Fairview Baptist Church
2040 Main Street WW - Ashland, Kentucky 41102
"Where Everybody Is Somebody and Jesus is Lord"

 

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Bailey Sadler Class

SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON STUDY GUIDE – 2015

 

Study Theme: Like Glue: Making Relationships Stick

What This Study Is About:

Week of:

Lesson Title:

This Study Theme’s focus will help us connect to Christ because Christ took it upon Himself to do what was needed to have a relationship with us.  He submitted to the will of the Father because of love.  He came to serve us because of love.  And He gave us what we needed to love others.

The focus of this week’s study is on the kind of love that keeps our relationships with others from growing stale.

 

 

 

X

April 26

Stick With Love

 

May 3

Stick With Encouragement

 

May 10

Stick With Forgiveness

 

May 17

Stick With Service

 

May 24

Stick With Humility

 

May 31

 Stick With Acceptance

 

 

 

 

LIFE IMPACT:

Let love permeate every relationship.

FOCAL PASSAGE:

John 15:9-14

LESSON OUTLINE:

I.    

II.

III.  

Love For Others Is To Be Grounded In God’s Love (John 15:9-10)

Love For Others Is To Mirror Jesus’ Love For Us (John 15:11-12)

Love For Others Means Sacrifice (John 15:13-14)

OVERVIEW OF BACKGROUND PASSAGE:  

Time was short. Jesus and 11 of the apostles remained in the upper room. Jesus had just observed the last supper and washed the feet of His closest followers. Judas Iscariot had already departed to make whatever final preparations remained for his betrayal of Jesus. All too soon the time to depart for Gethsemane would arrive. Jesus rehearsed for the apostles the most important matters, including the need to love others as He had loved them.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

INTRODUCTION:

As Christians, we feel obligated to love, because we know Christ first loved us, and we, in turn, are to love others.  Real love is expressed through both attitudes and actions.

Jesus modeled this kind of love for us during His time on earth.  He showed God’s love to everyone He encountered during His brief time here on earth.  Jesus not only modeled this kind of love for us, He calls us to do the same.  He taught us how to maintain the type of love that does more than just speak the words “I love you” but also is a continuous demonstration of His love that reveals itself through our actions.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

I.

Love For Others Is To Be Grounded In God’s Love (John 15:9-10)

9 “As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. 10 If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.   What does it mean to let love permeate every relationship?

2.   How would you explain God’s love for His Son (v. 9)?

3.   What is meant by “As the Father has loved me?” (v. 9)?

4.   Who is the source of the love that Jesus has for His disciples?

5.   How would you explain this to a non-believer?

6.   How do we remain in Jesus’ love?

7.   What does this imply on the part of the believer?

8.   Based on this passage, what is the result of God’s love for Jesus?

9.   Then, what should result from Jesus’ love for us (v. 10)?

10.   How does keeping Jesus’ commands allow us to remain in His love?

11.   Is it possible to keep His commands and not remain in His love?

12.   What appeal did Jesus make in this passage?

13.   What do you think it means to keep your love for others grounded in God’s love?

14.   Why do you think Jesus made it very clear that we can find an immense reservoir of love in God?

15.   How is a believer to do that?

16.   Is the quality of our relationships with others always tied to the quality of our relationship with God?  Why, or why not?

17.   How would you define a quality relationship with God?

18.   If so, how does a believer maintain a quality relationship with God?

 

Lasting Lessons in John 15:9-10:

1.  Jesus loves us just as the Father has loved Him.

2.  Jesus commands us to remain in His love.

3.  We will remain in His love if we keep His commands.

 

II.

Love For Others Is To Mirror Jesus’ Love For Us (John 15:11-12)

11 “I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. 12 This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you.

1.   What did Jesus mean by these things he spoke to His disciples?

2.   What did He give His disciples these instructions?

3.   How would you describe Jesus’ joy (v. 11)?

4.   How would you summarize how a believer is to experience this same kind of joy?

5.   Do you think we (believers) can experience the same type of joy Jesus experienced?  Why, or why not?

6.   If so, what do you think is required of the believer?

7.   What commandment did He issue in verse 12?

8.   Do you this it is possible to love others in the same manner as Jesus has loved us?  Why, or why not?

9.   If so, what do you think is required of the believer?

10.   What was the standard Jesus gave for His disciples to use in measuring their love for others?

11.   How difficult do you think it is for a believer to live up to this standard?  Why?

 

Lasting Lessons in John 15:11-12:

1.  Jesus wants me to live a joyful life.

2.  Joy comes through loving God and loving others in the same manner as He loved me.

3.  Jesus commands me to love others.

 

III.

Love For Others Means Sacrifice (John 15:13-14)

13 No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you.

1.   According to Jesus, what is the greatest expression of love?

2.   What do you think it means for a person to lay down his life (v. 13)?

3.   Apart from death, what do you think it mean to lay down one’s life?

4.   How would you explain this to a non-believer?

5.   What did Jesus mean by friends, when He called us His friends (v. 13)?

6.   What do you think it means to friends with Jesus?

7.   Is verse 14 conditional?  Why, or why not?

8.   If so, what are the conditions for the believer to be a friend of Jesus?

9.   How does a believer show that he/she is a friend of Jesus?

10.   If you had to choose one word to explain the kind of love Jesus is talking about here, what word would you chose? 

11.   Do you believe that you can really love others without sacrifice?  Why, or why not?

12.   If the greatest example of sacrificial love is presented in Jesus Christ, how does that transfer to the Christian life?

 

Lasting Lessons in John 15:13-14:

1.  Jesus gave His life for me.

2.  I show love when I give selflessly of myself to others.

3.  I am Jesus’ friend if I obey His commands.

 

CONCLUSION:

The command to love others is rooted in the Old Testament (Lev. 19:18).  Jesus declared it to be the second greatest commandment following the command to love God (Matt. 22:37-40).  He called it a “new commandment” in John 13:34-35, with “new” referring to the way love was to be expressed (“as I have loved you”).

