We read the word “abide” over and over in John’s writings and maybe aren’t quite sure what he is trying to tell us. But that can’t keep us from finding out exactly what was intended when he used that specific word. Okay, how?
What does Abide in Christ mean?
Since the original text was written in Greek, Hebrew, and a bit of Aramaic it had to be translated to our languages for us to understand it but sometimes the meaning of a word isn’t translated well between languages. To truly understand this word and others, sometimes we need to do a word study going back to the original text and looking at all the ways it is used.
In this word study, we will use Scripture only as an example but when I did the original study I also used Bible and English dictionaries as well as looked up the original Greek word.
For this study, first I looked up the Greek word for “abide” and saw that it is a verb that has the meaning of to stay, abide, remain, to be true to, to persevere, to remain beside or near and had been translated as “abide, abides, abiding, await, continue, endures, lasting, living, remain, remained, remaining, remains, stand, stay, stayed, staying, and waiting.” So, with this one word translated so many different ways I knew I would have to go to Scripture and look at each of them in context.
I listed out every instance the word was used. Then I looked for patterns to get a good definition in my own mind. I found that John used the word in differing ways in each of his writings. Here are the results of my study:
"Abide" in John - The call to stay in love
Used as a Command
Used as a Warning
Used as a Promise
"Abide" in 1 John - What love looks like lived out
"Abide" in 2 John – Remain faithful in love
Conclusions on the word abide”
John uses the word 43 times throughout the books of John, 1 John, and 2 John. It is used as a command, a warning, an invitation to a deeper love relationship, as an assurance, and as an exhortation to godly living.
The word abide carries the idea of continuing, enduring, awaiting, dwelling, and withstanding firm and immovable without yielding.
Abide in Christ - the source of love and life
In the word abide I see the same call to live with and for God that I have seen throughout the Bible. A loving and awesome God calls His people to a relationship with Him. If they will stay in that relationship He promises they will experience His faithful love, have an intimate relationship with Him, and gain rewards both now and eternal.
Abide in Christ is both a call and a command. In order to stay in a relationship with God, one must strive to live as Christ lived. This includes obeying His commands, loving one another, remaining faithful to the truth of the gospel, and refraining from any evil.
We are to stay in Christ, not yielding to the world around us. In being firm and immovable in our walk with God, we will experience the love of God lived out through our lives. Our hearts become His dwelling place and His ours.
To “abide” is to live from and stay in the very source of life and love –