Saturday, March 03, 2012


(This is the final post in the series, Our Savior, the Abider)
Previous two posts:
Who's Your Daddy?
'Perichoresis' by Derrick

Perichoresis - To "dwell," to "abide," to be "with God."  It is the flow of "resources" (John 8:44) from the Father which fund the truth-promises of Jesus Christ.  In a community, perichoresis is mutual-permeation of the Father's love, strategies and interests.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus displays His perichoretic relationship to God and then invites His disciples to widen their own flow of the Vine, through Himself.  It culminates in John 17:21,
...that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us...
In the first two posts we considered the faithfulness of Jesus Christ in contrast to Satan's betrayal. "Knowing God" was meant to be an eternal affair and Jesus called this affair, "eternal life" (John 17:3).  What we have not yet examined is how perichoresis is received by community.  Limiting this post, we will examine only the first stage of response, which has no capacity for hearing the truth. *

Those Without Ears to Hear

Joseph's brothers were all sons of the same man Jacob, but Jacob and Joseph had a special connection.  Joseph was determined to see righteousness be done.  Jacob called Joseph "my son" (Gen. 45:28).  It was the source of trouble in the family, feelings of disunity.  At first it seemed easy to blame Joseph as the disturber of the peace.  Even Jacob was troubled by his proud prophecies of greatness (Gen. 37:10).  But it was the brothers who left Joseph for dead, not the other way around.  They might argue that because Joseph held the righteousness card in the one hand, he couldn't have also held the unity card in the other hand.  He held both.  In fact Joseph even named his children to represent healing over his family (Gen. 41:51-52)!

This man channeled massive power from God through his servanthood.  (For more on Joseph, read the post titled, "The Ignore-Accuse Prison".)  Pharaoh plainly observed the value in making him second in command over all Egypt.  Pharaoh gave him the name Zaphenath-Paneah which means "one who reveals secret things with ease."

In another previous post, "Learning Life," we saw Mary drinking in deeply the presence of Jesus when everyone else saw it as a moment to be busy.  Martha's rebuke on Mary doesn't amount to suffering; nevertheless in a small form that is exactly what is going on.  In a later chapter we see Mary able to read "the signs of the times."  She pours on Him a year's wage of perfume for anointing His burial.  Exclusively she foresaw He was about to die.

"Son" in the Old Testament

Does perichoretic intimacy last?  "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:26).  Those who are familiar with the New Testament are accustomed to reading the phrase "son of God."  But "son of God" is so rarely used, in the Old Testament!  I wonder.  It may be because, excluding angels (Gen. 6:2), there were so few!  Isaiah 51:18-20,
There is no one to guide her among all the sons she has brought forth; nor is there any who takes her by the hand among all the sons she has brought up.  These two things have come to you; who will be sorry for you?— desolation and destruction, famine and sword— by whom will I comfort you?  Your sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, like an antelope in a net; they are full of the fury of the Lord, the rebuke of your God.
Early in the history of Israel, she was called "my son."  Exodus 4:22-23,
Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Israel is My son, My firstborn.  So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me.
Matthew reviews the lineage of Jesus Christ calling Adam "the son of God."  Luke 3:38,
...the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
By the grace of God, God calls Adam and Israel and even born-again Christians "sons" before they have ever proven themselves to live up to the calling.  He gives us our identity anachronistically, before its time, to show His kindness to us, to show that perichoresis, the flow of God's grace, is the means by which our identity as sons becomes son-like in-deed.

Children graduate into sons through abiding belief in the promised Seed, Jesus Christ.  Galatians 4:1-7,
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.  Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.  But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
Witnesses involuntarily witness whoever they have been spiritually intimate with.  A son characterizes his father.  The Hebrew word "son" and the Aramaic word "son" are not theologically vacant words.

"Son" in the New Testament

We have the same theological arrangement in the NT as well.  Romans 8 says every believer is already adopted in the Spirit in verse 15,
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
And then speaks of the adoption as not having happened yet, conditioned upon our perseverance in verses 23-25,
Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.  For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
We are sons by gracious design.  We are sons indeed if we appropriate it into how we live [1].

