Thomas D. Stegman SJ

In this fourth of a five-part series on what the New Testament teaches about faith, Thomas D. Stegman, SJ – associate professor of New Testament at Boston College School of Theology and ministry – sets forth John’s distinctive understanding.

Near the beginning of John’s gospel, two disciples of John the Baptist ask Jesus what, at first glance, appears to be a peculiar question, typically translated, ‘Where are you staying?’ (1.38). John’s disciples are intrigued by Jesus because the Baptist has just pointed to him as ‘the Lamb of God.’ One might expect their question to Jesus to be ‘What do you do?’ or ‘What is your message?’ or ‘How are you God’s Lamb?’ But staying – why is that an important datum? Yet, as the gospel unfolds, the appropriateness of their question becomes clear. The verb meno- appears no less than forty times in John’s gospel, and is best rendered as ‘remain,’ ‘abide,’ and ‘dwell.’ In fact, the Baptist had previously received a revelation concerning Jesus: he is the one on whom the Spirit has descended and ‘remained’ (1.32–33). Moreover, Jesus will later insist that the Father ‘dwells’ in him (14.10) and that he ‘abides’ in the Father’s love (15.10).

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