BSF Study Questions John Lesson 2, Day 5: John 1:43-51

Summary of passage:  Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael as disciples in Galilee.  Philip is called first and he tells Nathanael who wonders if anything good can come from Nazareth.  Jesus knows Nathanael instantly and tells all that they will see heaven open and the angels of God ascend and descend on him.

Questions:

10)  John the Baptist, Andrew, and Philip.  Their faith, their strength of character, their heart for God, their commitment and perseverance for Christ.

11a)  Nathanael upon hearing that Jesus was from Nazareth wondered how anything good could come from Nazareth.  This is an honest and a prejudice response.  Nathanael, however, keeps an open mind and does follow Philip to come and see.  Nathanael asked Jesus how he knew him and we’re told Jesus saw Nathanael meditating on Scripture under the fig tree.  So he knows all about Jesus and asks questions.  And Nathanael declares Jesus truthfully who he is:  The Son of God and the King of Israel.

Thus, Nathanael does not allow prejudice to get in his way.  He investigates until he has his answer.  He thinks for himself.  Imagine if Nathanael hadn’t of followed Philip.  He would have missed Jesus!  Don’t let that happen to you!

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I think and question a lot.  I’m pretty honest.  We’re all born prejudiced in terms of making judgments on others.  It’s something we work our whole lives at to overcome.

12)  The stairway that linked heaven and earth was made possible by Jesus, who is the bridge (or the ladder) between heaven and earth.  This is what Jesus is referring to when he declares he’ll be the one in the middle, “the way, the truth the life” (John 14:6).  Heaven open means the disciples will see heaven’s testimony about Jesus as plainly as if they heard an announcement from heaven.

Conclusions:  The testimonies and the different ways people come to Jesus is prominent here.  All of our paths are different and all of our journeys are different.  As long as the path leads to Jesus, none of it matters.

Great example of overcoming prejudice and thinking and investigating for ourselves.  Our minds make unconscious judgements but we can consciously override them and see people for who they truly are.  Great lesson!

End Notes:  Philip, Andrew, and Peter were all from Bethsaida.  Undoubtedly, they all knew each other as 2000 years ago villages were small and close-knit.  This is not the first time Jesus has met Philip.  He’s met them before but here John is recorded the formal invitation by Jesus to Philip to follow him.  This we know from the other gospel accounts of this incident.

Nazareth was a town of ill-repute in the ancient world.  It was small and dinky.  Could anything good come from such a place?  This is how God works.  He takes the unexpected and makes it big.  Great analysis of this scene HERE

The Greek verb follow here has the sense of perpetuity.  “Keep on following….”

Bethsaida means “House of the fisherman” or “Fishertown.”  It’s very close to where the Jordan River enters the Lake of Galilee.  See map of Bethsaida in relation to Nazareth HERE.

Philip declares Jesus the one Moses wrote about in the law.

Rabbi is the Hebrew word for teacher.

Nathanael is the same person as Bartholomew.

Jesus compliments Nathanael by saying there is nothing false or no deceit within him.

“Under the fig tree” was a phrase Rabbis used when meditating on Scripture.  Hence, most likely Jesus saw Nathanael in prayer.  He could have been under an actual fig tree as well.

Then Nathanael recognizes Jesus as the Son of God.

Jesus says there is greater things to come.  This applies to us today.  Do you believe it?  Do you believe there are much greater things to come with Jesus?

Why does Jesus quote Genesis here and reference Jacob’s dream?  Perhaps this was the very Scripture Nathanael had been meditating on under the fig tree.

Jesus calls himself many times the Son of Man.  This references Daniel 7:13-14 where the King of Glory who will judge the world is called the Son of Man, a messianic title.  It is Jesus’ favorite self-designation.  It is used 81 times in the Gospels and never used by anyone else but Jesus here.

Fun Fact:  “Truly I tell you” occurs more in their Gospel than in any other Gospel and nowhere else in the New Testament.  John is the only one who prefaces the phrase with “very” a total of 25 times.

