Happy Canada Day! Full Power in the Gospel of John
"In the past the temple was the place of God's presence and atonement. Now God dwells and accomplishes atonement in Jesus Christ alone.. The hatred of the world measured by the full power of love can only be called powerlessness since the ruler of this world is already judged and has no real power over the Son of God..Full power in truth is a gift of love and cannot befit the devil and his world." Transl from German
Full Power in the Gospel of John
By Rainer Metzner, Berlin
[This article is translated from the German in: Novum Testamentum XLV, 1, 2003.]
[Summary: The Johannine full power theme is one of the salvation themes of the 4th gospel that is important for the Johannine "perspective". The 4th evangelist borrowed from the synoptic tradition and deepened this tradition in a "Johannine" way. He understood full power as an authority structure in the community of Father, Son and believers. All full power is established in God. In the highest authority, the Son receives the doxa of the Father, his love, knowledge and life-giving power and allows believers to share in this abundance. The 4th evangelist emphasizes that full power is a posit6ive gift of divine love withheld from an unbelieving world and its "ruler".]
1. The full power of the Father and the Son
The theological significance of the full power theme in the Gospel of John has not been thoroughly analyzed unlike the corresponding problem in the Gospel of Mark. The theme is important for understanding John's "point of view" because it involves the question of the divine legitimation of the envoy and participation in the divine salvation that permeate the 4th gospel...
The Logien 13,30 transfers structural elements of Johannine Christology to ecclesiology. As the Father sends and authorizes the Son and the envoy completely represents the sending one, the Son sends and authorizes his own to facilitate integration in the community with Jesus and the Father. The authority structure has its beginning in God and continues through the Son to believers.
The theological substantiation of full power helps explain the Father-Son relationship. Jesus has full power in 10,17-18. As a rule, Jesus doesn't understand his works "from himself" since he cannot act, speak or judge from his own initiative (5,19.30; 7,17.18.28; 8,28.42; 14,10; cf. also 15,4; 16,13). This is confirmed by the evangelist in 10,17-18 regarding Jesus' death, ascension and resurrection. Jesus' full power is underlined. V18c insists that Jesus' full power is established in God's will. Jesus' full power is interpreted as a command that Jesus received from God. Thus Jesus' full power is not self-sufficient and separated from God. Rather the Son does what the Father commands him (14,31; cf. 15,10) and says in 12,49: "I do not speak of myself. Rather the Father who sent me commanded what I should say."
Jesus emphasizes his right to sovereign decisions about the devotion of his life grounded in God's commission. This full power over the cross and resurrection was emphasized exclusively against those who wanted to take Jesus' life (cf. 10,31-39). Jesus preserves his freedom against them but doesn't presume any independent power toward the Father. Jesus' self-sacrifice and new life happen according to the will of the Father. Jesus exercised his full power. Therefore it is said the Son can do nothing of himself but does what his Father does (5,19). He acts according to the will of the Father to perfect his work of salvation (4,34; 5,36; 17,4; cf. 5,30; 6,38.39.40; 9,4.31; 10,25.32.37-38; 14,10-11).
2. Jesus' full power includes the cross
Jesus' full power includes the cross, cf. 10,17-18. This leads to the question how Jesus' full power is consistent with Pilate's authority over Jesus (19,10.11). Is the full power of Pilate "against" Jesus (19,11) opposed to God's will of salvation? The following points shed light on 19,10-11.
