Category Archives: Bible Study

Thinking through John 1:1-14

Recently I’ve been reading through the Gospel of John with my dad and offering up questions, thoughts, comments via email to him.  I thought they might be a helpful resource for thinking through the passage if  you’re reading through John, so I’ve included them below.  Lord willing, I’ll be able to post my other notes as I move through the book.

Observations on verses 1-5, the Deity of Christ:

  1. Jesus is eternal
  2. Jesus was with God; i.e. separate and distinct from the Father
  3. Jesus was (is) God
  4. All things were created through Him.
  5. In Him was life
  • Do you think John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word” sounds similar to Genesis 1 “In the beginning God created”? John may develop this more a few verses later.

John the Baptist vs. 6-8:

  • Why do you think Jesus had someone come before Him? Why is it significant?

Jesus is the Light: vs. 9-13

  • Verses 9-11 are the Rejection of Christ

  • Verses 12-13 are the Acceptance of Christ; note the “But” connects them

  • What do you think of when you think of light?

  • How do verses 3 and 10 affect your view of Genesis 1?

  • Who were His own people?

  • Verses 12-13 are one sentence, I notice the verbs: receive, believe, gave, born.

  • What do you think the significance is that “He (Jesus) gave the right to become children of God” is contrasted with, “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor the will of man, but of God.”?

    • Based on this, is there anything that man can do to earn or gain the right to become a child of God? Or is it all a “right” given from God?

Jesus’ Incarnation vs 14:

  • John here returns back to the “Word”; here we have the incarnation of Jesus, namely His “humiliation” in stepping down into human flesh.

  • “We have seen” – John is an eyewitness; this is an eyewitness account.

  • What do think John means by saying, “we have seen His glory”, “Glory as of the only Son from the Father”; What is this glory?

  • Grace and truth, why are both significant? For us?

The Right Use of Commentaries

Below are a few comments on the proper use of commentaries from Louis Berkhof’s book Principles of Biblical Interpretation.  Commentaries, along with good study Bibles, are excellent resources to enhance one’s understanding of the Bible.  But there is a right way and a wrong way to use them.  Obviously, or maybe not so obvious, one wrong way is to become over reliant on them, which keeps one from reading and understanding the passage or working through them on their own.  Likewise, there is the real danger of simply regurgitating the thoughts and ideas of the commentaries as well.  That said, Berkhof provides some excellent advice.

  1. In seeking to explain a passage, the interpreter should not immediately resort to the use of commentaries, since this would nip all originality in the bud, involve a great deal of unnecessary labor, and be apt to result in hopeless confusion.  He should endeavor first of all to interpret the passage independently, with the aid of whatever internal helps are available, and of such external helps as Grammars, Concordances, and Lexicons.
  2. If, after making some original study of the passage, he feels the need of consulting one or more commentaries, he ought to avoid the so-called practical commentaries, however good they may be in themselves, for they aim at edification rather than at scientific interpretation.
  3. It will greatly facilitate his work, if he approaches the Commentaries, as much as possible, with definite questions in mind.  This will be possible only after a certain amount of preliminary original study, but it will save time in that it will obviate the necessity of reading all that the commentaries have to say on the passage under consideration.  Moreover, when he comes to the commentaries with a certain line of thought in mind, he will be better prepared to choose between the conflicting opinions which he may encounter.
  4. Should he succeed in giving an apparently satisfactory explanation without the aid of commentaries, it will be advisable to compare his interpretation with that given by others.  And if he discovers that he goes contrary to the general opinion on some particular point, it will be to the part of wisdom for him to go over the ground carefully once more to see whether he has taken all the data into consideration, and whether his inferences are correct in every particular.  He may detect some mistake that will compel him to revise his opinion.  But if he finds that every step he took was well warranted, then he should allow his interpretation to stand in spite of all that the commentators may say.

For more on resources, see point #2 in this post: http://voiceoftruthblog.com/how-to-fail-at-your-new-years-bible-reading-plan

Reading through Leviticus

If you are following a daily Bible reading plan and have made it through the detailed tabernacle descriptions giving to Moses in Exodus, then you’re likely into Leviticus otherwise known as the graveyard of yearly Bible reading plans.  I say this a bit tongue-in-cheek, but there is a lot of truth in it because most of the time we fail to understand or properly apply Leviticus and give up reading.  Like much of the Old Testament, we hear little of it preached and understand even less of it when reading.  The wedge that has been driven between the two testaments, beginning with early gnosticism and continuing today with dispensationalism, has served to alienate the Church from the majority of God’s Word.  One thing I am personally disappointed about is that I neglected the Old Testament for the large majority of my life and I think it has been a major detriment in understanding the New Testament and properly understanding the continuity of God’s plan of redemption.

In my daily reading this week, I came across the following helpful charts for Leviticus in MacArthur’s Daily Bible (ironically, MacArthur describes himself as a “leaky dispensationalist” but he seems to rightly recognize and preach the types and shadows of Christ found in the OT).  This chart  seems helpful for at least causing us to think more about the implications of what we are reading, i.e. more than just the Old Testament sacrificial system for Israel.

How is Christ seen in the Levitical offerings?


How are the Old Testament sacrifices compared to Christ’s sacrifice?

For a look at my favorite chapter from Leviticus, ch. 16, see the posts here:

http://voiceoftruthblog.com/a-survey-of-the-cross-the-atonement-part-1

http://voiceoftruthblog.com/the-nature-and-necessity-of-propitiation-1-john-22