Conclusions to Lesson 2:  Here we see 4 ways to come to Jesus:

  1. Andrew by the preaching of John the Baptist.
  2. Peter because of his brother.
  3. Philip who was called directly by Jesus
  4. Nathanael who personally encountered Jesus

We also see 4 different testimonies to the identity of Jesus:

  1.  John the Baptist testified Jesus is eternal, the man uniquely anointed with the Holy Spirit, the Lamb of God, and the unique Son of God.
  2. Andrew testified Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.
  3.  Phillip testified Jesus is the One prophesied in the Old Testament.
  4.  Nathaniel testified Jesus is the Son of God and the King of Israel.

We see all of Jesus’ titles in one chapter in the Bible.  Do you still doubt who Jesus is?

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 2, Day 4: John 1:35-42

Summary of passage:  John the Baptist points out Jesus as the Messiah.  Jesus gains his first 2 disciples (John and Andrew) who were followers of John the Baptist.  They spent the day with Jesus.  Then Andrew found his brother, Simon, whom Jesus called “cephas” or Peter.

Questions:

8 )  Part personal question.  My answer:  They followed Jesus.  Just listening to him as he moved us around the country and believing he had my life all worked out and I don’t have to worry at all.

9a)  Jesus invited the men to follow him and see.  They had to spend the day with him.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Spending the day reading the Bible, praying, listening for answers and guidance from God.  Help others.  Walk in his ways instead of mine.

Conclusions:  The way to Jesus is simple:  He’s identified.  He invites you in.  You follow and spend time with him.  You believe.  Open hearts and open minds are all that are required.  If you follow these steps, belief and eternal life will follow.

End Notes:  Most scholars agree the 2nd disciple who is never named must be John.  John never names himself in this book and the account is so specific it must be made by an eye-witness.

“Look, the Lamb of God” is repeated from John 1:29.  Perhaps John always said this when he saw Jesus.  To him, it was the most important thing about Jesus.

John the Baptist did not care that his disciples left him for Jesus.  After all, that’s his mission in this world: to prepare the way for Jesus.

“What do you want?” or “What do you seek?” are the first words spoken by Jesus in the book of Joh.  And Jesus still asks us this today.

The disciples lived with Jesus and shared in his life.  Jesus did not separate himself from his followers.  The same is true today.

John remembers the time (the tenth hour) that he came to Jesus–another supporting detail that John was the 2nd disciple.

Every time we see Andrew in the book of John he is bringing people to Jesus (John 6:8 and 12:22). That is how most of us come to Jesus–through a friend or family member.  Every Peter has an Andrew.  Who was your Andrew?

“We have found the Messiah” is the simplest and greatest testimony for Jesus.

Jesus knew what kind of man Peter would become so he renames him.

By spending the day with Jesus, the disciples would have first-hand testimony of Jesus and his doings to tell others instead of just pure faith alone.

Comparison of the gospels accounts of the first calling of the disciples HERE  Interesting to see the differences.

Fun post about the order of the calling of the disciples HERE  Only 4 people total in the New Testament got renamed.  This same post goes over each in detail.  3 were disciples and Saul/Paul is considered a close second disciple.  There are also 3 sets of the brothers of the original 12 disciples. Cool!

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 2, Day 3: John 1:29-36

Summary of passage:  John points out Jesus as the Son of God since he saw the Spirit come done and remain on Jesus.

Questions:

6a)  Jesus’ baptism allows the Holy Spirit to live inside of someone and gives them the saving waters of God.  John’s baptism is only to cleanse the soul and prepare to receive Jesus.  John cleanses.  Jesus bestows.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Everything.  I walk with Jesus and in his ways–not in mine.  I work for him, not me.  It’s all about him.

7a)  The lamb was a sin offering for the Jesus people, a sacrifice they must make on the altar to atone for their sins.  Isaiah says how lambs are led to the slaughter.  In calling Jesus the Lamb of God, John the Baptist is saying Jesus is the sacrifice that must be made to atone for their sins.  The difference is this is final.  No more sacrifices will have to be made.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It’s a vivid image on the meekness of Jesus and the sacrifice he bore for our sins.  It makes me more worshipful.

