Lesson 60: John 1

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

John the Beloved recorded important doctrines related to Jesus Christ’s role in the premortal existence. John the Baptist also bore witness of Jesus Christ and baptized Him. Jesus Christ invited others to learn of Him.

Suggestions for Teaching

John 1:1–18; Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:1–19

John testifies of Jesus Christ as the Son of God

The Lord Jesus Christ

Divide students into pairs. Display a picture of Jesus Christ on the board. Ask students to imagine that they are talking with someone who knows very little about Jesus Christ. Invite one student in each pair to take one minute to teach the other student about Jesus as if the other student knew very little about Him. Following this activity, invite a few students who were taught about Christ to share with the class what they were taught by their partners.

Briefly introduce the book of John by explaining that the Apostle John recorded what he wanted the Saints to know about Jesus Christ. John was an eyewitness to many of the accounts he wrote about. Most of the material in John’s Gospel is not found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which were written to help Jews and Gentiles believe that Jesus was the Messiah and Savior of mankind. In contrast, John specifically wrote to those who already believed that Jesus was the Christ.

As students study John 1, invite them to look for truths about the Savior that can strengthen their faith in and testimonies of Jesus Christ.

Ask a student to read aloud Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:1–2 (in the Bible appendix). Invite the class to follow along. Ask them to look for truths that John taught about Jesus Christ.

  • What truths do we learn about Jesus Christ in these verses? (One truth students should identify is that Jesus Christ was with God in the beginning. Write this truth on the board near the picture of the Savior.)

  • What does it mean that Jesus Christ was with God in the beginning? (Explain that the phrase “in the beginning” refers to the premortal existence. Jesus Christ was the Firstborn of the Father in the spirit [see D&C 93:21], He was like unto God among the spirits gathered “before the world was” [Abraham 3:22–24], and He was chosen by the Father from the beginning [see Moses 4:2].)

Invite a student to read aloud Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:3 (in the Bible appendix), and ask the class to look for an additional truth John taught about Jesus Christ.

  • What else did John teach about Jesus Christ? (Students should identify a doctrine similar to the following: All things were made by Jesus Christ. Write this truth near the picture of the Savior on the board.)

Explain that Jesus Christ created the heavens and the earth under the direction of the Father and that Jesus Christ has created worlds without number (see Moses 1:33). However, Heavenly Father has reserved “two creative events” to Himself: the creation of all spirits (including Jesus Christ’s) and the creation of the physical bodies of Adam and Eve (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [1985], 63; see also Moses 2:27).

Invite a student to read aloud Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:4–5 (in the Bible appendix). Ask the class to look for how John described Jesus and His gospel.

  • How did John describe Jesus and His gospel?

  • What does it mean that “in him was the gospel”? (Jesus Christ was the good news, the embodiment of the gospel.)

  • What do you think it means that “the light shineth in the world, and the world perceiveth it not”? (Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:5).

Explain that the Apostle John next taught about John the Baptist. Invite a student to read aloud Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:6–10 (in the Bible appendix). Ask the class to look for what John the Baptist declared about Jesus Christ. Invite students to report what they find.

  • In verses 9–10, what doctrine did the Apostle John teach about Jesus? (Students should identify a doctrine similar to the following: Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. Write this truth near the picture of the Savior on the board.)

  • In what ways is Jesus Christ the Light of the World? (See D&C 88:5–13.)

Summarize Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:11–18 (in the Bible appendix) by explaining that John the Baptist testified that all those who believe on Jesus Christ would receive immortality and eternal life.

Point out that in verses 14 and 16, John referred to Jesus Christ as “the Word.” Explain that this is a title of Jesus Christ found in several places in the scriptures (see John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1; Revelation 19:13; D&C 93:8–10; Moses 1:32).

Point out that we use words to communicate and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas to others.

  • In what ways is “the Word” an appropriate title of Jesus Christ?

Also explain that without the Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:18 could be misunderstood as stating that no man has ever seen God the Father. Invite a student to read aloud Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:19 (in the Bible appendix).