We tend to think of love in emotional terms.  Jesus expressed it as a command.  Hence, love must be more than a feeling.  “If this love were just a feeling, such a command would be impossible to fulfill.  But the love Jesus refers to is an act based in a certain state of heart.”  It is an act defined in terms of laying down one’s life for others.  As Jesus’ followers, this kind of love is to permeate all our relationships.

As the ultimate expression of love, Jesus gave His life for me.  So, as a follower of Jesus, for what am I laying down my life?  Is my life an expression of sacrificial love?  On a scale of 1 (very little) to 10 (completely), how would you measure your life as an example of sacrificial love?  How pleasing do you think your rating is to God?  If you think it would not please Him, ask Him to help you employ His Holy Spirit to guide you to improve your rating?  He Will!

What are the implications of these truths for your life?  THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!

REMEMBER, the safest place for a believer is in the center of God’s will.

 

Lesson Outline, Introduction, Discussion Questions, and Conclusion adapted from the following sources:

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

 

FOCAL PASSAGE: 

Focal Passage from three different translations of God’s Word:

King James Version: John 15:9-14:

 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. (KJV)

New International Version: John 15:9-14:

9“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. (NIV)

New Living Translation: John 15:9-14:

9“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. (NLT)

 

Lesson Outline — “Stick With Love” — John 15:9-14

I.

II.

III.

Love For Others Is To Be Grounded In God’s Love (John 15:9-10)

Love For Others Is To Mirror Jesus’ Love For Us (John 15:11-12)

Love For Others Means Sacrifice (John 15:13-14)

COMMENTARY:

(NOTE:  Commentary for the focal passage comes from four sources: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Old Testament,Believer's Bible Commentary,The Complete Biblical Library Commentary,” and “The New American Commentary ,” and is provided for your study.)

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary New Testament; John 15:9-14:

15:9-11.  Love is the relationship that unites the disciples to Christ as branches are united to a vine. Two results stem from this relationship: obedience and joy. Obedience marks the cause of their fruitfulness; joy is its result. Jesus intended that the disciples’ lives should be both spontaneous and happy rather than burdensome and boring. Obedience in carrying out his purpose would be a guarantee of success, for Jesus never planned failure for his disciples. Joy logically follows when the disciples realize that the life of Christ in them is bringing fruit—something they could never produce in their own strength.

b. The relation of the disciples to one another (15:12-17)

15:12-13.  Jesus repeated his command to “love each other” (cf. 13:34) because he knew that the future of the work among men depended on the disciples’ attitude toward one another. His stress on love had been underscored earlier in this discourse (14:15, 21, 23, 28). Unity instead of rivalry, trust instead of suspicion, obedience instead of self-assertion must rule the disciples’ common labors. The measure of their love for one another is that of his love for them (cf. 13:34), which would be further demonstrated by his forthcoming sacrifice. John caught the meaning of the statement and repeated it in his First Epistle: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16).

15:14-15.  Again Jesus defined friendship in terms of obedience. Christian friendship is more than a casual acquaintance; it is a partnership of mutual esteem and affection (14:21). Jesus elevated the disciples above mere tools and made them partners in his work. A slave is never given a reason for the work assigned to him; he must perform it because he has no other choice. The friend is a confidant who shares the knowledge of his superior’s purpose and voluntarily adopts it as his own. Jesus declared that he had revealed to the disciples all that the Father had given to him. The disclosure of the mind of God concerning his career and theirs would give them assurance that they were engaged in the right task and that God would ultimately bring it to a successful conclusion.

SOURCE: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary New Testament; Frank E. Gaebelein; General Editor; Zondervan Publishing House; A Division of Harper Collins Publishers

 

Believer's Bible Commentary – John 15:9-14:

15:9.  The love which the Savior has for us is the same as the love of the Father for the Son. Our hearts are made to bow in worship when we read such words. It is the same in quality and degree. It is "a vast, wide, deep, unmeasurable love, that passeth knowledge, and can never be fully comprehended by man." It is "a deep where all our thoughts are drowned." "Abide in My love," said our Lord. This means we should continue to realize His love and to enjoy it in our lives.

15:10.  The first part of verse 10 tells us how we can abide in His love; it is by keeping His commandments. "There is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey." The second half of the verse sets before us our Perfect Example. The Lord Jesus kept His Father's commandments. Everything He did was in obedience to the will of God. He remained in the constant enjoyment of the Father's love. Nothing ever came in to mar that sweet sense of loving fellowship.

15:11.  Jesus found His own deep joy in communion with God His Father. He wanted His disciples to have that joy that comes from dependence upon Him. He wanted His joy to be theirs. Man's idea of joy is to be as happy as he can by leaving God out of his life. The Lord taught that real joy comes by taking God into one's life as much as possible. "That your joy may be full," or "fulfilled." Their joy would be fulfilled in abiding in Christ and in keeping His commandments. Many have used John 15 to teach doubts concerning the security of the believer. They have used the earlier verses to show that a sheep of Christ might eventually perish. But the Lord's purpose was not "that your doubts may be full," but that your joy may be full.

The Command to Love One Another (15:12-14)

15:12.  The Lord would soon leave His disciples. They would be left in a hostile world. As tensions increased, there would be the danger of the disciples' contending with one another. And so the Lord leaves this standing order, "Love one another, as I have loved you."

15:13.  Their love should be of such a nature that they should be willing to die for one another. People who are willing to do this do not fight with each other. The greatest example of human self-sacrifice was for a man to die for his friends. The disciples of Christ are called to this type of devotion. Some lay down their lives in a literal sense; others spend their whole lives in untiring service for the people of God. The Lord Jesus is the Example. He laid down His life for His friends. Of course, they were enemies when He died for them, but when they are saved, they become His friends. So it is correct to say that He died for His friends as well as for His enemies.

15:14.  We show that we are His friends by doing whatever He commands us. This is not the way we become His friends, but rather the way we exhibit it to the world.

SOURCE: Believer's Bible Commentary; by William MacDonald; Copyright © 1995, 1992, 1990, 1989 by William McDonald. Database © 2014 WORDsearch.

 

The Complete Biblical Library Commentary: John 15:9-14:

15:9. Jesus encouraged the disciples to love by holding up the Father's love for Him as their example. The disciples had witnessed Jesus' love for them; therefore, His love was more readily understood and hence more easily followed.