Conclusions:  I will probably be saying “everything” a lot this year to personal questions because Jesus is our everything.

End Notes:  Here we’ve skipped ahead.  Most scholars believe this passage is after John baptized Jesus (since that’s when the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus: Matthew 3:13-17) and after the 40 days of temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13; Mark 1:12-13).  Jesus came back to see John the Baptist in his work.

John could have described Jesus as any thing here:  the king, the conqueror, the Savior, the mighty, the great, etc.  Instead, he chooses the Lamb.  How powerful!  Jesus as the sacrifice–the whole reason we are saved and how we get to God.  Remember that.

Fun Fact:  “Lamb of God” is found in the Bible only twice:  here and in verse 36.

This whole sentence is perhaps the most concise description of Jesus in the Bible and the most important:  “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”.  John sees Jesus first, calls him by his role, and tells us what Jesus does for us.

Note how many times we’ve seen the lamb in the Old Testament:  The lamb slain before the foundation of the world, the animal slain in the Garden of Eden to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness, the lamb provided to Abraham in place of Isaac, the Passover lamb, and the guilt offerings required by God to cleanse Israel of its sins.

Taking away is bearing.

Note it’s sin (singular), not sins (plural).  All of humanity’s sin is bore by Jesus.

Jesus was before John like he was before all of us:  since the beginning of time.  Remember, John the Baptist is older than Jesus so he’s speaking of eternal existence here.

The Greek word for “man” here connotes head of household, Jesus’ superiority over man and women.

Jesus already had the Holy Spirit.  It was merely made visible by God to John so he could witness to the people.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 2, Day 2: John 1:19-28

Summary of passage:  John the Baptist was questions by the Levites (Jewish priests) about his identity near Bethany.  He says he is not the Christ repeatedly.  He denies being Elijah and the Prophet.  He’s the announcer and precursor to Christ, and he says he’s unworthy to untie Christ’s sandals.

Questions:

3)

1)  “Then who are you?  Are you Elijah?”  Answer:  “I am not.”

2)  “Are you the Prophet?”  Answer:  “No.”

3)  “Who are you?”  4)  “”What do you say about yourself?”  Answer:  “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.'”.

5)  “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”  Answer:  “I baptize with water but among you stands one you do not know.  He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

4a)  In Malachi 4:5-6, Elijah was predicted to return before the Day of the Lord (which we learned last year in Revelation is the Second Coming of Christ).  In Deuteronomy 18:15-19, God promised another Prophet would come in due time.  So the Levites here are trying to figure out if John the Baptist is this promised return of Elijah or the Prophet.

b)  He says he’s the one sent to reveal the Christ and tell the people to prepare for his arrival that Isaiah predicted in his book.  The one who shall make straight the highway path to God.

5)   Personal Question.  My answer:  He’s humble and gives Christ all the credit.  I can remember this for all the blessings in my life and take no credit for them.  They are all HIS.

Conclusions:  We gain insight into John the Baptist’s character here.  He knows his purpose in life and in all humility he goes about his business singularly focused.  A great example to us of a witness for Christ.

End Notes:  This is John’s testimony for Jesus.

“The Jews” here do not refer to the Jewish people as a whole.  John uses it to denote the religious establishment and this is the first time in the gospels this is seen.  Specifically, they are sent here to look into the activities of an unauthorized leader.

The Levites as most of you know were descendants of Levi who were the priests of God’s people.

Fun Fact:  The Greek word for “Jews” occurs about 70 times in this Gospel.

Note John doesn’t say exactly who he is:  “Well, I’m Jesus’s cousin, the son of the priest Zechariah” etc.  Instead, he focuses on his mission:  to prepare and cleanse (hence baptisms) the way for Jesus.

Elijah did not die (2 Kings 2:11) and thus believed he would return to earth to announce the end times.  John is repeatedly asked if he is the Messiah and he gets more and more terse with each denial.  Like we do when repeatedly asked a question.

The Messiah means “the Anointed One”.  In the Old Testament anointing was a sign of being set apart.  Here, the people are seeking “the One”.

