John 20:31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. tauta de gegraptai (3SRPI) hina pisteuete(2SAAS) (or 2SPAS = pisteusete) hoti Iesous estin (3SPAI) ho` Christos ho` huios tous theou kai hina pisteuontes (2PPAP) zoen echte (2PPAS) en to onomati autou (NASB: Lockman)
NIV But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
NAB But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
Technical Note - Some manuscripts have the aorist tense for the first pisteuo (NAS, ESV, NET, NIV) but other manuscripts have the present tense. The aorist tense would read "that you may come to believe" which would speak of coming to faith for the first time. The present tense could be paraphrased "that you may continue believing" and would suggest it was "primarily addressed to those who already believed and was intended to strengthen their faith" (See detailed note - scroll down to verse 31 and select note 61 - NET Note)
A. T. Robertson calls the Gospel according to John the "most wonderful of all books."
Context: In the preceding verse John wrote "Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."
Dear reader, what is the most important question every man ever born needs to ask and answer? The question was the one Jesus addressed to His disciples - "But Who do you say that I am?" Peter gave the only correct answer "You are the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of the Living God." (Mt 16:15-16).
Steven Cole explains that "If Jesus is who the Bible portrays Him to be and who He claimed to be-the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God then the only sensible response is to trust Him as your Savior from sin and judgment and to follow Him as your Lord. If He is not who the Bible portrays Him to be, then you’re wasting your time being a Christian, because you’re following a fictional character. “Who do you say that I am?” is the crucial question in life!" (John 20:30-31 1,14 The Nature and Purpose of John’s Gospel)
Sidlow Baxter comments on the significance of John's Gospel in the context of Jn 20:31 - "The three synoptists simply set forth the facts, and leave them to make their own impression on the reader. Not so John: all is statedly selected and directed to the securing of a verdict. He is concerned not only with the facts but with the issues. In this is there supernatural foreplanning again? By the time anyone has gone through Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the biggest of all decisions must be made. It may have been made before John is reached, but if not it can no longer be side-stepped. The reader is directly challenged, and must choose - to receive and be saved, or to reject and perish forever." (Explore the Book)
W H Griffith Thomas on the Gospel of John - The fourth Gospel, therefore, is not a history, or a theology, or a philosophy, or ethics; it is a gospel, a message of grace for the heart and life of man. (The Purpose of the Fourth Gospel - Part 1)
Merrill Tenney comments that John's words in Jn 20:30-31can be divided into several distinct components…
But these - What is "these?" In context John is referring to the signs described in Jn 20:30.
W H Griffith-Thomas comments on these signs - The particular selection of signs found in this Gospel must also be considered. They are eight in number; seven before and one after the resurrection. They may be said to be at once expressive of our Lord’s divine person and symbolic of His redemptive work. The first at a wedding feast (John 2) reveals Christ as heightening life’s gladness. The second, in a sorrowing home (John 4), reveals Christ as removing life’s sadness. The third, on an impotent man. (John 5) reveals Christ as healing life’s sin in one whom sin had led to suffering (John 5:14). The fourth, the feeding of the five thousand (John 6), is a picture of Christ as the Bread of life. The fifth, the stilling of the storm (John 6), is a symbol of Christ as the Peace of life. The sixth, the healing of the blind man (John 9), shows Christ as the Light of life. The seventh, the raising of Lazarus (John 11), reveals Christ as the Lord of life. The eighth, the miraculous draft of fishes (John 21), is a symbol of Christ as the Lord of service. Of these, the first and second were worked in connection with private and personal ministry. The next five were associated with His public work and conflicts with the Jews, while the last one was worked in special connection with the training of the Twelve after the resurrection. (The Purpose of the Fourth Gospel - Part 1)
Barry Horner on the "dual" purpose of the Gospel of John - There are good textual reasons for suggesting that John declares a dual purpose for the writing of his Gospel. There are two hina, purpose clauses here in John 20:31, the first of which has the aorist subjunctive of , pisteuo , “I believe,”, while the second has the present subjunctive of echo, “I have.” Further, the structure of John naturally lends itself to such a division as the following basic outline indicates. 1. The evangelistic purpose: “These things have been written that you may believe [with initial saving faith] that Jesus is the Christ [Messiah]” (Jn 20:31a). This is particularly the emphasis of Jn 1:19-12:50. The sanctification purpose: “These things have been written that … in believing [having ongoing faith following conversion] you may be having life in His name,” Jn 20:31b. This is particularly the emphasis of Jn 13:1-17:26.
Have been written - These signs on clearly on record and are said to have a clear purpose (conjunction hina = usually introduces a purpose clause) - (1) to lead to personal belief that the Man Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) and the Son of God and (2) to lead by believing to the possession of eternal life ("life in His Name.")
Have been written (1125)(grapho) literally means to inscribe characters on some surface and by so doing making a record for that can be read. Written is in the perfect tense which signifies written at some point in the past and stands written. In other words the perfect tense speaks of the permanence of the inspired Word. Jesus said (cf Mt 24:35). The passive voice speaks of the external inspiration of the words John penned (cp 2Pe 1:21-note).
BELIEVING WHAT JOHN RECORDED
Believe (4100)(pisteuo) means to consider something to be true and therefore worthy of one’s trust. To accept as true, genuine, or real. To have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something or someone. Pisteuo in secular use had a basic meaning of an intellectual assent or a belief that something was true. This kind of faith does not require any action on the part of the believer but only an intellectual acceptance. The other secular Greek meaning that is the more common use in the New Testament is the transitive or active use which means to "put faith in" or "rely upon" someone or something.
As noted above, pisteuo can refer to an "heart belief" (saving faith, genuine belief that leads to salvation, this believing involves not only the consent of the mind, but an act of the heart and will of the subject) or an intellectual belief (mental assent, "head" knowledge, not associated with bringing salvation if it is by itself), both uses demonstrated by Jesus statement in John 11:26 = "Everyone who lives and believes (refers to genuine saving faith) in Me shall never die. Do you believe (intellectually) this?"
The respected Greek lexicon author W E Vine defines belief as consisting of (1) a firm conviction which produces full acknowledgment of God's revelation of Truth - (2Thes 2:11 -"in order that they all may be judged who did not believe [pisteuo] the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.") (2) a personal surrender to the Truth (Jn 1:12 "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe [pisteuo] in His name") and (3) a conduct inspired by and consistent with that surrender.