"My" is emphasized because His love is the model for the believer's love. The Father's love is absolutely perfect. To abide in His love is to place the soul in His care, to continually allow His love to penetrate the inner being, to rest under the constant sense of it, and to let the exercise of His love flow through us to others (Romans 5:5,8).

15:10. The thought is if we want to sense His love, we must keep His commandments. The Saviour's perfect obedience to the Father's will reveals His sense of the Father's love. Love produces obedience. Likewise, keeping the Lord's words fosters love. The degree of the disciple's love is measured by his obedience to Jesus' teachings. Some may disassociate their salvation from habitual obedience to His commandments, but Jesus connects them inseparably. Holy living is the result of keeping Jesus' teachings. And keeping His teachings reveals the disciple's love for His person. This is the essence of abiding in Him and having His words abide in us (14:15,24).

15:11. Jesus here gives the conclusion to His teaching on the allegory of the vine and the branches as it concerned their mutual fellowship.

Christ experienced joy in the consciousness of His union with the Father, and believers may experience this same joy that supported Him in His sufferings. Jesus prayed for them to that end (17:13).

Jesus revealed that His joy came from keeping the Father's commandments and abiding in His love. The fullness of the disciple's joy also comes as a result of perfect obedience to His teachings and abiding in Him (verse 10).

15:12. In this verse Jesus stated one of His commandments. Obedience to this commandment will produce joy in any disciple. Jesus called this His commandment, for He gave it, demonstrated it, and taught how it works. A few days before this He taught that all the Law and the Prophets could be summed up by the two great commandments, "Love... God with all thy heart" and "Love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew 22:37-40). Love is the sum of both commandments. To love one's neighbor presupposes one's love for God.

We love one another because we love Him. We love others because they bear His likeness. Our love for each other cannot go to the extreme that His love did in His redemptive work. But our love can be the same quality as His. We share His love; therefore, we can be patient, kind, without envy, without arrogance, rejoicing in goodness, forbearing, trusting, hopeful and Christlike (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

15:13.  Jesus here stated the measure and degree of love He has for believers. It is also the stimulus for the disciple's love. No love is greater.

This verse relates to the Good Shepherd teaching. The Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep (see 10:11,15,17). Here Jesus spoke not of sheep but of His "friends." One may sacrifice much for the sake of a friend, but to give one's life for a friend is rare indeed. Jesus surpassed one who might rarely die for his friends—He died in behalf of and for His enemies. The Lord mentioned only friends here because He was speaking to His friends. He knew in a few hours His sufferings and crucifixion would occur.

15:14.  "Ye" is emphatic. Only those who keep Jesus' sayings are His friends. He was still stressing what He taught in verses 10 and 14.

SOURCE: The Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Acts.  Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.; World Library Press, Inc.

 

The New American Commentary; John 15:9-14:

15:9.  In this verse the focus turns again so that the theme of abiding merges into the crucial Johannine theme of love. Here some of the elements of the circle of love are enunciated. They are as follows: the Father loves the Son (cf. 3:35; 17:23), and the Son obediently loves the Father (cf. 10:17; 14:31); the Son loves his followers, and they are to love and obey him (cf. 13:34; 14:15, 23); loving and obeying the Son means being loved by the Father (cf. 14:21, 23; 17:23); being loved by the Son also implies loving one another (cf. 13:34; 15:12, 17); God not only loves the disciples but loves the world and gave his Son for its people (cf. 3:16); but many in the world love darkness and do not do the will of God (cf. 3:19; 14:24). In his first epistle John carries the theme of love further and insists that the disciple must not love in words only but in actual deeds of love (cf. 1 John 3:18) and that hating one’s brother is actually an indication of not loving God (cf. 3:15) because love is the sign of knowing God (cf. 4:7).

Bearing fruit therefore means loving others as God loves them and giving witness to the world. Such fruit bearing is possible only by abiding in Jesus, the Vine.

15:10.  In 14:15 it was said that loving Jesus would result in obeying or keeping (tērēsete) his commands (entolas, cf. 14:21; and “word,” logos, 14:23). But in the present text the order is completely reversed. Accordingly, here obeying/keeping his commands results in abiding in Jesus’ love. The only natural conclusion from these virtually reversible statements, therefore, is that they are so interrelated and inseparable that you cannot have one without the other. Moreover, once again the relationship of the disciple to Jesus in terms of obedience and love is modeled on the relationship of the Son to the Father.

15:11.  Ridderbos correctly categorizes this verse as simultaneously a recapitulation and a climax. As this core mashal comes to its final stage, it focuses our attention on a wonderful capstone promise of joy. Obedience, love, fruit bearing, being pruned could all be viewed as rather painful and demanding ideas that scarcely suggest excitement or desirability. But that is hardly the goal of the mashal. The purpose of abiding in the vine is to provide the sense of delight to those who are authentic disciples of Jesus, even though they may face pain or persecution.

The noun for joy (chara) has been used only once in the Gospel prior to this verse, and that was in the Baptizer’s metaphor of the bridegroom (3:29). But from this point forward in the Farewell Cycle it appears at 16:20, 21, 23, 24; 17:13. The verb chairein (“rejoice”), however, was used four times prior to the Farewell Cycle: in the bridegroom text (3:29), the harvest metaphor (4:36), the expectation of Abraham (8:56), and Jesus’ statement concerning Lazarus (11:15), all of which except the Lazarus text are metaphors pointing to the meaning of the coming of Jesus. The verb appears twice in the Farewell Cycle at 14:28 and 16:20. Besides this present verse, all the uses of the noun and the verb concerning the theme of joy in the Farewell Cycle are directly focused on Jesus’ departure from the world and his desire to provide his beloved followers with a sense that they must not fear the future but rejoice in what is being done through him. They must look beyond their anxieties.

Accordingly, it could be legitimately concluded that one of the major purposes of the Farewell Cycle and particularly of this core mashal is to help Christian readers glimpse the perspective of God concerning the death/departure of Jesus and thus to view their own pain in light of the divine perspective. Such a perspective will not produce a superficial, fairy tale-like “happily-ever-after” attitude but a deep sense of well-being and joy that their lives are united in the vine of Jesus and thus in his self-giving death and powerful resurrection (cf. the disciples’ reaction of joy at the resurrection in 20:20).

