Lectionary Year B
June 1, 2003
John 17:6-19

Step IV: Cross-Section

A. Primitive Christianity

(JFC) The image of the world (ko,smoj) represents an expansive picture of all that lives and moves and has its being, for example, it portrays what God made (John 1:10) and loves so much as to give His only begotten Son, John 3:16, of course, and I John 4:9, as well. Jesus is the world's Savior (John 4:42 and I Timothy 1:15). His followers are its light (John 8:12 and Philippians 2:15) yet it is where there is tribulation (John 16:33). This word, here, does seem to point to the undesirable and/or material parts of life that pass away (I John 2:17) nevertheless, the kingdoms of it are becoming the Kingdom of our Lord (Revelation 11:15). It needs to be kept in proper perspective; its wisdom is but folly to God (I Corinthians 3:19), for it can stain the righteous (James 1:27). This figure of the world, inhabited by the disassociated from God, can be the opposite side of heaven as paradise for the saved. "The son of destruction" and "the evil" are alluded to in Mark 14:21, Ephesians 6:10ff, I Thessalonians 2:3 and I Peter 5:8f. Most commentators consulted see this figure referring to Judas, who is called the devil in John 6:7 and of whose heart Satan is said to have entered and made him betray Jesus (13:2, 27 and 30). See Acts 1:15-21, quoting Psalm 69:25, etc. Yet, in verse 15, "the evil" must refer to more particular if indeed personal evil, see I John 2:13f, 3:12 and 18f. God's word (o` lo,goj) which is here (verse 17) declared to be truth (avlh,qeia,) is also emphasized in Ephesians 1:13 where it is called "the gospel of your salvation . . ." It will never pass away (Luke 12:33), it was in the beginning (John 1:1) with the Triune God even at creation, it became Incarnate (John 1:14), and through the Book of Acts it grew and increased in the early church (Acts 6:7 and 12:24). The divine Word dwells in believers (Colossians 3:16), cannot be chained up (II Timothy 2:9), is living and active (Hebrews 4:11) and actually created the world, too (Hebrews 11:3). Jesus Himself is referred to as God's Word and/or God's Idea, when other translations of the Greek are used. These figures continue to serve the early church.

B. Old Testament and Judaism

(JFC) In the Old Testament, the world is mostly seen as the whole locale, the place where people and plants and other animals live. It is the earth God created with divine power, wisdom and understanding (Jeremiah 10:12). It is the people as a whole whom God judges with righteousness and equity (Psalm 9:8), for God owns it/them (Psalm 24:1). Still, in John 17, the world is hostile, unpleasant, destructive. It depicts people estranged from God. The figure of Satan, an adversary or accuser, appears in the Old Testament where he "stood up against Israel" in I Chronicles 21:1, see II Samuel 24. And, then, too, God has a conversation with Satan in the story of Job in 1:7-12. God's Word predominates much of the Old Testament world. It is a lamp unto feet and lights for paths, Psalm 119:105, of course. "God's Word is truth" according to Psalm 119:142 in the Septuagint and Proverbs 30:5 declares that "Every Word of God proves true." From the earliest centuries' CE Apocalypse of Elijah, we read of a "son of perdition" appearing, announcing the advent of the Antichrist. This idea haw a long life.

C. Hellenistic World

(JFC) The distinctions between being in and/or of this world and not being so could provoke much dialogue for these thinkers. Their aversion to the material, concrete, physical being overly valued could stimulate equally significant discussions. They have been known to talk about the meanings of truth ad infinitum, too. In the Hellenistic Commentary on the NT, we read that, "by Maccabean times it was common to blame Satan for instigating human evil (cf. 2 Sam 24:1 and 1 Chr 21:1). As in the Johannine story (13:27), Satanic inspiration does not remove human responsibility." They would still expect humans to take responsibilities seriously, surely.

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