In 19,9-12 the evangelist reports the second conversation between Pilate and Jesus within the Praetorium [cf. T. Soding, "Die Macht der Wahrheit und das Reich der Freiheit. On the Johannine Interpretation of Pilate's Trial, John 18,28-19,16", ZThK 93 (1996) 35-58}. When Pilate refers to his power over life and death, over releasing or crucifying the prisoner (v.10), Jesus reacts with an answer that enigmatically intimates his fate: "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he was delivered me to you has the greater sin." The first part of Jesus' answer contains a Johannine term for divine authorization. The Baptist says: "No one can receive authority except what is given him from heaven." In 6,63 Jesus says: "No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." 19,11 involves a full power that analogously serves God's plan of salvation. The exousia "against" Jesus (v.11) that will lead him to crucifixion (v.10) is emphasized concretely, not a general power of the governor established by God (cf. Rom 13,1). The reader knows how the trial against Jesus will develop. He knows that Pilate doesn't act autonomously but only as God's representative because he receives his authority "from above" (cf. 3,18.104.22.168). Thus the true background of the event is opened up to the reader. While Pilate decides according to political calculation (cf. 19,12-16a), God's will is at work in the background. "The power to release and crucify Jesus and pronounce sentence over him at the end of the trial is not in the nature of the exousia coming to Pilate as the Roman procurator but is only a certain function and task given to him "from above".
This background shows the full power of Pilate in a peculiar interplay with Jesus' full power mentioned in 10,17-18. The official authority against Jesus claimed by Pilate only stands over Jesus' full power according to political discretion. Since this full power is a hidden controlling authority bestowed by God and Jesus acts in unity with the Father, this full power becomes the sign of the sovereignty and voluntariness of Jesus' way of suffering. Pilate only executes what was already resolved in Jesus' will. Jesus' devotion and resurrection are characteristics of Jesus' sovereign conduct. John already emphasized this in 2,19 when he described Jesus' resurrection as his own work.
The exousia of Pilate cited in 19,10-11 is an expression of the voluntary, sovereign and full power acceptance of the way of suffering by Jesus as understood according to 10,17-18. This concept of Jesus' sovereignty defines the Johannine passion account in the narrow sense and is championed from the beginning of the gospel (cf. 2,19b; 10,17-18; 11,7; 12,27-28; 13,1.3.26-27; 18,1-11.33-38; 19,11.17.26-27.28.30). Jesus' ascension corresponds to the will of the Father (cf. 3,14; 11,51; 12,27-28; 14,31; 18,11; 19,24.28.36-37). The Son perfects his work (4,34; 5,36; 17,4; 19,28-30). Therefore the exousia of Pilate bestowed by God was hiddenly or enigmatically the sovereign exousia of the Son himself. Only superficially does Pilate have controlling authority over Jesus' life and death. In truth the free and sovereign full power of the Son to follow the will of the Father and complete his work is crucial. The one who pronounced judgment over others was in reality judging himself in a way hidden from the world. The Christus traditus is the Christus se ipsum tradens.
3. Jesus and "the ruler of this world"
While Pilate operated as God's representative and - without knowing - served God's will of salvation, "the ruler of this world" (12,31; 14,30; 16,1) had no controlling power over Jesus. Unlike Lk 4,6; 22,53 the 4th evangelist consciously doesn't speak of an exousia of the devil. For him, the devil has clearly lost his power (cf. 12,31; 14,30; 16,11). His power was broken at t6he moment of his triumph (cf. 13,2.27). "The devil's apparent triumph, Jesus' death at the stake of shame, represents in reality Jesus' victory and the devil's dethronement in reality" (M. Hengel). The devil was only effective in the hour of the cross by losing his power. Correspondingly John unlike the synoptics didn't report Jesus' temptation at the beginning of his public appearance. The 4th evangelist consciously set different accents. Jesus' obedience wasn't really tested because the Son from the beginning acted in perfect unity with the Father. Therefore the exousia over "all the kingdoms of the world" that the devil offered him according to the synoptic tradition (Lk 4,5-6 par) wasn't a challenge that Jesus faced in the 4th gospel. The devil had no power over Jesus (14,30) because the father had "given all things into the hands of he Son" (13,3) including "the ruler of this world". John consciously starts from the powerlessness of the devil to enhance Jesus' full power.
Jesus' full power is sovereign and unbroken in the introductory commentary on the foot-washing (13,1-3). In 13,3 John declares the coming event is in the control of the Son. Jesus:knew that the Father gave him all things and that he came from God and went to God". In contrast v.2 explains that the devil directed Judas to hand over Jesus. A contrast appears. While Judas is a marionette and instrument of the devil because he was led by a foreign power (cf. 13,27), Jesus acts in free and sovereign full power bestowed on him by the Father. The devil and Judas could not exercise independent power over Jesus. Rather the Father and Son consciously granted this power. Only superficially can the devil realize Jesus' death by using the traitor.