Baptisms grew out of the Old Testament tradition of ceremonial washings.  In the first century AD, baptisms with water were only for Gentiles converting to Judaism.  So if Jews agreed to be baptized they are openly repenting of their sins.

Untying thongs of sandals was the duty of slaves and a duty which disciples did not do for masters. John is saying he’s not worthy of even this duty.  He is lower than a slave.

Bethany is just outside of Jerusalem on the banks of the Jordan River.  See map HERE

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 1, Day 5: John 1:14-18

Summary of passage:  The Word (Jesus) became flesh and was sent by the Father to us.  John testifies for Jesus, saying Jesus is greater than him.  Jesus is the source of our blessings.  Jesus has made God known to all of us.

Questions:

12a)  God has blessed us out of faith through Jesus.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Way too many to choose but a recent one is God has given me a job to help support my family and continue His financial blessings upon us AND it’s a job He picked for me because it fits me and the people and company I work for are fantastic.

13)  “The law was given through Moses”:  God sent His law (the rules for livings) through Moses.

“Grace came through Jesus Christ”:  Because of Jesus, God gives us grace (forgiveness, etc).

“Truth came through Jesus Christ”:  Jesus brought the Truth which is there’s only one way to God and that’s through him (Jesus).

In essence, this entire phrase together (separated is confusing) means Christ is replacing the law brought by Moses and only Jesus is grace and truth and life.

14)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Incredible and heart-wrenching.

Conclusions:  Based on this first lesson of John, I’m gonna say that BSF has stopped marking questions as challenge questions and personal questions.  Now, BSF provides the reference verses for us to look up (which I think is a good thing especially for new believers who have no clue where to look in the Bible for such things).  And I’m assuming the personal nature of BSF questions is here to stay, especially after Revelation where it seemed every question had a personal twist on it.  I’ll leave it up to you whether you think this is a good thing or not.  I’m ambivalent.  I think it’s a good thing except where it gets repetitive i.e. the same question worded slightly different for each lesson.  We do need to apply the Word (note the pun) to our daily lives and I love that.  However, there’s only so many ways to apply the same subject to my life at any given time.  I just can’t take in big changes.  Small steps and let’s focus on those.

End Notes:  Verse 16 should say:  “Of his fullness we have all received, and grace for grace”.  John means here grace is never-ending with God.

Verse 18:  In the Greek, “God” here is missing the definite article which indicates a person.  Here, John is speaking of God’s deity or his nature of being.  “At the Father’s side” is better translated as “who is in the bosom of the Father”.  This is how children are to parents–connected and one.  Jesus and God are one.

“God the One and Only” is Jesus here. “Made him known” can be read as “declared”.  Jesus has declared the nature of the unseen God and IS the unseen God.

Because no one can look upon God and live (Exodus 33:20), God became human and sent Jesus in order to make Him known.

Final Conclusions to Lesson 1:  Admittedly, my Bible had dust on it when I pulled it out after the study of Revelation ended.  I’m so glad BSF has started because I need that push to know God and I need the structure of a bible study to make me do so.  Great opening verses to dive right into God and Jesus and who they are.  This is the essence of the book of John and what he’s trying to convey and what we as believers need to know.  We got a nice introduction to John the Baptist and we’ll see him again next week.  Knowing God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one and have been since before time began and all God asks of us is to believe that statement should lift the heart of any struggling with doubts of worthiness or shame or any other lies from Satan.  We are worthy.  We are His.  And He is ours.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 1, Day 4: John 1:6-8; 14-15

Summary of passage:  John the Baptist was sent from God to testify that Jesus is the light.  Jesus (the Word) became flesh.

Questions:

10a)  He was sent from God to testify that Jesus is the light so that through him all men might believe.  He was an evangelist whose life’s goal was to bring people to Jesus.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I think we are all given work to do here on earth that will shine God’s light into other’s lives.  And that looks different for everyone.  For me, I’m a writer and I try to convey God’s light through my stories.  I also pass on God to my kids and to those I meet through my actions and words.  God and the encounters He sends us are everywhere.  We just have to look.

