A Guide to Reading the Gospel of John
Some of us are studying the Gospel of John. Our approach to this Gospel is to read it together and discuss the main teachings of John. We are reading to meet Jesus and know Him better, to listen and obey all that God says to us, so that we may be used by God to extend His Kingdom throughout the world.
A few people have asked for some guidelines for reading the Bible, so in the next few weeks I will be sharing some ideas about how to read the Gospel of John.
Two excellent books for all Bible readers are How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth and How to Read the Bible Book by Book, both by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart. They will help you as you read.
Reading is basic to all Bible study, and a key to reading is to observe. As I begin studying a book of the Bible, I like to read through it quickly and write down as many observations as I can. Remember: When you observe, just think of the questions “who, what, how, when, where, in what way . . .” and do not write down your own thoughts or interpretations. It is possible to see many things without actually observing them. One reason people interpret the Bible poorly is that they do not begin by observing what the Scripture actually says. Try writing down your observations as you skim through the Gospel of John; you will probably end up with 30 to 100 observations. You will be surprised by what you discover, because the Gospel of John is like a treasure chest of precious jewels.
The basic approach to Bible study consists of 3 steps: First, observe. Second, interpret – what was the meaning to the original readers? Then, what is the meaning to us now? Third, application – What is God saying to me as I read and interpret?
Now, search for the purpose for John’s writing this Gospel. A hint: It is found in the last part of chapter 20. When we know the purpose, we will understand why millions of people have come to believe in Jesus Christ simply by reading this book.
The last thing to do today, or soon, is look for the structure of the book. Is there a major division between the first chapter and the last chapter (21) of John? What happens in the first part of the book? What happens in the last part of the book? Can you make further divisions of the book?
May the Lord bless you as you begin your study of the Gospel of John.