It is my increasing joy to plunge deeper into our 2023 theme of Life (Zoe). It seems to continue unfolding like the Spring flowers we are beginning to see. “Eternal life” is used in different forms some forty-five times in the New Testament. It is a central theme in the teaching of Jesus and the apostles. Most of us have come from the tradition that views eternal life as a future event in heaven with Jesus. And as valuable as that will be when we leave this body, we urgently need the Life of Christ now. We need His life in us on this earth, for our present journey. My understanding of how much the indwelling “eternal” is central to our present journey is being expanded! If possible, I would like to help expand yours.
If we peek at the intent of the word eternal, as it was understood in the minds of Jesus and the New Testament writers, we will discover that it did not so much express a linear time without end. They understood eternal life to be a special quality of life of which God is the only source.
I was doing research in an older book (1904), St. Paul’s Conception of Last Things, by H.A. Kennedy. In the process, and I happened upon his explanation of Zoe. Kennedy wrote: “The conception of Zoe, in its full meaning – is the supra-earthly Divine Life – as the central thing for Jesus, which He always kept in view.” His definition leaped off the page. “Supra” means above, beyond, or earlier. Yes! He was describing Life in its “eternal” quality.
Eternal life is Christ’s life. He promised, “I am the Life . . .” He has imparted His life to us for making a journey similar to His. It is a Life which is above, beyond, and earlier than any life we can know or experience in our natural existance. It is the very life of God at work in us.
Christ’s love for the Father enabled Him to please His Father and embrace all that life demanded of Him. His life was supra-earthly, lived according to the power of an indestructible life (Hebrews 7:16). Christ’s victorious life is made available to us by His death and resurrection. It is an “indestructible” life that refuses to become a victim, give up, or shrink back from conflict. His life was triumphant because its primary motivation was to love and please His Father.
We, too, are making a journey intent on pleasing our heavenly Father. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit He has promised His personal presence to us. The supra-earthly Divine Life is empowering us in the fulfillment of God’s purpose in this life!
Many of you may be walking through enormous pressure, impossible situations, painful losses, or chronic sickness. Please lay hold of this statement with utmost faith and endurance: Despite whatever you may be experiencing, there is an indestructible Life working in you and for you that will ultimately prevail in spite of weakness and failure.