Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Nerd Notes on John 3

I wanted to let the post stand on its own.
Nerd Note 1: There are no quotation marks in Greek, though there are discourse markers that indicate probable points of quotation. This is one reason I’ve stopped being a fan of red-letter Bibles. They make absolute something that is not absolute in the text. We do not, for certain, know if Jesus said John 3:16 or if that is John’s commentary on what Jesus said and did.
Note this: given the belief that all Scripture is God-breathed, it’s not that critical. If Jesus said it directly, great. If John wrote it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then God said it through John. It should bear the same weight for us.
Nerd Note 2: John 3:24 gives us a clear reason to see the Gospel as written in hindsight. Even if John had kept notes and then compiled them, we see him reflecting on timelines and events.
Nerd Note 3: Much is made of “you must be born again.” It is possible to render that phrase as “you must be born from above.” Either way, it’s about the spiritual birth that brings one to life in Christ.
Nerd Note 4: One can neglect the birth metaphor and one can overplay the birth metaphor. I do not think one should expect it takes 9 months to go from first hearing of Jesus to being saved. I do not think we can neglect that it takes outside force to labor and bring us into life in Christ. The cooperation of man’s will and God’s sovereign decree is not ours to fully parse, but I do think we cannot over-credit God’s work in salvation.
Nerd Note 5: Much is made of the use of κοσμος for world in John 3:16, as it is the most expansive term for world and has practically no limit. I have not seen any major work on John’s usage of the term κοσμος (world/universe) as the realm in opposition to the Kingdom of Light. That is probably connected to the tendency not to take the words out of Jesus’ mouth and put them from John’s pen, but I think there’s something there.
Nerd Note 6: Judgment? Guess what: those without Christ are judged. End of story. Judgment is the natural state of the world. It is only the coming of Christ as Redeemer that offsets the impending judgment.
Nerd Note 7: (couldn’t end on 6, could we?) The closing of this chapter focuses again on John as witness, not as anything greater. It is worth noting that John himself embraces that role. We should learn from this to allow people to fade into obscurity if that is part of their service to Jesus.

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