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John 3 – Redo Please

By John

The passage we’re looking at this week is John 2:23-3:21. It’d be good to make sure you’ve read up to at least that much in the Gospel so far. As you’re reading, here are some things to help you along the way.

Passage Big Idea

That new life (being born again) is found in looking to the cross.

Passage Structure

– The problem with men (2:23-35)
– Nicodemus’ misunderstanding (3:1-15)
– God’s solution (3:16-21)

Some things to look out for / background

OT Background

– The Kingdom of God (Zechariah 9:9-13)
– The snake in the desert (Numbers 21)
– New hearts (Jeremiah 31:33-34 & Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:25-27)


– A member of the Pharisees, a powerful Jewish Sect, and most likely sitting on the Sanhedrin (a member of the Jewish ruling council) who are a driving force in having Jesus crucified later on.
– Nicodemus is mentioned twice more in this Gospel (7:50-52 & 19:39-42).
– There is a distinct difference in status between Jesus and Nicodemus. Jesus is a Rabbi which isn’t an official “position”. But Nicodemus is an important man. It’s the difference between a Professor speaking to an undergraduate. But you see the tables turn during the conversation.

The Kingdom of God

– Jesus is referred to as a King twice in John’s Gospel (1:49, 6:15).
– One of the drivers of this passage is that Nicodemus didn’t understand what needed to happen for the Kingdom of God to come about. How would Israel’s new life begin? A new King ushering in a a new culture? The removal of the Romans? Or was there something deeper that needed to be born again…?
– Ezekiel 11, 36 & Jeremiah 31 point to something more fundamental happening as the Kingdom of God is ushered in.

Born Again

– The term born again can equally be translated “born from above”
– It’s the idea of new spiritual birth
– The idea of being born of water & the Spirit (3:5) is not two different events, but referring to the same, and further describing being born again (3:3). It’s closest links in the OT are passages like Ezekiel 36:25-27, Isaiah 4:3-5.

Some areas of possible application

– What does this passage have to say about where our problems stem from and how they might be fixed?
– What does this passage have to say about God, and what it means to be a part of what He is doing in this world?
– Does our pride sometimes get in the way of us hearing / knowing God?
– What does this passage say about the way God looks at His world, and us?

John 1 – The Source of Life

By John

So this week we’re looking at John 1:1-18.

But as we read through the Gospel, you might want to read John 1-2.

Passage big idea

If you’re going to write a Gospel in the hope that people believe in the guy you’re writing about (John 20:31), it’s a fair question to ask – why are we even talking about believing in this guy? As well as raising some of the major themes that John is going to develop in this book, he gives us a starting point as to why we need to talk about Jesus.

Because Jesus is the source of life.

Passage structure

Passage observations that support idea that Jesus is the source of life (from Beasley-Murray with tweaks from Derek Hanna):

Creation: (v.1-5)

The Word was with God in the beginning, and was the means of creation (v.1-3).
In the Word is life and the light of men. (v.4-5)

Witness: (v.6-8)

John came to witness to us about this light (v.6-8)

Responses: (v.9-13)

People didn’t recognise their creation and God when he came… (v.9-11)
But to those who did were given new life from God (v.12-13)

Revelation: (v.14-18)

The Word (Creator) lived amongst his creation, and his glory was seen (v.14-15)
The source of all life is God himself. And God’s revealed in Jesus (v.16-18)

Some things to look out for in this passage:

– A lot of the themes developed throughout this Gospel are raised in the first 18 verses. In fact many would go as far as saying that the rest of the Gospel is really just an explanation of these first 18 verses.
– John’s Gospel is carefully crafted. It’s a work of art. Many scholars argue that these first 18 verses are a chiastic structure where the centre of the chiasm tells us the ultimate point being driven at. Here’s it’s verse 12.

Some ways this passage might apply to us:

– We often think life comes from what we have, or we look for explanations through science. John says it’s found in neither of those places.
– John puts forward that not only is Jesus God, but that our natural reaction is to shy away from him. Do you think that’s true?
– It’s MASSIVE if Jesus is God. It has implications for every area of life. We need to know and explore that.

John – An Introduction

By John

The Purpose

For the official studies, grab them here.

The purpose of John’s Gospel is stated by John (20:30-31). It’s “written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

John is concerned to demonstrate who Jesus is, to explain the salvation that he has come to give and to demonstrate that in him the eschatological age has dawned. Jesus is the fulfilment of the entire sweep of the Old Testament, “He is the new temple, the one of whom Moses wrote, the true bread from heaven, the true Son, the genuine vine, the tabernacle, the serpent in the wilderness, the passover” (Carson). Jesus has brought in the last times, the age of fulfilment – the Spirit has been given and eternal life is available now.


The author of this Gospel is generally agreed to be John the Apostle of Jesus – although he refers to himself in this Gospel as “the disciple that Jesus loved” (John 13:23-25, 19:26-27, 20:1-10, 21:1-25).

It was most likely written between 80-85 AD, but there is much debate about this.

The audience for this gospel is most likely Jews and those familiar with Jewish practices & history – which is why there’s little explanation about Jewish practices.

John is written differently to the other synoptic gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke. Where as the other Gospels focus in Jesus ministry in Galilee, John’s Gospel talks nearly entirely on Jesus ministry in Judea.

Themes in John

Some themes raised in John 1:1-18 that’ll be dealt with throughout the book:
– Light / Darkness
– Eternal life
– Glory
– Jesus as God
– Witnesses
– The Spirit

Some commentaries

Looking for a bit of extra background and reading. Here are some books you might want to get.

Good commentaries on John that are easy to read:


More technical commentaries:

Kostenberger <- My favourite.

Reading the Bible

By Talks

With Growth Groups starting up, there are two options for your groups.

The first is to work through the studies written for our network of churches. They contain lots of background, and will walk you through the passage. You can get the PDF’s here –

The second option if you’re feeling a bit braver is to read the Gospels as they were written – bare and uninhibited! Print out the passage we’re looking at from (or use your own bible), read the passage together, and then just ask some questions about it. Here’s some questions that’ll help you get to what the passage is trying to communicate.

Context of the section:

    Where does this section fit within the overall Bible storyline? Within this book?
    What came before and what comes after this section? How do they link together?

Understanding what it says:

    What recurring or unusual ideas appear in this section?
    What would this section have meant to those it was originally written or spoken to?
    What is the logic of the passage? Write down it’s main point.

Understanding in light of Jesus:

    How does Jesus life, death and resurrection affect what’s said here?
    What does this passage have to say to those who are trusting in Jesus?
    What does this passage have to say to those who aren’t trusting in Jesus?


    What is the most obvious application of this section for my life?
    What have I been most challenged by as I’ve read through this section?
    What would be the most incorrect application of this passage?