Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Repentance and the Fourth Gospel: Part 6

Passages Referring to Hearing, Keeping, Perseverance, and Love

Some passages in the FG discuss the relationship between hearing and believing (5:24),[1] keeping Jesus’ word and never seeing death (8:51), the concept of continuing to follow (8:31), and love and obedience (14:15, 21, 23–24). While these passages contain some hope for containing the concept of repentance, the last one (John 14) may be the closest. In 14:15, Jesus says that you show your love for him by obeying his commands. Therefore, obedience, which is (somehow) related to repentance, is a proof of genuine love. After 14:15 is restated in the first part of 14:21, Jesus continues and stresses the relationship between obedience and love. This is again reiterated in 14:23–24. This theme re-emerges in the account of Peter’s restoration (21:15–17, 19b). These verses strengthen the argument that love is tied to action, but they still fall short of containing the concept of repentance.[2]

[1] Carson, John, 256, says that “Hearing in this context, as often elsewhere, includes belief and obedience.” Keener, John, 1:653, translates the word as “heed.” When “obey” is used, repentance is not necessarily in mind (cf. 8:55 “keep,” “obey”). But when a change is called for, and the result is obedience, then repentance is in mind. Bing, “John’s Gospel,” 4, says hearing means more than physical hearing, but means listening, as in “I hear you.” He never wrestles with whether or not the connotation of obedience is present.

[2] Bultmann is convinced that this passage does not portray him repenting: “Surely the denial and the repentance of Peter ought to have found mention! And nothing like an absolution is expressed in the statement of Jesus” (Bultmann, John, 712). Instead, he views this as Peter’s commission for the leadership of his current congregation. In 21:19, when Jesus calls Peter to follow him, it is a call to tell people to follow me (ibid., 712–13).

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