John 1 Commentary and Free Bible Study Guide

I LOVE John Chapter 1! This chapter gives us some of the great foundational doctrines of Jesus and His relationship with the Father. This is what you will find here in this John 1 Bible study and commentary

Our world is full of opinions about who Jesus is and what He came to accomplish. As His followers, we must be firmly planted in the Truth regarding the identity and deity of Jesus. 

Before diving into your Bible study of John 1, there are some important questions we need to consider.

  • What can we learn from John 1
  • What is this chapter all about?
  • What are the promises in John Chapter 1

Use this free study guide of John 1 to explore these questions and also discover why Jesus is called the Word in John 1.- John 1:14 NASB

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3 Ways to Use The John 1 Bible Study Guide 

This Bible study is designed to help you do your own in-depth study of John chapter 1. Study on your own or gather a group of friends to discuss together.

The study is broken up into 10 daily lessons. Please don’t feel pressured to move through these lessons too quickly. It is more important that you make a connection with the Lord each day rather than just getting it done. Don’t rush it. Move at whatever pace is comfortable for you. 

Make sure to subscribe and I’ll notify you of future study guides. PLUS, you’ll get access to my subscriber resource library.

1. John 1 Online Bible Study Questions 

The first option is to use the John 1 Bible study questions. You can study online by using the link below.

Go to the  John chapter 1 study questions and follow along in the Table of Contents.

2. Get the Free Printable John 1 Bible Study Lessons

Download the free printable version of the study guide questions. Download the free John 1 study guide

**Along with the study guide, you will also need a spiral notebook or binder with lined paper to write down your notes. See below for tools you will need.**

3. Get the John 1 Bible Study Journal

For the first two options, you will need a notebook or binder to take down your notes. The journal version provides plenty of space for you to write your notes. There are also some additional goodies you get with it. Click the image below to get your copy.

Bible Study Guide of John 1

John 1 Bible Study Tools to Use 

Along with the study guide, there are some other Bible study tools you will need.

  • A Bible you are willing to mark in. I recommend having a Bible you use just for study and marking.
    Or, you can print out the scriptures for John chapter 1. Watch this video where I show you how to print out an observation worksheet. 
  • 4-5 Different colored pencils or colored ball-point pens for marking the scriptures (I’ll explain this more in the study guide).
    Optional Resource: download and print the Keyword Key to use during this step.
  • A spiral notebook or a binder with loose-leaf binder paper. I prefer using a binder because it’s easier to move the pages around. Use this to write down your notes, thoughts, and observations as the study guide instructs you.
  • Word study tools. A few times in the study you will be asked to do a word study. My favorite tool for word studies is Blue Letter Bible. Here is a video where I show you how to use this resource.

An Introduction to the Inductive Bible Study Method

Maybe you have already done a bible study of the gospel of John. But, perhaps you are new to the Inductive Bible Study Method? Along with doing an in-depth Bible study of John 1, this study guide is meant to be an introduction to the inductive study process. 

This is my favorite method to use for Bible study because it teaches us how to study the Bible for ourselves. 

What is the Meaning of John Chapter 1?

The purpose of the four gospels is to give an account of the life and ministry of Jesus while here on earth. Each one emphasizes the characteristics of Jesus a bit differently. Here is John chapter 1 explained according to Wiersbe.

“The writers of the four gospels have given us “snapshots” of our Lord’s life on earth, for no complete biography could ever be written (John 21:25). Matthew wrote with his fellow Jews in mind and emphasized that Jesus of Nazareth had fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. Mark wrote for the busy Romans. Whereas Matthew emphasized the King, Mark presented the servant, ministering to needy people. Luke wrote his gospel for the Greeks and introduced them to the sympathetic Son of Man. But it was given to John, the beloved disciple, to write a book for both Jews and Gentiles, presenting Jesus as the Son of God.” – Weirsbe Commentary of the New Testament

John chapter 1 gives us a great introduction into both the life and ministry of Jesus and His existence as the Son of God.

John Chapter 1 Summary

Here is a short summary of what the gospel of John chapter 1 is about.

  • John 1:1-14 introduces us to two key people in this chapter – Jesus, and John the Baptist. We see a glimpse of the identity of these two men and God’s purposes for them.
  • John 1:15-34 gives us an overview of John the Baptist’s testimonies. He testifies not only about who Jesus is, but also about himself.
  • John 1:35-50 shows us Jesus calling His disciples. Make sure to notice what role John the Baptist plays here.

John Chapter 1:1-18 – The Word Became Flesh

In this first section, John presents Jesus as the eternal, pre-existent Word of God who became flesh.

John 1:1-3

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made ESV

This passage opens by proclaiming that the Word of God was in the beginning. Not only was it in the beginning, but the Word of God is personified as a being. As we continue reading through the chapter we quickly understand that this being is Jesus; the Son of God.

