1 John Lesson Two

1 John Lesson Two: 1 John 1:5-2:6 – The Necessity of Obedience

Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light  as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus  His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 

2 My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world. 

This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands.  The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” yet doesn’t keep His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: The one who says he remains in Him  should walk just as He walked. (HCSB)

I’ll divide this lesson into two parts.

  • Fellowship with God – verses 1:5-2:2.
  • Walking in Obedience – verses 2:3-6.

Fellowship with God

As we begin our study of this passage, I’d like us to consider a theme that John likely implied in his message; the foundation of fellowship is repentance and obedience. Now, let’s take a closer look at this section.

  • God is light. What does John mean when he makes this declaration?
    • First off, John switches his focus from Jesus to the Father in this section.
    • It would seem that verse six holds the key to understanding the connection between the first four verses of the letter and this section.
      • Since God is light, there is no darkness in His character.
      • Only those who walk in the light have fellowship with God.
      • What does it mean to walk in the light?
        • To follow the instructions of God.
        • Although all of us will sin, the prevalent pattern is one of obedience to the Word.
  • What is meant by the use of the metaphors “light” and “dark?”
    • Light. We’ll look at what scholars and theologians believe is meant by the term.
      • It implies life.
      • It means to be ethical.
      • It means to be morally good.
      • There is no place for evil in the light.
      • It contains absolute truth.
      • It contains absolute righteousness.
      • It goes all the way back to Genesis 1:3.
      • It became incarnate in the birth of Jesus as the light of the world.
      • Jesus is the light and the source of life.
    • Darkness.
      • It implies death.
      • It is a picture of falsehood.
      • It signifies ignorance of the truth.
      • It describes a life controlled by sin.
      • Since God is light and only those who walk in the light have fellowship with Him, the idea of walking in darkness would be a barrier to fellowship.
      • Those walking in darkness are in a spiritual state of death since eternal life is only found in fellowship with Jesus.
  • People who say they are followers of Christ yet who habitually walk a path of sin don’t have fellowship with God. These people are false believers and are deceiving themselves.
  • When we do walk in the light, two things occur.
    • We have fellowship with other believers and with God.
    • Our sins are forgiven.
      • It doesn’t mean we are freed from our sinful nature.
      • The verb is in the present tense, meaning forgiveness is a continuous and progressive action.
        • Our sins are continually being removed.
        • We experience a progressive sanctification, a transformation into the likeness of Jesus.
      • All sins are forgiven. Even the most heinous will be forgiven if a person genuinely repents and follows Jesus.
  • In verse eight, John moves to the theme of a false understanding of sin. John may have felt this was necessary because either the recipients of the letter had fallen under the spell of false teachers or they somehow began to believe the idea themselves.
    • Let’s remember there are two kinds of sin.
      • Doing things we shouldn’t be doing.
      • Not doing the things we should be doing.
    • The longer we are a believer, the more likely it is that a believer will turn from sinful behavior and engage in edifying behavior.
    • At the same time, because of our sinful nature, we will never be able always to act as Jesus would act.
      • None of us are capable of perfect love.
      • Because we are incapable of perfect love, we have sin.
  • However, if we acknowledge and confess our sins, Jesus will forgive and cleanse us.
    • This is a key point. Even though we will always struggle with and commit sin, we can live in a state of forgiveness by confessing and repenting, being cleansed through the blood of Jesus.
    • At the same time, we shouldn’t abuse this grace by continuing to commit sin.
    • Scholars have two positions in the interpretation of verse nine.
      • The first one is that it refers to the confession of sins at the time of salvation.
        • This is a once-for-all confession that solves the problem of judgment for sin.
        • This would cover sins we commit after salvation but before we are able to confess them.
      • The second is that a Christian doesn’t have to confess their sins after becoming a Christian since they already have forgiveness in Christ.
        • We don’t have to keep a track record of our sins and confess them.
        • We live with the understanding that our sins are already forgiven, and we have freedom in Christ.
      • The problem with the second position is that Jesus taught His disciples to pray “forgive us our trespasses” in the Disciples’ Prayer.
      • When we think about healthy, loving relationships, the norm is to ask for forgiveness when you offend someone. The same should be true of our relationship with God. We should confess our sins and not just “assume” we are forgiven.
  • As we look at verse ten, we should remember there are numerous verses that tell us we continue to sin after our conversion.
    • Philippians 3:12.
    • James 2:10, 3:2, 3:8, and 4:17.
    • Because Christians do sin after conversion, we shouldn’t deny our sin.
    • When we do that, we are saying that God is a liar.
    • Instead, we confess our sins and receive restoration.
  • As chapter two begins, we see John adopting a tone reserved for people he would have had a fond connection with. The first two verses are a continuation of the end of chapter one, dealing with the theme of sin.
    • John encourages the readers not to sin, but knowing they will sin in some manner, is encouraging them in the knowledge that Jesus is our advocate before the Father.
    • Jesus has already paid the price for our sins and intercedes with the Father on our behalf.
    • We also see the limitless nature of His sacrifice. His atoning blood is sufficient to cover every individual who has ever lived. There are several facts regarding this statement.
      • Scripture is clear that not everyone will be saved – Matthew 7:14, 1 Corinthians 6:9, and Galatians 5:21. However, Scripture is also clear that everyone who desires can be saved – Revelation 22:17.
      • It also means that we, as believers, should be sowing seeds wherever we go. We never know who will respond to the Gospel. Our role isn’t to decide who gets to hear the message. Our role is to share the message whenever and wherever.

