Updated: Dec 20, 2022
The Chosen Season 2 is underway! I recently did a blog exploring how The Chosen Season 2 Episode 1 adapts the biblical characters of John and Big James, the sons of Zebedee, a.k.a. The Sons of Thunder. Below I'll include some thoughts on how to watch Season 2 Episode 1 of The Chosen with your youth group and how to focus your discussion specifically on the interesting things that The Chosen is doing with John, the son of Zebedee, which The Chosen identifies as the writer of the Gospel of John and the Beloved Disciple.
The Chosen Season 2 Episode 1 Intro Questions: In the Beginning
To begin, explain to your youth that you're going to read two passages and compare them to each other. Now have your students read the following passages:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Gen. 1:1-5 ESV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5 ESV)
Now point out to your youth:
The first passage is from the Book of Genesis, written by Moses. It's the very beginning of the Bible. The second passage is from the Gospel of John, written over a thousand years later by one of Jesus' disciples.
Next, ask your students:
What are some similarities between Genesis 1 and John 1? What are some words and phrases they have in common? What are they both talking about?
What are some differences between Genesis 1 and John 1? Is there anything Genesis talks about that John leaves out? Is there anything new that John adds that wasn't in Genesis?
Since the Gospel of John is written later, John is the one copying Genesis, not vice versa. Why do you think John bases the beginning of his Gospel on Genesis 1? And why does he make the changes he makes? What do you think he's trying to say?
Now explain to your youth:
This episode of The Chosen is going to begin a bit differently than previous episodes. Past episodes of The Chosen began with a flashback to a scene from the Old Testament or earlier in the life of a main character. This episode of The Chosen begins with a flash-forward; the opening scene takes place much later in the lives of the main characters, after Jesus rose from the dead and sent his disciples out to preach the gospel and build the church.
During the opening scene, The Chosen follows John, the son of Zebedee, one of Jesus' original disciples, as he begins to write the Gospel of John. The disciples have apparently all gathered together to mourn the death of John's brother, James, who was recently killed for his faith.
After this opening scene set in the future, The Chosen returns back to where it left off at the end of season one.
Note: I would not suggest watching The Chosen Season 2 Episode One with students until most of them have watched The Chosen Season 1. If you haven't already watched The Chosen Season 1 with your youth group, I've put together a guide like this for each episode, so check them out! Even if all your youth have watched the entire season (but especially if some of your youth haven't watched the whole series), I would take a moment to review the story so far, because Season 2 Episode One is pretty complicated and expects that you know what's happened so far. With that in mind, tell your youth that you're going to review Season 1 of The Chosen (you don't necessarily need to do all of these questions):
Does anyone remember the story of Matthew? What was his job? How did the other Jewish people treat him? How did he come in contact with Jesus? When Jesus called Matthew, how did the other disciples respond?
What about the story of Simon ("Peter") and his brother, Andrew? What was the problem Simon was facing? How did he try to solve it on his own? How did it actually get solved? Then what happened to Simon and Andrew?
You might remember that Simon and Andrew knew a man named Zebedee and his two sons, James and John. James and John weren't primary characters in The Chosen during season 1, but they'll become much more important in season 2. Do you remember what the relationship was like between the brothers James and John and the brothers Andrew and Simon?
During the wedding episode, when Jesus turned water into wine, he met a man named Thomas and a woman named Ramah. Do you remember who they were and what happened to them?
At the end of The Chosen season 1, Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well. Do you remember what happened?
Remind your students that after the prologue flash-forward to the future, The Chosen will pick back up with all of these characters.
Viewing The Chosen Season 2 Episode 1
You can find The Chosen Season 2 Episode One on YouTube here. I also encourage you to pick up The Chosen app (Google / Apple), since The Chosen will only post one more episode on YouTube before moving exclusively to the application.
While watching The Chosen, I make occasional comments through the chat but I try to not do too much teaching. I want the youth to enjoy it and not just see The Chosen as an elaborate preaching illustration. For the most part, I just clarify who characters are and occasionally I briefly explained a reference or allusion that is confusing to my youth.
The Chosen Season 2 Episode 1 Discussion Questions: John the Beloved
To begin your discussion, ask your youth:
Was there anything about the episode that was confusing to you? There was a lot going on! [Work to clarify details that they didn't track with]
What stuck out to you? Were there any moments that really resonated with you?
Now call the attention of your youth back to the frame narrative (the prologue flash-forward scene). Ask your students:
What did you notice about the process John went through in writing his Gospel? Did God just zap John and possess him and write it all out? What did we see John doing in the prologue?
Most of the episode takes place while Jesus was still on earth. What were some of the experiences that John had with Jesus that helped him recognize that Jesus was both human and the Creator God of Genesis 1?
What do you think it would have felt like, to realize that your friend and leader was also somehow God himself?
Point out to your youth:
In the Gospel of Mark, John and his brother James are called by a nickname, "the Sons of Thunder" (Mark 3:17).
In The Gospel of John, which John writes, he doesn't refer to himself by name at all but instead calls himself "the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved" (John 13:23).