The Friends of Jesus and the Love Command: Thesis Statements on Discipleship (15:12–17)

15:12–13.  The “commands” required by Jesus for abiding in his love (15:10) are in v. 12 encapsulated in one core command or order. That command is a restatement of the new command that was presented in 13:34–35 as the mark of authentic Christian discipleship. And here again it is founded on the previous exemplary love of Jesus for them. The verbs for love are significant here in that the love of the disciples is in the Greek a present continuing tense whereas the love of Jesus is stated in the aorist or past tense. It is obvious that John has the crucial event of the death and resurrection of the Lord in mind as he states this major discipleship thesis from a postresurrection perspective.

These verses immediately call to mind the double command discussed in the Synoptic Gospels wherein the summary of the law is stated in terms of loving God and loving one’s neighbor (cf. Mark 12:29–31). The dialog of Jesus with the rich young man who wondered how true obedience could be summarized (Matt 19:16–30; Mark 10:17–22; Luke 18:18–30) begins with a discussion concerning the second register of the Decalogue. But Jesus moved the discussion quickly to the first register and the subject of Israel’s daily affirmation of the Shema (Deut 6:4–5). Here the pattern of thinking is reversed, for the mashal began with a major focus on a relationship to Jesus, the Vine, and moved to obedience, which in this section is focused on love for others (cf. also Matt 5:44–45).

But Brown correctly reminds us that in our lives we have come to know real love because Jesus laid down his life for us (cf. 1 John 3:16). As a result we are to follow his example. Judaism, however, generally has rejected such self-sacrifice as an unnecessary and inappropriate pattern for life. Moreover, in commenting on the subject of friendship, Stählin, after reviewing the writings of the Greek philosophers, argues that John has clothed ancient ideas concerning true “friendship in biblical speech”and applied them to Jesus in the giving of a model for the disciples. Whatever may be any literary antecedents for such self-giving in terms of friendship, however, it is clear that self-sacrifice as understood by John did not arise from a philosophical ideal but from the actual self-giving death of Jesus. Such a death is the ultimate measure of love, and thus Jesus indicated that no other love surpasses such love (meizona tautēs agapēn).

Although some might argue that such love for friends is not the ultimate love in comparison to love of enemies, the thesis here concerns the basis for discipleship in its reference to the death of Jesus. It would be illegitimate in such a context to argue that either John or Jesus would be making a case that the sacrificial death of Jesus was for friends and not for the world (cf. John 3:16; cf. also the Sermon on the Mount at Matt 5:43–45, where Jesus completely rejected such an improper interpretation of Lev 19:17–18). Indeed, Paul in Romans (Rom 5:10) argued that Christ died to reconcile us while we were still enemies.

15:14.  Having introduced in the previous verse the subject of genuine friendship by means of an articular participle (tōn philōn), lit. “the ones he loved”), John now employs the noun philoi to spell out the implications or basic requirements of such friendship. They are exactly the same obedience requirements as those (15:10) for abiding in his love (agapē). It is therefore imperative to avoid making the frequent mistake of highlighting differences between agapan and philein in John.

The point of the verse is that obedience to the commands of Jesus defines what it means to be his friends. The concept of being a friend of God is applied in the Old Testament to Abraham (2 Chr 20:7; Isa 41:8; cf. Jas 2:23) and implicitly to Moses (Exod 33:11). Likewise, Jesus can refer to Lazarus as “our friend Lazarus” (John 11:11). But neither in the Old Testament nor the New Testament is God or Jesus referred to as the friend of humans in the manner of the Gospel song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Such a thought probably would be regarded by the biblical writers as too debasing of God or Jesus. The biblical writers like John already understood that Jesus was not a mortal to be treated as any other mere human. The evangelist was not in danger of confusing Jesus, who is the Vine, with a mere branch (cf. 15:5 and the comments there on identity). Clarity on this issue goes to the very heart of discipleship.

SOURCE:  The New American Commentary; Volume 25b; John 12–21; Gerald L. Borchert;  E. Ray Clendenen, General Editor: © Copyright 1991; Broadman Press; Nashville, Tennessee.

 

DIGGING DEEPER:

LOVE Unselfish, loyal, and benevolent concern for the well-being of another. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul described “love” as a “more excellent way” than tongues or even preaching. The New Testament maintains this estimation of love throughout. The King James Version uses the word charity instead of “love” to translate the Greek word Paul used (agape). The word charity comes from the Latin caritas which means “dearness,” “affection,” or “high regard.” Today, the word charity is normally used for acts of benevolence, and so the word love is to be preferred as a translation of agape.

Nevertheless, the reader who comes to the agape of the New Testament with the idea of benevolence in mind is better off than the reader who comes with the idea of physical pleasure and satisfaction.

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

Agape ag´a-pē (ἀγάπηagápē).

1. The Name and the Thing:  The name Agape or “love-feast,” as an expression denoting the brotherly common meals of the early church, though of constant use and in the post-canonical literature from the time of Ignatius onward, is found in the New Testament only in Jude 1:12 and in 2 Pet 2:13 according to a very doubtful reading. For the existence of the Christian common meal, however, we have abundant New Testament evidence. The “breaking of bread” practiced by the primitive community in Jerusalem according to Acts 2:42, 46 must certainly be interpreted in the light of Pauline usage (1 Cor 10:16; 11:24) as referring to the ceremonial act of the Lord’s Supper. But the added clause in 2:46, “they took there food with gladness and singleness of heart,” implies that a social meal was connected in some way with this ceremonial act. Paul’s references to the abuses that had sprung up in the Corinthian church at the meetings for the observance of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:20-22, 33, 34) make it evident that in Corinth as in Jerusalem the celebration of the rite was associated with participation in a meal of a more general character. And in one of the “we” sections of Acts (20:11) where Luke is giving personal testimony as to the manner in which the Lord’s Supper was observed by Paul in a church of his own founding, we find the breaking of bread associated with and yet distinguished from an eating of food, in a manner which makes it natural to conclude that in Troas, as in Jerusalem and Corinth, Christians when they met together on the first day of the week were accustomed to partake of a common meal. The fact that the name Agape or love-feast used in Jude 1:12 (Revised Version) is found early in the 2nd century and often afterward as a technical expression for the religious common meals of the church puts the meaning of Jude’s reference beyond doubt.

