The Apostle John, also known as 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.
In this lesson you are going to begin your study of the book of John. The Apostle John recorded what he wanted others 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 all mankind. John wrote to those who already understood the scriptures and believed that Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah.
Imagine you are talking with someone who knows very little about Jesus Christ and who has asked you what you know about Him. In your scripture study journal, list three things you would teach that person about Jesus Christ.
As you study John 1, look for truths about the Savior that can help strengthen your faith in and testimony of Jesus Christ.
Read Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:1–2 (in the Bible appendix), looking for truths that John taught about Jesus Christ. (As you study this lesson, you will read Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:1–34. The words in italics are those that the Prophet Joseph Smith added or changed.)
One truth we can identify from these verses is that Jesus Christ was with God in the beginning. Add this truth to the list that you wrote in your scripture study journal.
The phrase “in the beginning” refers to the premortal existence. When the scriptures note that Jesus Christ was with God “in the beginning,” they teach us that Jesus 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” (see Abraham 3:22–24), and He was chosen by the Father from the beginning (see Moses 4:2).
Read Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:3, looking for an additional truth John taught about Jesus Christ. You may want to mark what you find.
From this passage we learn that all things were made by Jesus Christ. Add this to the list of truths about Jesus Christ you have written in your scripture study journal.
Jesus Christ created the heavens and the earth and “worlds without number” under the direction of the Father (Moses 1:33).
However, Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote that Heavenly Father reserved “two creative events” to Himself: “First, he is the Father of all spirits, Christ’s included. … Second, he is the Creator of the physical [bodies of Adam and Eve]” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith , 63; see also Moses 2:27).
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” further clarifies that “all human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129).
Read Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:4–5, looking for how John described Jesus and His gospel.
What do you think it means that Jesus Christ and the gospel are lights that “shineth in the world, and the world perceiveth it not”?
The Apostle John next taught about John the Baptist. Read Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:6–10, looking for what additional truth John the Baptist bore witness of.
Add the following truth to the list in your scripture study journal: Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. Ponder in what ways Jesus Christ is the light of the world. See Doctrine and Covenants 88:5–13 for added insight.
Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:11–18 contains, among other teachings, John the Baptist’s testimony that all those who believed on Jesus Christ would receive immortality and eternal life. Notice that in verses 14 and 16 that John referred to Jesus Christ as the “Word.” This is a title of Jesus Christ found in several places in the scriptures (see also John 1:1; 1 John 1:1; Revelation 19:13; D&C 93:8; Moses 1:32).
Since we use words to convey or express something to others, in what ways is “Word” an appropriate title of Jesus Christ?
Ponder some of the following reasons this is an appropriate title: He is the expression 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.
Compare John 1:18 with the corresponding Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:19. Without the Joseph Smith Translation, some readers of John 1:18 could misunderstand and believe that no man on earth has ever seen God the Father. How does the Joseph Smith Translation of John 1:19 clarify John 1:18 as it is normally found in the New Testament?
Consider again the activity at the beginning of this lesson where you were asked to imagine teaching someone who knew little about Jesus Christ. In your scripture study journal, write why you think it would be important for someone to know the additional doctrines about Jesus Christ that you have identified from Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:1–19?
In Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:20–28 (in the Bible appendix), 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.
Read the words of John the Baptist in Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:29–33, looking for what John the Baptist wanted others to know about Jesus Christ.
Refer to the truths you have listed in your scripture study journal about Jesus Christ. What other truths or descriptions about Jesus Christ could you add from Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:29–33? (List your findings underneath the other truths you listed in your scripture study journal.)
Notice that John referred to Jesus as “the Lamb of God.” Just as the blood of Passover lambs saved Israel from death and brought deliverance from Egyptian bondage, the title “Lamb of God” symbolizes that Jesus would shed His blood to save His people and deliver them from sin.
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. Ponder how you would respond to such a question.
As you study John 1:35–51, pay attention to what these verses teach about what you can do to receive or strengthen your own witness of Jesus Christ as your Savior.
Read John 1:35–37, looking for what John the Baptist said to two of his disciples the day after Jesus was baptized.
Next, read John 1:38–39, looking for what Jesus said to the two disciples and how they responded.
What invitation did Jesus give the two disciples?
Read John 1:40–42. As you read, mark what one of the men learned after he accepted the Savior’s invitation to “come and see.”
In Joseph Smith Translation, John 1:42 we learn that Jesus said that Peter would be called “Cephas, which is, by interpretation, a seer, or a stone” (in John 1:42, footnote a), indicating that Peter would become a prophet, seer, and revelator.
Read John 1:43–46, looking for what the Savior invited another man, Phillip, to do.
Mark the words in verse 45 that indicate Phillip had received a witness of Jesus Christ after he accepted the Savior’s invitation to follow Him. What invitation did Phillip then give to Nathanael?
Search John 1:47–51, looking for what happened as Nathanael accepted the invitation to learn of Jesus.
Based on what you learned from these accounts, complete the following principle: As we accept the invitation to learn of and follow Jesus Christ, we will receive .
Read the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, looking for why it is important for us to accept the invitation to learn of and follow the Lord: “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. Come follow me” (“He Hath Filled the Hungry with Good Things,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 65).
According to the end of Elder Holland’s statement, what are two things we will receive as we accept the Savior’s invitation to “come and see”?
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: In what ways has your testimony of Jesus Christ increased as you have learned of and followed Him?
Ponder your own efforts to learn of Jesus Christ and follow Him. Think about what you can do to more fully accept the invitation to come follow Him so that your faith and testimony will increase.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignment in your scripture study journal:
I have studied John 1 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: