Bible Study

Bible Study Introduction: The Gospel of John

The Bible has four biographies of Jesus. They’re each named after their author: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We often call these accounts Gospels because they proclaim the good news about Jesus.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke have many similar passages and accounts of the same events. Some sections match, while others are close. John differs from the other biographies of Jesus.

As a result, the Gospel of John has more unique content than the other ones. Because of this, we can gain rich insights into the life and ministry of Jesus that the other three authors don’t cover.

John was a disciple of Jesus and part of his inner circle (along with Peter and John’s brother James). This makes John an eyewitness to what he recorded.

His poetic writing is ideal for those who want to mull over his words. (In the same way it can frustrate readers who want information in a quick, easy-to-digest manner.)

John’s writing invites us to slow down, take our time, and consider the text. As you read John, contemplate his words with awe and cherish them for their layers of meaning.

Although Matthew, Mark, and Luke mention John often in their writing, he never refers to himself by name. (Do not confuse this John—Jesus’s disciple—with another John, John the Baptist.)

John, however, refers to himself a few times as “the one Jesus loved” or “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” We could view this as an overconfident self-assessment.

But remember that John is one of the three disciples in Jesus’s inner circle, so this self-identity cannot be too far off. We might do better to understand John’s indirect references to himself as an act of humility. He doesn’t want to call attention to himself.

The book of John opens with a powerful poetic passage. His words have a mystical allure. We’ll cover this lyrical text in Day 1.


  1. Which of the four Gospels to you like best? Why?
  2. What do you know about the Apostle John?
  3. What verses have you memorized from John?
  4. What are your favorite passages or stories in John?
  5. What do you hope to learn as you read and study John?

Discover more about John in John 21:20–24 and Galatians 2:9. What insights can you glean from these passages?

Read the next lesson.

Tips: Check out our tips to use this online Bible study for your church, small group, Sunday school class, or family discussion. It’s also ideal for personal study. Come back each Monday for a new lesson.

Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.