The greek word used for “Word” is logos which conveys the notion of divine self-expression. Verse 1 states clearly that, from the beginning, the Word was God.

John 1:1 is one of the greatest verses in the New Testament which declares the deity of the Father and the Son. They are one God, expressed in two distinct persons.

This passage also resounds the account of creation we read in Genesis 1. Jesus was not only with God in the beginning when He created all things, but all things were made through Him.

Colossians 1:16-17 – For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 

Verses 4-5

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There are a couple of different words in the greek that mean life. The term in this verse refers to “the principle of life” rather than “biological life”. The Word is the beginning and source of all life; both physical and spiritual. Jesus reveals and defines true life.

This life is the light of men. The Word, who gives life also gives us light; wisdom, guidance, and understanding of how to inherit eternal life. The darkness did not overcome (or comprehend) the light. Many of God’s people didn’t understand who Jesus was or why He came.

Verses 6-8

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

John the Baptist’s ministry was to point people towards Christ as the Messiah. He came to bear witness to the light. This term “bear witness” means “to affirm one has seen, heard, or experienced something”. Think of a courtroom – a witness holds much weight in determining the truth of any matter. 

This was John’s purpose. He came as a witness to things he had seen. We will learn more of those details later in the chapter.

John 1:9-11

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

In verse 8, the writer makes it clear that John was not the light. He simply came to point others toward the true light.

Jesus, the true light, had come. He had come to the Jewish people, but they did not accept Him. The Jewish community was expecting their Messiah to save them with a physical deliverance from the harsh oppression of Roman Rule during this time. They misunderstood that His purpose was to deliver them from a much greater enemy – death.

“This little world knew not Christ, for God had hid him under the carpenter’s son; his glory was inward, his kingdom came not by observation.” (Trapp)

Verses 12-13

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

The word for receive means “to take”.  This grace is offered to all mankind. However, only those who take hold of Life through faith are given the right to become children of God.

Galatians 3:26 For you are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

John 1:14

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The word for “dwelt” in this passage means “tabernacled”. The tabernacle in the Old Testament was where God placed His glory and presence among His people. Once again, God’s presence had come. This time, He placed His presence in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 1:1-3 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

“We have seen His glory…” means that Jesus reveals the glory of the Father. 

“In the Bible, “glory” often means the bright, shining light which was seen when God was present. It also means the perfection and excellence of God. When the Lord Jesus was here on earth, He veiled His glory in a body of flesh… The glory which the disciples saw indicated to them that He was truly the Son of God. Jesus is the only begotten of the Father, that is, Christ is God’s unique Son.” – Believers Bible Commentary

Jesus is “…full of grace and truth”.  Life, truth, and grace are not words with subjective meanings. Jesus, His teachings, and His life reveal and define them.

Verse 15

John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”

We already saw that John came to bear witness to the Light. His declaration proves that he had an understanding of the pre-existence of Christ. 

He had been telling people about the coming Messiah before His public ministry. Here, John is pointing to the person that he had been speaking of. It’s like he’s saying, “Hey everyone, here is the one I’ve been telling you about!”. 

Verses 16-18

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

The greek word for ‘fullness’ means ‘abundance, complete’. 

Prior to Christ’s coming, the people of God were made righteous before God by keeping the law. This new order, of righteousness through believing and receiving Christ, came with abundant grace.

While no one has seen God, Jesus is the exact representation of His character and nature. Jesus is God’s Word to us.

John 1:19-34 The Testimony of John the Baptist

Bible Study of John 1

This section reveals the testimony of John the baptist regarding the identity of Jesus as the awaited Messiah.

Verses 19-23

And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

I love John’s humility in this passage. He could have easily told the Jewish leaders that he was the one whom Isaiah prophesied about. But he didn’t. He began by stating who he was not; he was not the Christ.

John did not try to place the attention on himself, but rather, he sought to point people to Christ. 

Malachi prophesied that Elijah would return before the end to bring restoration.

Malachi 4:5 – “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.

Moses spoke of a prophet who God would send.

Deuteronomy 18:18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 

John denies both of these claims. However, Jesus teaches later in Matthew that John the Baptist was the Elijah prophesied about in Malachi.

Matthew 11:11-14 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.

Verses 24-28

(Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

This seems like a reasonable question at this point. These Jewish leaders are wondering, “why are you baptizing people if you are not any of these people?”

Acts 19:4 teaches that John’s baptism was one of repentance from sin; to prepare people for the coming of Jesus.

Acts 19:4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.”

John’s baptism demonstrated the humble willingness to repent, be cleansed, and prepare for the coming Messiah. Yet John’s baptism gave nothing to help someone keep clean. The work of Jesus and His baptism of the Holy Spirit represents more than John’s baptism. – David Guzik, Enduring Word Commentary

Verses 29-31

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”

In this section, John points towards Jesus as the object of what he had been proclaiming.

