© Charles A. Clough 2013
Charles A. Clough
1 John Series
Lesson 4 – Review of the Trinity; “Abiding” Vocabulary
22 Sep 2013
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
Let’s begin with a word of prayer. Then we’re going to do a quick review of some of the vocabulary leading up to one of the key pieces of vocabulary.
In the outline we’ve been talking about … What we’re trying do here is we’re trying to come up with an understanding of John’s unique way of speaking and using his vocabulary. One of the things that you have to watch when you study the Bible is you’re reading a document written by a person. The Holy Spirit works with that person; but that person was an individual person who spoke a certain language, who saw certain things that the Holy Spirit is bringing to mind and they express.
John, as we’ve gone through this in the charts and so on—he has a unique way of expressing himself. You have to understand that that’s not Paul. John is going to use John’s way of speaking; Paul is going to use Paul’s way of speaking. The two men come from totally different backgrounds. John was a very young man when he first met the Lord, probably in his early 20s or late teens. He was very impressed with Jesus to the point that John’s way of speaking apparently reflects how Jesus Himself spoke. Jesus was his teenage hero, if you put it that way. He spoke in a unique way.
If you’re a Greek student, you just love John because the Greek is nice and simple. The problem is the Greek may be simple; but his ideas aren’t. His ideas are very profound. They’re certain styles. One of the things is he has a profound understanding of the Trinity. It comes through without using the word Trinity. That’s why we’ve gone through the diagram of the elements of the Trinity.
People say, “Well, there are no illustrations of the Trinity.” Well, really there are. There are some fundamental illustrations, and that is to be expected. If the triune God created the universe, He most likely left handy marks of His handiwork in the creation around us.
We have space, matter, and time as Dr. Nathan Wood, President of Gordon-Conwell College, back decades and decades ago, spent a whole massive number of years in his life pulling together evidences of tri-unities throughout the universe. So it’s false to say there are no illustrations of the Trinity.
If people have trouble with Trinity, they would have to have trouble with time. Time is a very good illustration of the Trinity because it’s past, present, and future. There are not four areas of time; there are only three areas of time. Yet each aspect of time envelops all moments because all moments will at one point be past; all moments at one point were future; all points at one moment will be present. So it meets the parallels of the true Doctrine of the Trinity.
What’s important about time is, it has a progression to it. The Trinity has a built-in logical progression. It’s the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. People have pondered about this. Conceptually if in your mind when you think about the progression in the Trinity you’ll just think time. Time comes out of the future. You can’t see the future. The future is not experienced. The only place you and I ever experience time is in the present as it comes to us out of the future. The unknown future comes to us in the present. That’s analogous to the Father showing up in the Son as John will say repeatedly. So, when we see God, we always see the Son of God. We don’t see the Father. The Father we see in Him just as we know the future time in the present.
Then interestingly, as far as the Holy Spirit goes, time after it leaves us and we leave that moment and it’s now in the past; it operates in our thinking through our memories. History is time past. Time past is precisely the only way we can analyze the present. If you think about the two primary kinds of thought, inductive reasoning, which is the basis of all science, all history, everything else; inductive reasoning is where you take this and this and you generalize it. Because you’re finite, you only have that much experience.
If you couldn’t generalize you’d have to learn, relearn, relearn, relearn, relearn … But God saves us that way because He’s equipped us with the ability to use inductive thinking. Inductive thinking generalizes limited experience. So, the past history is very, very important because that’s the pattern you and I use to analyze the present. That’s why the difference between a child and an adult is the adult hopefully has a memory of history. They have gone through this before.
As I’ve often said to the young people, the only difference between adults and you is that we adults have screwed up more times than you have yet had time to do. So we’ve learned hopefully from where we’ve made our mistakes. You haven’t had a chance to make enough mistakes to learn. That’s why history is so important.
That’s why the revisionists to history, those people who want to rewrite American history, have a very good agenda—a very well-thought-out agenda. That is, they can change the nature of the culture by changing the culture’s history. So we’ve talked about that.
Let’s go on to nature, person, and personality. It’s the same tri-unity. One’s nature can’t be seen except as it appears in the person. The person’s effect on other people is their personality. If you can think of it this way, the nature of God corresponds to the Father. The person of God corresponds to the Son. The personality of God is the Holy Spirit. You can kind of make that parallel. So that’s what we’ve talked about in the Trinity.