11)  Calling Jesus the Word points to his uniqueness as the Word is what gives life from Creation on.  He’s the “One and Only”, implying Jesus is the only way to God.  He holds the glory different from humans.

Conclusions:  The take away here is to remember Jesus’ uniqueness and his special relationship to God and man.  And to remember God’s purpose is to save us.  Through Jesus.  And it’s our job to let others know about that.

End Notes:  Testifying connotes committing.  If you testify for Jesus or for someone on trial, you are committing to him.

John the Baptist had a significant following, of which John the Apostle was one until he met Jesus.  Some of John the Baptist’s followers were uncertain of Jesus.  John makes clear here that John the Baptist is not the light for those who were confused about Jesus.

“The Word became flesh” was astounding at that time in history.  To the Greeks, their gods were super-men who lived forever, not a different being entirely and certainly not logos.  To the Jews, God was an effervescent spirit.  How could he ever become as common as a man?  John speaks to both beliefs here and announces:  Jesus/God is man!

God comes to us in the flesh.  We don’t have to go out and find Him.  He is there always.

“And dwelt among us” is more properly translated as “pitched one’s tent”, directly linking to the tabernacle of Old Testament’s time where God dwelled, where the law was kept, where sacrifices were made, the center of the town, and where revelations occurred and God spoke.  God is here as our center in the flesh (Holy Spirit in our times).

“Seen” is more properly translated “beheld” and meant in Greek “to see with one’s eye” in person, in the flesh.

“Full of” is all encompassing.

“Grace and truth”.  Both together and not one without the other.  That is God.  The corresponding Hebrew translation here is often “unfailing love and faithfulness.”

Verse 15 is John the Baptist speaking.  In ancient times, if you were older than someone else, you were considered wiser.  Intelligence had no say here.  Hence, John the Baptist is making is clear that even though Jesus came after him in birth of the flesh, Jesus is the greater.  And also he’s saying Jesus did actually come before him since Jesus has always existed.

Fun Fact:  John never uses the word “grace” after the prologue (verse 14).

Another Fun Fact:  John uses the Greek word for “truth” 25 times and links it closely with Jesus who is the truth (John 14:6).

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 1, Day 3: John 1:9-13

Summary of passage:  Jesus (the light) came into the world but many did not recognize him.  Those who did receive him received the right to become children of God who were chosen by God for that purpose.

Questions:

7)  Unbelievers are Christ’s “own” who did not receive him.  Their hearts are hardened.  God choses through His infinite grace who will receive Him and who won’t.  “Own” refers to all of us and also to home.  We see this exact phrase used by John in John 19:27 when Mary was taken home.

8 )  Part personal question.  My answer:  Receive Christ and believe in him.  It has meant everything in my life.  It is His will and not mine, and He is faithful.

9)  Personal Question.  My answer:

Born:  We are created for God, given life, born of God.

Not of natural descent:  We are from God and exist by His will.

Nor of human decision:  God chooses us!

Or a husband’s will:  We have no say in whom God chooses.

Born of God:  When we are chosen, we are God’s.  He lives in us.

Conclusions:  Note we skipped verses 6-8 since they reference John the Baptist.  We will examine these in Day 4 together with verses 14-5, which combine the symbolism of light.  Also note John the Baptist is NOT John the apostle who wrote this book.  Different guy entirely.

Loved the focus on how we are chosen by God for His kingdom.  So important to remember when we are sharing the gospel and when we are depressed and feel unworthy in this world.

End Notes:  Verse 9 does NOT mean every man will have saving light i.e. Jesus.  John means Jesus brings light into this world that otherwise would be darkness, which every man can see.

Membership in God’s family is by grace alone–the gift of God–never by human achievement.  We have to be open and receptive to God’s word.

Fun Fact:  The Greek word for world is used 78 times in this Gospel and 24 times in John’s letters.  It’s only used 47 times in all of Paul’s writings.

It can mean:  universe, earth, people on earth, most people, people opposed to God or the human system opposed to God’s purposes.  John emphasizes this word through repetition and uses it interchangeably between meanings.