Walking in Obedience

In 1 John 2:3, John drives home a critical point all of us should remember, both for ourselves as well as fellow believers we interact with. Following the commands of Jesus and walking in obedience is a key litmus test. John was addressing an issue that was facing Christians in the region of Ephesus. Let’s take a closer look at this.

  • It appears that Gnosticism was the main threat to the faith of the believers around Ephesus.
    • Gnosticism prided itself on knowing God through mystical enlightenment.
    • However, this knowledge didn’t necessarily have an impact on their moral behavior.
    • Gnostics didn’t understand that sin was a barrier to their relationship with God.
  • John was making a direct rebuke to this false belief.
    • At the same time, we need to remember that John didn’t say we would never sin.
    • We may not even have a consistent desire not to sin.
    • But the bottom line is that believers won’t live in complete disregard to God’s commands.
    • The Gnostics weren’t even trying to keep God’s commands.
  • If, as believers, we say we know God but completely disregard His commands, we are lying to ourselves and to others. We are not being truthful. We should also remember the devil is a liar. 
  • However, if we do follow God’s commands, then the love of God is in us.
  • Scholars struggle with the meaning of “the love of God” in verse five.
    • Does it mean the love of God for the Christian?
    • Or does it mean the Christian’s love for God?
    • Actually, either is possible, and both are theologically sound.
  • This section concludes with 5b-6.
    • The understanding is similar to what James wrote; a believer is identified by his works.
    • John is saying we will identify believers by their walk. If they are genuine believers, they will walk as Jesus walked.
    • Works never save us, but they are a badge of identification that someone truly knows and follows Christ.


  • What is your attitude towards sin and confession of sin? Conceivably, we could lie from one end of the spectrum to the other, believing we no longer need to confess our sins to trying to laundry list every little thing we do wrong. One is a flippant attitude towards sin, and the other borders on legalism. The best practice to follow is to try and confess as soon as we commit a sin, especially those we know we committed. However, there may be times when we sin against someone and do not even realize it. I believe Scripture is clear, an example being the disciples’ prayer, that “general confession” will cover those sins we’ve forgotten the specifics of and the sins we are unaware we’ve committed.
  • If you think you don’t sin and are a “good person,” you are deceiving yourself. All of us will stumble at some point, and confessing our sins provides restoration in our relationship with God.
  • If we see a fellow believer clearly not walking in the light, we need to bring it to their attention. We need to do it with a gentle spirit, as in Galatians 6:1. There may be times when we need to ask our Christian friends to evaluate us. This is never an easy or comfortable practice, but it can keep us on the narrow path. Scripture commands us to correct disobedience and to walk alongside our brothers and sister, just as they should walk alongside us. 