The other thing that we wanted to do was to continue. We’ve reviewed about John’s use of the word “truth”. You have to be careful here. What he means by truth and what the Word of God means by truth is not what you would think … say in a course where you’re talking about geometry. Is this theorem true? How do you know the theorem is true? Because you worked through the logical proof and you can prove that it fits—consistency. So that’s truth. That’s truth about a proposition.
But aletheia, the truth the way John uses it is related to God Himself. So we put on this doctrine. The triune Creator revealed by the Logos—notice the word he uses to label the Second Person. He uses the word Logos as descriptive of the Second Person because logos is a word that has the connotation of that which is reasonable, that which is thoughtful, that which can be comprehended, that which your brain processes. The interpreter as the logos who created, He’s the interpreter of created reality and the determiner of ethical norms.
That’s the battle in our culture today. One of our key battles in the culture today is where do you get your standard of right and wrong? Is it a Gallup poll? Or is it the unchanging standard, which is God’s character Himself? It’s one or the other. You can’t live in those two houses. You have to pick one house, or you pick the other one, but you can’t have both of them.
This is why in Romans 3 Paul says:
NKJ Romans 3:4, “… let God be true but every man a liar.”
That’s Paul’s refutation of the Gallup poll. In other words, if 100% of the people disagree with God, it doesn’t matter to Paul.
“Let God be true but every man a liar.”
So truth in the Bible is not related to Gallup polls. It’s related to the nature of God Himself. The other side, beside the determiner of ethical norms; He is also the interpreter of created reality. When God gives a command in the Bible, say marriage defined as between one man and one woman, what He’s saying there—He’s not trying to be a meanie. He’s not trying to be a bigot.
What He is saying is, “Listen to Me. I have created man. I have created woman. Those are two different things I have created. Since I’m the One who created them, I know their capabilities and their abilities because I was the One who put them in there. I know the design of the woman and I have designed the institution of marriage so that the male and the female can function; and I’ve made both in My image.”
So we’re not talking animal reproduction here. We’re talking about something else. We’re talking about cultural generation, that men and women think differently. Men and women contribute two perspectives to their children. When a child is growing up and they only have a single parent or two parents now of the same sex, they are not getting and they are being deprived from a perspective of the man and the woman together. There is damage that has to be overcome in the children raised in that situation.
So when God says something, He’s interpreting it. He’s telling us, “I did it this way. Listen to Me. I designed things to work certain ways and if you don’t buy into what I I’m telling you, you’re going to pay a price.”
That’s why we can say economically in terms of dollars and cents; godliness is cheaper. There’s an economic cost to sin. Yes, there’s an ultimate cost; but scripturally there’s an economic cost in dollars and cents. We’re paying right now $112 billion a year out of the U. S. gross national product to cope with the effects of divorce and unwed childbirth—$112 billion dollars that are wasted, that don’t have to be spent; but they are being spent because we don’t want to live the way God chose to live. Okay, pay a price for it then. Economic costs are itself revelatory.
Now what we want to do is we want to get into the last area of vocabulary, which is the area of “abiding”. If you’ll look at the outline, the reason we’re dealing with this looking at this is because in John 15 we have the vine image, abiding.
Let’s turn to John 15 and see the text that John uses to communicate to us how he uses the Greek word meno, m-e-n-o - because meno is translated in English translations several ways. Sometimes it’s translated by the word continue, other times meno is translated by the word abide. But the image, the mental picture, is given in John 15. Let’s look at John 15. This chapter 15 of John’s gospel is part of the so-called Upper Room Discourse or the briefing prior to Jesus leaving the disciples. John is there.
The key you always want to remember is—who was excluded before that Upper Room Discourse started? John 14, 15, 16, 17—that’s the intimate picture of Jesus prior to crucifixion. But in John 13, the chapter before those four chapters, Judas is booted. Which means what? It means that chapters 14, 15, 16, and 17 are addressed to believers only—not believers and unbelievers, but to believers only.
That tips us off to interpret vocabulary because we’ve to get the word meno down because when you go into 1 John, that’s the whole epistle. The debate in Bible interpretation is—is John speaking when he uses “abide”, is he speaking of abiding in the sense that only true believers abide and if you don’t abide; you’re a professing believer, but really an unbeliever.
