  Messiah means “Christ” or the “Anointed One.”

16. Name Jesus’ first disciples.
a. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
b. Mary, Joseph, Nathanael
c. Andrew, Peter, and probably John

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Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

Read John 1:43-51.

Philip is a good example for us.  He told Nathanael about Jesus.  At first Nathanael would not believe that Jesus was the Messiah.  Some people don’t believe at first what we tell them about Jesus.  Philip said, “Come and see.”

When Nathanael went to see for himself, he was convinced that Jesus was the Son of God.  Anyone who goes to Jesus in prayer with a sincere heart can know the truth about who Jesus is.  Jesus will reveal Himself.

In verse 51 Jesus calls Himself the Son of Man.  This name is used thirteen times in John’s gospel.  It reminds us that the Son of God left His throne in heaven and became a man.  He had a body just like ours.  He understands our problems.  He too was tempted but He did not sin.  He always did the will of God.  As Son of Man, Jesus showed us what perfect manhood can be by the help of God.  And as Son of Man, He represented all mankind before God.  He died as a substitute for all mankind.


John begins his Good News by telling us who Jesus is.  In this first chapter he presents these names of Jesus:  the Word, Jesus, Lamb of God, Messiah, Christ, Teacher, Son of God, King of Israel, and Son of Man.

For You to Do

Circle the letter in front of the correct answer.

17. In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, several different names are used for Jesus. See how many you can find.

18. Find the verse that you like best in this chapter and memorize it.

19. Thank Jesus for coming to die for your sins. Ask Him to speak to you and let you know Him better.

20. Pray for all the other persons who are studying this course that they may know Jesus better.

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Check Your Answers

The answers to your study exercises are not given in the usual order, so that you will not see the answer to your next question ahead of time. Look for the number you need, and try not to look ahead.

9 c) He gives both natural life and eternal life; He made the world and saves those who believe in Him.

1 b) A fisherman who became Jesus’ closest friend.

10 b) He teaches us how to live and shows us the way to heaven.

2 b) Three and a half years.

11 a) Only those who receive Jesus as their personal Savior.

3 a) Good news.

12 c) By being born of God when we receive Jesus as our Savior.

4 a) From Jesus.

13 a) So that He could die to save us from our sins.

5 b) When he was an old man, after he had taught many people about Jesus.

14 b) He told the people that the Messiah was coming.

6 a) The Holy Spirit of God put in his mind what he was to write.

15 b) He was a sacrifice for sin.

7 a) God speaks to us through Him.

16 c) Andrew, Peter, and probably John.

8 b) His life never had a beginning; He is eternal.

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