2. Origin of the Agape:  So far as the Jerusalem community was concerned, the common meal appears to have sprung out of the koinṓa or communion that characterized the first days of the Christian church (compare Acts 1:14; 2:1 etc.). The religious meals familiar to Jews—the Passover being the great type—would make it natural In Jerusalem to give expression by means of table fellowship to the sense of brotherhood, and the community of goods practiced by the infant church (Acts 2:44; 4:32) would readily take the particular form of a common table at which the wants of the poor were supplied out of the abundance of the rich (Acts 6:1ff). The presence of the Agape in the Greek church of Corinth was no doubt due to the initiative of Paul, who would hand on the observances associated with the Lord’s Supper just as he had received them from the earlier disciples; but participation in a social meal would commend itself very easily to men familiar with the common meals that formed a regular part of the procedure at meetings of those religious clubs and associations which were so numerous at that time throughout the Greek-Roman world.

3. Relation to the Eucharist:  In the opinion of the great majority of scholars the Agape was a meal at which not only bread and wine but all kinds of viands were used, a meal which had the double purpose of satisfying hunger and thirst and giving expression to the sense of Christian brotherhood. At the end of this feast, bread and wine were taken according to the Lord’s command, and after thanksgiving to God were eaten and drunk in remembrance of Christ and as a special means of communion with the Lord Himself and through Him with one another. The Agape was thus related to the Eucharist as Christ’s last Passover to the Christian rite which He grafted upon it. It preceded and led up to the Eucharist, and was quite distinct from it. In opposition to this view it has been strongly urged by some modern critical scholars that in the apostolic age the Lord’s Supper was not distinguished from the Agape, but that the Agape itself from beginning to end was the Lord’s Supper which was held in memory of Jesus. It seems fatal to such an idea, however, that while Paul makes it quite evident that bread and wine were the only elements of the memorial rite instituted by Jesus (1 Cor 11:23-29), the abuses which had come to prevail at the social gatherings of the Corinthian church would have been impossible in the case of a meal consisting only of bread and wine (compare 1 Cor 11:21, 33f) Moreover, unless the Eucharist in the apostolic age had been discriminated from the common meal, it would be difficult to explain how at a later period the two could be found diverging from each other so completely.

4. Separation from the Eucharist:  In the Didache (circa 100 ad) there is no sign as yet of any separation. The direction that the second Eucharistic prayer should be offered “after being filled” (x.1) appears to imply that a regular meal had immediately preceded the observance of the sacrament. In the Ignatian Epistles (circa 110 ad) the Lord’s Supper and the Agape are still found in combination (Ad Smyrn viii.2). It has sometimes been assumed that Pliny’s letter to Trajan (circa 112 ad) proves that the separation had already taken place, for he speaks of two meetings of the Christians in Bithynia, one before the dawn at which they bound themselves by a “sacramentum” or oath to do no kind of crime, and another at a later hour when they partook of food of an ordinary and harmless character (Ep x.96). But as the word “sacramentum” cannot be taken here as necessarily or even probably referring to the Lord’s Supper, the evidence of this passage is of little weight. When we come to Justin Martyr (circa 150 ad) we find that in his account of church worship he does not mention the Agape at all, but speaks of the Eucharist as following a service which consisted of the reading of Scripture, prayers and exhortation (Apol, lxvii); so that by his time the separation must have taken place. Tertullian (circa 200 ad) testifies to the continued existence of the Agape (Apol, 39), but shows clearly that in the church of the West the Eucharist was no longer associated with it (De Corona, 3). In the East the connection appears to have been longer maintained (see Bigg, Christian Platonists of Alexandria, 102ff), but by and by the severance became universal; and though the Agape continued for long to maintain itself as a social function of the church, it gradually passed out of existence or was preserved only as a feast of charity for the poor.

5. Reasons for the Separation:  Various influences appear to have cooperated in this direction. Trajan’s enforcement of the old law against clubs may have had something to do with it (compare Pliny as above), but a stronger influence probably came from the rise of a popular suspicion that the evening meals of the church were scenes of licentious revelry and even of crime. The actual abuses which already meet us in the apostolic age (1 Cor 11:20ff; Jude 1:12), and which would tend to multiply as the church grew in numbers and came into closer contact with the heathen world, might suggest the advisability of separating the two observances. But the strongest influence of all would come from the growth of the ceremonial and sacerdotal spirit by which Christ’s simple institution was slowly turned into a mysterious priestly sacrifice. To Christ Himself it had seemed natural and fitting to institute the Supper at the close of a social meal. But when this memorial Supper had been transformed into a repetition of the sacrifice of Calvary by the action of the ministering priest, the ascetic idea became natural that the Eucharist ought to be received fasting, and that it would be sacrilegious to link it on to the observances of an ordinary social meal.

SOURCE: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; James Orr, M.A., D. D., General Editor; Parsons Technology, Inc.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

 

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND READING:

 

Love In John’s Writings

By Robert E. Jones

Robert E. Jones is pastor of Euclid Avenue Baptist Church, Bristol, Virginia.

I

DENTIFYING KEY THEMES IN JOHN’S WRITINGS1 is relatively easy because the apostle used certain key words repeatedly.  New Testament scholars have identified at least 10 prominent themes in John’s writings.  One of these is love, a theme the apostle defined primarily through two Greek words: the verb agapao and the noun agape.  The verb agapao occurs throughout ancient Greek literature; the noun agape appears primarily, however, in biblical literature.  The term is in every New Testament book except Mark, Acts, and James.  Of the 116 uses of agape in the New Testament, 30 occur in John’s writings.  Additionally, more than half of all the New Testament occurrences of the verb agapao (143 times) appear in John’s writings (72 times).2  By his prominent use of these two words for love, the apostle set out to describe his unique understanding of the nature of God’s love and the importance of Christ’s followers to practice love.  The late New Testament scholar Leon Morris aptly defined the importance of John placed upon love: “Clearly love matters a good deal to this author.”3

Love Expressed

John’s direct and powerful affirmation “God is love” (1 John 4:8) forms the foundation for everything else the apostle had to say about love.  For John, love was an attribute that helped define God’s essential nature.  Because God is love, He expressed that love in tangible ways.  Two of these expressions are prominent in John’s writings.