W H Griffith-Thomas on believe - A very prominent part of the purpose of the writer is shown in the element of believe. He wrote in order to lead his readers to faith in the historical Jesus as at once Messiah and Son of God, and it is perfectly clear that every section of the Gospel bears on this definite aim of eliciting faith and illustrates it. The word believe (pisteuo) occurs in this Gospel no less than ninety-eight times, though it is noteworthy and perhaps significant to see that the substantive faith (pistis) is not once found. When it is remembered that the verb pisteuo occurs only eleven times in Matthew, fifteen times in Mark, and nine times in Luke, it can at once be seen how prominent the thought is in the fourth Gospel. The keynote is struck as early as John 1:7, 12. In John 1 also we have the record of the first members of the apostolic band who were led to faith, among whom was Nathaniel who at once confessed his belief in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God (John 1:49). It is noteworthy that in John 20 we have the record of the last of the apostolic band to come to full faith, though when Thomas did believe he went higher than all the rest in his consciousness and confession of Christ as God (John 20:28). In between these two limits there are many aspects of believing brought before us in the Gospel, starting from superficial belief (John 2:23–25) and leading up to genuine trust in Christ as Messiah and Savior (e.g., John 4:42; John 6:69). The various expressions connected with the act and attitude of believing are noteworthy: the act of believing (John 1:7; John 9:38); faith in His word (John 4:21; John 10:38, emoi; John 4:50, to logo); faith in the Scripture or written Word (John 2:22, 46); belief in facts about Him (John 13:19; John 14:11, hoti); faith in Him as the goal and object of life (pisteuein eis, John 1:12, and passim). This (pisteuein eis) is an expression particularly characteristic of John and, in the constructio pregnans of a verb of rest with a preposition of motion, it shows the idea of the movement of the whole being toward Christ, the outgoing of the soul toward Him (eis) in order to find rest in Him. All this indicates what faith is according to John and what stress he lays on it in relation to Christ. Faith is the only and adequate response of man to our Lord’s divine revelation. It is based on testimony (John 1:7); it is elicited by experience (John 1:50); it rests on words spoken (John 10:38) or written (John 2:22); and it involves the wholehearted surrender of the moral being (eis). When these statements are successively understood, we come to the knowledge of what is meant by faith in Christ. (Ibid) (Bolding added)
Milne on believe - It needs to be added, however, that there is a possible alternative reading in the Greek for ‘believe’ in this verse. The reading followed in the NIV reflects an aorist tense expressing a decisive act of believing: ‘that you may (come to) believe (Greek. pisteusēte)’. By this reading John’s purpose is evangelistic; he writes to produce decisive commitment to Christ. The alternative reading is a present tense (Gk. pisteuēte), and would give a meaning like ‘these are written so that those who believe may go on believing’, i.e. may hold on to their faith and grow in it, a discipling purpose. On balance the textual support for the former appears stronger. Certainly there can be no doubt as to John’s intention to confront his readers with the claims of Christ and to challenge them to respond. The proven evangelistic power of this gospel needs no documentation. While acknowledging this to be the primary purpose, however, it is not impossible to affirm a number of secondary aims as well. There can be little doubt that John is conscious of addressing Christians as well as non-Christians through his gospel, and hence of encouraging Christians to continue and grow in their faith. The ‘upper room’ discourses in particular are replete with teaching for the disciple of Christ. It is also likely that John is not unaware of the docetic tendencies in the Greco-Roman culture within which he wrote, so the clear stress which John places on the true humanity of Jesus may well have had that heretical tendency in view. Above all, however, John is an evangelist in the classical sense; he writes to win lost people for Christ. At a time when world evangelization is again on the church’s agenda John’s presentation of his Master is truly a ‘tract for the times’. (Milne, Bruce - The Message of John - Bible Speaks Today)
Jesus (2424)(Iesous) is transliteration of the Greek Iesous, which in turn is the transliteration of the Hebrew name Jehoshua (Yehoshua) or Jeshua (Yeshua) which mean Jehovah is help or Jehovah is salvation. Stated another way the Greek Iesous corresponds to the OT Jehoshua (Yehoshua) which is contracted as Jeshua (Yeshua).
Thomas writes that John emphasizes the historical person known as Jesus noting "it is a simple fact that in not one of the Gospels is the true humanity and historical character of our Lord more clearly set forth. This element of the personal, human life of Jesus Christ is one of the threads running through the Gospel (of John)."
The Christ (Anointed One) (5547)(Christos from chrio = to rub or anoint, consecrate to an office) means one who has been anointed, symbolizing appointment to a task. The majority of the NT uses refer to Jesus (exceptions = "false Christs" - Mt 24:24, Mk 13:22)
Christos is used 55x in 54v in the Gospels not as Jesus' personal name but as an official designation for the One Whom the Jews were expecting (Mt 2:4, Lk 3:15). Over time as the human Jesus came to be recognized and accepted as the personal Messiah, the definite article ("the") was dropped and the designation Christ came to be used as a personal name.
The word Messiah in John 1:41 and John 4:25 is a different Greek word messias but is clearly synonymous with Christos. Jesus' disciple Andrew helps us understand the relationship between Christos and Messiah (messias transliteration of mashiach/masiah) declaring to his brother Simon Peter "We have found the Messiah (messias) (which translated means Christ [Christos])." (John 1:41) Similarly, the Samaritan woman at the well declared to Jesus "I know that Messiah (messias) is coming (He who is called Christ [Christos]); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us." (See related study on Messiah - Anointed One)
W H Griffith-Thomas on Christ - We learn from the second name, Messiah, the first element of the writer’s purpose to prove that the man Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. The idea comes before us as early as the first chapter (John 1:11, 23, 29, 41), and it is found in one form or another throughout the entire Gospel. In John 2 we have the claim involved in the cleansing of the Temple (John 2:19). In John 4 the revelation to the woman of Samaria (John 4:26). And then from John 5 to John 12 we have brought before us the various aspects of the great conflict between our Lord and the Jews in which was involved from first to last His Messiahship (John 5:46; John 6:69; John 7:26, 31, 41; John 8:56; John 9:22; John 11:27). The allusions to the Old Testament in relation to Jesus as the Messiah are frequent and unmistakable (John 2:19; John 3:14; John 6:35). (Ibid)
Thomas on Son of God - To show that Jesus is the Son of God is another element of the purpose of the writer. The distinction between this title and that of the Messiah seems to be that the former is wider and includes more than is involved in Messiahship. It refers (1) to His special and unique relation to God, and also (2) to those aspects of His redemptive work which have to do with the world at large as distinct from the Jewish nation; or, rather, it is concerned with those features in Him of that special relation to God which is involved in His being the Savior of all men instead of the Messiah of Jews only. Accordingly, we find throughout this Gospel great stress laid upon (1) our Lord’s relation to God as Son (John 1:18; John 3:16–18, 35, 36; John 5:18–27; John 6:40; John 8:36; John 9:35; John 10:36), and also (2) His work as on a wider scale than that of the Jewish Messiahship, namely, His relation to the world (John 1:9, 29, 34). The term kosmos may be said to be one of the characteristic words of the fourth Gospel. It occurs over seventy times and frequently with a moral meaning. The two aspects of Messiahship and Sonship are found combined in John 1:49 and John 4:42. As Messiah, Jesus unites Christianity with Judaism while as Son of God He transcends Judaism. These two aspects interpret practically every section of the Gospel. (Ibid)
Believing (4100)(pisteuo) - see discussion above. This use of pisteuo is in the present tense which speaks of continuing belief. This use of pisteuo describes a belief unto salvation or genuine conversion.
