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The Chosen Season 4 Episode 1 Bible Study & Discussion Guide (Exploring The Chosen with Small Groups and Youth)

Updated: 4 days ago

Episode 1 of The Chosen Season 4 is a poignant exploration of the life and death of John the Baptist. As a final tribute to the importance of his ministry, it adapts several key biblical stories and invites viewers to ponder the purpose and calling that lay upon John from the moment of his conception to the time of his execution. The Bible Study and discussion questions below are designed to help you explore Season 4, Episode 1 with your community.


Looking for more content? You can find my recap, review, and analysis of the episode here and my interview with David Amito, the actor who plays John, here.


David Amito as John the Baptist in Episode 1 of The Chosen Season 4
David Amito as John the Baptist in Episode 1 of The Chosen Season 4
 

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Before Watching The Chosen Season 4 Episode 1: Review Questions

The Chosen is a serialized show. That is to say, (most) episodes are not 1-off stories that can be viewed independently; they are chapters in a larger, overarching story that must be viewed sequentially in order to be properly understood. Indeed, with each new season, the serialized dimension of the story becomes more pronounced and the 1-off episodic elements have receded.


In light of this, I would not encourage people to jump into a study of The Chosen Season 4 unless they have already watched the preceding season. While they may be able to follow the basic flow of events in an episode, they'll miss out on the emotional significance of these events and how they fit into the character arcs that have been playing out over the course of the show. And, even if you're watching with people who have watched all three seasons, I'd suggest reviewing the previous episodes before watching. 


To review the previous seasons together, I'd suggest going through each of the main characters in the series and asking your group to recall:

  • Who is [the character]?

  • What life was like for [the character] before the ministry of Jesus began?

  • How has the life of [the character] changed over the past three seasons?

  • Where did the show leave [the character] at the end of Season 3?


Depending on the amount of time you have, you can decide which characters you want to focus on. I'll list them in order of relevance for understanding Season 4 Episode 1:

  • John the Baptist

  • Joanna

  • Thomas and Ramah

  • Zebedee, Big James, and John

  • Yussif

  • Jairus

  • Judas

  • Simon the Zealot

  • Simon Peter and Andrew


Before Watching The Chosen Season 4 Episode 1: Bible Study & Discussion Questions

As I noted in my introduction, Episode 1 focuses on the life and death of John the Baptist. If the members of your group are already well-acquainted with the Gospels - or if they’ve watched any of the trailers for Season 4 - they will already be expecting this moment. Still, I would encourage you to avoid forecasting John’s death before watching. Instead, you can explain to your group that Episode 1 will focus on the ministry and calling of John the Baptist and read the following passage together:

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” (Luke 1:5-25, ESV)

After reading, discuss the following questions:

  • The story of John’s miraculous conception is meant to remind us of similar stories found in the Old Testament. Can you think of any? Based on these similarities, what can we conclude about John and his purpose?

  •  [This question requires a moderate degree of biblical knowledge; if your group is less mature in the faith, you might want to provide this context yourself, briefly summarizing the ministry of the Prophet Samuel and, if you have time, the miraculous conception of Isaac.]

  • The Angel says that John will have the spirit and power of Elijah. Who was Elijah and what was he known for? What do you think the Angel means when he says that John will walk in the spirit and power of Elijah? 

  • [Again, summarize this information if you need to.]

  • The Angel says that John will “turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God” and “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” What is John called to turn people from? And what is he called to turn people toward?

  • Today, what does it look like to prepare people to receive Jesus? What are some common idols and false beliefs that people must turn from in order to accept Jesus as their messiah?

  • John’s father, Zechariah, questions how the promises made by the angel could come true. Why do you think the angel disciplines Zechariah by making him mute? Contrast Zechariah in this moment with his future son, John.

  • In general, do you find yourself closer to the silent unbelief of Zechariah or the bold faith of his son, John? Why?


