Introduction: If you have been studying these lessons with me for a
long time, you know I love studies on specific books of the Bible.
Our lesson quarterly more frequently covers Bible topics than Bible
books. When we study topics, we change from a God-inspired order of
presentation to a human-inspired order of presentation. Of course,
the Holy Spirit inspires modern human teachers, but I feel on
stronger ground when the order comes more directly from God. For
these reasons, I am delighted this quarter we will be studying the
book of John – one of the most important books of the Bible. This
week we are introduced to this great book. Next week we begin a
serious study of John. Let’s jump in and introduce ourselves to the
book of John!

  1. The Story Recorded

    1. Read Luke 1:1-2. What is Luke talking about when he writes
      of “the things that have been fulfilled among us?” (He
      means the life, teachings and work of Jesus. These
      fulfilled the prophecies.)

      1. What does “to draw up an account” mean? (To organize
        and write it down.)

      2. How many wrote about Jesus? (John doesn’t quantify
        the word “many,” but it seems like quite a few. This
        same word appears in Matthew 7:13 to describe the
        number of people who will be lost!)

      3. How many accounts do we have right now? (We have only
        the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.)

        1. What happened to the rest? (They have been lost
          over time.)

        2. Why do you think God allowed that?

          1. Do you think that God preserved the best,
            most beneficial accounts?(That is my

    2. Notice in Luke 1:2 the source of these many accounts. What
      are they? (Eyewitnesses and “servants of the word.” Our
      lesson says these “servants of the word” are “professional
      memorizers.” The IVP Bible Background Commentary on the
      New Testament refers to “Oral Storytellers.”)

      1. Which would be a more accurate source of information:
        eyewitnesses or professional story tellers?
        (Eyewitnesses are generally the “gold standard,” but
        someone who surveys the accounts of various
        eyewitnesses could give a broader perspective.)

    3. Was John an eyewitness? (Yes. Not only that, he was one
      of the leaders of the disciples and one of the inner
      circle of Jesus’ closest friends.)

      1. How does that affect your view of your coming study
        of the Gospel of John?

    4. Read John 21:25. What does this suggest about the book of
      John? (It tells us that John did not begin to tell
      everything that he knew. If you read the introduction to
      William Barclay’s “The Gospel of John” you will be amazed
      at his list of what John leaves out of his account.
      Barclay notes John omits the birth, baptism and
      temptations of Jesus. The Last Supper, Gethsemane and the
      Ascension are not reported. None of Jesus’ parables made
      their way into John’s account. Barclay, at 1-2. Since it
      seems that John wrote his account after the other gospels,
      he had a specific message that he wanted to convey to give
      us a fuller picture of Jesus.)

      1. Do you wish that more had been recorded about the
        life and works of Jesus?

        1. If you said “yes,” have you read the four

  2. The Goal of the Story

    1. Read John 20:24-25. Put yourself in Thomas’s place. What
      would you be feeling?

      1. Is Thomas’s reaction appropriate?

    2. Read John 20:26-27. What does this teach us about Jesus?

    3. This story is recorded only in John’s gospel. Why do you
      think John recorded it while none of the other gospels
      included it?

    4. Read John 20:30-31. What is John’s goal in writing his

      1. What does John’s goal have to do with the selective
        nature of what he records? (John has two goals:
        First, to guide us to believe that Jesus is the Son
        of God. Second, believing in Jesus will open the door
        to eternal life for us. John decided what to report
        to further these goals.)

      2. Why does John add the note that these other miracles
        were done in the presence of the disciples? (John
        tells us that he knows more than he is writing. What
        he knows is accurate for it been witnessed by other

    5. Read John 20:28-29. What is Thomas’ reaction to Jesus’
      proof? (He acknowledges that Jesus is Lord and God.)

      1. How does John 20:29 apply to us?

      2. How does John 20:29 fit into the purpose of John’s
        gospel? (Clement of Alexandria believed that John
        wrote his gospel to supplement the other three. If
        this is true, then John would be writing to people
        who were not eyewitnesses to Jesus. We can clearly
        see what John is teaching us. Thomas would not
        believe unless he could see. John’s audience (and we
        today) cannot see what Thomas saw. Thus, we must
        believe based on the record of John and the other
        gospel writers. This refines our answer about what
        John has in mind. Of everything he knows, he is
        picking stories that will convince those who have not
        seen Jesus. Notice that John reported Jesus’ blessing
        on those who believe without seeing.)

  3. Selections to Fulfill the Goal

    1. Put yourself in John’s place. Assume Clement (and others)
      are correct in their assertion that John wrote his gospel
      last. In addition to encouraging those who were not
      eyewitnesses to Jesus’ ministry, what other things would
      you have in mind? (The natural thing would be to try to
      fill in any “gaps” in the other gospels. It would be
      natural to want to give a picture of Jesus that you
      thought was not clear enough from the existing writings.
      You would want to fill in those things that would help to
      trigger faith.)

    2. Read John 2:1-3. How many of you know this story? (If not,
      read the entire account in verses 1-11.)

      1. This story appears only in John’s gospel. Why do you
        think he included it?(This story shows Jesus’ concern
        for us goes beyond the mere basics. Jesus is
        concerned about the quality of our life.)

        1. What kind of “qualities” are involved in this
          story? (Embarrassment, joy, celebration.)

    3. Read John 11:43-44. How many of you know this story? (If
      not, read the entire account in chapter 11 of John.)

      1. This account appears only in John’s gospel. Why do
        you think he included it? (How could the others leave
        it out? What a glorious revelation of the power of

        1. What lessons do we learn about Jesus in this

      2. Contrast the story of the wedding in Cana with the
        resurrection of Lazarus. What lessons do you learn
        for your daily life? (That Jesus is not only
        concerned about the “frills” in my life, He is
        concerned and able to overcome the most fundamental
        tragedy – death. Nothing is too small. Nothing is
        too difficult for Jesus. Can you see how this would
        give an insight into Jesus’ character for those who
        had not actually seen Him?)

    4. Read John 13:3-5. How many of you know this story? (If
      not, read the entire account in John 13:1-17.)

      1. This account appears only in John’s gospel. Why do
        you think he included it?

        1. What lessons do we learn for our relationship
          with other Christians?

          1. Would your attitude be different if this
            story was not in the Bible?

        1. What lessons do we learn about Jesus’
          relationship with us? (Jesus’ willingness to
          come to this world, live a perfect life and die
          a painful death for us teaches us about His love
          and self-sacrificing attitude towards us. This
          is self-sacrifice in the big things of life.
          These big things involve moments when you know
          “this is important.” The account of Jesus
          washing His disciples feet teaches us to be
          loving and self-sacrificing in even the little
          things of life. These are matters about which
          you might not give a second thought. Again, we
          see a personal insight in Jesus’ character for
          those who did not know Him.)

    1. Friend, I hope this introduction to John has fired your
      imagination about the Gospel of John. What important
      lessons does John have in mind for us as we begin our
      journey through his book? I invite you to commit to
      studying this series on John to find out!

  1. Next week: Jesus Is the Best.