The Gospel of John Bible Study – John 1:1-18 – The Word Became Flesh

Opening Prayer

Read:  John 1:1-18

Focus – Story about Lee Iacocca (tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you’ve told them)


v. 1  In the beginning In Greek philosophy, there was a lot of emphasis on the first thing(s) or first cause because all other things were seen to be secondary and to have arisen from the first thing(s).  So, in this passage, John is pointing out what was first.  It is also a reference to Genesis 1:1 and therefore connects Jesus to the creation of all things.

Other themes raised in this first chapter of John’s Gospel (and repeated again later in the Gospel) are darkness, light and life.

The emphasis in Genesis 1 is on the physical creation, in John it is on the spiritual creation.  But these two creations are not separate and distinct.  The first creation was both physical and spiritual.  And the second creation is essentially a re-creation of the first creation (both spiritual and physical) as in the changing of water into wine (John 2), the raising of Lazarus (John 11) and Jesus’ own resurrection (John 20 and 21).

With here implies not only proximity but also close personal relationship

The Word is God the Word is fully God just as the Father is fully God.

v. 4 In him was life John uses the Greek form of the word “life” 37 times, in 17 of those occurrences, it is paired with the Greek word for “eternal” (to create the phrase “eternal life”).  Of the other 20 instances, those outside of this passage of John’s Gospel all imply that the kind of life John is referring to is eternal life.  So it would seem strange if anything other than “eternal” eternal life is meant by the 2 occurrences in this verse.

This verse alludes to Psalm 36:9 – “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”

v.5 The light shines in the darkness Up to this point John has been using past tenses, but now he switches to the present, perhaps to convey a present and ongoing truth.

John introduces another of his main themes, darkness and light, which are also found in Genesis.

The darkness has not understood/overcome it The Greek has the sense of “to seize, to grasp.”

In John, “darkness” does not refer to people, but to the evil sphere in which people find themselves.  Therefore, “overcome” is preferable to “understood.”

v. 6 John The person being referred to here is John the Baptist.

v. 8 witness Another of the main themes of John’s Gospel.  John uses the Greek word for “witness” 33 times.

v. 9 the world (Grk kosmos)  The world, another prominent theme for John, is mentioned here for the first time.  Most of the time when using this term, John is not referring to all of creation (though there are exceptions like 11:9; 17:5, 24; 21:25), but to all of humanity and human affairs.  Sometimes it is called “this world” in contrast to the already existing heavenly world and the world to come.  Jesus is not only the Messiah who brings about the world to come, he is also an envoy from the heavenly world to this world.

v. 11 his own did not receive him When the Word came to this world he went to his own people.  The point made here is not that they did not recognize him, but they did not welcome and accept him.

v. 12 believe in his name John uses the Greek word for the verb “believe” 98 times, but he never uses the Greek word for the noun “faith.”  Perhaps John is emphasizing that believing is an activity.  John uses this verb in 4 main ways:  believing without object or person specified, believing facts, believing people or the Scriptures, and believing “in Christ.”  The last usage is the most common and the most significant.

v. 13 born The Greek word used here implies both conception and birth.

v. 14 the Word became flesh A very clear proclamation of the Incarnation.  This is the last time “Word” is used to refer to God the Son in John’s Gospel.  From this point onward, Jesus of Nazareth is the focus.  made his dwelling among us The Greek word used here connotes the Old Testament tabernacle, the place where God’s visible glory dwelt.  John is suggesting that God’s glory is now visible in Jesus.

The only begotten The Greek term can refer to an only child, but it can also mean “the unique one.”  The latter meaning is meant here.

v. 17 The Old Covenant, given at Mt. Sinai, is contrasted with the New Covenant, given through Jesus.

v. 18 The climactic statement of the prologue of John’s Gospel.  Jesus Christ, who is truly God, and is in complete fellowship with the Father, has shown us what God is really like.[1]


  1. Who is the Word?
  2. Who are the “his own” that did not receive him?  Does that happen with us today?
  3. What themes do you see in this section of John’s Gospel?
    1. ________________________________
    2. ________________________________
    3. ________________________________
  4. Do we see examples of darkness in our world?  If yes, please explain.
  5. Do the people of this world (including us) need life?  If yes, please explain.
  6. What kind of life is John writing about?
  7. What kind of light is John talking about?
  8. What blessings have we received because of the grace of Jesus Christ (v. 16)?


  1. Over the next week, how can we live the life that Jesus gives to us?
  2. How can we live in the light that Jesus gives to us?


Closing Prayer


  1. HI Pastor James,
    I teach Bible study at Wagner Hills’ women’s facility, as you might know, and we have completed a year’s study on Psalms. The program director has now asked me to go on to the Gospel of John. After about an hour of searching the web for a good set of study notes on John 1 for my class at the House of Hope, I was surprised and happy to find your site! So the ladies will get a good start this Monday when I get back to teaching our Bible study hour. By the way, did you do a study guide for all of John? If not, do you personally recommend any particular commentary on John that’s readily understood by a wide range of women? (and free to copy from the internet)
    Thanks and prayers… Linda Boehm


    1. The Study notes for the Gospel of John were prepared for last year’s Thursday Afternoon Seniors Bible Study at Walnut Grove Lutheran Church. We only got to about chapter 7 but we are continuing to study John’s Gospel. However, we only meet two times per month so you may catch up to us if you meet more frequently than that. Probably the most helpful resource that I found as I prepared those Bible studies was the footnotes of the NET Bible which is available free on line at

      In terms of online commentaries (perhaps you have already seen this one), the Easy English Bible Version and Commentary might be helpful (and I notice that it is written by a woman). It is available at

      God’s blessings as you lead the women of the House of Hope in studying God’s Word! James


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