Jesus mourns John's death in The Chosen Season 4 Episode 1
Jesus mourns John's death in The Chosen Season 4 Episode 1

After Watching The Chosen Season 4 Episode 1: Bible Study & Discussion Questions


After watching an episode of The Chosen, I typically ask people a couple basic questions:

  • What stuck out to you about the episode? What did you connect with the most?

  • Did you have any questions? Was anything unclear?


As always, if the conversation takes on a life of its own, I encourage you to run with it instead of feeling bound by the questions that follow. However, if you need more structure, you can point out:

  • This episode frames the story of John’s death with stories about his earliest moments. What do we see remains consistent and true about John from the moment of his conception to the time of his death?

  • How is John’s death a final fulfillment of his calling? By being unjustly executed, how is he preparing the way for Jesus? 


Now point out to your group:


Together, read the following passages:

For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,    and for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,    and her salvation as a burning torch. The nations shall see your righteousness,    and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name    that the mouth of the Lord will give you shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,    and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken,    and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,    and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you,    and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a young woman,    so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,    so shall your God rejoice over you.
On your walls, O Jerusalem,    I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night    they shall never be silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance,    take no rest, and give him no rest    until he establishes Jerusalem    and makes it a praise in the earth. The Lord has sworn by his right hand    and by his mighty arm: “I will not again give your grain    to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink your wine    for which you have labored; but those who garner it shall eat it    and praise the Lord, and those who gather it shall drink it    in the courts of my sanctuary.”
Go through, go through the gates;    prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway;    clear it of stones;    lift up a signal over the peoples. Behold, the Lord has proclaimed    to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion,    “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him,    and his recompense before him.” And they shall be called The Holy People,    The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out,    A City Not Forsaken. (Isaiah 62:1-12, ESV)

And

Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:25-29, ESV)

And

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
“Hallelujah!For the Lord our God    the Almighty reigns.Let us rejoice and exult    and give him the glory,for the marriage of the Lamb has come,    and his Bride has made herself ready;it was granted her to clothe herself    with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (Revelation 19:6-8, ESV)

After reading, discuss the following questions:

  • In light of these passages, what does John’s joke mean?

  • How is John at peace, even as he faces a brutal execution?

  • We may not face execution for our faith, but how can the hope presented by these passages give us the courage we need to endure suffering and hardship in this life?

  • How often do you meditate on the future hope offered to us by the Gospel? What are some ways you can try to remember and reflect on the beautiful future that God has promised to us?


John, James, and Zebedee preparing a shipment of oil
John, James, and Zebedee preparing a shipment of oil in The Chosen Season 4

Now you can point out:

  • Even as John approaches his gruesome death, the disciples are experiencing joy and flourishing: Zebedee’s oil business has its first success and Thomas and Ramah figure out a way that they can get married.

  • Sometimes movies and shows are so focused on being uplifting that they hide the dark and tragic aspects of life. Other movies and shows are so focused on being dark and gritty that they hide the bright and joyful aspects of life. In reality, life contains both sorrow and joy, darkness and light - often in close proximity to one another.


Now ask your group:

  • Can you think of a moment when you encountered both great sorrow and great joy in close proximity?

  • What was this experience like for you?

  • What do you think moments like these teach us about our world and about God?

  • What does it look like to care for friends who find themselves in moments like these?


Hope these questions are helpful for you! I'll be producing guides like this for each episode of The Chosen Season 4, just like I have for Seasons 1-3. If you use them with your youth group or small group and have a good discussion, please leave a comment below - it's encouraging to hear when tools like this are useful. Thanks for reading and may God bless your study and conversations!



 

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 1-4, 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 4


The Chosen Season 3


Adapting Biblical Characters Series


Artist Interviews (The Bible Artist Podcast)


Exploring The Chosen with Youth or Small Group [Discussion Guides]

Season 4

Season 3

Season 2

Season 1

Specials


The Chosen Controversies Series


How to Discuss The Chosen - and Why


Themes & Theology of The Chosen [Exclusive for BMC Members]

Season 4


Season 1

Specials


Mailbag Q&R


The Chosen Thematic Viewing Guides


Beyond The Chosen


Other Bible Adaptations

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