1 John Lesson One

1 John Lesson One: 1 John 1:1-4 – The Foundation of Fellowship

1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the Word of life— that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us — what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may have fellowship along with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (HCSB)

Before we dig into the passage itself, let’s present information regarding the letter.

  • There is little debate among scholars that John is the author of the letter.
    • There are many similarities to John’s Gospel.
      • The use of “light and darkness.”
      • The use of “life and death.”
      • The use of “love and hate.”
    • The beginning of the letter suggests the writer had close, personal contact with Jesus during His earthly ministry.
    • The authoritative tone in the letter supports apostolic authorship.
  • Since the conclusion is that John wrote this letter, the next question is, when was it written? Was it before or after John wrote his Gospel?
    • The letter appears to have been written to confirm the faith of believers facing the challenges of proto-Gnostic teaching. This movement was growing during the last part of the first century.
    • John’s Gospel was used by the proton-Gnostic, suggesting some time had passed between the writing of John’s Gospel and 1 John.
    • Based on this, an acceptable date for 1 John is in the early- to mid-nineties.
  • The letter lists several reasons for the writing of 1 John.
    • So that the readers may have fellowship and joy.
    • To provide a foundation for the assurance of salvation for the readers.
    • To warn the readers of false teachers who reflected the spirit of the Antichrist.
  • The letter included three tests to identify those who belonged to God.
    • The test of right belief demands that we believe Jesus had come in the flesh – 4:1-3.
    • The test of right behavior demands righteous living – 2:29.
    • The test of right attitude demands evidence of brotherly love – 3:11.

As we begin our study of 1 John, in the opening verses of the letter, the writer revealed to the readers about his and other eyewitness experiences regarding eternal life through Jesus. His desire is that all might share in the same fellowship. Let’s take a closer look at this passage.