Throughout the Old Testament, a lamb was the animal God told His people to sacrifice for payment of their sin (Exodus 12). John’s introduction of Jesus declares that He is the one who can take away sins. 

John goes on to repeat what we saw him say back in John 1:15; Jesus is greater than himself because He existed before him. 

Verse 32-34

And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Here, John gives the bulk of his witness to Jesus as the Son of God. We learn back in Matthew 3 that Jesus came to John asking to be baptized.

Matthew 3:16-17 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

This event is what John bears witness to in this chapter. His testimony gives reliable evidence to Jesus as the Son of God.

John 1:35-51 – Jesus Calls His First Disciples

This section shows Jesus calling His first disciples. 

Verses 35-37

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.

This passage proves John’s dedication to his call to prepare the way for Jesus. These two men were John’s disciples. They had been following, learning, and listening to John during his ministry. Now, Jesus steps on the scene, these two men depart from following John to follow after another.

This passage serves as a great example of humble service in God’s kingdom. John knew his purpose was not to gather followers or build his own name. He wasn’t searching for popularity or prestige; he aimed to point others to Christ. 

Verses 38-39

Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.

Jesus knew how to ask great questions. “What are you seeking? Why are you following me?” These are his first words to his first disciples. Jesus already knew the answer. His question was meant to cause these men to examine their actions and hearts.

Their answer revealed their true desire. They longed to be in His presence.

As I studied this passage it caused me to do some of my own introspection. Do I follow Jesus just for the benefits and blessings He gives? Or, like these two disciples, do I long to be in His presence? Do I seek to know Him more?

John 1:40-42

One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

Andrew has quickly become one of my favorite characters. He shows no hesitation to follow Jesus, and then, after spending some time with Him, he quickly runs to tell his brother, Simon all about Him.

This is a great model of discipleship. John tells Andrew; Andrew tells Peter. This echoes Paul’s instruction to Timothy in how we participate in the Great Commission.

2 Timothy 2:2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

Making disciples should be the lifestyle of every child of God.

Verses 43-46

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

After Jesus’ call to follow Him, Philip runs to Nathaniel testifying that he had found the one whom the Old Testament prophesied about. 

As we keep reading the next few verses, it seems Nathaniel took pride in being a good Jew. This may be why Philip revealed Jesus to him by appealing to the Old Testament prophecies.

Nathaniel’s reply shows his prejudice. Nazareth was a small town compared to the area of Galilee.

 Verses 47-49

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

This is the first time we see Jesus reveal his identity to His disciples. By declaring that He saw Nathaniel under the fig tree showed His omniscience; He is all-knowing, a character trait only possessed by God.

This was the evidence Nathaniel needed to confess Jesus as the Son of God and King of Israel.

John 1:50-51

Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

Here, Jesus is announcing that Nathaniel and the other disciples have only witnessed a small demonstration of Jesus as the Son of God. A day is coming when He will rule and reign on the earth fully revealed as the anointed Son of God.

The mention of the angels of God ascending and descending refers to a passage in Genesis 28:12-17. Jacob dreamed that angels were ascending and descending on a ladder reaching from heaven to earth.

During this dream, God gave Jacob the same Covenant He had made with his grandfather, Abraham, and his father, Isaac. This covenant promised to bring forth a great nation from these men. Jacob’s sons became the 12 tribes of Israel; God’s chosen people.

Here, Jesus is saying that He is the fulfillment of this covenant. It is through Him that God will continue to build His house.

When to Use a John 1 Commentary

Commentaries can be a great resource when used at the right time. Please don’t go to your commentaries too early! First, do your own study of the passage and allow the Holy Spirit to teach and reveal God’s truth to you.

There is such an amazing joy that comes when you find truth for yourself. If you look to outside sources prior to your own diligent study, you rob yourself of this joy.

However, commentaries can be a great tool for checking your interpretation of the scriptures. If your understanding of a particular passage has some substantial variances from trusted commentaries, it may be worth re-considering your interpretation. 

So, after you finish your study guide, here are a couple of commentaries of John chapter 1 to refer to.

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11 thoughts on “John 1 Commentary and Free Bible Study Guide”

  1. I remember how exciting it was when I first discovered the inductive study method. I loved being able to dive deep and look at the historical context and origins of words and passages.

  2. I learned a bit about the inductive Bible study method years ago. However, I have not put it into practice as much as I should. This is a great book of the Bible to get started with!

    1. I used to do the same thing. When I first learned this method, the woman who taught me encouraged me to wait. Some of my favorite moments with the Lord are those where I’m sitting by myself with my coffee and Bible open and He reveals His truth to me. It’s always awesome!

  3. Great post Megan! This is my favourite way to study as well and I really love your study guide. It’s not just helpful, but it’s also really pretty! :)

  4. This is such a beautiful introduction to John! I just recently started rereading this and love this post to remind me of why I love this book! What a beautiful resource for others!!!

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