Abide

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.                                                                           John 15:5 ESV

Words are very interesting things. Each one has a meaning, and you can look up that meaning in any standard dictionary. At the same time, you can only be sure what the actual meaning of a word is by looking at the context in which the word is being used. The Greek word meno is like that, It has the basic idea of “to remain,” but in some settings it seems to mean something more like “to remain part of.”

In the New Living Translation committee, we debated how to translate meno in this part of John. Dr. Ken Taylor, father of the Living Bible, which was the base from which we were working, was very concerned for “the average reader.” Would they have any idea what the now-archaic “abides” means? He argued no. Better he said, that they get some meaning rather than none. So we chose to translate the Greek word with “stays.” as the NIV also has,

“Stays” is certainly not an incorrect rendering for meno. Yet it seems to me that Jesus is calling for something more than merely remaining in him. He is talking about the nature of salvation. Salvation is more than just a change of status. Oh yes, it is that, praise God! But it is so much more than that. It is to be living in Jesus and having Jesus living in you. It is to be an inseparable part of him as the lovely images of this verse spell out. So what English word conveys that? As far as I know only old-fashioned “abides” does it with its connotations of settling in, settling down, clinging to, connotations that “stays” does not have. If there were a better contemporary word to convey those ideas, I’d be happy to use it. I just don’t know one.

All that to say, yes, I do want to retain my faith in Jesus, to stay in him, no matter what life may throw at me. But, oh so much more, I want to draw my very life from him, having him enlivening me at every turn. Do you see it? Is that what you want? Oh, let’s abide in him.

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