The evangelist operated skillfully with the pairs of antagonists: Devil-Judas and the Father-Son. The metaphor or imagery of heart and hand makes clear the distinction between unfreedom and freedom. "Putting in his heart" paraphrases the diabolic embrace of the heart from which Judas could not free himself,. The devil took possession of him. Therefore the evangelist says a little later: "Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. The seizure of the traitor is so strong that Judas becomes a diabolis (6,70) and is left to ruin or corruption (17,12). "Surrender into the hands" is a formal expression for the transfer of power and authority and aims at the free controlling authority that the mandatory (God) grants to his counselor (Jesus). The counselor is the entrusted who in God's hand acts in his own freedom. He is supported by God's love while the ruler and his world can only exercise the negative power of hatred.
4. The full power of the divine gift
Up to now Jesus clearly fulfilled a mission in free and sovereign authority without earthly or anti-divine powers determining, guiding or impairing this full power. That the Son received his full power as the direct gift of God in whose power he could participate unrestrictedly is presupposed. Therefore full power can be described as God's gift.
John shows that exousia is experienced as a mediated and participial authority. No holder of full power has the exousia for himself. Rather the exousia is "given" to him. Thus the Baptist remarked with view to Jesus: "No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven" (3,27). Didumai in the Gospel of John is a term with an explicit theological quality. Giving is a part of divine action that extends from God (42 times) and Christ (receiver 28 times; giver 26 times) to humankind.
4.1 The absolute full power of the Son of God (John 3,35; 13,3)
Full power is understood in its totality. Only with view to the Son can John say that the Father has given all things (panta) into his hand (3,35; 13,3), namely the all embracing power in heaven and earth (cf. Mt 11,27; 28,18; Rev 12,10). The Son receives what always befits God, namely his divine authority and power. As a result, the evangelist can award the theos-quality to the Christ-logos (1,1.18 cf. 20,28; 1 John 5,20) to attest his unity with God without ide4ntifying him with the Most High God or setting a second god next to him (cf. Philo) that would put in question God's uniqueness (cf. Schnelle, who speaks of an "exclusive monotheism in binitary form").
The Son is theos from eternity as the permanent bearer of the spirit (1,32-34). The divine gift of the spirit is his own so he can claim God's authority unrestrictedly. "I and the Father are one" (10,30) doesn't mean that the Son takes the place of the Most High God. As the Son, he remains different from the Father. The reproach that Jesus makes himself equal to God and thus arrogates divine power and authority in high-handed self-promotion can only be a misunderstanding from the view of the evangelist. The full power of the Son is not based on high-handedness or unauthorized acts. Rather the Father in a free resolution imparts himself to his Son so he is completely revealed in him (cf. 12,44-45). The Father "seals" the Son, legally authorizing, certifying and confirming him as the highest authority o theos (6,27). Therefore the Father commanded what he had to say (12,49) so that the Son cooperates with the Father (5,17.19), agrees with him (cf. 5,30; 8,16.18) in his commission (5,43; 10,25; 12,13), acts according to his will and instruction (6,38; 8,26.28; 10,18) and does his works (4,34; 5,36; 9,4; 10,25.32.37-38; 14,10-11). A complete unity of revelation and work exists for the Father and the Son.
This unity is clear in 10,34-36 with the help of Ps 81,6. If God judged Israel's unjust judges who charged with acting in his name didn't judge according to God's way and therefore fell under God's judgment and were called "gods" [In the OT, holders of offices delegated by God are occasionally called "gods" in a figurative or derived sense (cf. Ex 4,16; 7,1; Ps 8,6-9; 45,7; Zech 12,8)], how much more can Jesus raise the claim of being "God" (1,1.18; 20,28) in the sense of the unique Son of God since he was sanctified and sent into the world by God (10,36). The conclusion a minori ad maius makes clear: Jesus' full power as God's son surpasses the full power of all past actors commissioned by God.