First, God has expressed His love by sending His only begotten Son into the world for the purpose of offering salvation to every person (John 3:16).  In John’s understanding, the Lord loves all people simply because love is the heart of His character.  God’s love for people is based on His own nature, not on people’s worthiness.  In fact, God loves all people in spite of our unworthiness, which is the basic idea of agape love.

Consequently, God’s love for people finds its highest expression in the gift of His Son; more specifically, Jesus’ death on the cross.  John declared that love consists of this major truth—that the Father demonstrated His love for the world by sending His Son to be the perfect sacrifice for every person’s sins (1 John 4:10).  Indeed, the reason why anyone has come to know love is because Christ laid down His life for us all (3:16).  We can thus love because God first loved us (4:19) with a love so great that the end goal of that love is making us God’s children through faith in Jesus Christ (3:1).  In this sense, then, the Son mediated God’s love by bringing this heavenly reality into the world.

Second, John did not focus exclusively on God’s love for the world; the apostle also declared that God loves His Son (John 3:35).  While the Father’s love for His Son existed before the world’s foundation, the manifestation of this love to the world came through the Son’s obedient death on the cross and His subsequent glorification (10:17; 17:24).

Interestingly, John declared the Son’s love for the Father only once (14:31).  Instead, the apostle emphasized the Son’s love for those the Father had given to Him (15:9).  Emphatically, John declared that Jesus had loved His own all the way to the end of His earthly ministry (13:1).  Jesus wanted His followers to abide in His love for them (15:9-10), while understanding also that His love for the disciples was an extension of the Father’s love for them (17:23).

Love Commanded

A unique emphasis John placed on love was the commandment  to love.  John expressed this truth through Christ’s powerful declaration to His disciples to love one another in a manner similar to His love for them (13:34).  This “new commandment” was new primarily because of the distinctive emphasis Jesus placed on it.  The phrase “as I have loved you” provided both the norm for this love and the reason for it.  The context for Jesus’ command was His statement to the disciples that He was about to leave them (v. 33).  Therefore, Jesus called on His followers to do to one another after His departure that which He had done to them while He was with them.  Furthermore, this new commandment took on a level of prominence over the other commandments through Jesus’ startling declaration that all people would know that the disciples were His true followers as they observed believers practicing this brotherly love (v. 35).  Consequently, the command to love one another is more than just a moral demand, for it expresses a call for action that forms an essential part of the Christian community.

This emphasis on brotherly love carries over into the Book of 1 John, where the apostle linked it closely with Christian fellowship.  John saw Christians as bound to God and to one another.  For example, John declared that Christians have fellowship with one another when they walk in the light (1 John 1:7).  So, the believer who walks in the light will also love his brother (2:9-11).  For John this was the proof that a person had passed from darkness into the light.  As a result, God’s children love one another because love had become part of their character (3:14).  Christ’s followers project the genuineness of their new birth salvation by practicing brotherly love (4:7).  In contrast, those who do not love their brothers give indication they do not know God in saving faith (v. 8).  Furthermore, practicing brotherly love among Christ’s disciples demonstrates that God’s love has been perfected, or matured, in His children (v. 12).  Nevertheless, John saw the necessity to urge His readers to love one another (3:11,18), and to do so according to Jesus’ commandment (v. 23).

John reminded his readers that the command to brotherly love was not new in the sense that they had heard it “from the beginning” (v. 11), probably meaning from the beginning of their Christians experience.  But in another sense, brotherly love was the beginning point for their expression of Christ-like love.  If a person could not love his brother, one he could see with his own eyes, he certainly could not love God, the One he could not see (4:20).  In fact, John pointedly said a person is a liar if he says he loves God but hates his brother (v. 20).

John’s emphasis on brotherly love constitutes a revolutionary new understanding of love Christians are to manifest in the world.  Through God’s love, and in spite of our unworthiness, believers in Christ express love to one another because Christ has transformed us and made us loving people.  In brotherly love, then, the followers of Christ reflect a fellowship that is not of this world.  This is the law of love, and it is possible only because God first loved us (v. 19).                                                                                            Bi

1.  For the purposes of this article, John’s writings include the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation.

2.  Andreas Kostenberger and Raymond Bouchoch, The Book Study Concordance of the Greek New Testament  (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2003).

3.  Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John,  rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 203.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Vol. 37, No. 4; Summer 2011.

 


 

JOY The Meaning

By Kendall H. Easley

Kendall Easley is professor of New Testament and Greek, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, Germantown, Tennessee.

WE FIND PAUL’S LETTER to the Philippians to be the most joy-filled book of the New Testament.  Every chapter refers to joy or rejoicing.  What did he mean?

Paul’s starting point for understanding joy was the Old Testament.  Several Hebrew words are translated into English Bibles by such terms as “joy,” “enjoy,” and “rejoice.”  Joy was for the people of ancient Israel, just as it is for us, an emotion, which by its nature sought expression.  The subjective feeling of joy with no outward manifestation was unknown.  A good example is the first biblical mention of any sort of joy.  As Jacob fled from Laban, his father-in-law, Laban, finally asked, “Why did you run off secretly and deceive me?  Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of tambourines and harps?” (Gen. 31:27).1

Hebrew Scripture shows rejoicing as the active response of the covenant community to God’s blessings.  In fact, the Israelites were commanded to assemble for joyful celebrations.  Deuteronomy contains several examples, such as: “There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you” (12:7).  If we were suddenly transported back to ancient Israel, we would find great joy in everyday life.

The Book of Psalms overflows with joy.  The psalms exhort God’s people to rejoice, especially because of His salvation.  Consider Psalm 64:10: “Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; let all the upright in heart praise him.”  For centuries Christians have used such psalms of rejoicing to help express their own joy in God.