In other words is the vine made up of believers and unbelievers corporately or is the vine made up of believers only? The same thing over in 1 John—is John addressing believers only or is John addressing a corporate group that could be made up of believers and unbelievers? That’s the crux. It hangs a lot on how we handle this one word, this one verb meno. So we want to look at it. If you’ll look at John 15, we’ll look first at how he uses the word.
NKJ John 15:1, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;—that’s this translation. We’ll correct that in a moment—and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
Over the years of interpreting John, people have fixed on this vine image; and they said, “Well, this occurs in the Old Testament.”
Let’s turn say to the Old Testament and let’s look at Jeremiah. Jeremiah is one of the prophets speaking with this image. The Holy Spirit is inspiring that image through Jeremiah. Isaiah, Jeremiah are writers, great classical prophets of the Old Testament. Jeremiah 2:21—this is God speaking to Jeremiah:
NKJ Jeremiah 2:21, “Yet I had planted you—He is talking to the nation—a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. How then have you turned before Me Into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?”
Then he goes on to describe some judgment coming. Now without going into a big exegesis of Jeremiah, let’s think. When did Jeremiah write? Jeremiah was a classical prophet in the history of Israel. Let me see if I can get this other slide here [Slide 5].
Here’s the history of Israel in the theocratic period. The nation exists beginning with the Exodus out from Egypt. It goes on from say1440 BC somewhere in there, all the way down through the centuries of time until 721 BC. The Northern Kingdom goes into Syria. We have in 586 BC Babylon conquering it. You range in history from the Exodus down to the exile and discipline.
When did Jeremiah write? What was the ministry of Jeremiah and Isaiah? They were writing in anticipation of this right here. They’re writing right around here. They’re speaking to the nation; and they’re preparing the nation for the suffering that the nation is going to incur because they’ve forsaken the Lord.
So he says in verse 21:
NKJ Jeremiah 2:21, “Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed—God is speaking to the nation, you plural, nation—How then have you turned before Me?”
The vine image was used by Jews from this time forward.
When archeologists dug around some of the Palestinian sites they would come up with coins of the Maccabean period, which is the period just before Christ’s time. On those coins was the image of the vine. The vine image was associated with the nation Israel.
Now let’s think about Jeremiah 2:21.
He said, “I planted you a vine.”
That’s referencing the Exodus and conquest. The question we want to ask now is, at the point of the Exodus, was the nation constituted of 100% believers or a mixed bag? It was a mixed bag. So the vine image here is referring to a nation that had different people in it; but collectively the whole group is called the vine. At the end here we’re going to see some of the Old Testament passages where God tears down the vineyard, and He casts them forth and so on, which sounds at first glance somewhat like John 15.
But at the end when God is disciplining the nation, is it 100% unbelievers? No. What are some believers that we know about? Daniel, Ezekiel. Those guys survived. There was a remnant of believers that survived to the end. So if what God destroyed the image of the vine of the nation is an image not of stereological analysis of the components of the nation. It’s an analysis of the nation corporately. So that’s Jeremiah 2:21.
Let’s go to Jeremiah 5. Jeremiah 2:21 talks about the vine that God planted. In Jeremiah 5:10, God says through Jeremiah:
NKJ Jeremiah 5:10, “Go up on her walls and destroy, But do not make a complete end. Take away her branches, For they are not the LORD’s.”
Now the taking away of those branches in that illustration is the deportation of people, including Daniel. Again, this is not speaking soteriologically. This is speaking corporately of the whole nation. The problem here is you can’t take an illustration and move it from one author to another without thinking to yourself, “Okay. That’s a useful illustration. God has made vineyards with certain characteristics. So they both are using it; but what are they using that illustration for?”
Talking to Mike who owns a vineyard here—he’s part of the church. I went out to Mike’s vineyard because I wanted Mike to show me the characteristics of a vineyard. While I was out there it dawned on me that the vine (the grapevine) and sheep—one in the zoological realm and one in the botanical realm have the same peculiar characteristic. Sheep can’t survive without a human being there, a shepherd. Other animals can survive; but sheep wouldn’t make it too long without a shepherd.
Grapevine, as Mike says, doesn’t produce grapes that are good unless it’s pruned and taken care of with a vinedresser. It’s the vinedresser that really makes the grapes have quality. So here God picks out the grapevine; and He picks out sheep—one in zoology, one in botany, to illustrate the fact.
