So You May Come (Or Continue?) To Believe (John 20:31) -- By: John H. Niemelä

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 29:56 (Spring 2016)
Article: So You May Come (Or Continue?) To Believe (John 20:31)
Author: John H. Niemelä


So You May Come (Or Continue?) To Believe (John 20:31)

John H. Niemelä

President
Message of Life
Bennett, CO

I. Introduction

John 15:16 should be seen as a multi-generational evangelism-focused Great Commission verse, anticipating the purpose statement. This verse aligns with the evangelistic purpose of the book as a whole (John 20:30-31). Jesus says,

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go forth and bear a great harvest (karpos), and that your harvest (karpos) should abide (menō), so that whatever you ask the Father in My name [especially, enablement for a great harvest], He would give you.”1

Sixteen of the 121 NT uses of menō (abide) appear in John 14-15. The first fifteen clearly refer to a particularly close relationship between (1) members of the Trinity with each other, or (2) a special relationship that is potential for believers—which some believers enjoy with the Lord. From this consistent usage within 38 verses (John 14:10-15:16), Jesus’ reference to the “great harvest” that is to “abide” in 15:16 would most naturally refer to new generations of believers who, in turn, ought to learn to abide. Included here is the idea that believers who are currently abiding in the Lord are to have a role in the harvest of the next generation of believers. Apparently, the early church took this Great Commission to heart and had a series of bumper crops.

The desire to proclaim the good news of eternal life to unbelievers also relates to the purpose of the Gospel of John. This requires identifying the audience of the book correctly.

II. Early Christianity Spread Rapidly (Until Constantine’s AD 313 Edict Of Milan)

Acts reports that the church from the very beginning grew dramatically. In Acts 2:41, 3,000 new believers were added to the church. The Lord added daily to their number. In 4:4, 5,000 more were added. When Paul wrote the book of Romans, in AD 56-57, Rome had at least fifteen congregations.2

Less than a decade later, in AD 64, significan...

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