Monday, August 4, 2008

John 3...Carl's Blogged Bible Study

John 3:3 is full of phrases and ideas that hold a special place in the heart of the Christian. The oft quoted 3:16 solidifies the purpose of Christ in the Christological puzzle. The 3rd chapter of John is the final transition from John the Baptizer to the Jesus the Messiah as the camel clad prophet concedes authority (again) to Jesus.

Before I touch on what struck me in this chapter, I must point out that again, at the outset of his ministry, Jesus is shown interacting philosophically with Jews. First, Nicodemus, the Pharisee, and then a "Jew" in the second half of the chapter. Without going down a rabbit trail, notice the conversation with Nicodemus...hardly Jesus or Nicodemus seem hostile in speech. In fact, they get along very well. I say that because it will be a nice segue for an upcoming post here on my friend Ivan that just may argue that Jesus and his followers were practically Pharisees, contrary to popular Christian renderings of the New Testament.

So here's what I found very interesting in this chapter; and I do hope this sparks some conversation: John's use of pneuma (or nooma, if you are down with Rob Bell) which means Spirit.

The concept of the "Spirit" as the third person is largely ignored by the folks in the pews. Think about it. It is common to hear someone address Jesus, or God the Father in prayer, but how often does someone say, "Dear Holy Spirit, thank you for this food we are about to eat?" Of course the Spirit is sooooooooo misunderstood, possibly because it was an evolving concept from Genesis to John.

All I want to clear up now is the use of Spirit in John 3:34: "For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure."

Certainly a tricky verse. Who is giving the Spirit? The One (Jesus) whom God sent or God himself? This has been the subject of many debates. Since the "he" of the second part of the verse is wrapped up in the tense of the verb for "give," we can't know from the verse alone. Elsewhere in John the gifts given to the Son by the father (17 instances) utilize the Perfect or Aorist tense. the abnormal use of the present tense for "give," coupled with the fact that Jesus is the subject of the first clause indicates the the Spirit proceeds from the Son like Jesus proceeds from the Father. The Father sent the Son, the Son gives the Spirit.

The spiritual circle in which I run (ran?) primarily associate speaking tongues with the Holy Spirit. This verse is oft quoted to suggest that Jesus here is foreshadowing the coming of glossalalia with this verse. However, this is interpretation allows presupposition to cloud exegesis. The whole Christological scope of this chapter is to set in stone the salvific and historic role of Christ.

Clearly 3:4 states that one cannot see the Kingdom of God unless they are "born again," or "born of te Spirit?" Certainly speaking tongues cannot be a prerequisite to salvation. The fact that just a few verses later 3:36 belief in Jesus is necessary for Salvation, the preceding passage cannot be alluding tongues.

I see the primary role of the Spirit, as a member of the Godhead, as a divine indwelleing following a decision to belief. What is your take on the Holy Spirit?


Anonymous said...

The Spirit is how I know God is there. It is how I know that when I pray, God is right there with me listening to every word.

Who is giving the Spirit... I would say all three of them, since they are one in the same. Each one gives of the Spirit in different ways.

God - Fills you with his Spirit
Christ - Justifies you through His Spirit
The Holy Spirit - Prods your conscience and guides your thoughts.

I will come back in the morning with more.

Ric Booth said...

My take on the Holy Spirit??? Maybe later... prob not tho.

But I just wanted to say I learn so much by reading your John posts.

nate said...

@Carl..."The HS Prods Your Conscience..." Yes, I totally agree. I do feel that Jesus is the primary giver of the Spirit, though, but I see your thinking here...that since they are all one, they are all involved in the process.

@Ric, thanks for the compliment. I actually struggle with understanding the Spirit...actually all of Christianity...Kind of like Paul...I see through a glass darkly. At least we can see through it enough! Thanks again!

Michelle said...

I'm at a loss as to how anyone could get a "speaking in tongues" thought from this passage. I'm with you, it definitely places a later understanding upon the text.

You know, I've never found in scripture a mandate to pray to the Spirit, or to even talk to the Spirit. Where do you think this thought comes from?

John 16 gives some amazing thoughts on the Spirit's role and how He guides us. Very cool.

Thanks for geting me thinking, Nate.

Anonymous said...

yoo... bookmarked post :)

Anonymous said...

и всё эе: спасибо. а82ч