Ask your students:
Based on the episode, what do you think John meant in his Gospel when he referred to himself as "the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved?" Was it because he was a better person than all of the other disciples?
Would you consider yourselves to be disciples whom Jesus loved? Why or why not?
If we really believe that we are disciples loved by the God who created the entire universe, how should that affect the way we live?
The Chosen Season 2 Episode 1 & Scripture FAQ
Who are the Sons of Thunder? Why are James and John called the Sons of Thunder?
In the Bible, we are told that Jesus gave James and John, the sons of Zebedee, the knickname, "the Sons of Thunder" or Boanerges (Mark 3:17). We are never explicitly told why Jesus calls James and John the Sons of Thunder, however, many interpreters have concluded it has to do with the brash and zealous character we see on display when they ask to call fire down on Samaritans for rejecting Jesus (Luke 9:51-56). The Chosen follows this theory - while also highlighting how the zeal of James and John can be directed to good purposes.
Why did Jesus rebuke James and John?
In the Bible, Jesus rebukes James and John after they ask him to call fire down on the Samaritans who rejected him (Luke 9:51-56). We are not told exactly what Jesus said. However, it seems like James and John are being rebuked for being too confrontational and violent, instead of embracing Jesus' way of loving enemies and praying for those who reject and persecute you.
Did James and John plow a field?
In the Bible, there is no indication that Jesus asked James and John to plow a field.
In The Chosen, during Season 2, Episode 1, Jesus asks Big James and John to plow a field. At first, we don't know why. By the end of the episode, we discover that Jesus is having them do this for a character in need. This story was invented by The Chosen.
Was Big James replaced in The Chosen?
Big James has been recast twice in The Chosen - once halfway through Season 1 and once in between Season 1 and Season 2.
Who plays John in The Chosen? Which actor played Big James in The Chosen?
In The Chosen, John, the son of Zebedee, is played by George Harrison Xanthis. Big James is played by Shayan Sobhian in the first half of Season 1 and by Kian Kavousi in the second half of Season 1 and by Abe Martell in Season 2 and beyond.
Who is Kafni in The Chosen?
In The Chosen, Kafni is the father of Ramah, a female follower of Jesus. There is no corresponding character named Kafni in the Bible. He was invented to illustrate how difficult it would be for a father to let his female daughter follow Jesus.
Who is Melech in The Chosen?
In The Chosen, Melech is an injured Samaritan man who encounters Jesus in Season 2, Episode 1. We learn that before he was injured, he once robbed a man and left him for dead. It is heavily implied that the man who he robbed is the main character of the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 1025-37). In the Bible, we are not told the name of the robbers in the parable. Moreover, there is no indication that the parable is based on real events.
An adaptation like The Chosen isn't meant to replace the Bible; it's meant to drive us deeper into the Bible and spiritual reflection. The 40 Days with Jesus series helps readers connect the events of Season 2 with Scripture and their own everyday lives.
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Contributing to The Bible Artist
Have my posts about Bible adaptation helped you learn more about the Bible and explore it with your ministry or family? I offer my work for free and rely on the generous support of readers like you. Your contributions mean so much. Thank you!
If you liked this post, you might want to check out some of my other posts on The Chosen and Bible adaptation. I have Bible studies/discussion guides for each episode of The Chosen Seasons 1-3, blogs exploring how The Chosen adapts key biblical figures, and articles exploring the controversial nature of adaptation. I hope you enjoy them!
The Chosen Season 3
Adapting Biblical Characters Series
Little James in The Chosen & Scripture ***Season 3***
Judas in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Matthew in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Simon and Andrew in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Exploring The Chosen with Youth or Small Group [Discussion Guides]
Episode 1 Guide: Homecoming
Episode 2 Guide: Two by Two
Episode 3 Guide: Physician, Heal Thyself
Episode 4 Guide: Clean Part 1
Episode 5 Guide: Clean Part 2
Episode 6 Guide: Intensity in Tent City
Episode 7 Guide: ???
Episode 8 Guide: ???
Season 2 Reflection P1: What is The Chosen Season 2 about?
Season 2 Reflection P2: What was The Chosen Season 2 about? (Plots & Theme)
Episode 1 Guide: The Beloved Disciple
Episode 2 Guide: Philip, Nathanael, & Matthew
Episode 3 Guide: Life Among the Disciples of Jesus
Episode 4 Guide: Simon the Zealot & the Man at the Bethesda Pool
Episode 5 Guide: Mary's Demons & the Destiny of John the Baptist
Episode 6 Guide: Mercy and Not Sacrifice
Episode 7 Guide: Quintus Returns
Episode 8 Guide: Judas, Matthew, & the Sermon on the Mount
Episode 1 Guide: Mary Magdalene, Lilith, and the Redeemer
Episode 2 Guide: Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, and Shabbat
Episode 3 Guide: Depicting Jesus in Art, Film, and TV
Episode 4 Guide: When Jesus Met Simon (Peter)
Episode 5 Guide: Mary, Mother of Jesus
Episode 6 Guide: Jesus, Shmuel, & the Pharisees
Episode 7 Guide: Did Nicodemus Follow Jesus?
Episode 8 Guide: The Woman at the Well, Eden, & Zohara