Bible Study Questions for the letters of John.

Session 1

1. What do you know about John? What about the gospel of John, the letters of John, and the book of Revelation?

2. Read an introduction to the first letter of John (usually written “1 John”) eg in Good News Bible, the Lion Bible Handbook, or the excellent https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/1-3-john

3. Read 1 John 1:1-4. How does this differ from the start of other New Testament letters? What does it tell us about the author, and those he writes to?

4. Read 1 John 1:5 – 2:2. Why is it important for Christians to “walk in the light”? What do you think this means?

5. Verses 8-10 make clear that we are not without sin, which needs to be admitted and forgiven. Why is it important for John to say this at this point?

6. How important do you think it is for Christians to hold on to both principles – the need to live reflecting the qualities of God (truth, integrity, love, mercy . . ) and at the same time own up to failures?

7. Read 1 John 2:3-11. Why does living a Christian life involve living as Jesus did and taught?

8. What does hatred reveal? What would you say to someone who expresses hatred, but claims to believe?

Session 2.

1. What stood out for you from last week’s discussion?

2. Read 1 John 2:12-14. What sort of relationship do you think the writer has with his audience?

3. What does he say of each group of the children, fathers and young men? Do you feel you share any of this with them?

4. Read 1 John 2:15-17. What is John driving at when he tells us not to love anything in the world? How are we meant to live, and what are we meant to enjoy?

5. Read 1 John 2:18-23. Here we learn of the split in the church. What is the key differnce (v22) which separates those who remain from those who left?

6. How would you explain v23, perhaps putting it in modern terms.

7. Read 1 John 2:24-27. John wants them to continue in the way they had been taught – but what is the centre of that teaching (and the key argument with those who left)?

8. In our time and culture, give examples of teachings and movements that deny Jesus.

In a moment of quiet, identify what is the most important thing for you from this discussion. Then tell God what you are going to do about it. We will end by saying the Grace, quietly.

Session 3.

1. John has insisted that Christian living involves right and holy living, but also that we still fail and need to admit our sin. Which do you find more difficult? Which do you think today’s church is more likely to forget?

2. Read 1 John 2:28 – 3:3 and 1 John 3:4 – 10. The first 2 verses speak of confidence, based on what?

3. Do you think of yourself as a child of God? What does this status imply, and how does it affect our “self-image”. What implication does John draw from this (v3)?

4. Sin is about being (or acting) against God’s will and plan. Why is “one who does what is sinful of the devil”?

5. Why does v9 say “cannot go on sinning”? What is the tension here? How do you think this might apply to (a) a professional thief (b) a proud person (c) an alcoholic?

6. What test does v10 give to distinguish the two groups? How do your answers to the previous question affect how you apply this?

7. Read I John 3:11-18 and 3:19-24. Why are those who love others not loved in return?

8. What do you think v14 means – “passing from death to life”?

9. Now that we can “see” many in need on TV, how can our love be practical?

10. Are you surprised that the command is “to believe” v23? Why does this come first?

11. We end this section as we began thinking of confidence. Do you think Christians generally have enough confidence in God? What else might they be trusting in mistakenly?

In a moment of quiet, identify what is the most important thing for you from this discussion. Then tell God what you are going to do about it. We will end by saying the Grace, quietly.

Session 4

1. Should a Christian be confident in their faith? In what ways do we need confidence, and in what ways does a proper humility limit this? (Look back on last weeks questions).

2. Read 1 John 4:1-6. What do you know about telling true prophets from false? What does John say here is an important indicator?

3. vv5,6 again speak of “the viewpoint of the world” as being different to being “of God”. What has John already said about this in earlier parts of the letter? [see 2:15-17, 3:1-3]

4. Read 1 John 4:7-12 and 4:13-21. What is the greatest sign of God’s love? And what response is asked of us?

5. Can you explain v13 using only words a secular 13 year old would understand?

6. So, were the Beatles right when they sang, “All you need is Love”? How might they not have quite understood what John was saying in v16ff

7. Compare 1 John 4:21 and Luke 11:4 or Matthew 6:12. Are they saying the same thing? Which is more difficult?

In a moment of quiet, identify what is the most important thing for you from this discussion. Then tell God what you are going to do about it. We will end by saying the Grace, quietly.

Session 5

1. What would you say are the differences between God’s love and ours?

2. Read 1 John 5:1-5. What do you think John means by “everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ”? Is this just a matter of opinion, or something more? What would be the opposite?

3. Why does love for God mean keeping his commands? Again, what are the alternatives?

4. What “victory” is John talking about? Why is it in the past tense?

5. Read 1 John 5:6-11. Can you identify the 3 witnesses John calls to support his case?

6. The water is probably a reference to Jesus baptism – what happened then to identify him?

7. The blood is a reference to the importance of Jesus death – some in John’s day denied that the divine Christ could die. Can you think of other references to the “blood”? (check Mk 14:24, John 19:34).

8. When was the Spirit a witness? (check Acts 2, John 16:7-13, etc)

9. Read 1 John 5:13-21. John talks about confidence, as he has before. This time he focusses on eternal life, and prayer. Do you think we are confident of these things?

10. What sort of “idols” does John mean in v21?

In a moment of quiet, identify what is the most important thing for you from this discussion. Then tell God what you are going to do about it. We will end by saying the Grace, quietly.

Session 6

1. Today we are going to look at 2 John and 3 John, the second and third letters of John, which are the shortest books of the new testament. Is there a place for short messages of encouragement in today’s church? How might they be delivered, and by whom?

2. Read 2 John 1-13 (there is only one chapter, so those are verse numbers!). We don’t know if “the lady” was an individual or a church. Grace and peace are often mentioned in greeting; John adds “mercy” – is this an important quality? Why?

3. Do you find joy in people “walking in the truth”? What do you take this to mean?

4. The emphasis on love is typical of John, but how do Truth and Love go together? Can you see any difficulties in holding to both?

5. Is this made more difficult by the presence of “many deceivers”? Is this still the situation for Christians in today’s world?

6. Read 3 John 1-14. What does it mean that Gaius is “progressing spiritually”? Is this something that should be happening to us as well?

7. vv5-8 may refer to travelling prophets / teachers, given hospitality by the churches they visit. Is it still important for a congregation to hear from the wider Christian world? How might we do this, and encourage it? What happens if this is prevented?

8. What might Diotrephes problem be? Are there leaders today who cannot work with others? If so, why?

9. v14 exchanges greetings. Is this just politeness, or more important?

In a moment of quiet, identify what is the most important thing for you from this discussion. Then tell God what you are going to do about it. We will end by saying the Grace, quietly.