Prophecies of Greatness

Being a son was rare enough in the Old Testament that when they saw it, most loved their own lives more.  It's not as if there were not "sons" in the OT.  Moses, David, Abraham, Joseph....  Israel by and large does not understand that as much as they study these prototypes of the Messiah, these were all rejected in their day because of their close association "with God."

Wherever perichoresis becomes incarnate, it incarnates as the servant not the ruler.  Sonship is not just servanthood.  It is also rulership.  This is why God's servants are accompanied with divine appointments, power, signs, miracles....  "The one who rules is the one who serves."

Dreamers Die for Community

Sons don't care about earthly status quo, at all.  They only care about serving the will of the Father.  It is the impartial way they devote their whole life.  Some people think that this makes a Christian very careless toward God's people, but the secret is, the opposite is true.  Hebrews 1:1-3,
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person
His Son, is, the image of God.  Genesis 1:26, 27,
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.... So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Man, is, the image of God.  To be the image of God, is to be a son and to be a son is to be the image.  Do you see this?  Jesus is Adam as he ought to be, as we can be, and in a portion, how we will be.  How wide the divide -- between mankind and God?  Romans 8:29,
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Setting sonship aside - this is the divide - and it eternally wide: Jesus is in essence deity, a true son; the only begotten at that.  We are not essentially deity, of course; we are adopted.

Jesus lives as a Son, and He invites man to the same. The day man gains ears to hear, man will fulfill the oneness of John 17:21.

Perichoresis Has a Price

The Pharisees wanted to do the violence of divorce.  They still do to this day.  Malachi 2:10, 16
Have we not all one Father?  Has not one God created us?  Why do we deal treacherously with one another by profaning the covenant of the fathers?  ...  For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence....
They wanted to end their relationship with Him once for all. They wanted to kill perichoresis so badly, that they wanted to kill him.  Their belief system was religion without sonship.  Religion, without adoption. Religion without transformation.  They don't believe in it.  They don't believe a man could get that intimate with God, because they have tried to obey God and have violated their consciences beyond repair.  This is notwithstanding believers, who oftentimes lose their taste for deliverance from sin.  "Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all" (Gal. 4:1).

The religious will use their religious rules, tragically interpreted from the mouth of God, to justify their departure.

God 'With Us' is the Testimony of John

The title "Son" is used 39 times in the Gospel of John, and it is the common way Jesus refers to Himself in reference to the Father.  It is the summary of His identity upon which he invites Nicodemus in chapter 3 to believe.  Nicodemus must be born literally "from above," just as the Scriptures teach in Galatians 4:6,
but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
It is what He meant when He spoke the most famous passage in the bible: "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:17).  It is why He invites the blind man to believe in "the Son of God" in John 9.  It is why Jesus taught, "Therefore if the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed" in John 8.  It is why Jesus told them to prepare for the world to hate them also.  All of the signs and miracles and power that Jesus demonstrated invited believers to become great in the Kingdom of God.  Hence the final invitation in the Gospel of John writes like so in John 20:30-31,
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
Do You Believe in the Son of God?

There is so much of the image of God reflecting in fallen man, that it makes no sense to praise God and curse people (James 3:9)!

The things that partner with God we long for in our souls; "He has put eternity in their hearts" (Ecc. 3:11).

Do you want a Father who is willing to bust His butt to prove that He is knowable through sons (John 14:11-14)?  I hope that, amidst all the trials you may have in being set free of sins, you still believe God wants to deliver you from bondage, through the intimacy of knowing God and being filled by Him and being ministered to by His amazing grace.  Nowhere does it say that we have to be perfect instantaneously.  A great life's legacy is to ongoingly receive God's forgiveness and patience.  Don't give up on righteousness as the final destination. God is looking for Christians who stay in a perichoretic relationship with God till they're taken home.  We imitate our short life's version, of Christ's "forever."   This is the design for so many NT passages conditioning perseverance.  Revelation 21:6-7,
I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.  He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

*   For a framework depicting the stages of reconciliation between Jesus and His people through the Gospel of John, keep watch for upcoming posts.