Divide students into the same pairs that they were in for the activity at the beginning of the lesson. Ask one student in each pair to take one minute to teach his or her partner about Jesus Christ using the doctrines the class identified in Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:1–19 (in the Bible appendix). After sufficient time, ask:

  • Why would it be important for someone to know these doctrines about Jesus Christ?

John 1:19–34; Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:20–34

John the Baptist bears witness of Jesus Christ and baptizes Him

Summarize Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:20–28 (in the Bible appendix) by explaining that the Jews sent priests to John the Baptist asking if he was the Messiah. John explained that his role was to bear record of the Messiah, who would baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost. The next day, John the Baptist saw Jesus, whom he had previously baptized.

Invite a student to stand and read aloud, as if the student were John the Baptist, the words of John the Baptist in Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:29–33 (in the Bible appendix). Invite the class to follow along and look for what John the Baptist wanted people to know about Jesus Christ.

Point to the picture of Jesus Christ and the truths written on the board and ask:

  • What other truths or descriptions about Jesus Christ could we add from Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:29–33? (List students’ responses on the board.)

  • Why do you think John the Baptist referred to Jesus as “the Lamb of God”?

John 1:35–51

Jesus invites His followers to learn more about Him

Ask students to imagine that a teenager attending fast and testimony meeting hears several friends bear testimony that they know that Jesus Christ is their Savior. This young person wonders how those friends “know” those things.

  • How would you respond to this question?

As the class studies John 1:35–51, invite students to look for what we can do to receive (or strengthen) our own witness of Jesus Christ as the Savior.

Invite a student to read John 1:35–37 aloud, and ask the class to look for what John the Baptist did the day after he baptized Jesus.

  • What did John do when he saw Jesus?

Invite a student to read John 1:38–39 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jesus said to the two disciples.

  • What did Jesus ask the two disciples?

  • What was their response?

  • What did Jesus invite the two disciples to do?

Invite a student to read John 1:40–42 aloud, and ask the class to look for what Andrew learned after he accepted the Savior’s invitation to “come and see.”

  • What did Andrew learn by accepting the Savior’s invitation to “come and see”? (That Jesus is the Messiah, or the Christ. You may also want to point out that we learn from the Joseph Smith Translation of John 1:42 that Peter would be called “Cephas, which is, by interpretation, a seer, or a stone” [in footnote a], indicating that Peter would become a seer in the Church.)

Invite a student to read John 1:43–46 aloud, and ask the class to look for what the Savior invited Philip to do. Ask students to share what they find.

  • Which words in verse 45 indicate that Philip received a witness of Jesus Christ after he accepted the Savior’s invitation to follow Him?

  • What invitation did Philip then give to Nathanael?

Invite three students to read John 1:47–51 aloud. Assign one to be the narrator, one to read the words of Jesus, and one to read the words of Nathanael. Invite the class to listen for what happened as Nathanael accepted the invitation to learn of Jesus.

  • What happened after Nathanael accepted the invitation to learn of Jesus?

  • What principle can we learn from these accounts? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: As we accept the invitation to learn of and follow Jesus Christ, we will receive our own witness of Him.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“It seems that the essence of our mortal journey and the answers to the most significant questions in life are distilled down to these two very brief elements in the opening scenes of the Savior’s earthly ministry. One element is the question put to every one of us on this earth: ‘What seek ye? What do you want?’ The second is His response to our answer, whatever that answer is. Whoever we are and whatever we reply, His response is always the same: ‘Come,’ He says lovingly. ‘Come, follow me.’ Wherever you are going, first come and see what I do, see where and how I spend my time. Learn of me, walk with me, talk with me, believe. Listen to me pray. In turn you will find answers to your own prayers. God will bring rest to your souls” (“He Hath Filled the Hungry with Good Things,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 65).

Invite students to ponder their own efforts to learn of Jesus Christ and follow Him.

  • In what ways has your testimony of Jesus Christ increased as you have learned of and followed Him?

Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals a few sentences about what they will do to more fully accept the Savior’s invitation to “come and see” and to learn of and follow Him.

Conclude by sharing your testimony of the principles identified in class today.