He says, “Look! Look at these. I’ve designed/created the grapevine with certain characteristics. Look at that. That’s My handiwork. I want to show you what that pictures.”
He comes over to the sheep. “I designed the sheep. I designed the DNA that produces all the wooly hair, and I did all this fine DNA work. These sheep have certain behavioral characteristics. I designed the sheep because I knew that centuries later I needed that animal to be an illustration. I built the grapevine the way I built it because I knew ahead of time I was going to use that as part of My general revelation.”
So in the Old Testament if you look at history now, here’s another thought before we go headlong into saying the vine in the Old Testament is equal to the way John’s using it in the New Testament. Just look at this a moment. Considering the nation Israel, nation Israel, not individual Israelites but the nation Israel—back here if you think of the analogy between our salvation—when was Israel saved as a nation. Exodus. Salvation is over here. What’s this? Is it loss of salvation? Why do we know it’s not loss of salvation? Because the prophets have promised what? Israel will be restored. Well then, what is this? Theologically there’s the birth. There’s the analogy to salvation. This is discipline. This is discipline for sin. So those are the big logical things to take away from the nation.
Now let’s come over to John 15. Now we have three kinds of branches in John 15. Notice something else right away, the first verse of John 15. In this case, what is the vine? Is it the nation Israel? Look at verse 1. Is this text (verse 1) declaring that the vine is a nation? Or is it the Messiah, Christ? Ah, this is Christ. So right away we have to watch it. John is telling us what Jesus said.
NKJ John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches.”
Now we come to this abiding thing. What does abide mean?
NKJ John 15:2, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
Now every branch—we have to correct something here. That first part of verse 2 …
NKJ John 15:2, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;”
That’s the way the English translates it. The problem here is that this word airo that is used there. If you look in a concordance, every other place that airo occurs, it means lift up. It doesn’t mean take away. So what this is talking about the branch that does not bear fruit, He lifts up.
What does the vinedresser do to a young branch on a grapevine to get it to produce fruit? He trims it so it’s supported. You go out to Mike’s vineyard, you see what he does. He has the first branches… tie it to a wire, a horizontal wire. That wire is run north south.
I asked Mike. ‘That’s interesting. You plant the vineyard in rows north–south. Why do you do that Mike?”
He said, “Because the sun comes up in the east and sets in the west. As the sun goes over (think of the richness of this metaphor now), what’s the sun? The sun is light. The vine operating north–south gets light from the morning. It gets light on top of it. It gets light on the other side on the setting sun. So that’s the way you maximize the light on the vine. See how God’s design works out here?
What’s the light? We know metaphorically what the light is. It’s God’s revelation. So if you plant the things north–south they get maximum light.
The other thing you do is you prune them. We’ll get into pruning in a moment. But the idea is you also have to support those vines. Why do you lift up the new vine that hasn’t yet produced fruit? Because it’s got to be supported in position so it gets the light. What this really is saying is the branch that does not bear fruit, He lifts up to support it so it can get fruit. Every branch that bears fruit (that is the older branch with the buds on it) what does he do to that? He prunes it.
So I asked him, “Why do you have to prune it so severely?
You go out there and there are all these branches and everything else. It looks like he ruined the vine by the intensity of the pruning.
I said, “You know, in the course of the summer, in a year including the fall, how much quantity do you prune off that grapevine?”
Do you know what he told me? 80%!
Until I went out to Mike’s grapevine and I read John 15 as “Oh He prunes. He’s giving me a haircut.”
No, it’s not giving me a haircut. This is pruning 80% of that vine. Whew! Now we’re talking some severe stuff. This is what the Lord is doing when He says, “I’m pruning you.” Probably He means here by giving us tests and trials to develop our faith because if He doesn’t prune, there are no grapes. There is no fruit.
There is another reason they prune so severely. Here’s some more imagery that creeps in. If you let the canopy of leaves grow too much on the grapevine, it hinders air transport through the vine and you get mildew. By trimming it you minimize the leaf coverage and the wind blows through and keeps the mildew off.
Now what’s the metaphor of wind in the Bible? The Spirit. So isn’t it interesting that the vine is so structured that you’ve got to maximize the light and you got to let the wind blow through it to minimize the mildew. The vine then has this dynamic to it. So the second kind of branch is the fruiting branch. To keep it fruiting, he prunes it.