Many saw Jesus' signs and yet were unbelieving (cp Jn 12:37). The fact is that UNBELIEF ignores the evidence -- it was that way in John's day and and it is true today! Human hearts have not changed!
Warren Wiersbe on believing - It is not necessary to “see” Jesus Christ in order to believe. Yes, it was a blessing for the early Christians to see their Lord and know that He was alive; but that is not what saved them. They were saved, not by seeing, but by believing. (Ed: As an aside many still think God's order is see and believe, when it fact it is really believe and see!) The emphasis throughout the Gospel of John is on believing. There are nearly 100 references in this Gospel to believing on Jesus Christ. You and I today cannot see Christ, nor can we see Him perform the miracles (signs) that John wrote about in this book. But the record is there, and that is all that we need. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Ro 10:17-note; and note 1John 5:9-13-note). As you read John’s record, you come face to face with Jesus Christ, how He lived, what He said, and what He did. All of the evidence points to the conclusion that He is indeed God come in the flesh, the Saviour of the world. The signs that John selected and described in this book are proof of the deity of Christ. They are important. But sinners are not saved by believing in miracles; they are saved by believing on Jesus Christ. Many of the Jews in Jerusalem believed on Jesus because of His miracles, but He did not believe in them! (John 2:23–25) Great crowds followed Him because of His miracles (John 6:2); but in the end, most of them left Him for good (John 6:66). Even the religious leaders who plotted His death believed that He did miracles, but this “faith” did not save them (John 11:47-49). Faith in His miracles should lead to faith in His Word, and to personal faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Jesus Himself pointed out that faith in His works (miracles) was but the first step toward faith in the Word of God (John 5:36-40). The sinner must “hear” the Word if he is to be saved (John 5:24). (Bible Exposition Commentary) (Bolding added)
Have (2192 - click for Liddell-Scott & Thayer's definitions) (echo - Vine's definition) means to have, to hold, to possess, this last sense fitting well with the context of Jn 20:31 = to possess life! In this passage have is in the present tense which describes the believer's possession of life as continual. Positionally we as believers always have life, but we may not always walk in the full experience (abundance - Jn 10:10b) of that truth (e.g., unconfessed sin, ignorance of the truth, etc).
Thomas on have - It may seem almost impossible to think of the ordinary verb have as at all characteristic of a work like the fourth Gospel. Yet it seems clear that its use is noteworthy and significant. In relation to things spiritual as distinct from mere temporal usage, it occurs at least thirty-five times, more especially in connection with such expressions as “having life,” or “having eternal life.” It was to imply not only possession, but conscious possession, possession with retention. The idea of having, knowing, and holding appear to be included. When thus understood in connection with life, it is full of the deepest suggestion and greatest help as indicating a life which is at once received, possessed, experienced, enjoyed, and retained. This is part of the purpose of this Gospel, as it certainly is part of essential, vital, personal Christianity. (Ibid)
REAL LIFE IN JESUS' NAME
Life - John is referring not to physical life but spiritual life. If a sinner needs life, the implication is that he is dead in his trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1). Salvation is not resuscitation -- it is a resurrection (Jn 5:24). The lost sinner is not sick or weak -- he is dead, spiritually dead and in need of spiritual life found only in faith in Christ.
G Campbell Morgan on life in His Name - Life, what kind of life? Life that masters sin, that realizes holiness, that is growingly conformed to the image and likeness of God. (Westminster Pulpit)
Life (2222)(zoe) speaks of "life in the sense of one who is possessed of vitality and animation. It is used of the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God. The ethical and spiritual qualities of this life which God is, are communicated to the sinner when the latter places his faith in the Lord Jesus as Saviour, and this becomes the new, animating, energizing, motivating principle which transforms the experience of that individual, and the saint thus lives a Christian life." (Wuest)
Richards adds that "It is used to designate the life which God gives to the believing sinner, a vital, animating, spiritual, ethical dynamic which transforms his inner being and as a result, his behavior." In classical Greek refers to natural life--the principle that enables living things to move and to grow. In the NT, zoe focuses on the theological meaning rather than on the biological. From the perspective of the NT, in every respect life is the counterpart of death. Each book of the NT speaks of zoe. In each, the principle of life lifts our vision beyond our earthly existence to reveal a unique quality of life that spans time and eternity and that has its roots in God."
Zoe - 135x in 127v in NT and in the Gospels is used by far most often in John = 36x (note zoe is used twice in each of the following verses Jn 1:4, 3:36, 5:24, 26) - Mt 7:14; 18:8-9; 19:16-17, 29; 25:46; Mk 9:43, 45; 10:17, 30; Lk 10:25; 12:15; 16:25; 18:18, 30; John 1:4; 3:15-16, 36; 4:14, 36; 5:24, 26, 29, 39-40; 6:27, 33, 35, 40, 47-48, 51, 53-54, 63, 68; 8:12; 10:10, 28; 11:25; 12:25, 50; 14:6; 17:2-3; 20:31;
Eternal life - This phrase occurs 41 times in the NAS with 15 of the uses being in John's Gospel and 6 more uses by John in his epistle, so that over half the NT uses of this phrase are by John (Mt 19:16, 29; 25:46; Mk 10:17, 30; Luke 10:25; 18:18, 30; Jn 3:15-16, 36; 4:14; 5:24, 39; 6:27, 40, 47, 54, 68; 10:28; 12:50; 17:2-3; Acts 13:46, 48; Rom 2:7; 5:21; 6:22f; Gal 6:8; 1Tim 1:16; 6:12; Titus 1:2; 3:7; 1John 1:2; 2:25; 3:15; 5:11, 13, 20; Jude 1:21)
Thomas on life - Another characteristic word of John’s Gospel is life. It expresses the ultimate element of his purpose in writing. As the result of believing, the readers of this Gospel are intended to have life. The word (zoe) always refers in this Gospel to the principle of spiritual life as distinct from the earthly manifestation or principle of natural life (bios). This latter word is not found in the fourth Gospel and only twice in all of John’s writings (1John 2:16; 1John 3:16), where the meaning is quite clear. The word zoe occurs thirty-six times in the Gospel of John as compared with seven in Matthew, four in Mark, and six in Luke. This again shows the prominence given to it and the important place it occupies in the teaching of this Gospel. The idea is found as early as John 1:4, and then almost chapter by chapter various aspects of the life are seen and various relationships to it are borne by our Lord. The meaning of this life is perhaps best given in the words of our Lord’s prayer: “This is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). It consists, therefore, not in any mere existence whether here or hereafter. Its essence lies in the experience of fellowship with God. Quality, not duration, is the predominant thought of life in this Gospel. (Ibid)
John Piper on this new life in Christ - "In John 10:10 Jesus said that the reason He came into the world was that His sheep might have overflowing life: "I came that they might have life and have it abundantly." This word (perissos) speaks of excess, overflow, surplus. The idea is that Jesus gives life that is more than ordinary life. The life of a Christian is life upon life. Excess life. Life added to life." (Ed comment: "I came in order that they [believers] might continuously [present tense] have life, even that they may continuously [present tense] have it all-around [one of the meanings of perissos].")
