John's Gospel

The Way It Happened

John 17:3, What is eternal life?

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

//The Greek word aionios appears seventeen times in John’s Gospel, always translated in the King James Version to either “eternal” or “everlasting.” It’s a key theme to the Gospel. But what does it really mean?

What it doesn’t mean is life in heaven. It’s unfortunate that the word John uses over and over has been translated as it has, because the words “eternal” and “everlasting” don’t manage to convey the bliss intended. In actuality, the word speaks not of the quantity of life, but the quality. It means, specifically, “the life in the age to come.” Bible scholars typically retranslate “eternal life” as “life in abundance” or “fullness of life.”

This does not mean John denies an afterlife up in heaven, it just means his focus is elsewhere. John never mentions living up in heaven. His concern is that, by knowing God, we will share a richer life on earth.

With that in mind … we’ve just completed the editing stage on my book about John’s Gospel, and we’ll soon be looking for media willing to review! Anybody interested?

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