John 1:1-18 The Word
- This book was written by the apostle John, also known as John the Beloved. Some consider the Gospel of John to be the most important of the Bible’s 66 books.
- Much of John’s Gospel appears to be directed to church members, showing Christ’s divine nature as the Son of God.
- Brother Hugh Nibley called the Gospel of John “the standard guide to the Atonement” (Approaching Zion, p. 605).
- As noted previously, 92% of the material in John is exclusive; meaning that only 8% is covered somewhere in the other three Gospels.
In approaching the life of Jesus Christ chronologically, we actually would begin with John 1:1-5, 14, which speak briefly of His pre-mortal life and works:
- John 1:1-18 can be considered John’s introduction, thesis, and testimony What truths do you see in these verses that highlight the life and mission of our Savior?
- Despite much conversation in the scholarly world about the correct translation of the Word in these verses, we can nonetheless derive the following:
- “The Word” is Jesus Christ (verses 1, 14).
- Jesus Christ was a God in the pre-mortal life, and was with God, Our Heavenly Father (verses 1-2; although as Jehovah He had not yet experienced mortality, He was a God and a member of the Godhead).
- Jesus Christ is the Creator of Heaven and Earth (verses 3, 10).
- He is the life and light of all (verse 4).
- Those who choose darkness do not “comprehend” (understand or know) His light (verses 5, 10).
- Jesus Christ is the source of each person’s “conscience,” or ability to know right from wrong (verse 9; we often call our conscience “the light of Christ”).
- Many of the Jews and others of the house of Israel rejected Jesus Christ (verse 11).
- Those who accept and follow Christ may become spiritually born again, through Him (verses 12-13; see also Mosiah 5:2, 5, 7-8).
- The pre-mortal Jehovah took upon Himself mortality (verse 14), but some in the New Testament—including John—saw Him in His glory (presumably on the Mount of Transfiguration; see Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2-3; Luke 9:29).
- John the Baptist (son of Zacharias and Elizabeth) prophesied and testified of Jesus Christ (verse 15).
- The Gospel of Jesus Christ—higher than the law of Moses—offers us grace through the Savior (verses 16-17; the law of consecration adds even more to the law of the gospel).
Notably, the Joseph Smith Translation adds to John 1:18: “No man hath seen God at any time; except he hath borne record of the Son.” This appears to teach that whenever God the Father reveals Himself (or speaks) to man or woman, it is accompanied by a witness of His Son, Jesus Christ.
John 1:19-34 The Baptist and the Christ
What do you expect to hear next when someone says, “I would like to bear my testimony …”? In John 1:6-8, 15 we are told that John the Baptist bore pure witness of Jesus Christ. Additionally:
- What questions did the priests and Levites ask John the Baptist, in verses 19-21? What were his answers? (The question in verse 21 about “that prophet” is likely referring to Moses’s prophecy of Jesus Christ, recorded in Deuteronomy 18:15; see also John 1:45; Acts 3:22; 7:37; 1 Nephi 22:20-21; 3 Nephi 20:23.)
- What were the additional questions and answers in John 1:22-27?
- What do you learn about John the Baptist, and about Jesus, from John 1:19-27?
- Read also verses 29-34, looking for other things you learn about the Baptist and about Jesus.
John 1:35-51 First Encounters with New Disciples
Can you think of someone whose testimony has had a deep impact on you? Verses 35-51 portray drama and power as righteous men in a wicked society first encountering their long-sought Messiah. We can properly call John the Baptist the first disciple of Jesus’s adult, mortal ministry. And now, from these verses, we can add five more—Andrew, John, Peter, Philip, and Nathanael.
In verses 35-36, John the Baptist humbly directed toward Jesus the attention and devotion of two men who had been his (John the Baptist’s) disciples. John declared, “Behold the Lamb of God.” These two were Andrew (see verse 40) and John the Beloved, writer of this Gospel (as certified by many, including Elder James E. Talmage in his book, Jesus the Christ; throughout John’s Gospel, he only referred to himself indirectly or not at all; humbly suppressing and never mentioning his own name).
Read, ponder, and picture the following, again looking for things you learn about Jesus and about each of these new disciples:
- The story of Andrew’s and John’s first interactions with—and reaction to—the Mortal Messiah (verses 37-39).
- The story of Andrew bringing his brother Simon Peter to Jesus (verses 40-42; note that in the JST for John 1:42, it adds, “And they [Andrew and Peter] straightway left all and followed Jesus”).
- The story of Jesus seeking out Philip (verse 43).
- The story of Philip seeking out Nathanael (verses 44-46).
- The story of Jesus addressing Nathanael (verses 47-51; see also D&C 6:22-24; some people need little time and experience to accept the Savior into their lives, while others need more).
On Being His Disciple and Sharing with Others
Jesus said to Andrew and John, “Come and see” (verse 39). In what ways have others invited or helped you to “come and see” the Lord and His works? In what ways have you done this for others?
John the Baptist shared his testimony of Jesus with Andrew, who in turn shared his with Peter. Also, Jesus bore witness to Philip, who then shared with Nathanael. When was the last time you shared your testimony with just one person being present to hear you?
Jesus said to Philip, “Follow me” (verse 43). What does it mean to you to “follow” Him? In what ways has He invited you—and in what ways does He continue to invite you—to follow Him?
Philip said to Nathanael, “Come and see” (verse 46). What things have you seen in your life that are convincing testimonies to you of Jesus Christ and His Church?
Jesus said to Nathanael, “thou shalt see greater things” (verse 50). This is the Lord’s promise to His faithful disciples.