Friday, June 10, 2011

Life in himself

For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself (Jn 5:26)

This verse is often cited to establish the ontological subordination of the Son to the Father, according to which the Father is the fons deitas. However, “in himself” doesn’t carry that connotation in Johannine usage, and the “life” in question is hardly synonymous with the divine essence. As one commentator explains:

The form of Jesus’ next pronouncement echoes that of verse 21: “For just as the Father has life in himself, so too he gave to the Son to have life in himself” (italics added). What does it mean to “have life,” and what does it mean to have it “in himself”?…“In himself” [en heauto] adds little to this and should not be overinterpreted…To have “life in oneself” is not something only the Father and the Son share, but something believers can claim as well. Those who “eat the flesh of the Son of man” can be said either to “have life in themselves” [echete zoen en heautois] (6:53), or simply to “have eternal life” (v54). The two expressions mean the same thing: eternal life is theirs as an assured present possession, and that is all Jesus is saying here about himself and the Father.

J. R. Michaels, The Gospel of John (Eerdmans 2010), 318. 

1 comment:

  1. I keep coming back to this article in thought and activity; that is, I keep reading it again and again; so, I will write this about it.

    There are four perspectives about "Life in Himself" that I would say are revealed in the New Testament.

    The first, I would submit, is derived from the earth, that which is earthy. The Greek word that best puts this idea over, used about nine times in the New Testament is the word bios.

    The second Greek word that best puts over its idea is of the nature and purpose of procreation, life in himself or herself, us, is soma.

    The third Greek word that best puts over its idea is what we all need and that is we all need a good education and that part of us that is educated or taught something is one's psuche. Jesus Himself learned wisdom and grew in stature with both God and men. The Apostle Peter, when writing to his constituents made a distinction between science knowledge and divine knowledge; see 2 Peter 1 Oh, and by the way, the "life/psuche" that Jesus died too was His mind, will and emotions, or His psuche/Life: 1Jn 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

    And finally, that Greek word, "Life" in Himself, the article title, that is the topic of this article by Michaels that tends to reveal itself best is the Greek Word zoe.

    Whenever God and His essence is a part of the verse of Scripture identifying Himself, this Greek Word is "always" used, zao.

    Without reading the entirety of Michaels understanding, I would have a problem then with his words reiterated here taken from the article above:

    Michaels writes "... To have “life in oneself” is not something only the Father and the Son share, but something believers can claim as well. ...".

    I would add all humanity can claim it and share its benefits as well. God's sun shines on the just and the unjust. In that sentence the first use of the idea of "Life" in himself is the same life in all humanity derived from the earth.

    Jesus, though the Son of God, full of Grace and Truth, Who Himself is fully Zao, too, as both the Father and the Holy Spirit, was born of flesh just like all of us for whom He died that we might be saved by Christ and being saved might have "Life/Zoe" and "Life/Zoe" more abundantly because of Him while sojourning through this life/bios.

    As the writer of the book of Hebrews has already established by writing about it, Christ did not die for angels even though angels and demons share the same "life" in themselves, too.

    Anyway, there you go. That's what was on my mind/soul/psuche after reading this one.