“As You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Verse two is a purpose construction. The Father has given Jesus authority over all flesh, for the purpose that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.
Well, at least we’re the purpose of something. Praise God for that. Eternal life is a pretty nice gift, no?
But then verse three makes a surprising point. We think of eternal life as going to heaven and living there eternally. Okay, but that’s not what that verse says. It says that eternal life is that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
This corrects a serious, though understandable, mistake. We think of eternal life as life everlasting. After all, that’s what eternal means in English. That’s what the Greek word (“aionios” αιωνιος) means too.
Eternal life does last eternally, but it’s not just longer life; it’s a different kind of life.
And knowing God is the difference.
Christians often think of getting into heaven as our ultimate goal. Verse three says that knowing God is our ultimate goal. Actually, verse three is yet another purpose construction in the Greek, but it’s more of an appositional use. The subjunctive use of the word “know” is for clarification.
But the application to our lives is pretty much the same as a regular purpose clause. Our goal in life is to know God more. This dovetails nicely with Matthew 7:21–23.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
I like to call Matthew 7:22 the scariest verse in the Bible because the works the “damned surprised” mention seem pretty impressive. If they’re not saved, who is?
Humble people who weren’t busy showing off, that’s who. The truly saved would be focused on their relationship with their Lord. They would think of their prayer life and how they fervently sought the Lord’s guidance in their affairs. They would also be painfully aware of their failures.
The damned surprised mention none of this.
Knowing God is everything.
These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.