4.2 The salvific full power of the Son of God (John 5,20-22.27; 6,37-39; 10,28-29; 17,1-8.9.24)
John defines God's absolute gift (panta) soteriologically. The full power of the Son helps in the mediation of life and salvation. The following evidence should be considered:
John 5,20-22.27. The thought structure of 5,20-22 underscores the close connection of full power and mediation of life. The Father loves the Son and "shows" him everything (panta) that he does (5,20a). The "showing" here is more than a referring. The "showing" includes transfer of full power and "instruction and assignment of the Father's work in the Son... V.20b refers to greater works that the Father will "show" (or "give") to the Son. The greater works are made clear in v.21: the Son shares in God's life-giving full power. [The "greater works" refer to the following miracles that "astonished" those present (cf 7,21; 9,16.29-30; 11,47) and the awakening of the dead and judging. Like the Father, he raises the dead to life. V.22 establishes this full power in that the Father has given the whole judgment to the Son. Thus the Son's full power of judgment refers to the mediation of life since God's will of salvation has a priority in the Johannine kerygma before his judging (cf. 3,16-17; 12,47). When v.21 declares the Son makes alive "whom he will", this means full power and authority, not arbitrariness. The Son in his freedom of action is not subject to any conditions and restrictions. He has the power to give life to anyone.
The term exousia encounters us in 5,27. God gave his Son (cf. 5,26) a full power that he exercises as Son of man. The context makes clear that this is a full power over life and death, salvation and judgment (5,24-35.28-29). God's will of salvation determines the direction of full power. God and his Son are focused on communicating life (5,24-25). Previously the evangelist remarked that life is God's gift to the Son. As the Father has life "in himself",. He gives the Son a share in this gift of life. Eternal life befits the Father and the Son. The unity between the Father and the Son is established in an essential way. The Son participates in the divine nature that by definition is life.
John 6,37-39; 10,28-29. In these passages, the full power of God's Son is expressed as protection and help for believers entrusted to the Son by the Father. In 6,37 the evangelist formulates: "All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out." The gift of the Father is the responsibility of the Son
Aiming at deliverance. 6,39 continues similarly with view to God's will of salvation: "This is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have 3eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." (cf. 18,9)..
This emphasis in John 6 on God's gift and the Son losing no one entrusted to him presupposed the picture of the flock of faith in John 10. There the promise was valid for the sheep following the shepherd Jesus: "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of the Father's hand" (10,28-29). The picture of the "creation from his (God's) hand" is taken up here. John expands the Old Testament picture of God the shepherd to the shepherd Jesus and suggests a transfer of authority: The Father gives the sheep to the shepherd. The shepherd is obligated to the sheep with this full power. He gives them the eternal life that is the salvation gift of the Son (cf. 4,10.14; 5,26.33; 6,27.33.51; 17,2 alongside 10,28). The full power idea is intensified by the picture of the hand mentioned in 3,35 and 13,3. Jesus acts in full power unity with the Father. God's protecting hand operates through Jesus' protecting hand.
Because believers of the Father and the Son are property (cf. 17,6.9), no one can be stripped (="robbed", cf. 10,12) of the gift of eternal life established by the Father and the Son. When the hand of the Father is effective through the hand of the Son, the Son can be understood as God's helper. He acts in perfect unity of action with the Father (cf. 10,38). As a result, he can evade the hand of his enemy (10,39).
John 17,1-8.9.24. The high priestly prayer implies Jesus' full power of salvation in great theological concentration. At the beginning we read: "Father, the hour has come, glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee since thou hast given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom thou hast given him" (17,1-2). The double relation of the gift identified in 10,28-29 is encountered again here. The Father gives full power over all flesh to the Son and the Son gives eternal life to those whom the Father entrusts to him. 17,2 confirms that the theological term didamis can be understood as an explication of the exousia term.