The biblical prophets looked forward to a time of great joy after the restoration of all things.  God Himself shares in this joy: “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.  I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people” (Isa. 65:18-19).  Such expressions are remarkably similar to the joyful hope for heaven that we Christians express.

Joy In The New Testament

In the New Testament we discover three Greek word groups associated with joy.  The agalliao words emphasize loud, public expressions of joy in worship.  The euphraino  words focus on times of community joy in festival or banquet settings.  The chairo words, the focus of this study, are by far the most frequent.  Both the activity of rejoicing and the things that cause joy can be called joy in this sense.

In the New Testament, joy centers on Jesus Christ.  Paul’s friend Luke stressed the joy that the birth and life of Jesus brought.  As Christ’s life on earth began, the angels announced to the shepherds: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).  Then at the close of Jesus’ earthly life, after His ascension to heaven, the disciples “worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (24:52).

When Paul planted the church in Philippi, joy erupted.  God opened Lydia’s heart to the gospel; a slave girl was set free from an evil spirit; the town jailer was dramatically converted to Christ after a midnight earthquake (Acts 16:13-40).  After the jailer’s family was baptized, “he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole family” (v. 34).  More than 10 years passed between the time Paul preached the good news in Philippi (about A.D. 50) and the time he wrote the Epistle to the Philippians (about AD 61).  Many more in their city had received the gospel.  When Paul wrote Philippians, he was being help captive in Rome, but his circumstances did not rob him of joy.  He was a joyful Christian busily serving God through the ministry of praying, writing letters, and preaching to those within his hearing.

Within only 104 verses, Paul used joy or a derivative 16 times.  He used the noun chara (joy) 5 times (1:4,25; 2:2,29; 4:1), of a total of the 59 New Testament instances.  Paul used the related verb chairo (rejoice) 9 times in Philippians (1:18 [twice]; 2:17,18,28; 3:1; 4:4 [twice],10), of a total of the 75 New Testament occurrences.  In Philippians 2:17-18, Paul twice used the compound verb sugchairo, meaning rejoice with or co-rejoice, of a total of the 7 New Testament instances.

The Noun Joy In Philippians

Paul’s use of “joy” (chara) in Philippians corresponds well with the other uses of the word in Scripture.  Joy was never simply an inner feeling for Paul but something he expressed.

In Philippians 1:4, Paul showed joy in the way he prayed for his friends: “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.”  If Paul could pray with joy from prison, we too can be encouraged to pray with joy.

In Philippians 1:25, Paul expressed confidence that he would be restored to the Philippian believers “for [their] progress and joy in the faith.”  Believers experience a greater degree of joy when other Christians minister to them, perhaps through the Word or through deeds.  Philippians 2:29 is similar.  Here Paul asked the church to welcome the return of their friend Epaphroditus “in the Lord with great joy.”

Joy is a subjective individual emotion that cam be enhanced or made complete – the theme of Philippians 2:2.  Paul said that when believers were “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” his joy was made complete.

Paul’s final use of the noun “joy” is in Philippians 4:1.  Here he used “joy” with the meaning that which causes joy (rather than joy as an emotion).  The believers themselves were Paul’s “joy and crown.”

Paul’s Rejoicing

Paul used the verb “rejoice” in Philippians in two ways.  First, he spoke of his personal rejoicing in three verses (four instances).  In Philippians 1:18, Paul stated twice that the preaching of the gospel by anyone (even with ulterior motives) caused him to rejoice, both in the present and in the future.  Thus whenever we hear that the true gospel has been proclaimed, rejoicing is in order.

Philippians 2:17 recorded Paul’s joy even as he contemplated his death.  He knew his death would bring him closer to displaying the fruit of his ministry on “the day of Christ” (v. 16).  In this same setting he used the verb sugchairo to say that “I . . . rejoice with all of you” (v. 17).  Joy for Paul wasn’t private by shared. 

Paul’s final reference to his personal joy is Philippians 4:10.  Because of the Philippians’ generous gift, Paul wrote, “I rejoice greatly in the Lord.”  When someone enriches our lives – spiritually, financially, or in other ways – we believers ought to rejoice aloud.

The Philippian Christians’ Rejoicing

Second, in four verses Paul used the verb chairo with reference to the rejoicing of the Philippians.  Most are imperatives (commands) rather than indicatives (statements of fact).

In Philippians 2:18, Paul asked the Philippians to rejoice (chairo) in light of his coming death (see the reference to 2:17 above).  He made sure this was a matter of co-rejoicing (sugchairo) with others: “So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”

In 2:28, Paul alluded to the Philippian believers’ future rejoicing at their reunion with their dear friend Epaphroditus.  This rejoicing closely connects to the usage of the noun “joy” in 2:29, reminding us of the earlier point that joy is a result of Christian ministry.

In Philippians 3:1 and 4:4, three times Paul used the present imperative form of the verb to charge the Philippians to keep on rejoicing.  In both verses, such rejoicing is “in the Lord.”  Perhaps we find it strange to think of joy as something that is commanded to believers, but the Hebrew Scriptures established this pattern.  This becomes possible when we realize that joy “in the Lord” is because of His greatness and goodness and not because of our circumstances.

What does joy mean in Philippians?  It is about people, not things; God’s gospel, not circumstances.  Joy comes when the gospel is preached and when Christians minister effectively.  Joy comes in praying and because of generous giving.  Joy “in the Lord” is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) that all Christians are to express and share with each other, just as Paul did.

1.  All Scripture quotations in this article are taken from the New International Version.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Fall 2003.

 

Abide: The Meaning

By Robert Earl Jones

Robert Earl Jones is professor of New Testament, Wayland Baptist University, Anchorage, Alaska.

J

OHN’S USE OF THE WORD “ABIDE” is extensive.  Of the 112 passages in which the Greek word meno (abide) occurs in the New Testament, 66 are found in John’s writings.  John used meno 26 times in his letters alone, with 23 of these instances occurring in 1 John.1  Clearly, John’s extensive use of “abide” indicates the term carries a unique importance in his writings.

The basic meaning of meno is to remain or stay.2  The concept of remaining or abiding, however, can take different forms.  Ancient Greek literature reflects at least three uses of meno: standing against opposition, remaining still, and remaining in legal force.3  Likewise, we find meno used with different emphases in the New Testament.