Scene from Jesus of Nazareth the Movie, in an extended interpretation of John 7:45-52 & 11:46-53

[1]  Dillow, Joseph C.  Life in the Spirit.  Reign of the Servant Kings: A Study of Eternal Security and the Final Significance of Man.  Hayesville, NC, Schoettle Publishing Co., 2006; pp. 368-371.  


Sanctification said...

How's the theology looking?

Sanctification said...

1 John 4:15 "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God."

1 John 5:20 "And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life."

Quantum said...

Nice job.

Sanctification said...


Thanks for the encouragement!


goe said...

I haven't forgot about you Michele. I love you my sister. God bless!

P.S.--I deactivated my FB a few months ago, don't know if I'll be back, but let's not lose touch, okay? You've been a special friend and blessing to me.

Now, let me get my dictionary out and look up "perichoresis." :)

Sanctification said...

Ha ha, Gary!

I love you brother! So glad you wrote, somewhere. I miss you! You're important to me too!! Been looking for you now and then.

Let me know if you can find that word...

Sanctification said...

Charlie Bing wrote the following in his latest "Grace Notes" (No. 55)

"While some think that any continual or serious sin causes a Christian to lose salvation, others say salvation is only lost if the person ceases to believe the gospel and the Christian faith. They say that the present tense of the verb “believe” in salvation passages like John 3:16 and John 20:31 implies that eternal life is conditioned on continual belief. But this is not an accurate understanding of the present tense. The present tense can be used of a singular act (e.g. John 6:33, 50; Acts 9:34). Besides, belief as the condition for eternal life is sometimes stated in the aorist tense, which implies completed action (Acts 2:44; 4:32; 8:13; 16:31). The present tense in John 20:31 may also emphasize the ongoing experience of God’s eternal life that Jesus referred to as abundant life (John 10:10) or knowing God (John 17:3). Initial faith in the gospel brings eternal salvation. Continual faith is not a condition for salvation, but for enjoying God’s life in us (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 2:20)."

This is encouraging to me because I didn't even know that John 3:16 was a continuous sense of "believe" like the potentially "abundant life" discussed in John 17:3 and 20:31. Not a person who knows Greek, here :)

You may notice that I inserted a picture of the snake lifted up on a pole in my discussion of John 3:16. The account from Exodus is what led me to postulate that Nicodemus was being invited to continually believe in God.

Israel became very discouraged after Aaron died and they loathed the provision of the Lord. It was in this instance of complaining against God that God punished them with serpents and they were dying. He gave them a fiery serpent to gaze at and be saved. Numbers 21.

Since they knew God but complained in disbelief, I determined that "as Moses lifted up the serpent, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up" (John 3:14). This was a case of present tense disbelief in the God they had been following. There was a rejection here the teachers of Israel needed to repent of. Which is the same set up in John 1 (vs 11-13). They were already "His":

"He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

We can fall out of fellowship with God at any time after being eternally saved. I suppose John 3:16 would be an appropriate verse to share with such a person?

Sanctification said...

A copy of Bing's "Grace Notes":

Number 55: The Christian and Apostacy

goe said...

Hi Michele,

Glad to see you're still digging in the word. Charlie appears to be inconsistent in what he's saying here. On the one hand he correctly says that the idea of "continual NOT an accurate understanding of the present tense." But then he says: "The present tense in Jn 20:31 may also emphasize the ongoing experience of God's eternal life that Jesus referred to as abundant life." He seems to be affirming in this second statement what he just denied in the first statement. I don't know, but it sounds like he might have just thrown this second statement in to kind of "cover all his bases", so to speak, in case his first statement is wrong.

Perhaps this clear statement by Zane will clarify this for you:


goe said...


A fundamental premise is that the purpose of the Gospel of John is evangelistic. This purpose is quite clearly stated in John 20:30-31. Nevertheless, I am well aware that the subject of John‘s purpose is debated in the current technical literature.

During the 20th century Raymond E. Brown was probably the premier Johannine scholar in the English speaking world. He was a lifelong Roman Catholic, and an ordained priest, of moderately liberal persuasion. His magisterial two-volume commentary on John remains a gold-mine for all students of the Fourth Gospel. He passed away suddenly on August 8, 1998.