Rob Morgan tells the story of one who found life in His Name - C S Lewis - John’s Gospel is the book of life, and Jesus is the God of Life and the Giver of Life to all who place their trust in Him. Let me close by telling you of a man who did that—the author of the Chronicles of Narnia and the man who wrote The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. C. S. Lewis was born in 1898 into a bookish family of Protestants in Belfast, Ireland. He grew up reading and imagining. His mother died from cancer when he was nine, and it turned him away from God. He felt that God had not answered his prayers for her recovery, and that, coupled with some bad experiences in boarding school, convinced the boy that God did not exist. By the time C. S. Lewis entered Oxford in 1917, he was an avowed atheist. After he graduated from Oxford, he began teaching there, becoming a renowned expert on medieval English literature. He possessed a brilliant mind, and he read deeply and widely. One of his books, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century Excluding Drama, took him eighteen years to write because to write it he read every single book translated into English during that century. But as C. S. Lewis read, he came across some Christian authors such as George MacDonald and G. K. Chesterton, and he began to have agonizing doubts about his own atheism. There were also several other brilliant professors at Oxford who challenged Lewis’s atheism, and finally C. S. Lewis could not intellectually resist or refute the logic of theism (a belief in God). His journey to Christ took several years, as he moved from Atheism to Theism to Christianity and on to Christ. He once called himself the “most reluctant convert in all of England.” Interestingly, J. R. R. Tolkien, author of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, played a decisive role in Lewis’s decision to receive Christ. On a fall evening in 1931, Lewis had dinner with Tolkien. They walked through a nearby park and talked until the wee hours of the morning, and the conversation took an interesting turn. Both men, of course, were deeply fascinated by the literature of fantasy and mythology. Tolkien suggested that the beauty of Christianity is that it is a myth that happens to be true. The universal story that is somehow in the heart of every individual, the universal hunger, the universal need that is played out in myth is in truth and actually acted out with full veracity in Christ. In Jesus Christ, God really did walk across this earth, die, and rise again. A few days later, as C. S. Lewis pondered the conversation, he got into the sidecar of a friend’s motorcycle for a trip to the zoo. He later wrote, “When we set out I did not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did.” Almost immediately Lewis began writing books that reflected his new-found faith. His autobiographical account of his conversion is a wonderful book entitled Surprised by Joy. When I graduated from Columbia Bible College, Ruth Bell Graham sent me a hardbound edition of The Screwtape Letters, and she told me that reading C. S. Lewis always helps her “think straight,” as she put it. And it was by reading C. S. Lewis’ classic book, Mere Christianity, that the Watergate villain and Nixon hatchet man, Charles Colson, was converted in prison. By the time he died in 1963, C. S. Lewis was one of the most influential spokesmen for Christianity in the English-speaking world. Here’s what C. S. Lewis wrote about Jesus Christ in his book on miracles:
Lewis said something similar, but in simpler terms, in Mere Christianity.
W H Griffith-Thomas adds his thoughts on Name - The sphere in which life becomes ours and is enjoyed by us is found in the words in His Name. The word name is characteristic of John, and the two prepositions (eis and en) in connection with it are also among the features of this Gospel. The name stands in Holy Scripture for the nature or revealed character of God, and not as a mere label or title. It is found very frequently in the Old Testament as synonymous with God Himself in relation to man; for example: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower” (Prov. 18:10). “In the name of the Lord will I destroy them” (Ps. 118:10); and: “Shall the enemy blaspheme thy name?” (Ps. 74:10). In the New Testament the same usage is perfectly clear. For example: “In the name of Jesus” (Phil. 2:10), “Baptizing them into the name” (Matt. 28:19). In the fourth Gospel we have “Into the name” (eis) as the object of faith (John 1:12; John 2:23; John 3:18). Then we have “In the name of the Father” (John 5:43; John 10:25), referring to the divine authority and power with which our Lord came. The same phrase occurs no less than nine times in John 14 through John 17. Then our Lord is said to have manifested and made known His Father’s name to the disciples (John 17:6, 26). These passages clearly show the importance and significance of the name as standing for the revealed character and will of God in Christ. Thus, to have life in His name is to have it in union with what we know of Him and of His manifested character and revealed will. Life is thus “in Christ” and not outside or apart from Him. (Ibid)
Name - What's in a Name? Well, if it's the Name Jesus, then the answer is "Everything is in that Name!" His Name Jesus (Iesous) means "Jehovah saves" which is what sinners need! His Name used frequently in John is also "I Am," (cf Jn 8:58, 8:24, 8:28, 13:13, Jn 18:5, 6, 8) signifying He is eternally self-existent and is the source of eternal life for spiritually dead sinners. It is as if Jesus says "I Am everything you will ever need for time and eternity!" In short, in just these two Names of Jesus, we find everything a sinner needs for eternal and abundant life! And remember that eternal life is not simply endless time, for even the lost will experience this fate. Eternal life is better thought of not as a quantity of life but as a quality of life. Wiersbe says "Eternal life means the very life of God experienced today… it is the spiritual experience of "heaven on earth" today." When we are saved the Lord of Heaven comes to live within our very being so that we immediately begin to experience this new quality of life referred to as eternal life. We don't have to wait to die to possess it beloved! Now that's Good News. That's the Gospel truth! Amen
Name (3686 - includes L-S and Thayer's definitions) (onoma) means that by which something or someone is called or known. Thus a name constitutes the distinctive designation of a person or thing. However in antiquity the name meant more than it does today. We use a name as little more than a distinguishing mark or label to differentiate one person from another. But in the ancient world the name signified not only the person's identity but the inherent character of the person designated by the name. Stated another way, in ancient times, one's whole character (title, reputation, person) was implied in the name. For example, in John 1:12 to "believe in His Name" (cf Jn 3:18, 20:31, 1Jn 3:23) is to believe (with a belief that results in a new, "circumcised" heart) in all Jesus is and all He has accomplished to effect our eternal redemption (Heb 9:12).
Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible - “Name” in biblical usage correctly describes the person, place, or object and indicates the essential character of that to which the name is given. Adam names the animals according to their nature (Gen 2:19, 20); “Noah” means “one who brings relief and comfort” (Gen 5:29); “Jesus” means “savior” (Mt 1:21).
Hayford's note on onoma - Compare “anonymous,” “synonym,” “onomancy,” “onomatology.” In general, the word signifies the name or term by which a person or thing is called (Matt. 10:2; Mark 3:16; Luke 1:63). However, it was quite common both in Hebrew and Hellenistic Greek to use onoma for all that the name implies, such as rank or authority (Matt. 7:22; John 14:13; Acts 3:6; 4:7), character (Luke 1:49; 11:2; Acts 26:9), reputation (Mark 6:14; Luke 6:22), representative (Matt. 7:22; Mark 9:37). Occasionally, onoma is synonymous for an individual, a person (Acts 1:15; Rev. 3:4; 11:13).