But now he uses an interesting set of words. In verse 2 it’s a-i-r-o, if you want the English of this airo verb. Then in the second thing—see where it says takes away? That’s a-i-r-o in the Greek. You continue reading verse 2,
“and every branch that bears fruit He prunes,”
That word coming across in the English is k-a-t-h-a-i-r-o. So this is a characteristic of this guy. One time lift up; the other means prune. That’s right. But he’s selecting verbs to point to these other truths that are related.
Now he next says in verse 3,
NKJ John 15:3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”
This word translated over into English is k-a-t-h-a-r-o-s which is a cognate of airo and kathairo. So now we’ve got lift up, prune, and clean. But ironically the way Jesus was speaking, these words were all related in their syntax, in their root.
So he says,
NKJ John 15:3, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you—Addressed to believers—NKJ John 15:4, “Abide in Me, and I in you.”
The command to abide is given to believers. Well, if you have an imperative verb, every time you have an imperative verb, what are the two options you have? Either obey it or disobey it. There are not three options, right? Every parent knows that. When you tell your child to do something, they do it or they don’t do it. There’s not an in-between.
“I’ll do it tomorrow.”
Well it takes time and so forth. Every imperative verb has only a binary response. An imperative can’t be three things—only two things.
So Jesus says, “You abide in Me.” Well the fact that He’s given us a command must mean that we can choose not to abide in Him.
Now we’ll get into this “in Me” thing in a moment. The command is you can abide, which implies that it is possible for the believer not to abide.
Then he says,
“As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
Why does He want us to abide in Him? Because it’s the only way we can produce fruit, by being aligned to Him.
Then in verse 6 He’s going to say,
NKJ John 15:6, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
That’s the third kind of branch. That’s the one that creates all of the episode here. But our contention is, if you go back to the vine itself in Israel it wasn’t talking about loss of salvation. It was talking about discipline. This is talking about divine discipline of a very serious order, and John in his epistle is going to address that. This is a side to our Christian life that sometimes we don’t bring up often. But if God is our vine keeper, He is going to do His work just as a shepherd will do his work. There are implications here about discipline.
We’ve gone through that a little bit. Now we’ve got something else to contend with. Those who argue that there are believers here, insist that John in his Gospel talks about false professors. So I want to address those passages.
Let’s turn first to John 3. Again, let’s listen to how John works—John 3:16, best known verse in the Scriptures.
NKJ John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him …”
Now right there, vocabulary. It’s pisteuo; the Greek word to believe. It’s always eis is the preposition—believe into. The meaning isn’t “into” exactly, but when you first learn Greek that’s how that preposition is translated, “into”. When John uses the verb to believe, he always follows the verb with the preposition eis. You believe onto something. You believe something.
Here’s where the discussion comes. Follow this because this is critical to the argument. Particularly in Reform Theology, Covenant Theology, there is the assertion that you can have false belief. Well we all can say we have false professing people. But in John’s terms he doesn’t use pisteuo for false belief, because John is not talking about the quality of the verb. He’s talking about the object of the verb. It’s what you believe into. That’s the issue. A false professor may believe in an idol. He believes just like we believe. It’s not an instrument like a thermometer that you can measure belief intensity. The issue is not the intensity or the quality of belief, the verb. It’s the object to which the belief is resting. That’s the issue. So, for John, whenever we see pistueo eis, believe in, we want to watch. Wait a minute. What’s he talking about?
Now I’m going to go through several of the debated passages in the Gospel of John to show you why I don’t believe John ever uses the words pisteuo eis for a false believer.
Let’s first turn to the first text that’s often used, John 2:23. In doing this, this is going to show us how John thinks about our growth as Christians.
NKJ John 2:23, “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed—Eis—in His name—which means they trusted in His authority—when they saw the signs which He did.
NKJ John 2:24, “But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men,
25 “and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.”
Jesus did not trust those people even though they had believed in Him. It goes on to the politics of Jerusalem. What that is saying isn’t that these people were false believers. They believed in Him because of the signs.
Jesus said, “If you don’t believe what I’m saying, believe Me because of the signs.”
In fact, John concludes his Gospel:
NKJ John 20:31, “but these are written that you may believe that ...”