  • John talks about Jesus in a two-pronged manner.
    • “What was from the beginning” and “what we have heard” refers to the incarnate Christ. The incarnate Christ is the message, the Word. Jesus has always existed as part of the triune God. 
    • “What we have seen,” “what we have observed,” and “touched with our hands” refers to the incarnate Christ.
      • John used these phrases since he was combating heretical teaching.
      • False teachers were making claims that Jesus’ body was not a normal one or that He was an angel and not a man.
      • John made a frontal assault on these false teachings by explicitly stating he had first-hand interaction with Jesus. 
    • The message and the person are inseparable. Each explains the other. The message about Jesus is intimately related to who Jesus is.
  • This duality also applies to the timeline of creation.
    • The contrast between “that which was from the beginning” and “what we have seen…observed” is a contrast between eternity and an actual past event.
    • John and other eyewitnesses saw the deity of Christ incarnated in time/space/history.
      • The first-hand witnesses were with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry.
      • The false teachers distorted what Jesus taught, and their ideas were not verified by Jesus’ ministry.
    • The eternal Son of God, Jesus, had come in the flesh – John 1:14.
  • In verse two, John goes on to explain the source of eternal life has been revealed through the person of Jesus.
    • Life was meant to be eternal before the fall in the Garden of Eden.
    • This life was revealed in the person of Jesus.
  • This truth is the key purpose of this epistle.
    • John is fighting against a Christological heresy that denied the incarnation of the deity, Jesus.
    • The heresy involved the separation of “Christ” and “Son of God” from “Jesus.”
    • The heretics believed Christ to be someone other than Jesus.
    • This position would call into question the issue of atonement through the sacrifice of Jesus.
    • John is writing to assure his readers that belief in Jesus and separation from idols and false teachings (false christs and false religions) is the path to eternal life.
    • John is encouraging his readers to persevere in their belief in Jesus as the Christ, the incarnate Son of God.
  • The key idea in verse three is the term “fellowship.”
    • The same term is used in 1 John 1:6.
    • Fellowship also implies knowledge of Him, Jesus, found in 1 John 2:3.
      • The idea of fellowship is the apostolic preaching of the historical Jesus and the readers’ response of faith to that teaching. Fellowship implies obedience to Jesus’ teaching.
      • It is demonstrated by the readers walking in the light as God is in the light – 1 John 1:6-7.
        • Loving our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
        • Because God is love, our Christian love originates from God.
        • Evidence of Christian love is having eternal life.
    • Faith in the incarnate Son of God, Jesus the Christ, moves one from the realm of death to life, from darkness to light, and by demonstrating love towards fellow believers.
    • The context of fellowship with the Father and the Son is eternal life with them.
      • Fellowship is first dependent on hearing the Gospel message.
      • Next, it means believing and accepting the Gospel message that Jesus is the incarnate Son of God.
      • It is a sign of oneness within the community of God, with other believers, the Father, and the Son.
      • This “oneness” is inseparable from eternal life. If we are one with God, we have eternal life.
      • It also implies perseverance in the faith. Falling away will break fellowship.
  • In verse four, it may appear somewhat selfish for John to use the phrase “our joy” in relation to others joining the fellowship of believers. However, that would be an inaccurate understanding of John’s intent.
    • John is writing from an apostolic viewpoint. This is no different than a pastor who is joyful when a person comes to Christ or when someone who is struggling preservers in the faith.
    • This idea is supported when we consider 3 John 4 – I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
    • However, it goes beyond this.
    • Since the context of these first four verses is oneness in fellowship, the joy is shared by all who are in the family of God. Both shepherd leaders, as well as members of the flock, should express joy as people become believers and persevere in the faith.
    • Although the “we” starting verse four refers to the apostles, every subsequent use of the term “we” in this epistle refers to the collective body of Christ.
    • What is the “joy” that John is referring to?
      • Being faithful followers of Christ.
      • Bearing fruit. If a person is a faithful follower of Christ, they will bear fruit.
      • There is a partial fulfillment of joy during our time on earth through fellowship with other believers.
      • Full joy will occur when Christ returns.
      • When considering John’s theology, it is impossible to take the joy away from a true believer.
        • John 16:22.
        • John 17:12-13.
      • Those who fell away from the faith were never true believers in the first place and were never part of the fellowship.
      • John’s theology was also a theology of perseverance in faith. Believers are sustained by being immersed in Scripture and the practical application of scriptural practices.  


  • Are you in meaningful fellowship with other believers? John is clear that fellowship with others and with God are essential parts of the assurance of our salvation. Being part of the body of Christ is more than attending a Sunday service. It’s being in meaningful relationships with other believers where we support each other through prayer, service, and sacrifice.
  • As we are involved in witnessing and evangelizing others, don’t add or take away from the Gospel. John was fighting against heretical teaching in this epistle. If we make substantial changes to the Gospel, we are part of the heretical crowd.
  • Even though we face trials and hardships during this life, does your life exhibit joy? Our hardships are temporary, but our joy is eternal. Focus on the eternal as you live each day.

Jonah Lesson Four

Jonah Lesson Four: Jonah 4:1-11 – Jonah’s Angry With God

But Jonah was greatly displeased and became furious. He prayed to the Lord: “Please, Lord, isn’t this what I said while I was still in my own country? That’s why I fled toward Tarshish in the first place. I knew that You are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to become angry, rich in faithful love, and One who relents from sending disaster. And now, Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 

The Lord asked, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 

Jonah left the city and sat down east of it. He made himself a shelter there and sat in its shade to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God appointed a plant, and it grew up to provide shade over Jonah’s head to ease his discomfort. Jonah was greatly pleased with the plant. When dawn came the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, and it withered. 

As the sun was rising, God appointed a scorching east wind. The sun beat down so much on Jonah’s head that he almost fainted, and he wanted to die. He said, “It’s better for me to die than to live.” 

Then God asked Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” 

“Yes,” he replied. “It is right. I’m angry enough to die!” 