God's Names are in a very real sense God in His self revelation. This is especially true in the Old Testament where we repeatedly and progressively see God revealing His character through a new Biblical Name - See table summarizing some God's names - Name of the LORD is a Strong Tower and discussion of the Name of the LORD is a Strong Tower: Why Should You Study It?
An interesting aspect of Names especially in the Old Testament is the change of a person's name to reflect a change in their relationship with God. We see this especially with Abram who was renamed (by God) Abraham and Sarai who was renamed Sarah. See The Oneness of Covenant - Exchange of Names and Sharing Names or Change of Names.
Onoma is a root of our word metonymy (mesa + onoma = a change of name) which is a word used in place of another word to portray some actual relationship between the things signified. For example in Ex 12:21KJV the passage literally says "kill the Passover" (NAS adds lamb, but more accurately Passover is a metonymy for the paschal lamb).
As Detzler says " In Hebrew thinking a name is identified with character, and the name of God is the repository of God's power."
In Mark 3:17 Jesus "gave the name Boanerges, which means, "Sons of Thunder"." Their name depicted their character (specifically James and John, the later who when "tamed" by the Gospel became the disciple who Jesus loved! [Jn 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 21:20] Who do you think is too distant from the radically transformative power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Think again! He can turn a personality from thunder to a gentle shower so to speak!)
Onoma is used over 1000x in the Septuagint. In Daniel 9 there is an interesting use. In this chapter Daniel is confessing the sins of the nation (Da 9:4-14) recalling that God made "a Name (Lxx = onoma)" for Himself in delivering Israel from Egypt (Da 9:15). And then in Da 9:18, because of the fact that God's Name is on the city (Jerusalem), Daniel asks God to take action because of His Name - "For Thine own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy Name.” (Da 9:19) And so we see the fundamental basis of Daniel's appeal for God to intervene on behalf of His people is the Name of God. We see parallel passages in Isaiah 48:9-11 and Ezekiel 36:20-32 (See especially Ezek 36:20-23-note), where the Name of God (His reputation, honor, glory) is the ultimate grounds for Jehovah's action of sparing a remnant of Israel. These uses emphasize that God Himself considers His Name as equivalent to all that He is. Little wonder that Exodus 20:7 states "You shall not take the name (Lxx = onoma) of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name (Lxx = onoma) in vain." Warren Wiersbe has these insightful comments on God's Name and the book of Ezekiel - "If the Book of Ezekiel teaches us anything, it teaches us that we must honor God’s NAME and magnify His glory. The glory of God departed from Israel because they defiled the temple. The glory of God returned to the new temple because it was holy and a place where God could dwell (Ed: See related resource: Jehovah Shammah -The LORD is There). “They shall know that I am the Lord” (Lxx = ego eimi kurios) is a statement found at least sixty times in Ezekiel’s book. While God’s glory doesn’t dwell in our church buildings, God can be glorified or disgraced by what we do in those buildings we have dedicated to Him. As His people, we must be reverent and honor His NAME."
Onoma - (1) Onoma is used for proper names of persons and places. (2) In Revelation 3:1 onoma conveys the sense of "reputation". (3) Onoma also occurs in the sense of title, as in Mt 10:41 (the literal in the name of a prophet means "because he is a prophet" or "because he has the title prophet"). In Hebrews 1:4 onoma refers to "Son" as the name or title that is more excellent than the angels', and in Philippians 2:9 the "Name that is above every name" is the title "Lord" (kurios), as explained in verse Php 2:11 (But see Moule's comment below on this passage). (4) The phrase "in Jesus' name" is not a mystical formula attached to the end of a prayer. It's an expression of faith that identifies the Person whom believers serve (Acts 2:38).
In Acts 1:15 name refers to person which is a use found in the Greek Papyri of that period as well as in the Septuagint. In 1Cor 5:4 the phrase "in the name of our Lord Jesus" means in the authority of (Paul was speaking to the church at Corinth as Christ's apostle with His authority).
In Rev 13:1 "blasphemous names" is an indication of the (godless, ungodly) character, emphasizing that onoma in many contexts signifies character. (cp Nabal = fool - 1Sa 25:25; Babel = confusion)
In some contexts, to give a name in the OT was to signify lordship over (Adam naming the animals - Ge 2:19ff)
It is probably no coincidence that in the NT, the first use of onoma is also the greatest use, for there we see the Name Jesus which means "Jehovah saves' (Mt 1:21) and it is closely followed by the name "Immanuel" which means God with us (Mt 1:23). Acts 3:16 says "on the basis of faith in His Name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man." It is still on the basis of faith in His Name that healing of a sin sick soul occurs (and no other Name - Acts 4:12!) The Father's Name is to be treated as set apart, holy, consecrated (Mt 6:9). The 3 uses of onoma in Mt 7:22 clearly show the human tragedy that one can intellectually know Jesus' Name, but still not know Him in their heart! For other Biblical Names for Jesus which give a powerful picture of His personality and personal care for us His creation take some time to study, ponder, mediate, worship and praise the Names, Titles and Characters of Jesus Christ. You won't be disappointed! Anyone who has ever sat at the feet of Jesus and beheld His beauty has never been disappointed! (cp Lk 10:39-42)
Vine on Name - is used
(I) in general of the "name" by which a person or thing is called, e.g., Mark 3:16,17 , "(He) surnamed," lit., "(He added) the name;" Mark 14:32 , lit., "(of which) the name (was);" Luke 1:63; John 18:10; sometimes translated "named," e.g., Luke 1:5 , "named (Zacharias)," lit., "by name;" in the same verse, "named (Elizabeth)," lit., "the name of her," an elliptical phrase, with "was" understood; Acts 8:9 , RV, "by name," Acts 10:1; the "name" is put for the reality in Revelation 3:1; in Philippians 2:9 , the "Name" represents "the title and dignity" of the Lord, as in Ephesians 1:21; Hebrews 1:4;
(II) for all that a "name" implies, of authority, character, rank, majesty, power, excellence, etc., of everything that the "name" covers:
(III) as standing, by metonymy, for "persons," Acts 1:15; Revelation 3:4; 11:13 (RV, "persons"). (Vine's Expository Dictionary - NT)
NIDNTT - Of primary significance is the name of Yahweh, which He Himself made known in his revelation (Ge 17:1; Ex 3:14; 6:2). One of the most fundamental and essential features of the biblical revelation is the fact that God is not without a name: he has a personal name, by which he can, and is to be, invoked. When appeal is made to Yahweh, He comes near and makes his promise true: “in every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you” (Exod. 20:24; cf. Num. 6:24ff.; → Remember). Priests and Levites, and even the king, → bless in the name of Yahweh (Num. 6:27; Deut. 10:8; 2 Sam. 6:18). The name of Yahweh, indeed, is such a powerful expression of his personal rule and activity that it can be used as an alternative way of speaking of Yahweh himself (Lev. 18:21; Ps. 7:17; Amos 2:7; Micah 5:4). It is the side of Yahweh which is turned towards men, in which Yahweh reveals himself. His historical dealings with men in the past (Exod. 3:6, 13, 15), present (Exod. 20:7) and future (Ezek. 25:17; 34:30 et al.) are inextricably bound up with his name. Misuse of this name in → magic or in false oaths (for oaths were accompanied by mention of Yahweh’s name; → Swear) is forbidden (Exod. 20:7), for the name of Yahweh is a gift of the revelation which is not at man’s disposal (Gen. 17:1; Exod. 3:14; 6:2). The name of Yahweh is committed in trust to Israel: the heathen do not know it (Ps. 79:6). Israel has the task of hallowing it. This takes place in the cult, at sacrifice, in prayer, in blessing and cursing, and also in the holy → war (Ps. 29:8), in other words, in serving Yahweh, and him alone, and in obeying his commands. To take part in the cult-worship of another god therefore involves profanation of the name of Yahweh (Lev. 18:21). The invocation of his name over → Jerusalem (Jer. 25:29), over the → temple (Jer. 7:10) and over the ark (2 Sam. 6:2), consecrating them and associating them with him, is the sole basis of that sanctity
