Sunday, March 5, 2017

John 3:16

This passage occurs in the RCL Lent Season, Year A and B, most recently March of 2017.  It also occurs in the Narrative Lectionary Year 4 Epiphany cycle.
 
Summary:  We've heard John 3:16 a million times before.  For this week, I broke it down, word by word.  Awful for a sermon, yes, but a closer look reveals how this really is the Gospel in a nutshell.  Fun Greek fact:  The phrase eternal life is literally "eons of a zoo."  God's eternal party is a zoo!  Helpful Greek fact:  This eternal zoo is not a future reality, but a present one, available here and now.

John 3:16.  Broken down.

ουτως γαρ ηγαπησεν ο θεος τον κοσμον, ωστε τον υιον τον μονογενη εδωκεν, ινα πας ο πιστευων εις αυτον μη αποληται αλλ εχη ζωην αιωνιον

ουτως γαρ:  Two interjections, combining to mean:  "For in this manner"  Don't spend too much time here, we have bigger fish to fry

ηγαπησεν (αγαπη):  This word supposedly means divine, only from God love.  In this particular sentence that's what it means: divine, pure, gracious, awesome, life changing love.  Interestingly, later in this section people will love the darkness more than the light.  First, this shows that agape is not simply a divine thing.  Second, it reminds us how absurd (and misdirected) some of our love really is.

ο θεος:  God (think theos as in theology)

τον κοσμον:  The world.  This word in English is cosmos, like universe or cosmopolitan or cosmetic.  The point is that in the Gospel of John the world does not love God (John 7:7; 15:18,19; 17:14).  God's love comes over and against the world that does not like God

ωστε:  that.  Conjunction.  Don't worry.

τον υιον τον μονογενη:  only begotten son.  Nice like adjectival participle here.  The son, the only begotten.  If you break the Greek down you get :  mono-gene.  The only one who has the Father's genes are the son.  In this case, Christ is the only one who really is of the Father, who has his dna to love a world that doesn't love him back.

εδωκεν:  Gave.

ινα:  In order.  God's giving of his son had a purpose

πας ο πιστευων:  Substantive participle:  All who believe.  Because it is present tense we should make it:  All who are constantly believing.  Remember, in John's Gospel, believe is a verb; faith is a not a think, it is an action, a constant trusting.
 
εις αυτον:   In fact you cannot trust in something but have to trust INTO something.

μη αποληται:  Be lost, be destroyed.

αλλ :  but

εχη :  STOP.  read carefully: This is a present tense verb.  This means that we HAVE the eternal life, not we will have, but we HAVE the eternal life.  In John's Gospel life begins here and in as we, through faith, live in the son.

ζωην αιωνιον:  literally:  eons of zoo.  That is the grand goal of God:  eons of zoo.

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