The year before his death Brown published a massive volume (over 900 pages) entitled An Introduction to the New Testament. It distilled his enormous scholarly knowledge. In that volume he comments on the issue of John‘s purpose:

Luke explains his purpose at the beginning of his Gospel (1:1- 4), but John saves his statement of intention till the end. In selecting material to be included in the Gospel his goal has been to have people come to faith or increase in faith (disputed reading) in Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, and through this faith to possess eternal life in his name.

This pretty well reflects the state of affairs even a decade later. Brown rightly locates the center of the discussion in the textual problem found in John 20:31. The problem concerns the presence or absence of a single letter (a sigma) in the phrase ―that you might believe (hina pisteu[s]ate). With it, the verb is aorist; without it, present.

Those who deny the evangelistic purpose of John‘s Gospel typically depend heavily on the present tense. They think that the present suggests the idea, ―that you might continue to believe. The 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland GNT indicates that the present tense is found in three old manuscripts plus a few others; the rest support the aorist.

Actually it makes no difference at all which reading is accepted. The view that the present tense supports the idea of ―continue to believe‖ is a
semantic fallacy. This was pointed out as long ago as 1975 by Johannes P. Louw. Louw was the co-editor with Eugene Nida of the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains. In 1975 Louw published an article, ―Verbal Aspect in the First Letter of John, in the journal Neotestamentica.

There Louw states:

The Greek praesens [present tense] is aspectually neutral or unmarked, it is a zero tense. It . . . may be used if the context suggests linear or habitual occurrence, and often verbs denoting processes . . . give the impression that the praesens signifies duration though the praesens itself merely states the occurrence as a fact.

On the next page he adds, ―it is a zero tense of factual actuality.

I know, of course, that this is not what was taught in Greek classrooms for the last several generations. Most scholars were weaned on the idea that the present tense expressed on-going, or continuous, action. But this idea is a grammatical fallacy. If you read your Greek NT with the same facility you do English, you can easily see for yourself that Louw‘s position is a slam dunk.

goe said...

I am sorry to say this, but you can get a reputation as a Greek scholar without reading your Greek NT that easily. That‘s because the field of NT Greek is loaded to the max with helpful tools—with lexicons, grammars, word studies, commentaries, the whole nine yards. You don‘t need to know very much to use all these tools. The number of skilled semanticists like Louw is quite small. I once heard some lectures by his co- editor, Eugene Nida, reputed to be a linguistic genius. I suspect Louw is not too far behind.

Of course, not everyone has fallen into the ―tense trap. You can find a competent, conservative defense of John‘s evangelistic purpose in Carson, Moo, and Morris‘s An Introduction to the New Testament.

What‘s the bottom line? It is simply this. Neither in John 20:30-31, nor anywhere else in the Fourth Gospel as far as I can tell, does John employ the present tense of the verb pisteuĊ (believe) with any suggestion of continuous action. The idea that John‘s purpose was to get people to continue to believe‖ does not have a shred of linguistic evidence.

It is an idea based on a ZERO tense and it has ZERO probability. (emphasis mine)


As I told you, I'm not into blogging much these days, but I just wanted you to see this if you haven't already. Maybe it will help.

Hope you're doing well and God bless! It's good to be in touch again my sister!


Sanctification said...

Hi Gary,

I read these comments last week and I'm sorry that I didn't reply sooner. They were good, they gave me much to think about. I suppose I can't catch up with the depth of theology being provided above, but I have other ways of hearing what you are saying.

As I said I believe you bring something essential to the table and I see that, so I facilitated it again on Tim's recent post titled, How Would Life Be Different if Jesus Did Not Rise? My goal is to see everyone take point in the conversation rather than taking point with the people engaged in the conversation.

I don't want to facilitate a fight anymore. But, I do want to help people. Would you keep tight boundary to your frustration? You're trying to bring something sinister into the light, which I'm glad for! I hope you believe me on that. However the brotherhood is not sinister. Can you honor my perspective?

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