Wayne Detzler on Name - MEANING - The word "name" is a translation of the Greek word onoma. This word is most commonly identified by its root nom, which is seen in the Latin word nomen and the English and German word "name." It is also reflected in such a combination word as "pseudonym" (a false name) or "homonym" (a word or name which sounds the same), or "synonym" (a word which means the same). In ancient Greek culture, which was ruled by irrational demons, there were many animistic superstitions concerning names. For instance, some believed that to know a person's name was to hold some superstitious power over him. Later on Greeks came to believe that the higher a god stood in the pantheon, the more names he had. Finally the Stoics combined all the gods into one, Zeus. Thus the name of the true God became identified with the power of that deity. In the Septuagint Greek Old Testament the word onoma appears no fewer that 1,000 times. In Hebrew thinking a name is identified with character, and the name of God is the repository of God's power. In the times of the patriarchs human names were still full of meaning. But by the dawn of New Testament times, names were much less indicative of character. BIBLE USAGE - In the New Testament the word onoma and its verb form, onomazo (to name someone), appear 228 times. The most significant use of "name" is in relation to God or Jesus. In fact, when Jesus declared that discipleship was to be His disciples' main ministry, He commanded them to baptize in the name (singular) of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). This is the clearest New Testament reference to the Trinity. The name of God the Father seems to embody all that He is. His glory is identified with His name (John 12:23-28). His love is vested in the name (Jn 17:26). The perseverance of the saints is related to His name (Jn 17:12). Prayer is performed in His name (Mt 6:9). The name of God is able to impute life to the spiritually dead (1Jn 5:13, cp Jn 20:31). The focus of the proclamation of Christ was the name of God, His Father (John 17:26). Just as the name of God is significant, so are the names of Christ. Before His birth Christ was the divine Logos, the Word of God (John 1:1-3). At His birth He was given the name of Jesus, to signify that He is the Saviour (Mt. 1:21). Because He is the God-Man, God come in the flesh, He is also called Emmanuel, "God with us" (Mt 1:23). He was called God's "beloved Son" at His baptism in the Jordan (Mt 3:17). He continually acted on behalf of His Father and in His Father's name (John 10:25). After His suffering He was exalted to heaven, where His triumph was trumpeted with a new name (Phil. 2:9-11). The Holy Spirit is poured out on Christians in the name of Jesus (John 14:26). Salvation is seen as belief in the name of Jesus Christ (Jn 1:12; 2:23; 1 John 3:23). In the name of Jesus, and because of Him, Christians claim innumerable blessings. Salvation is mediated through His name (John 20:31; Acts 4:12). When Christians do good deeds, they should do them for the glory of the name of Jesus Christ (Col. 3:17, 23). Christians also pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 16:24)… The sole subject of Christian proclamation is embraced in the name of Jesus Christ. This is our confession before a doubting world (Acts 8:12). Paul was commissioned at his conversion to bear that name (Acts 9:15). Missionaries go out to declare the name of Christ (3Jn 1:7). The disciples summarized their message by referring to the name of Christ (Acts 4:17; 5:28, 40). On the basis of Christ's name Paul pleaded with the Corinthians to believe biblically (1 Cor. 1:10). ILLUSTRATIONS - When compared with all other names, the name of Jesus is the most sublime of all. The Bible attributes more than 100 names to Christ, among which are these: Advocate (1 John 2:1), Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8), Author and Perfector of our Faith (Heb. 12:2), Cornerstone (Ps. 118:22), Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4), Sunrise (Luke 1:78), Firstborn (Rev. 1:5), Head of the church (Eph. 1:22), I Am (John 8:58), King of kings (1 Tim. 6:15), Lamb of God (John 1:29), Light of the world (8:12), Lord of Glory (1 Cor. 2:8), Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), Morning Star (Rev. 22:16), Nazarene (Matt. 2:23), Passover (1 Cor. 5:7), Rock (1Cor 10:4), Saviour (Luke 2:11), Truth (John 14:6), Word (Jn 1:1). Few themes are so often sung as the name of Jesus. Several years ago my wife and I translated a German hymn titled, "The Wondrous Name of Jesus." Here is the first stanza:
O hear the matchless, wondrous name of Jesus,
Many eloquent hymn-writers have also added their praise to the name of Jesus. In the 19th century Caroline Noel (1817-77) wrote the famous hymn which commences:
At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow,
During the past few years many choruses have also been written that exalt the name of Jesus Christ. One of these is "His Name Is Wonderful." It contains the names Great Shepherd, Rock of all Ages, Almighty God, and King. The aim of this chorus is that its singers may bow down in adoration before the Lord. (New Testament words in today's language)
Rob Morgan on Name - Onomastics is the study of names, and I was somewhat surprised to learn there is a vast body of literature on this subject. There’s even an organization called the American Name Society that was founded in 1951 to promote the study of onomastics. From that society and from many other sources we learn that the purpose of a personal name like Robert or John or whatever your name is or mine, has one primary purpose: It is to distinguish us from other people, to give us our own identity.
Onoma - 230x in 214v (especially in writings of Luke - 34x = Gospel and 60x = Acts and Revelation = 38x) - NAS Usage: called (1), name (175), name's (7), named (34), names (8), people (1), people* (1), persons (1).
THAT YOU MAY HAVE LIFE
INTRODUCTION: The Gospel of John is SUBLIME! The word "SUBLIME" is an adjective which describes something as lofty, grand, exalted in thought or expression. SUBLIME speaks of that which tends to inspire awe because of its beauty, grandeur or transcendent excellence. In a word, beloved, the Gospel of John is SUBLIME! May God grant that our study of John's Gospel inspire increasing reverence and awe as we gaze on the beauty, grandeur and transcendent excellence of Jesus in John's Gospel. Amen
So today we begin a journey exploring the Gospel of John, one of the simplest Greek texts in the New Testament and yet one of the most profound, sublime, deep works in all of the Bible. In fact while the Gospel of John is simple enough for a child to understand, it is so deep a scholar could not master it were he to spend his entire life in it!. (APPLICATION POINT) So what's the application of this truth? If John is that profound, then before we open John's Gospel we need to approach it with humble, trembling hearts and beseech God to "Open (our) eyes, that (we) may behold wonderful things from Thy law” (Ps 119:18). Stated another way, we need to pray for a keen sense of observation, the first step in inductive Bible study, asking our Teacher the Holy Spirit to remove the blinders from our eyes so that we might see not just with physical sight but with spiritual insight into the deep Truth in John's Gospel. In fact, can I suggest that every time we open our Bible, we need to ask the Author to open our heart.