God's absolute gift proclaimed in 3,35 and 13,3 is closely connected with the soteriological full power declaration in 17,6-8: "I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou gave me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gave them to me, and they have kept my word. Now they know that everything that thou hast given me is from thee; for I have given them the words which thou gave me; and they have received them and know in truth that I came from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me." John makes clear here that God entrusts believers to the Son as his property (cf. 17,9) so that the Son imparts to them the divine revelation knowledge. They receive insight in the divine authorization of the Son. "Now they know that everything that thou hast given me is from thee." The full power of God's Son is effective as saving revelation knowledge for believers.
Since believers are entrusted to Jesus, he also pleads in the intercessory prayer "for those whom thou hast given me" (17,9). This is taken up and developed in the final eschatological petition 17,24 that looks to the perfection of believers in the future community with Jesus in the world to come. "Father, I desire that they also whom thou hast given me may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world." Full power is defined here doxologically. Full power is the gift of God's doxa communicated to the Son in which the entrusted believers should share in the coming perfection. Then they will gain insight in God's glory in the community with the Father and the Son (cf. 14,2-3) that God imparted from eternity in love (cf. 17,26) to his Son (cf. 12,41; 17,5).
4.3 The believers' gift of full power (1,12)
The declarations about Jesus' full power proclaim that the Son shares in God's full power to intercede for the salvation of his own. The second complex of didamis-statements refers to the believers. The Son "gives" them full power to become God's children (1,12; cf. 11,52) as the Father enables them to come to the Son (6,65). Thus they gain the distinction of being God's children through faith in the Son who gives them eternal life (5,24.26; 6,27; 17,2-3). The full power of God's children named in 1,12 is established in Jesus' full power of salvation as the giver of life. This full power is mediated, derived and bestowed by the Revealer and Donor of life through which believers share in the divine life and are prepared for mission service (15,16; 17,18). This service transposes them in the position of continuing Jesus' revelation work of salvation and judgment after Easter (5,24-29). They refer to the sovereign without whom they can do nothing (15,5) as the Son can do nothing without the Father (5,19). The personal bond to Christ, "abiding" in him, is decisive (15,1-7).
While the spiritual full power over salvation and judgment is transferred to believers in continuation of Jesus' work of revelation, "everything" cannot be given to them in contrast to the Son. They are born again in the spirit "from above" (3,3.5) and are made God's property (17,6.9). However unlike the Father and the Son, they cannot claim theos-authority. They remain God's children. God's deity and the full power over life and death only befit the Father and the Son. Believers exercise a limited full power by referring to their benefactor.
4.4 Pilate's gift of full power
Finally Pilate was also given a full power by God (19,11). Pilate acts as God's representative. However this full power is only a temporally limited full power and is not recognized by Pilate as an authority bestowed by God. This authority remains hidden to him in its divine functionality. While the exousia of the Son as theos and of believers as tekua theo lasts because it rests on the ardent relation of agape, Pilate is only God's representative in the time of interrogation and condemnation against Jesus but is ineffective as an ignorant one. The hatred of the world that turns against the Revealer and his own (15,18-16,4a allows no lasting divine full power for the world. Pilate like "the ruler of this world" is without real power over Jesus in the hour of the glorification of the Son of God since God alone has the privilege of bringing his Son to glorification (17,1).
5. Jesus' full power to forgive sins
The christological gifts are very clear in the complex of gift declarations. Jesus' full power can be described more exactly.
