Eternal Life (Part 5)

It’s time to move on to the Gospel of John. John refers to eternal life more than any other biblical author. John seems to have a significantly different definition for eternal life than the one we have seen so far. Before we dive into the first reference to eternal life in the Gospel of John let’s recap what Daniel and the Synoptic Gospels said.

Up to this point we have seen that eternal life is an eschatological (end times) gift given to the righteous (whoever they are). All those who are “saved” receive it (they must be the righteous ones). Eternal life is closely related to life in the Kingdom of God and is different in some way from normal life that humans experience.

Now, the first time eternal life is mentioned in the Gospel of John is in chapter 3. If you’re keeping track at home this is the conversation that Jesus has at night with one of the religious leaders in Jerusalem, Nicodemus. In John 3 verses 15 and 16, twice Jesus says that those who believe in the Son of Man will receive eternal life. In context he is talking about why he came. Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be “lifted up” (a direct allusion to his crucifixion) and that in being lifted up he is providing a way for those who believe in him to have eternal life rather than perish.

So, in his introduction to the concept of eternal life, John says that Jesus must be lifted up (die on the cross) so that people can receive eternal life. Those that believe in him will receive it. And, it is the opposite of perishing.

What does this mean to you and do you think it differs from what we read in earlier passages?

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