The Which means of “Life” in John’s Gospel – White Horse Inn


Richard from St. Petersburg, FL writes: 

The excellence between ‘everlasting life’ (aeon zoe) and ‘life’ (zoe) in John, is, precisely, what? Zoe-life is itself everlasting, sure? Why does John’s Gospel have 100 references to zoe with solely 17 of them joined with the phrase everlasting?”

Thanks in your query Richard. The Greek phrase zoe, can be utilized to discuss with unusual human life, and to everlasting life as properly. The way in which to identify the distinction could be to pay shut consideration to the context. In among the circumstances you talked about, “life” is modified by the phrase “everlasting,” which makes it straightforward to inform that unending life in heaven is in view. Elsewhere, contextual elements clarify that unusual human life right here on earth is definitely in view. That is evident in texts comparable to Luke 16:25 through which the wealthy man of that parable is instructed, “Youngster, keep in mind that in your life (zoe) you obtained good issues,” or John 4:50 through which Jesus tells the royal official, “Go, your son will dwell (zao).” The context of each these passages clarify that the phrase “life” in these verses referred to our temporal earthly existence.

Now there are additionally passages in John through which the phrase “life” seems with out being modified by the phrase “everlasting,” and but the context makes clear that “everlasting life” is definitely the main focus. This may be seen in a passage comparable to John 20:31 through which the narrator explains his personal motivation for penning this Gospel:  “these are written so that you could be consider that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you could have life (zoe) in his identify.” Although the phrase life right here is unmodified, we all know what the writer is getting as a result of he has made related statements all through his work and has related perception with “everlasting life” (cf. 3:15-16, 36, 5:24, 6:40, 47).

Primarily, the phrase “life” as it’s utilized in John 20:31 serves as a sort of shorthand for the longer phrase “everlasting life.” This form of factor occurs steadily in English as properly. For instance, a good friend as soon as instructed me that whereas he and his household have been on a highway journey, his son observed a billboard which mentioned, “Don’t Drink and Drive!” The son then scolded his father, since he occurred to be consuming a soda in the mean time. The misunderstanding in fact is said to the best way that the prohibition towards “consuming and driving” is just not meant to be taken actually, however is known to be a sort of shorthand means of claiming that we must always keep away from “consuming (alcohol) and driving.”

The important thing factor that we have to notice about the best way Jesus is revealed within the Gospel of John, is that he’s not introduced merely as somebody who may also help us to get entry to everlasting life, however quite, he’s really the supply of life itself. Proper on the very opening of this Gospel we’re instructed, “All issues have been made by way of him, and with out him was not any factor made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the sunshine of males.”

When it comes to the stats, I used to be capable of finding 56 examples of various kinds for the phrase “life” (zoe, zao, zoapoieo), and 30 examples of the phrase “everlasting,” and/or “without end” (aeon, aeonios) used all through the Gospel of John. I used to be additionally capable of finding round 20 or so examples of when these two phrases interacted with one another.

I hope this helps!

Shane Rosenthal
White Horse Inn


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