John assumes that Jesus' full power gift imparted by God is goal-oriented. The Father vests his Son with full power to save the world (3,16-17; 6,51c; 12,47). Deliverance benefits the world since the world is liberated from the enslaving power of sin (8,31-36). The evangelist in 1,29 explains programmatically for the gospel that the Lamb of God removes and carries away sin and definitively breaks the power of sin. According to the Jewish understanding, God alone has the privilege to forgive sin with full power (Ex 34,7; Isa 43,25; 44,22; Mi 7,18). Jesus' comparable claim in Mk 2,7 is rejected as blasphemy. When John awards this full power to the Lamb of God, he explains that Jesus acts in full power unity with God. Like God, he can liberate from the slavery of sin (8,34-36). This exclusivity of full power over sin has a double critical accent. This full power excludes other persons and cultic places traditionally connected with liberation from sin from existing alongside Jesus:
(1) The statement about the Lamb of Godwho takes away sin (1,29) may have originated from the Passover lamb tradition of atonement theology. John developed it as theology of the cross (19,31-37). An accent critical of cults appears when he fixes the cross as the place of atonement from sin. In the past the temple was the place of God's presence and atonement. Now God dwells and accomplishes atonement in Jesus Christ alone. The evangelist highlights this by setting the scene of temple purification known from Mk 11,15-19 par at the beginning of his gospel (2,13-22). The temple Logien borrowed from Mk 14,58 par is transformed into this context (2,19) where the rebuilt temple is referred to the crucified and resurrected Christ (2,21). A close connection is made with the salvation work of the lamb of God in ch. 1. Jesus Christ himself as the one Passover lamb achieves salvation through forgiveness of sins, no longer the Passover lambs slaughtered in the temple. God becomes flesh to accentuate the definitive ilasmos of sins in Jesus Christ as the new eschatological sanctuary (cf. 6,69; 10,36a; 17,19; cf. 1 John 2,2; 4,10). As God is present in him (cf. 1,51; 10,38; 14,6.9.10) without needing the temple, the spirit as Jesus' post-Easter representative will be the place of God's worship without mediation of the temple (4,20-24).
(2) Another critical accent is set with regard to the Baptist. The Gospel of John reflects a competition to the Baptist's community. The Baptist is stylized as the mere witness of Jesus Christ (cf. 1,6-8.15.19-34; 3,22-36; 5,33-35; 10,40-42). One salvation function no longer comes to him. If one assumes that the 4th evangelist knew the Baptist's tradition in Mk 1,2-11 and independently transformed it in John 1,19-34, the statement of the forgiveness of sins mediated by the works of the Baptist is consciously deleted. The 4th evangelist assigns Jesus the task of correcting, putting right and setting the record straight as in Mk 1,4. The works of the Lamb of God lead to forgiveness of sins, not the works of the Baptist. Thus the 4th evangelist criticizes a soteriological understanding of John's baptism by reducing it to a mere water baptism (1,26.33) and omitting the account about Jesus' baptism. John explicitly resists the nickname "the Baptist" handed down by the synoptists and Josephus and emphasizes energetically that Jesus was baptized by God (with the spirit) (1,32-34).
Neither the temple nor the Baptist plays a salvation-mediating role for John. Jesus Christ's exclusivity in breaking sin is an expression of his unique full power exercised instead of and in the authority of the God forgiving sin. Jesus participates in God's power of rule and salvation in an exclusive way. Authority over sin comes to believers in a derived way. The Resurrected imparts this full power to his own who continue Jesus' work of revelation after Easter (20,23).
6. The full power of knowledge
Jesus transposes participation in God's power into a special state of knowledge. The preliminary commentary on foot-washing 13,1-3 explains the full power of God's Son as a definitive knowledge about what would happen with him... The whole commentary before and after is encompassed by what was imminent in Jesus' knowledge as the goal and perfection of his mission. Jesus clearly knew about the imminent passion events. He knew "that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father" (13,1). That Jesus knew "his hour" (cf. 2,4c; 7,30; 8,20; 12,23.27) in advance is emphasized repeatedly (9,4; 11,9-10; 12,7; 13,27.32-33.36; 18,4; 19,28).
