John Calls his Witnesses

Taking_an_oath

There is a theme about witnesses in John.  And as I wandered through a rather dry space in an analytically commentary (check the link to Commentary Soup) I found this bit:  There are 10 Witnesses to Jesus in the Gospel (Talbert, Reading John, p. 217)

  1. John the Baptist – 1:7,8,15,19,32,34; 3:26; 5:33
  2. Jesus – 5:31; 18:13-14
  3. His Works – 5:36; 10:25
  4. The Scriptures – 5:39
  5. The Father – 5:37, 8:18
  6. The Samaritan Woman – 4:39
  7. The Crowd – 12:17
  8. The Paraclete (Holy Spirit) – 15:27
  9. The Beloved Disciple – 19:35; 21:24
  10. The Disciples- 15:26

John 8:12-18 – ESV –  12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”

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John 15 – syntactical analysis

I attach my worksheet – it is easy on the computer to plug in the text and then to use indentions or notations (ABCC’B’A’ – for example) to lay out the text.  This is largely from Raymond Brown in the Anchor Bible Series, vol 29a  with an assist by Charles Talbert in Reading John.

I will use arrows sometimes to show relatinships of sub clauses to major clauses.  but the indentions themselves show the “shape” of the text.

John 15 syntactical

Commentary Soup

give it time

give it time

So it is a funny thing.

I like to find the academic commentaries  from the UW library, which slice, dice and analyze the biblical text.   I don’t agree with the frequent theorizing about editors, redactors, schools and emendations that they do suggest.   Also there is very little of pastoral value – that is, what can help the people keep the word.  But for analyzing the text itself, these kinds of books, typified by the Anchor Bible series are very helpful.  My motto: take what I can, leave the rest.  This is for me the soup stock.

In the case of John’s gospel, the Anchor volumes are very helpful for the ebb and flow of the book. Raymond Brown suggests that the first 12 chapters really have to do with Jesus interactions with the major festivals of the Jewish calendar.   I found that the book Reading John, by Charles Talbert does a nice job of literary analysis.  Neither of these books are that helpful on connection to life.

I like to peruse the classic evangelical commentaries, but until recently, most of these are weak in the area where the academic texts ares strong   For example, Young’s commentary on Isaiah (3 volumes) is a classic, but it is mostly a series of verse by verse comments with lots of word meanings.   I much prefer Motyer’s Isaiah commentary, thought shorter, it gives the shape and flow of the book, and there re little sermonic nuggets in the text.   In John, Leon Morris’ work is a lot like Young’s in Isaiah – words discussed by verse, but not a lot of literary structure.   F. F. Bruce is helpful at a less analytic level.  These books are the diced carrots and potatoes.

Sometimes a historic commentary such as Luther’s Works or the like adds a bit of flavor to the sermonic soup.   Consider this the herbs and spices for the soup.

I like to read someone who is or was a pastor and who gives the word a work over from a sermonic standpoint.  Lot’s of books by John Stott fit in this category, I still think his commentary on I John is the most helpful on that book.  I don’t have a good book in this category to name.  This is the meat for the soup.

Finally, what is needed is time for the soup to simmer lowly on the back of the stove.   Don’t start your reading on Saturday.  Start ahead and let it simmer and stew.

What does it mean to abide? – John 15

colored pencils

colored pencils

What does “abide” mean?

Dictionary.com says,

1.  to remain; continue; stay 
2.  to have one’s abode 
3.  to continue in a particular condition, attitude, relationship, etc.;  

Greek Dictionary says, of the verb meno

1. to stay, live, dwell, lodge

2. Figurative, not to leave the realm or sphere where one finds oneself

3. remain, last, persist, continue to live.

Now when we read the word in the context of John 15 we find an internal definition

  • “remain in me and I in you” compared to a branch remaining in a vine
  • “if you remain in me, you will bear much fruit”
  • “if you don’t remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away…”
  • “if you remain in me and my words remain in you.”
  • “remain in my love” 
  • “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.”
  • “This is my command; love each other.”

Thus the metaphor is of a branch that derives its life from the vine – so our life is in connection with the Lord.

The application seems to indicate a personal connection and a knowledge connection: “remain in me“, “my words remain in you,” “keep my commands and remain..”

The result is “fruit”, which harks back to the vine metaphor.  This fruit is defined as “love” in the following paragraph, love is the word that dominates:  “Love each other” is at the top and the bottom of the paragraph.

A working definition: To abide is to  remain in a vital connection with the Lord by hearing and keeping his word, especially his command to love one another.

Note that the 1st and 2nd commandment (love God; love neighbor) are not separable.