For a long time, I associated “eternal life” with life after death. I thought it only meant “life that never ends.” Take one of the most famous verses in the Bible, John 3:16. I used to think this verse meant that God loved us so much that God sent us Jesus – and that everyone who believes in Jesus will live forever in heaven with God after they die. The verse absolutely means that. But it means so much more.
In the Gospel of John, we find a concern for eternal life that is just as much qualitative as quantitative. In other words, it’s not just about life that is eternally long, but also, especially, about life that is eternally deep and endless in value and meaning.
Scholars have long noted that of the four Gospels, John’s is the least interested in the future. In John’s gospel, the word “life” is typically used to refer to the quality of one’s existence here and now.
This message is excerpted from the Bible study “The kingdom of God: Here and now,” by Mark Allan Powell in the March/April 2022 Gather magazine. Today we commemorate Thomas Cranmer, Bishop of Canterbury, martyr, 1556.
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