Has anyone ever handed out a "Gospel tract" to someone in the past, encouraging them to read and praying that God would use it to save them? I would submit that no finer gospel tract has ever been penned than John’s inspired account of Christ’s life, death and resurrection.
QUESTION 1: So here is my first question -- What is the single most important question ever asked? Here's a clue -- the question came from the lips of Jesus in Matthew 16:15 and was addressed to His disciples -- "Who do you say that I am?" So even as we begin this study of John how would YOU answer the question Who is Jesus? Would you give the answer that Peter gave in Matthew 16:16 Peter responded answering "You are the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of the Living God." In verse 17 Jesus declared "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven." When we confess Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, we are blessed a word which means spiritually prosperous independent of our external circumstances. And how did Peter know Jesus was the Messiah, the Anointed One for whom the Jews of the first century were looking? Was it because Peter was so wise? No, it is because God opened the eyes of his heart to see and understand spiritual truth (cf John 6:44).
So if you are here today and Jesus ask you "Who do you say that I am?" and you are not sure how you would answer, then join us over the coming weeks as John reveals His true identity and the Spirit opens your eyes so that you come to KNOW Him as LORD. And if you already KNOW Jesus as Lord, John's Gospel will strengthen your faith and help you GROW to know Him more intimately than you ever thought possible. Recall from the CHARTS (if you decide to start out with the charts) that while the 3 Synoptic Gospels (Mt, Mk, Luke, syn-optic ~ "see together") focus more on what Jesus taught and did, John's Gospel focuses more on Who Jesus is.
ILLUSTRATION - The Gospel of John will radically impact our understanding of Who Jesus is and our intimacy with Jesus will grow greater the more time we spend in it. The impact of our time in the Gospel of John hopefully will be "something like Lucy’s experience with the lion Aslan (the Christ symbol in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia) as she again gazed into his large, wise face.
“Welcome, child,” he said.
“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.” (from R Kent Hughes John: That You May Believe)
PURPOSE: Whenever you study a book of the Bible, you want to understand the writer's purpose for writing. In some books this is difficult to discern but not in the Gospel of John. So let's see if we can understand his purpose by reading John 20:30-31 -
Notice first that John does not call them miracles but signs. They are of course miracles but John preferred the word signs. Why? Think about what a sign does -- it points to something larger or more important than itself! In this case John's signs clearly point to Someone larger and greater and more important! Signs are like a finger of God which are valuable not so much for what they are as to Whom they point! While John acknowledges that he witnessed many signs in Jn 20:30, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he was guided to select only seven signs to supernaturally point the reader of his Gospel to the Messiah, the Son of God.
Notice that John uses the verb believe twice which underscores the two fold purpose for writing this Gospel - (First) He intends for the signs to convince us to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. (Second) He wants us to believe in Jesus so that we might have life, real life, vital, exciting, compelling, fulfilling, satisfying life as God intended it now and throughout eternity -- the life that He described in John 10:10 declaring "I came to give life and give it abundantly." Abundant life brings us a new purpose, new values, new relationships, new loves, and a new sense of destiny! Most of you have already believed that Jesus is the Messiah and you have entered into eternal life. But the question is are you experiencing abundant life? John says one of the purposes of this book is that "believing you may have life in His Name." As we study through John together we should more and more enter into that abundant life Jesus desires for us to experience.
It is notable that John used the verb believe some 98 times -- more than all the uses in the Synoptic Gospels combined. So clearly believe is a KEY WORD that functions like a key to unlock truths in John's Gospel. In Jn 20:31 John emphasized that those who believe in Jesus will receive life in His Name. The word Name is pregnant with meaning and speaks of all that Jesus is. It speaks of His essence, His character. We need to also ask what does it mean to believe? Suffice it to say that Biblical belief is more than mere intellectual acceptance of the truth about Jesus.. Listen to W E Vine's classic three part definition of Biblical, saving belief - (1) A firm conviction which produces full acknowledgment of God's revealed Truth (this would correspond to intellectual assent, but it does not stop there), (2) A personal surrender to the Truth and (3) A conduct inspired by and consistent with that surrender. --- In short, if you really believe in Jesus, that belief will change the way you behave. In short creed determines conduct! But we'll speak more about that in weeks to come.
Notice also that John is not writing that we would believe Jesus is a good moral man, a good teacher or a prophet, terms that skeptics often use to describe Jesus. They say things like "Jesus was a moral man and a good teacher but He was not the Son of God. In fact He Himself never even claimed to be God." As we will discuss in a moment, in the Gospel of John Jesus did not leave this issue in doubt -- yes, He was a good teacher, and yes He was a prophet, but John says that the seven signs He performed were to point (like any good sign does) to one conclusion - that Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ, the Son of God, the one Who perfectly fulfilled over 300 OT Scriptures that had predicted God's coming to earth to live as a Man so that He might die as a sinless sacrifice to redeem men from the penalty and power of sin.
QUESTION 2: So here is my second question and I take this from Josh McDowell's classic work More Than a Carpenter in which he is asks the question every person should be able to answer correctly. Is Jesus "Lord, Liar or Lunatic?" (As an aside when we post this sermon transcript on the Antioch website, we will give you a link to an online version of this simple but well done apologetic resource that can be read in less than 3 hours and equip you to be able to share your faith without fear). As we will discuss in a moment Jesus claimed to be God and did not leave any other option open. He either LIED about it, was OUT OF HIS MIND or He is LORD. And I believe He is Lord of all!
John's Gospel will clearly show that Jesus is God in the flesh, the eternal Word come to earth, born to die as God’s sacrifice for human sin. Using seven signs John will prove that Jesus is "the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God" and that if you believe in Him you may have life in His Name." We will discuss the seven signs as we work our way through this Gospel. But today let's address the frequent statement by skeptics that Jesus Himself never claimed to be God. What does John's Gospel say?.
Let's look at several instances where Jesus clearly claimed to be God. Specifically, let's look at His claim to be "I Am" which is known affectionately in Greek as the "Ego Eimi" (Spell it out for them). Ego of course is "I" and eimi is the simple verb meaning "to be" and is the usual word for existence. Eimi is in the present tense and so what Jesus is saying is "I continually exist." In fact the idea is that when Jesus used this description He was saying in essence "I am eternally self-existent!"
