Chapter By Chapter: John

This study breaks down the book of John using my Chapter By Chapter Bible study template. The short version: for each chapter, I write down a summary, the meaning in the larger context of the book, and a representative verse. Get the full rundown, or use it for your own study by filling out the form below.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Prologue to the book. Jesus is the eternal Word, incarnate, the Son of the Father, God Himself, who came to give us new life. John baptizes Jesus. Jesus calls Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip, and Nathanael.

John sets up the themes of the book: the infinitely holy Christ who has become incarnate to bring light and life and truth to the world; the adoption of believers as God’s children; the world’s rejection of Jesus and the gospel.

12: But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,


Jesus turns water to wine at a wedding. At Passover, Jesus runs the merchants and money-changers out of the temple. Jesus says he can rebuild the temple in three days.

The miracle of wine shows that Jesus cares for the ordinary parts of people’s lives and enters into them. At the temple, though, He shows that He comes to upend the worldly order.

11: This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.


Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be born again. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son.” John the Baptist says his role has ended.

Salvation requires new birth, of water and the Spirit, a different kind entirely than the first birth. Whoever believes in Jesus is born again to eternal life, but people loved the darkness more than the light.

16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”


Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that he brings living water, and whoever drinks of it will never thirst. Her entire town believes. Jesus heals the centurion’s son.

Jesus brings the gospel to all: first to a respected Jew (Nicodemus), then a scorned outcast (Samaritan woman), then the oppressor himself (Roman centurion).

14: “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”


Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. When attacked for it, He implies that He is God, then says God has given Him authority to judge.

As required by the Law, Jesus supplies three witnesses to His testimony: John the Baptist, His works, and God. Yet the people do not receive Him.

39: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me”


Jesus feeds the five thousand. He walks on water out to the boat. He calls Himself the bread of life and says if one must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life.

Jesus prefigures the New Covenant and the Last Supper: to take part in His flesh and blood is to fully trust in His atoning death.

54: “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”


Jesus teaches in Jerusalem and demonstrates authority, and the Pharisees try to arrest Him, but their officers are amazed instead. People argue over whether He is the Messiah.

Jesus teaches that the entire Law and Moses point to Him as the Messiah, but the people cannot see the connection because they do not understand the Scriptures like He does.

46: The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!”


“I am the light of the world.” Jesus continues debating the Pharisees about His own identity. He teaches that everyone is a slave to sin and calls the Jews children of the devil, not Abraham.

Twice in this chapter Jesus says “I AM” just as God did to Moses. He is God’s Son, but the Pharisees and others cannot see it because they are too attached to this world. Those who can see it will live forever.

58: Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”


Jesus heals a man who was born blind. The Pharisees interrogate the man and his parents at length. He gives the simple testimony that he was blind, and now he sees.

A great theological education is nothing next to the experience of Jesus. The former blind man argued simply, and the Pharisees could not withstand his testimony.

30: The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.”


Jesus calls Himself the good shepherd and says He has other sheep to gather. The Pharisees demand clarity on His identity, but He says if they were His sheep, they would already know.

It doesn’t matter how many miracles Jesus does; those who refuse to believe will always want one more, and those who already believe need no miracles to convince them.

26: “But you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.”


Lazarus gets sick and dies. Jesus mourns with his family, then raises him back to life. The high council decides to kill Him rather than letting Him continue gaining followers and potentially upsetting Rome.

Even though Jesus knew He would raise Lazarus, He was moved by his family’s grief and mourned with them. He joins us in our deepest emotions and has the power to turn us to joy.

25: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live”


Mary anoints Jesus’s feet with expensive ointment. Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey, greeted by crowds waving palm branches. Jesus prophesies His death.

Jesus is approaching the end of His ministry to the Jews. The Sanhedrin wants to kill Him, He has entered Jerusalem on a donkey like a Davidic king, and Gentiles have started arriving.

27: “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.”


Jesus washes His disciples’ feet and tells them one will betray Him. He commands them to love one another. Peter promises to die for Jesus, but Jesus predicts Peter’s denials.

Jesus shows us what He expects: service to all, even to washing feet, and Christlike love for each other. He again proves He is God through prophecy.

34: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”


Jesus continues teaching at the Last Supper. He goes to prepare a place, and He is the only way to the Father. He promises to send an advocate, the Holy Spirit, and offers them His peace.

Jesus’s death is necessary for us to go to the Father; if He does not go before to prepare, we cannot follow. But after He goes, He promises to dwell with those who love Him.

6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”


Jesus continues teaching at the Last Supper. Those who live in Jesus are like branches on a vine, bearing fruit. Those who do not bear fruit are discarded. He tells them they will face persecution for His sake.

Jesus is the true vine, the source of life and our ability to bear fruit as He commands. Those who do not abide in Jesus are discarded like unfruitful branches, but even those who do are pruned.

2: “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”


Jesus continues teaching at the Last Supper. He says this discourse is intended to keep His disciples from falling away when persecution inevitably comes. Sorrow is coming, but then everlasting joy.

Jesus predicts sorrow, then joy. Most plainly His death, then resurrection; but also the disciples’ falling away, then restoration.

22: “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”


Jesus prays for His disciples at the Last Supper. He begins by praying that God would be glorified in Him then that He would protect His disciples, and finally that later believers would be united.

Known as the “high priestly prayer”, Jesus’s prayer culminates His ministry and prays for believers over the coming days, years, and centuries.

22: “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one”


Judas and soldiers arrest Jesus. The high priest and Pilate question Him (separately). Peter denies Him three times. The Jews ask Pilate to release Barabbas instead of Jesus.

These events fulfill multiple prophecies: Judas’s betrayal, Peter’s denial, the disciples’ safety, and Jesus’s method of death (crucifixion by Romans, not stoning by Jews).

32: This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.


Pilate’s soldiers beat Jesus and apply the crown of thorns. The Jews switch from a religious charge to a political one: he has made himself a king! Jesus is crucified, dies, and is buried.

Pilate doesn’t care about Jewish theology, so the Jews have to accuse Jesus of a political crime; they choose treason. Thus “king of the Jews.” John mentions several prophecies fulfilled.

19: Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”


Mary Magdalene discovers the empty tomb, followed by Peter and John. The risen Jesus appears to Mary, then to the disciples, and finally to Thomas.

The disciples did not yet understand the resurrection, even though Jesus had discussed and prophesied it repeatedly. Even with real evidence, we require God’s help to understand the things of God.

29: Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”


Jesus fixes breakfast on the beach for some of the disciples. Jesus discusses love with Peter. John tells us the book is not big enough to tell the whole story.

Jesus, as the true shepherd, formally deputizes Peter as a shepherd under him to feed and care for His sheep. He may have prophesied Peter’s death by crucifixion.

15: When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”