In the literal sense meno refers to one living or remaining in a physical dwelling such as a house (Luke 19:5) or a ship (Acts 27:31).  Often, however, meno is used in a figurative sense such as abiding in faith and love (1 Tim. 2:15) or in Christ’s Word (John 8:31). This metaphorical use is the way John used “abide” in his letters.

Often, we can categorize the biblical use of a particular word, and this is the case with “abide.”  In John’s letters “abide” is used with believers as both the subject and the object of the verb.  The apostle described us as believers abiding in Christ, in the light, in love, and in eternal life.  In contrast, John identified God, God’s Word, truth, and the anointing as abiding in us.  These categories provide a framework for examining each use of the term in 1 and 1 John.

In 1 John 2:6 the apostle laid down a clear expectation for those who abide in Christ:  We are “to walk in the same manner as He walked.”4  Christians should model their lives after Jesus because they abide in Christ.5    Then in 2:28 John indicated that abiding in Christ will bring confidence as we reflect on Jesus’ second coming.  Having a personal relationship with Jesus now dispels any fear of His return later, for then we will move only into a deeper relationship with Christ.  In addition, this personal relationship with Christ eliminates the desire to continue in sin (3:6).  The linear use of abide in this verse shows that a life of continuous sin gives evidence that Christ does not exist.  On the other hand, we know that we are abiding in Christ and He in us because Christ has given us His Spirit (3:24).   The Spirit then enables us to keep the Lord’s commandments, a sign we love Jesus (John 14:15).  The apostle repeated this thought in 1 John 4:13, declaring that the Holy Spirit gives us confidence that we do, indeed, abide in Christ.

In addition, we abide in the light (2:10).  When the living Word of God came into the world, He shines His light on every person, and the darkness of sin that gripped the world could not overcome it (John 1:4-9).  Darkness and hate abide together, but so do light and love.  When we abide in the light, therefore, we love our brothers.  John put this truth another way in 1 John 4:16: To abide in God is to abide in love because God is love.  God’s love produces love in us proving that we abide in His love.  When this is not the case, we abide in death and do not possess eternal life (3:14-15).  The belief that we can hate and abide in God at the same time is, therefore, untenable.

In each of these above occurrences, we are the subject of “abide.”  However, John also used the word with us as the object of the verse.  The most prominent use focuses on “the word of God.”  In 2:14 John stated that he wrote to the young men because the word of God abided in them.  Because God’s word was abiding in them, they possessed power to overcome “the evil one.”  John extended this thought in 3:9 include power to resist sin.  No one born of God continually practices sin because God’s seed abides in him.  “Seed” probably refers to God’s word that Peter identified as “the living and abiding word of God” that produces new birth in us (1 Pet. 1:23, RSV).

Then in 1 John 2:24 John pleaded with us to let God’s Word abide in us.  “That. . . which you heard from the beginning” refers to the message of the gospel as originally preached to them,6   another way of referring to God’s Word.  By abiding in the teachings of Christ received from the beginning, we give evidence of abiding in the Father and the Son (2 John 9).

Not only do we abide in God, but God also abides in us (1 John 4:12).  Here John used a third-class conditional clause indicating future probability.7  “If we love one another,” and we probably will, then God abides in us.”  A second evidence that God abides in us relates to personal confession.  Anyone who :confesses that Jesus is the Son of God” has God abiding in him (4:15).

This confession of Jesus as God’s Son is at the heart of 2 John 2 where the apostle wrote, “For the sake of the truth which abides in us.”  This truth is the reality that Jesus is God’s Son who came in the flesh.8    John set this truth against those deceivers who deny the reality of the incarnation.

Finally, John addressed the anointing each believer has abiding in him (1 John 2:27).  This anointing probably refers to the Holy Spirit who Jesus said would teach us all things (John 14:26).

Having examined the different uses of abide, we must now ask, What does all this mean?  Why did John use “abide” so often and in so many different ways?  Is there one common, salient truth running through-out each of the 26 times John used “abide” in his letters? I think so.

One verse that seems to reflect a prominent thought underlying all the occurrences of “abide” in John’s Letters is 1 John 2:17.  the verse tells us “the world is passing away, and also its lusts (NASB).  In the New Testament, “world” often refers to that part of humanity belonging to the realm of darkness or alienated from God.  This sphere, and all the evil associated with it, is in the process of passing away; it is transient.  However, the one “who does the will of God abides forever” (RSV).  Only by doing God’s will can a person abide eternally,.  In John 6:40 Jesus said the will of the Father is that we believe in the Son and have eternal life.  Peter echoes this truth when he said the Lord’s will was for no one to perish but for everyone to repent (2 Pet. 3:9).

Thus the underlying emphasis of “abide” in John’s Letters relates to salvation.  God is immanent.  He abides exactly as He always has, eternal and unchanging.  Only a person abides in God through Jesus Christ can he also abide forever.  However, when John used the word “abide,” he surely was picturing salvation as a permanent and present possession for  those who by faith have entered into a personal and saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

1. Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich, A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: The University of  Chicago Press, 1957), 505.

2. Ibid, 504.

3. Hauck,  in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1967), 4:574.

4. All translations are from the New American Standard Bible 1955 update.

5. Edward A. McDowell, “1-2-3 John,” in The Broadman Bible Commentary (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1972), 12:200.

6. Ibid, 205.

7. See Ray Summers, Essentials of New Testament Greek (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1950), 108-9.

8. McDowell, 202.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator, LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN, 37234, Winter 1999-2000.

 

BIBLE CHARACTER TRIVIA

 

711.  What Is The Answer To & Where In The Bible Is This Week’s Trivia Question Found? (04/26/15)  Two-part question: (1) Who was Jerub-Baal  and (2) how many sons did he have?  Answer Next Week? Two-part question: (1) Who; (2) How many sons?

The answer to last week’s trivia question:  (04/19/15)  Two-part Question: Which two of the eight signs, or miracles, recorded in John are also recorded in other gospel records? Answer:  (1) Feeding of the 5000; John 6:1-14; and (2) Jesus walking on water; John 6:16-21.