And so for example in John 8:58 (addressing a group of Jews who had supposedly "believed" in Him earlier in John 8:30), He declared "Truly, truly (Amen, Amen), I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am (ego eimi) He (where "He" is not in the Greek but added by the translators. More literally He said "I Am")." And guess what response He solicited from this group of Jews? John records in Jn 8:59 "Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple."
Why did this group of Jews who had professed belief in Jesus some 28 verses earlier now seek to stone Him to death? To answer that question let's turn to Exodus 3 which is Moses' famous "Burning Bush encounter" where God is giving him instructions to go and rescue His chosen people Israel from bondage in Egypt, to which Moses responds in Exodus 3:13 "Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you.' Now they may say to me, 'What is His Name?' What shall I say to them?" to which "God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you." In the Greek translation (known as the Septuagint) of God's Name "I Am who I Am" find the phrase "EGO EIMI." So when Jesus declared He was "EGO EIMI" the Jews clearly understood that He was saying that He was God and thus they sought to stone Him for blasphemy because they did not believe Him to be God.
We see Jesus make a similar claim in John 8:24 declaring to the Jews "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM (again the translators add "He" but it is not in the Greek text), you will die in your sins." So what is Jesus' claiming? That He is God and He is clearly implying that belief in Him will mean that a person does not have to die in their sins! Who do you say that Jesus is? Do you believe in His Name, "Ego Eimi." If you do, you will never see the Second Death described by John at the Great White Throne Judgment in Revelation 20:11-15.
In fact, the moment you believe in the Name of Jesus the great "I Am" you will immediately enter into ETERNAL LIFE… NOW! Eternal life does not begin with death. It begins when you believe! And remember Jesus' promise of LIFE does not just describe the "quantity" of life (eternal), but He also offers us a new "quality" of life. Today. Right now. Not just in eternity future! The godless world is striving desperately to achieve a better quality of life. Jesus is saying in essence cease striving and know that I am God (Ps 46:10) and I will give you the BEST quality of life! In fact in John 10:10 Jesus even trumps Himself declaring I will give you life and give it abundantly. Folks, a better offer has never been made to anyone. So as we journey through this Gospel let us seek to lay hold of that abundant life which is ours in His Name. In fact abundant life will be found no where else other than the Name of Jesus. So if you are trying to accumulate wealth, prestige or power thinking it will fulfill your desire for abundant life, you need to spend time in John's Gospel to let the Spirit renew your mind.
And let us go and tell others about Jesus offer of the "BEST QUALITY OF LIFE" remembering that as good stewards of the manifold grace of God, we are simply called to boldly, confidently tell them about Jesus the Messiah and leave the results to God.
John describes the two reactions we can expect in John 1:11-13 writing that "Jesus came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His Name (notice that believe explains "receive" so here receive Jesus is to believe in Jesus), who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, BUT OF GOD."
As we learned last week "Salvation belongs to the Lord." (Psalm 3:8) Paul says that when offer the Good News about Jesus we are to leave the results to God and I don't know about you but that takes the pressure off me thinking I have to have a perfect presentation or they will never believe. Paul counters that natural way of thinking reminding us that the "Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." (Ro 1:16). Who's power? God's! We boldly speak out the Name of Jesus but it is God Who saves them in Jesus' Name.
You may be here today and are saying "I wish I could have lived in the first century and seen Jesus and His miraculous signs. Then I would be able to believe." It is not necessary to “see” Jesus Christ in order to believe. Yes, it was a blessing for the early Christians to see their Lord and know that He was alive; but that is not what saved them. They were saved, not by seeing, but by believing. If you have never made the decision to truly believe in Christ – today is your day of salvation. Today is the acceptable day. John would say to you “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36 Believe in the Lord Jesus and be saved (Acts 16:31)!
Next week we will begin looking at John chapter 1, verses 1-5. Let me encourage you this week to be like Mary not overwhelmed by busyness like Martha and chose the one thing that is really necessary and sit at the feet of Jesus listening to His words in the Gospel of John, asking His Spirit to open the eyes of your heart to the deep truths about Him even in just the first 5 verses of John's Gospel. I would also encourage you to treasure these words in your heart that the Spirit might be able to use them in your life in times of need.
This first chart gives us an excellent depiction (almost like a graph) of the upswing in Jesus' popularity in the first 6 chapters and then the declining popularity of Jesus beginning in John 7 and culminated in the Cross. Note "PREPARATION" - could summarize with Jn 1:29 - "Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world." On the right side we see that paschal SACRIFICE depicted. This chart also shows the three (and possibly 4) Passovers - Jn 5:1 is simply called "the feast" so we cannot be sure.
Notes on preceding chart for possible comments:
The chart shows how John breaks up into public ministry (3 years) in John 1-12 and Jesus' private ministry (Jn 13-21). It allows you to summarize the 7 miracles in His public ministry (at bottom of chart) and the KEY WORDS (could explain what a key word does - how they function as a key to unlock John's gospel which is especially brought out by the 98 occurrences of believe (more that all uses in the Synoptics combined). Clearly John's Gospel emphasis is on believe and this is reiterated his purpose statement in Jn 20:31.
The Great Pause - John 12:36b has been called “The Great Pause.” How is this a turning point in the gospel? Jn 12:37 and “his own” of Jn 13:1. Then refer to Chart, and note the various outlines that have a turning point at 12:36b.
Note John's paucity of miracles compared with the other Gospels. John's purposes is not to show His miracles but to show us His deity (Jn 20:31). This chart could supplement the one above for a quick review to those who have never seen this material. There is more material than you would probably want to show (too much and you lose people) but I think the sections in yellow are useful.
Notes for possible comments on preceding chart…
Portrait of Christ - The synoptics emphasize Jesus' humanity and John His divinity. Just as a coin has two sides, both valid, so Jesus Christ has two natures, both valid. Jesus is fully God and fully Man.
Unique Material - John's Gospel was the last Gospel, written about 85-90BC some 30 years after the synoptics. This would explain why most of John's material is unique. He would have been familiar with the other 3 Gospels and see no need to replicate their material. For example, John does not mentions Jesus' baptism, His transfiguration, His teaching in parables or His agony in Gethsemane. Instead of the agony John gives us 4 chapters of intimate conversation by Jesus with His disciples that last night (13-16) followed by His intimate prayer to His father.
Feasts - The fact that John records 3 Passovers (some say 4 - John 5:1 simply says "a feast") is the main evidence for the common belief that Jesus' ministry covered three years.
Spiritual Gospel - "This echoes Clement of Alexandria’s second-century characterization of the distinctive witness of the fourth gospel. His full statement runs as follows: ‘John, last of all, conscious that the outward facts had been set forth in the Gospels, was urged by his disciples, and, divinely moved by the Spirit, composed a spiritual Gospel.’ In Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, VI, XIV. 7." (Milne, Bruce - The Message of John - Bible Speaks Today)
The first three Gospels focus more on what Jesus taught and did; John focused more on who Jesus is. John shows us who Jesus is by allowing Jesus to speak for Himself in seven dramatic I Am statements, which were not included in the first three gospels. John is a Gospel written for a specific purpose: that we might believe.