Jesus knew "that he had come from God and was going to God" (13,3b; cf. 8,14; 16,28). This full power declaration is supplemented in 13,3a. Jesus knew "that the Father had given all things into his hands". Thus the absolute authority of the Son (panta edukein autos, cf. 3,35) clearly includes his insight in the Father's will of salvation. Jesus knows a way from the Father to the Father. He knows the Father himself (8,55). He knows how "all things" (panta 16,30; 21,17) are given into his hands (cf. 2,24-25; 16,30). He is all-knowing like God. He "knows and understands everything" (cf. Eccles 9,11; cf. 8,8). Therefore he knew what was ahead (18,4). Therefore he could go his way of suffering in free and sovereign decision (18,1-11). He knew the end of the event (19,28; cf. v.30). As a result, the Son makes known his full power knowledge with his insight in the cross event. The full power of God's Son includes knowledge as revelation certainty established in the complete unity of Father and Son. Because the Son participates in God's deity, knows the Father (8,55) and all things, he also knew what would happen to him at the end.
The full power of knowledge consists in the Son passing on his knowledge received from the Father to his own. Thus the disciples initiated by the Son in the hour of farewell could say: "Now we know that you know all things, and need none to question you; by this we believe that you came from God" (16,30). Jesus confirms this in his prayer to the Father: "Now they know that everything that thou hast given me is from thee; for I have given them the words which thou gave me; and they have received them and know in truth that I came from thee; and they have believed that thou did send me" (17,7-8). The believers are the knowing ones who received the Son's words of revelation through communicated knowledge about his mission and God's will of salvation (cf. 6,69; 10,14; 14,7.20; 17,3.25; 1 John 4,16). The Paraclete helps in communicating this revelation after Easter (14,26; 16,13-15).
7. The full power of love
Finally a last and decisive aspect of the Johannine theme of full power should be considered. Full power is a gift and proof of divine love. Correspondingly 3,35 declares: "The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand." Jesus' full power derives from the unique relation to god and divine love. 5,20 formulates similarly: "The Father loves (phileia) the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing." The constant love of the Father for the Son (agape and phileia in the present tense!) is the fountain from which flows the full power of the Son. According to 10,17-18 Jesus' free full power devotion is an expression of God's command established in the love of the Father. In 17,24 God's doxa is "given" to the Son on account of God's love in effect since time immemorial.
This relation between the Father and the Son grounded in love also benefits believers. The commentary on the foot-washing 13,1-3 shows that the absolute full power of the Son (13,3) is realized in love for his own as love that is total or absolute to the end (13,1). As a result, the Son sees himself commissioned to "accomplish" God's work (4,34; cf. 5,36; 17,4). The foot-washing account illustrates the symbolism of the love of God's Son up to death that became the example of the disciples' conduct (13,4-20). Jesus' love to his own grounded in the love of the Father for the Son (15,9-10) and the model of the disciples' conduct is the conclusive application of Jesus' full power. The love of the Father is effective when Jesus "accomplishes" his love on the cross.
No full power can come to the devil and the unbelieving world because the full power idea is so closely connected with the love idea. "The ruler of this world" and his cosmos on one side and the full power of love on the other side exclude one another. The world standing under the rule of the devil (12,31; 14,30; 16,11) only loves itself and shows the negative power of hatred to Jesus and his own (15,18-16,4a; cf. 7,7; 17,14). The evangelist must deny loving exousia to them because full power is a positive authority owed to God's will of salvation. The hatred of the world, measured by the full power of love, can only be called powerlessness since the ruler of this world is already judged (16,11; cf. 12,31) and has no real power over the Son of God (14,30). John concedes that the devil in a worldly perspective has power. Like "the ruler of this world" (12,31; 16,11), the unbelieving world is subject to him. However since "full power" in truth is a gift of love, full power cannot really befit the devil and his world.
8. The derivation of the Johannine full power term
In conclusion, the roots of the Johannine full power term should be explored. The idea of Jesus' full power established in the love of the Father to the Son grounded in God's preexistent will of salvation and effective for believers in the completion of Jesus' way of mission is a characteristic feature of the 4th evangelist. Still the presuppositions of the Johannine full power term are traditional. The basic idea of participating in God's power of salvation and rule existed in the Old Testament-Jewish language.