What’s “these”? “These” are signs. That’s what the whole Gospel is about—the seven or eight signs of Jesus. So here these are people who have believed correctly in His name because of the works that Jesus had done. One of them was at a wedding.
But Jesus doesn’t commit Himself. Why doesn’t He commit Himself? Because when a believer is first a believer, they’re unstable. They’re not trained. They’re not disciples in the sense of being trained. So in this case, when Jesus is up against the political dialogue that’s going on, He’s not going to take immature believers into the crowd and discuss with them and so forth because they’re not equipped.
The lesson is that after we believe in Jesus Christ we are to grow. You can’t grow by not being plugged in with a local church and reading the Bible and having fellowship. You can’t do it. So John 2 is not an illustration of the fact that these people are… that the language used that they believe and saw the signs that He did is exactly what John says, “I wrote this Gospel for.”
NKJ 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life …”
Let’s go to another passage, John 7:31. Again what we’re doing here is trying to understand John, so we understand his epistle.
In John 7:31,
NKJ John 7:30, “Therefore they sought to take Him …”
There’s a lot of opposition going on here. In one sense Jesus shields new believers from conflict. There’ll be a time when we can’t avoid conflict; but you don’t send raw recruits into battle. You train first.
So here in John 7,
NKJ John 7:30, “Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come.”
That gives you the flavor for what’s going on here and the politics.
NKJ John 7:31, “And many of the people believed in Him—Pisteuo eis—and said, ‘When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?’ ”
Some people take that, “Well, they are just believing in Him because of the signs.” Again, if you look at the original language here, there’s a Greek particle ne, which is a strong negative. What these people are saying is when the Christ comes, Messiah comes, He’s not going to do any more signs than this guy is he?
That’s what they’re saying. In other words, they are so impressed with the signs that they realize, “Boy, nobody else is going to come along and beat this guy with his signs.”
That’s John 7.
Now we come to the most controversial passage in John, John 8. This is the passage that goes on about the woman caught in adultery. There are textual problems with it and so forth, but I want you to see where this debate occurs.
He is arguing here about His departure. In verse 29 He says:
NKJ John 8:29, “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.
30 “As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.”
They believe on Him. Then, of course in John you have this famous quote that’s on the walls at Harvard University where if you go to Boston or Cambridge now and look at Harvard University, it’s carefully behind the ivy that they’ve allowed to grow over it so nobody sees.
NKJ John 8:31, “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
NKJ John 8:32, “ ‘And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ ”
Here we have an interesting thing. The question is as you go down to John 8:33 you have a big argument that erupts, and it gets nasty where Jesus accuses them of Satan being their father. Until you get down to John 8:44, this is how vicious the subsequent conversation becomes.
NKJ John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
Such is politically correct conversation.
NKJ John 8:45, “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.
46 “Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?
47 “He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”
Talk about a confrontation. The problem here is where it says, verse 45—“You do not believe”.
So commentators come in here. They see John 8:45 and following. Then they say, “If they don’t believe they can’t be believers and yet you have the people saying in verse 30 that they were believers. So which is it?”
The only way you can say that is they must be false believers in verse 30. Now here’s the problem. I think I have a slide to show this [Slide 9]. All right let me go through this. From John 8 if you go down the chapter, he’s talking from verse 21 down talking self-witness—well, let’s go even further. Let’s go back up to verse 13. This is after the discourse with the women.
Let’s go all the way up to verse 2.
NKJ John 8:2, “Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.
NKJ John 8:3, “Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,”
NKJ John 8:12, “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying,”
So right away in the context of the passage, there are two groups of people. There are the people at large that are listening to Him. Then the Pharisees and the Scribes come in. Now you have this adultery situation. Jesus deals with that. Finally, in verse 12 it ends up with this:
“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
You see by the way here people someone who says that Jesus isn’t who He claimed to be, He’s either a nut (a religious nut) or He is who He is said to be. There’s no difference.
Our time is unfortunately up here so what I’m going to ask you to do is read John 8 and track the two groups of people. See if you can figure out in the passage who are the believers and who are the people who He says do not believe. The issue is—is that the same group that the two verbs address or are there two groups in John 8—one verb to believe addresses one group, those who don’t believe addresses the second group.
Then next week we’ll get through that and hopefully then get into 1 John. All this is preparatory work so we get this vocabulary down.