10 So the Lord said, “You cared about the plant, which you did not labor over and did not grow. It appeared in a night and perished in a night. 11 Should I not care about the great city of Nineveh, which has more than 120,000 people who cannot distinguish between their right and their left, as well as many animals?” (HCSB)

As we conclude our study of Jonah, I’ll be splitting this lesson into two parts.

  • Jonah’s angry reaction to Nineveh’s escaping God’s judgment – verses 1-4.
  • God teaches Jonah about the value of people and repentance – verses 5-11.

Jonah’s Angry Reaction to Nineveh’s Escaping God’s Judgment

At the end of chapter three, we saw that Nineveh repented, and God spared them from the judgment they deserved. Now, as we start chapter four, we see Jonah’s reaction to God sparing them. Let’s look at some details in this first section.

  • We see several emotions come into play when we consider Jonah’s reaction to Nineveh being spared.
    • Jonah was displeased with God’s action.
    • Jonah became furious. It might be better to understand this as Jonah hated what God had done.
    • Jonah displayed a lack of understanding. The Ninevites had basically done what was required to avert the judgment; they demonstrated heartfelt repentance.
  • The question could be asked as to why Jonah reacted that way.
    • It could have been nationalism as a Hebrew prophet.
    • It could have been because Jonah knew that later Assyria would be the downfall of Israel. And because Jonah had obediently preached the message given to him by God, he felt a responsibility for the future downfall of Israel.
    • It could be because Jonah felt his reputation was at stake. He had prophesied the impending destruction of Nineveh, and it didn’t happen.
    • It could have been because Jonah was unsuccessful in moving the Israelites to a repentant heart and dependence on Yahweh. Maybe Jonah yearned for God to issue the same message to Israel.
    • At worst, we see a prophet with a disturbing disregard for human life and bitter hatred of those who experienced mercy.
    • At best, we see a prophet who misunderstood God’s mercy and had a limited view of God’s plan for the redemption of Israel.
    • Jonah failed to recognize the privilege of being an instrument of God in the salvation of a people group.
  • We see the selfishness of Jonah’s heart displayed in his prayer to God.
    • The words “I” and “my” occur multiple times.
    • Jonah wanted his desires to occur and not God’s plan to unfold.
    • The prayer bears a striking resemblance to the phrase, “see, I told you so.” In effect, Jonah is saying this is why he went to Tarshish, so the Ninevites wouldn’t have a chance to repent.
  • We also see the compassionate nature of God displayed in the prayer.
    • The second half of Jonah’s prayer is almost ironic in nature when the overall tone of Jonah’s prayer is one of complaining.
    • Jonah complains about God’s goodness.
      • Jonah is using an ancient formula that is, in essence, a quotation from Exodus 34:6-7.
      • The wording describes God’s character.
        • Merciful.
        • Compassionate.
        • Slow to anger.
        • Rich in faithful love.
      • Jonah didn’t use the words as a way to praise God. Instead, it was part of his tantrum against God.
  • Jonah then prays for God to take his life.
    • This was also a selfish request.
    • Since God hadn’t carried out Jonah’s wish, Jonah no longer wanted to live.
    • Nineveh was the recipient of God’s grace and would later be an instrument of Israel’s downfall.
  • The entire prayer is rather disturbing.
    • After Jonah’s rescue from the fish, he was obedient in carrying out God’s mission of delivering a sermon against Nineveh.
    • Yet, Jonah still lacked a submissive heart.
    • The purpose of Jonah going to Nineveh and preaching the message was so that the Ninevites would repent and avert judgment.
    • When that happened, Jonah reacted in a childish manner.
  • In response to Jonah’s prayer, God responds with a simple question, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
    • God was trying to correct Jonah’s bad theology.
    • Jonah’s anger was not justifiable.
    • Jonah was not displaying righteous indignation.
    • It’s possible the reason for God’s patience with Jonah is that deep down, Jonah was concerned for Israel.
    • Regardless of the reason, Jonah’s anger was inappropriate, and God wanted Jonah to understand His compassion for all people.

