Jesus often used parables as a manner of teaching. In other articles I have written, such as the "The Parabolic Approach" - I briefly touched on one perspective regarding parables and writings attributed to John. Here I will touch base with that line of thought again and then proceed with a further study of the writings attributed to John concerning some of Jesus' teachings.
The word "paroimia" is used three times by John - 10:6, 16:25 and 16:29 - (and once by Peter in 2 Peter 2:22). Semantics aside, whether translated as parable (KJV), proverb (DRB), allegory (LITV) or similitude (YLT), it is clear Jesus was saying something that He expected His hearers to learn from. There are many places in the book of the Gospel according to John that bible scholars have categorized as teachings of Jesus (See NOTE1). Here we will begin a look at a very important concept too often overlooked or ignored. We will begin with John 15. This is where, at the Last Supper, that Jesus gave one of His last and most important teachings:
I am the true vine and my Father is the farmer. Every branch in me not bearing fruit He is taking it away; and every one carrying fruit, he is cleansing it, that it may be bringing forth more fruit. Already you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you. You abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot be bring fourth fruit from itself if it should not be abiding in the vine; neither can you, if you should not be abiding in me. I am the vine, you are the branches; and, the one abideing in me, and I in him, the one abiding in me, and this one is bring fourth much fruit: apart from me you can do nothing. If ever anyone should not be abiding in me, he is cast out as a branch, and is withered; and those gathering them and casting them into the fire, and they are being burned.
The word the KJV and DRB translate here as abide(s) is "menō". The LITV and YLT translate it as "remain". The KJV, DRB, and LITV each translate it as "continue" elsewhere - i.e. John 8:31. Strong defines it as: A primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): - abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for). Thayer defines it as: not to depart, to continue to be present, to be held, kept, continually, to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure. It is an active verb -not a one-time event but a continual action.
John tells us that Jesus stressed this need for continuance earlier:
Then Jesus said to the Jews who having believed in Him, if ever you should be remaining in My Word you are truly My disciples.
Take careful note that Jesus said "if". This tells us that if you aren't continuing in His Word then you are no longer His disciple. To "menō" (and/or its conjugations) is vital. Here is a good verse to demonstrate the point:
Let it be remaining (menō) in you, which you have heard from the beginning. If that which you have heard from the beginning should be remaining (menō) in you, you shall be remaining (menō) in the Son, and in the Father.
(1 John 2:24)
John always stressed this need to continually obey:
Everyone transgressing and not remaining in the doctrine of Christ is not having God. The one remaining in the doctrine of Christ, this one is having the Father and the Son.
(2 John 1:9)
Note that this need to continually obey is stressed in all the writings attributed to John.
Elsewhere John tells us Jesus said:
Amen, Amen, I am saying to you, If ever any should be keeping my saying, he should not ever be seeing death.
If you love me, keep my commandments.
The one having my commandments and keeping them, he it is that is loving me; and, the one loving me shall be being loved by my Father, and I shall be loving him and shall be appearing to him myself.
Jesus answered and said to him, if ever anyone is loving me, he shall be keeping my words; and, my Father will be loving him, and we will be coming to him and making our abode with him. The one not loving me not is not keeping my sayings. And the word which you are hearing is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
Again, take careful note that Jesus repeated stresses "if". The word translated as keep(s) is "tēreō" - here the KJV, DRB, LITV, and YLT all agree. Strong defines it as: to guard - from loss or injury. Thayer defines it as: to attend to carefully, take care of, to guard, metaphorically to keep, one in the state in which he is, to observe. This is not something you do once and move on. It is continual. When Jesus prayed to God He used the same word asking for help for us:
I am not praying that you should take them out of the world, but that you should be keeping them out of the wicked one.
The concepts of continuing and keeping are throughout Jesus' teachings in John and always with love and obedience:
If you should be keeping my commandments, you shall be remaining in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and am remaining in his love.
A believer must continue to keep God's commandments to remain in the vine!
John knew that was what Jesus meant so he too stressed this need to "continue" "keeping" the commandments:
And in this we are knowing that we have known him, if we are keeping his commandments. The one saying I have known him and is not keeping not his commandments, this one is a liar and is not in the truth. Yet whoever may be keeping his word, in this one the love of God has been matured. In this we are knowing we are in him. The one saying he is remaining as he walked ought to be walking the same too.
(1 John 2:3-6)
I this we are knowing that we are loving the children of God, whenever we are loving God, and we are keeping his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we are keeping his commandments: and his commandments are not heavy.
(1 John 5:2-3)
Here is a critical breakdown of John 15:1-6: We, the "saved" believers in Christ, are branches. God cuts out the fruitless branches and tends to the fruit-bearing branches. Every branch that fails to continue to fruitfully follow Christ is cast out. Since one must be a "saved" believer to be a branch, we know from this teaching from Jesus Himself that a "saved" believer can and will be cut out of the vine by God Himself - if the believer is or becomes unfruitful! You must love and obey to be fruitful!
There are two key points we learn from studying what John tells us - both in Jesus' words and his own - love and obedience - which go hand in hand. The requirement to obey the commandments is not about legalism: it is about love; a love leading to obedience, and, that love must be an active continual love. Being a child of God is a choice and it is a lifetime vocation.
Learning how to paint does not make you a painter - unless you put that knowledge to use. You can be a part time painter; but, a painter who quits or retires is no longer a painter. Learning the bible and believing it is true does not make you a child of God - unless you put that knowledge to use. There are no part time children of God. A child of God who quits and no longer loves and obeys is no longer a child of God. There is no retirement in this life for a child of God.
In Brotherly Love,
NOTE1 - Just a few of the often cited verses that relate to "parables", "proverbs", "figures of speech", or "teachings": 1:46, 2:10, 3:8, 3:20, 3:27, 3:29, 3:30, 4:35, 4:37, 4:44, 8:35, 10:1, 11:9, 12:24, 12:35, 14:2, 15:1, 16:20.
PS - Not only John knew we must continue keeping. Peter warned us:
For if fleeing the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again being involved they are diminished and the end is worse to them than the beginning.
(2 Peter 2:20)
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