Studying for Nationals: 1 John Content

1:15 PM


Over the next few weeks, I plan to do several posts on how I study various things for Nationals.  I know that when I first qualified for Nationals, I had no idea what I should be studying, or how to study, either.  Please note that I am no expert in this area.  These are just some things that I've learned over the years that have been helpful to me.  Most likely, I got these ideas from someone else.  Also, as I've said many times, you are a unique person -- what works for me may not work for you. Take it all with a grain of salt, knowing that some things will be a great fit, while others really just aren't for you.  


In this first post, I want to focus on the most important thing to study: 1 John.  (The memory passages are also very important, but I consider them part of memorizing, rather than studying.)  1 John should be the focal point of your studying.  You should study Greek and Cross-references to help you understand 1 John, not the other way around.  1 John is a very rich book, packed with lots of theological truths and exhortations for Christian living.  It can be overwhelming to study a book with so much in it, but by God's grace, we have many resources and study helps to assist us in learning this great book.

Some of my interview questions from 1 John 2.  Hopefully, you can read my handwriting.  You're going to see a lot of it in the next few posts.  I'm just keeping things real :).

Interview questions and paraphrases are pretty much the best thing out there in helping you know and understand each verse in 1 John.  Depending on how your brain works, you'll probably have a preference between the two.  I like interview questions better, because I feel like I learn it just as well, and it's not as hard on my brain.  I'd rather save my brain cells for memorizing :).  

You probably know what paraphrases are; they're just rewording what the verse says.  So, for example, 1 John 3:16 could be paraphrased like this: "Love is that Christ died for us, and He set an example for us to die for our brothers."  Interview questions are a bit more tricky.  Basically, you ask a question on every tidbit of information in the verse.  Let's look at 1 John 2:1 as an example.  "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."  First of all, what does John call the recipients of his letter?  "My little children".  Why did John write 1 John?  So that they wouldn't sin.  When we sin, what do we have?  An advocate.  Where is our advocate?  With the Father.  Who is the advocate?  Jesus Christ.  What attribute of Jesus is in this verse?  Righteous.  Obviously, you won't always get this many different questions and types of questions.  I usually have a lot more "What" and "Who" questions than any other kind.  Just focus on knowing and understanding the verse, rather than trying to stick to certain rules, having perfect grammar, or thinking up brilliant questions .  You really have to be relaxed with this.


Last year, I made a simple outline of each chapter.  As you can see, I didn't have fancy titles or anything clever.  This was just to help me get a basic overview of the chapter.  I generally break this down by every paragraph or two.  To be honest, I haven't gotten around to it yet this year, which is why I have a picture of my outline from John 12, but it is on my "To Study" list.


You might not think this if you've never done it before, but it is very fun to make lists of things from the study book!  I'll take a topic, and write down every verse reference that it is mentioned in, plus a summary of what is said about that word/phrase.  Doing this gives great insight into certain topics.  Be sure to look for comparisons and contrasts (there are plenty in 1 John!).  I use BibleGateway to find words, because it is much faster than looking for them in the text.  If I've already marked the keyword in my copy of 1 John, then I'll just look through that for the marking.


This was a fascinating study of why John wrote and Jesus spoke.  You may need to click on the picture to see what it says.  Comparing 1 John to John 13-15 gives additional perception, because you are using what you already know to learn something new.


I generally think of marking keywords as being part of my Greek study, and I will talk about it some in that post, but it is also helpful for studying for 1 John content.  At a glance, you can see that the first eighteen verses of 1 John 5 talk quite a lot about belief, the testimony, life, and sin.  I used to find marking key words to be a pretty time-consuming and unnecessary task, because I had to read through the text so many times looking for one word.  But then, I discovered that I could use Blue Letter Bible to help me find the words quickly.  All you have to do is type a reference that includes that word into the search box, click on the tools button, click on the Strong's number, scroll down a bit, and you'll get to every time that word is used in the Bible.  To speed up the process even more, I click on the 1 John button on the sidebar to search results by book.  Then I go through and mark every time that word is used in the study book.  It doesn't take very long to do this, and it is very helpful, especially if you do this soon. 


Last year, I unintentionally memorized John 7-12 in individual verses.  This was very handy, not only in my studying, but also on the test.  For Locals this year, I put more effort into this, so that I could really have the references nailed for John 13-15.  I write the reference of the verse on one side of the flashcard, and the verse on the other side.  Then I hole-punch every card and put it on a key ring or book ring (you can get book rings at Hobby Lobby), making sure that the verses are scrambled up.  I go through the stack, using the reference to recall the verse, and vice versa.  By the end of Nationals, my goal is to be able to recall each verse as soon as I see the reference.  To make things a little bit easier for me, I used a different color for each chapter of 1 John.  It may be a good idea to memorize 1 John in one piece before you begin this, so that you will have a good understanding of how all the verses fit together.  I highly recommend this method of learning individual references!

Check back next week for Greek...or maybe cross-references!  I'll just have to see what I'm in the mood for and what I've done the most studying on. 


I have this in the front of my binder, and it is such a good reminder to me as I study!  We're doing this for the Lord.  Press on!

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4 comments

  1. This is great, Anna! I feel like this year I'm a little scattered, but I'm doing most of those things (as I write this I'm in the middle of doing key word lists for all of 1 John). I'm kind of going over entire chapters as a whole for basic observations, then breaking them down into paragraphs and doing in-depth interview questions and GW/CRs. Loved reading this! It's always great to see how others study.

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    1. Haha, I feel the same way! It's hard to do everything well, so it's resulting in some confusion and a scattered brain :). Thanks for stopping by! :)

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  2. LISTEN. TO. THE. BOOK. I have it about 1/2 memorized already, and I haven't even worked specifically on it. Just from listening to it on average twice a day, sometimes more. That's how my little brothers memorized John 13-15 for locals, pretty much verse by verse, by reading along to the recording of the verses. SUPER helpful, y'all!

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    1. Thanks for the tip -- I really should do that more! I've been working on memorizing 1 John the past week, and it has come so easily because I read a chapter from it every day for the first month and a half! Makes me think I should do that for the memory passages :).

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