God Teaches Jonah About the Value of People and Repentance

The first issue to consider as we start with verse five is how much time elapsed between Jonah’s prayer, God’s answer, and Jonah leaving the city. Since the text doesn’t specify, let’s consider some options.

  • Some scholars believe Jonah left immediately after preaching his message and before the forty  days had expired. There is support for this position since the text states that Jonah waited to “see what would happen to the city.”
  • Some believe that 4:5 is actually displaced from its proper position of occurring immediately after 3:4.
  • Some view verse five as a “flashback.” However, the structure of the original Hebrew text doesn’t explicitly support it as a flashback.
  • The simplest answer is that Jonah left immediately after God posed His question in verse four.

Let’s consider some options regarding whether or not Jonah left before or after the forty days had elapsed.

  • The position that Jonah left before the forty-day period.
    • Jonah observed the repentant heart of the Ninevites and, in his anger, left before the forty days had elapsed.
    • Even though Jonah observed the repentant heart of the Ninevites, his inner hope was that they would revert to their previous practice and experience God’s judgment. Therefore, Jonah went to a location outside the city to observe the expected judgment.
  • The position that Jonah left after the forty-day period.
    • Jonah’s anger wouldn’t manifest itself until it was certain the Ninevites had escaped judgment.
    • There would be no reason for God to rebuke Jonah before the forty-day period had elapsed.

After leaving the city, Jonah sat down to the east. The two most logical explanations for his going east are that it was the direction he was traveling when he finished preaching or because of the higher elevation to the east of the city. 

The shelter Jonah constructed was likely a fairly crude one. The original Hebrew used here is the same word used for the leafy shelters constructed during the Feast of Tabernacles. Building one would have been familiar to Jonah. The construction itself was relatively simple; it consisted of interwoven branches of trees. Once Jonah was finished making it, he sat in its shade. Now, let’s ponder what Jonah could have been thinking about while he waited.

  • Perhaps Jonah was struggling with the fact the Ninevite’s repentance was genuine.
  • Jonah may have thought he had answered the question God had posed in verse four, that he did have a right to be angry.
  • It’s possible Jonah was waiting for the Ninevites to revert to their old habits and receive the judgment he thought was deserving.
  • Perhaps Jonah was waiting for destruction similar to what had transpired against Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • It could have been any one of those possibilities or a combination of more than one.
  • What was apparent is that Jonah still didn’t “get it.”

As we consider verses six through eight, we see God disciplining Jonah.