Commentary and Background Information

John 1:9. “The true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world”

John’s writings contain the only New Testament teachings about the Light of Christ. The Bible Dictionary explains:

“The light of Christ is just what the words imply: enlightenment, knowledge, and an uplifting, ennobling, persevering influence that comes upon mankind because of Jesus Christ. For instance, Christ is ‘the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world’ (D&C 93:2; see John 1:9). The light of Christ fills the ‘immensity of space’ and is the means by which Christ is able to be ‘in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things.’ It ‘giveth life to all things’ and is ‘the law by which all things are governed.’ It is also ‘the light that quickeneth’ man’s understanding (see D&C 88:6–13, 41). In this manner, the light of Christ is related to man’s conscience and tells him right from wrong (Moro. 7:12–19).

“The light of Christ should not be confused with the personage of the Holy Ghost, for the light of Christ is not a personage at all. Its influence is preliminary to and preparatory to one’s receiving the Holy Ghost” (Bible Dictionary, “Light of Christ”).

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about the Light of Christ:

“The Light of Christ is that divine power or influence that emanates from God through Jesus Christ. It gives light and life to all things. It prompts all rational individuals throughout the earth to distinguish truth from error, right from wrong. It activates your conscience” (“Peace of Conscience and Peace of Mind,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 15).

John 1:14, 29. Titles and names of Jesus Christ such as “the Word” and the “Lamb of God”

The Apostle John stated that his purpose for writing this book was to persuade others to believe in Jesus Christ. Throughout his Gospel, John used several names or titles to help readers both understand and identify Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God. For example, in John 1, Jesus is referred to as “the Word” and as the “Lamb of God.”

Jesus is the Word of God because He is the expression or representative of the Father to the world; He declares the Father’s words; He is the messenger of salvation [see D&C 93:8]; He is the perfect example of how to live the word of God; He gives the words of eternal life; and His words give life.

Jesus is the Lamb of God because just as the blood of Passover lambs saved Israel from death and brought deliverance from Egyptian bondage, the title “Lamb of God” indicated that Jesus would shed His blood to save His people and deliver them from sin. (See also Topical Guide, “Jesus Christ, Lamb of God.”)

The Gospel of John records various names or titles that can help readers understand the divinity of Jesus Christ. Some titles are implied while others are overtly identified with “I am the …” Some examples include Jesus being identified as the Giver of Living Water (see John 4:10–14) and Jesus saying “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35); “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12); “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11); “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25); “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6); and “I am the true vine” (John 15:1).

John 1:19–28. Who are Elias and Elijah?

“The Jewish leaders asked John if he was ‘Elias’ (the Greek name for the Hebrew ‘Elijah’), who was prophesied to someday return (see Malachi 4:5–6). In the Joseph Smith Translation, the Lord revealed a more complete account of John’s response to the Jewish leaders, which conveys John’s knowledge of his own mission as one who came to prepare the way for the Messiah. To their queries, John ‘confessed, and denied not that he was Elias; but confessed, saying; I am not the Christ’ (Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:21 [in the Bible appendix]).

“John understood, as the priests and Levites apparently did not, that there are various meanings for the name-title Elias (see Bible Dictionary, ‘Elias’; Guide to the Scriptures, ‘Elias’; scriptures.lds.org). John was an Elias, which means a forerunner of the Messiah, but he was not the Elias, who is Jesus Christ, the Messiah. John was also not Elijah the prophet, whose name in Greek is Elias. …

“When John denied that he was Elijah, the Jewish leaders asked him, ‘Art thou that prophet?’ (John 1:21). Their question likely had reference to the prophecy of Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15: ‘The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.’ However, by asking John if he was ‘that prophet’ after John had already denied that he was the Christ, these Jews showed that they did not understand the messianic nature of Moses’s prophecy. Many of the Jews in Jesus’s day anticipated the coming of a prophet who would be like unto Moses but who was not the Messiah. This is evident when many in Jerusalem later proclaimed that Jesus Christ was ‘the Prophet,’ while others declared that He was ‘the Christ’ (John 7:40–41; see also 6:14)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 201–2).