Jesus The Apostle: “Sending” And The Theology Of John -- By: Calvin Mercer

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 35:4 (Dec 1992)
Article: Jesus The Apostle: “Sending” And The Theology Of John
Author: Calvin Mercer

Jesus The Apostle:
“Sending” And The Theology Of John

Calvin Mercer*

“Sending,” expressed by the verbs apostellein and pempein, is a major motif in the fourth gospel and one that has been seriously neglected and somewhat misunderstood by Johannine scholars. The primary thrust of the motif is that God sends Jesus into the world with a special commission.1 In the present paper I wish to (1) show how “sending” is integrated into the larger theology of John, (2) demonstrate how “sending” solves a theological problem of the gospel, and (3) argue that my analysis supports an incarnational view of John’s message.2

The theme of God’s sending Jesus on a special mission occurs throughout the fourth gospel and in various ways. The affirmation is made in the form of direct statements (John 8:42; 11:42) and indirectly via Jesus’ references to his Father as the one who sent him (5:24, 30). The sending does not stop with Jesus, however. Both the Father and the Son send the Paraclete (14:26; 15:26). Additionally Jesus sends the disciples (13:20a) who, along with the Paraclete, continue the mission just as John the Baptist was sent to inaugurate it (3:28). This threefold sending of the Baptist, Jesus, and the disciples-Paraclete serves to incorporate “sending” into the flow of the gospel and to highlight its importance.

* Calvin Mercer is associate professor of religious studies at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC 27858–4353.

When the act of sending includes a special commission, often the task to be performed is of a religious nature. The Baptist is sent to bear witness to the true light (1:6–7), Jesus is sent to bear witness to the true light (1:6–7), and the disciples and Paraclete are sent to perform tasks that continue the mission of Jesus (17:18; 15:26). These missions are often related to the revelation of the sender (3:34; 8:26) and the red...

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