  • Although the shelter may have initially provided some relief from the sun and heat, the leaves would have quickly withered in the heat, and eventually, they would have fallen off completely.
  • Since the shelter was no longer providing adequate protection from the sun, God provided a plant to grow and provide shade to Jonah.
  • Considering what had recently transpired, this was an unmerited act of mercy. However, God was preparing a lesson for Jonah.
    • In a broad sense, God did to Jonah what Jonah wanted God to do to Nineveh.
    • It’s interesting to note that among scholars, there has been quite a bit of debate over the type of plant that provided shade. Some translations use the term “vine,” while others use the more generic term “plant.” In reality, it doesn’t really matter what type of plant God provided. The bigger issue is in the lesson it provided.
    • The phrase “to ease his discomfort” is a mild translation of the original Hebrew. In the original language, it means to “deliver him from his evil.”
    • Jonah’s discomfort could be attributed to a couple of things.
      • The average daily max temperature in the region is about 110 degrees fahrenheit, which would make it quite unpleasant.
      • It could also be due to Jonah’s hearing the people cry out in anguish to God for deliverance.
  • Because of the comfort the plant provided, Jonah was greatly pleased. There are a couple of things to consider here.
    • The meaning of the original Hebrew would translate as “Jonah rejoiced over the vine with a great rejoicing.” Jonah wasn’t just happy; he was filled with overflowing joy. 
    • For the first time in the book, Jonah is happy about something. Jonah’s happiness is directed toward a plant. There are likely two reasons for his joy.
      • The plant provided relief from the heat.
      • Jonah may have believed that the provision of the plant in some way was a vindication of his disappointment at Nineveh’s repentance or God’s withholding judgment.
    • However, the joy was short-lived.
  • The next day, God sent a “worm” to attack the plant.
    • Jonah’s joy and relief from the sun and heat were short-lived.
    • The worm’s actions quickly caused the plant to wither and die. Jonah was no longer getting relief from the elements.
    • There’s some irony in the fact that although destruction is a recurring theme throughout Jonah, the only destruction that actually occurred was to the plant. The one thing that brought Jonah great joy was destroyed.
  • The sun now beating down on Jonah wasn’t his only discomfort.
  • A scorching east wind now afflicted Jonah.
  • It is likely this wind was what is known as a “sirocco.”
    • It would cause the temperature to rise quickly.
    • The humidity would also drop quickly.
    • It would contain very small particles of suspended dust.
    • If a person was caught outside during one of the dust storms, it was extremely miserable.
  • The combined effects of the temperature and the wind made Jonah feel like he was going to faint.
    • The joy which Jonah had previously experienced was now replaced with a feeling of complete despair. 
    • As Jonah approaches exhaustion, he is despondent.
    • Jonah now repeats his request from 4:3; he wants to die.
  • As we look at Jonah’s circumstances and his request, we see the problem went much deeper than Jonah not understanding God’s fairness.
    • Jonah was completely frustrated by his life.
    • God asked Jonah to consider the rightness of his anger.
    • When the plant was provided for relief, Jonah may have felt his anger was justified.
    • Now, Jonah had been shown he was wrong. His anger wasn’t justified.
    • Depression was now gripping Jonah as he pondered whether his entire life had been wrong.
      • He had failed as a prophet.
      • In his heart, he believed he had failed God.
      • He wanted to die.
      • The picture of Jonah is not the picture of a mature disciple.
  • We now see another teaching moment from God.
    • God’s question to Jonah demonstrates the stupidity of his attitude.
    • Jonah was more concerned about his personal comfort than for the well-being of the city of Nineveh.
    • In using the phrase “is it right,” God is asking a bigger question. The implied question is, “What right do we have to demand that God show us favor and not others?”
    • Jonah’s response is self-condemnation.
  • Now God demonstrated His merciful character.
    • The phrase “cared about the plant” should be better understood as “having compassion” for the plant.
    • Since it is unusual, to say the least, to have compassion on a plant, God was demonstrating how ridiculous Jonah’s anger was.
    • Why should Jonah express anger over the death of the plant, which he neither created nor cultivated?
    • The main question God was trying to get Jonah to understand is, “Who are you to question Me?”
  • Jonah’s concern was over a plant, while God’s concern was over a city with more than 120,000 people.
    • The plant was insignificant.
    • People are God’s highest creation, created in His image.
  • God’s final question, which ends the book, captures the intention of the book.
    • It’s the focus on grace and mercy.
    • Jonah was provided a plant to provide shade which he didn’t deserve.
    • Nineveh was granted a deliverance from the judgment they did deserve.
    • God’s desire for all mankind is salvation, not destruction.
      • God is compassionate.
      • God is slow to anger.
      • God is abounding in love.
      • God will relent from sending judgment if repentance is displayed.
  • The book ends with a contrast between the ways of man and the ways of God. We will never completely understand God as His ways are so much higher than our ways. Our only solution is to walk in humble obedience to His leading and teaching.


  • Check your heart condition as you serve God. Are you selfish in your motives, or do you fully submit to God, regardless of what He asks you to do or who to serve? There may be times when God asks you to do something you may not be comfortable with doing. However, God’s plans are always perfect, no matter what we think.
  • Check what you complain about. Are you complaining about petty things that don’t really matter in the grand plan of eternity? Are people more important to you than “things?” Or do you have your priorities backward?
  • When you go through a trial, do you reflect on why it may be happening? God may be using it as a teaching moment for you. How you respond to the teaching moments is important for your spiritual growth.