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Abiding in Christ


The verb μένειν, which in general means to remain or to abide, occurs about 117 times in the New Testament, and 67 of these are found in the Johannine writings. The phrase "abiding in Christ" reflects both the King James and the Douay translations. Contemporary English translations differ, some using "abide," but others favoring "remain" and "dwell." St. John employs the Greek word to express hisconviction that the new life of the last age, which the Christian believer possesses here and now, is in itself and in its fundamental orientation permanent and imperishable. This new life is everlasting, precisely because it joins the Christian in an abiding community of life with Christ and, through Christ, with the Father. Christ abides in His disciples, giving them a share in His own divine and everlasting life, which He holds from the Father (Jn 5.26; 6.5657; 1 Jn 5.1112). St. John uses with predilection the so-called reciprocal immanence formulas (e.g., "Abide in me, and I in you," John 15.4) to express this deep unchangeable community of life with Christ and, through Him, with the Father (Jn 6.5657; 15.410; 1 Jn 3.24; 4.1216). In St. John's view the Christian's union with the Father is an extension of his abiding union with the Son (Jn 14.20; 15.910; 17.21, 23, 26); and the communion among Christians grounded on their communion with the Son and Father, has as its exemplar the union between Father and Son (Jn 17.11, 21, 22). The abiding new life in Christ is conferred by the Sacraments in faith (Jn 3.5; 6.5657), with the uncreated gift of the Spirit vouching for the fact that "we abide in God and He in us" (1 Jn 4.13; see 3.24b). Nevertheless the hostility of the world requires that Christians strive perseveringly to abide in faith, in love, and in the practice of the Commandments; see St. John's urgent imperatives: Jn 8.31; 15.427; 1 Jn 2.6, 24, 27, 28; 3.15, 17; 4.12, 16.

See Also: mystical body of christ; brother in christ; incorporation in christ; rebirth (in the bible); grace, articles on.

[f. x. lawlor/

d. m. doyle]

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