A "basic theological-soteriological position" is manifest here where the only mighty God uses representative messengers and mediators (kings, prophets, messiahs, servants of God, the Son of man) to rescue and redeem. This line is taken up in the NT and filled with christological content. Mark made Jesus' full power into an editorial leitmotif of his christology (Mk 1,22.27; 2,10; 3,15; 6,7; 11,27-33). He understood Jesus' exousia as an "expression and manifestation of the messianic mission of the Son of God to proclaim and mediate the imminent rule of God". John borrowed from Mark conceptually and motivationally. However John was not greatly influenced substantively by Mk since the 4th evangelist set different accents than the 2nd evangelist. [Mark speaks of the full power of the earthly who was appointed the messianic Son of God since baptism through anointing of the spirit (Mk 1,9-11) and brought God's rule near with full power in his teaching and mighty acts (exorcisms, healings, miracles). For John, Jesus is the Son of God sent by the Father who was authorized with the spirit since time immemorial (John 1,32-34) to bring life with the full power of the gift of divine love]. John has a greater nearness to the Q-Logien Lk 10,22/ Mt 11,27 that he probably knew from the synoptists. Jesus is described as the Son of God elevated to the end-time position of universal power. Mt 28,18 interprets the saying "all authority in heaven and on earth" in this sense [U. Luz in his commentary on the gospel questions whether Lk 10,22/ Mt 11,27 presupposes the Son of man Christology of Dan 7,14. "Matthew editorially revised that verse (Mt 28,18) in consciously expanding the tradition Logien 11,27].
These Logien that sound "Johannine" (Lk 11,22/ Mt 11,27; Mt 28,18) show striking similarities with John. Like Mt 28,18, 1. John uses the term exousia to describe Jesus' unique authority. 2. The Son receives his full power from the Father (Mt 11,27/ Lk 10,22; John 5,26-27; 10,17-18). 3. The full power is total and universal - the all-embracing power in heaven and on earth (Mt 11,27/ Lk 10,22: panta; Mt 28,18: pasa exousia; John 3,35; 13,3: panta; 3,31; 8,23: "from above" or 3,13.27; 6,22.214.171.124.51.58 [cf. 1,51]: "from heaven"). 4. The Son's perfect power is a gift of God (Mt 11,27/ Lk 10,22; Mt 28,18. John prefers active forms of didomai). 5. The authority of the Son includes divine revelation knowledge founded in the mutual and exclusive relation between the Father and the Son (Mt 11,27b-c/ Lk 10,22b-c; John 10,15a; 17,25). The Logien Mt 11,25-27/ Lk 10,21-22 reveals that the Son speaks with knowledge of the heavenly mysteries of the Father that he reveals. This corresponds to our interpretation of the full power of the knowledge of the Son of God and of the knowledge imparted by him to believers according to John.
Thus a whole series of parallels results between Mt/ Lk and John implying that the 4th evangelist developed his understanding of the full power of the Son of God following Mt 11,27/ Lk 10,22 and Mt 28,18. John extended and deepened this understanding compared to his model. He ascribed a supporting role to the full power idea in the overall concept of the gospel and gave it a "Johannine" profile regarding the preexistence-, love- and cross-themes.
The 4th evangelist borrowed the exousia idea from the synoptic tradition (Mt/ Lk) and deepened it in a Johannine way. He applied it theologically to grasp the inner perspective of the community of Father, Son and believers. He described an authority structure reaching from God and the Son to believers and proclaiming God's power of salvation and rule. The Son and believers act as bearers of a mandate serving God's will of salvation. Therefore full power is a bestowed gift of the Father that comes to the Son in an original way in the exercise of his mission and salvific work and to believers in a derived way through saving knowledge of revelation, experience of the gift of life and authorization to missionary service.
Full power authorizes the Son as God's bearer of his conclusive mandate and power because he lastingly shares in God's deity, in God's doxa, love, divine knowledge and life-giving authority and champions them for the salvation of people. This salvation is effective in the liberation of the world from the rule of sin. In an exclusivity that eclipses the temple and the Baptist, the Son exercises full power instead of and in the authority of the God forgiving sin and imparts this full power over sin to believers. Salvation is accomplished through the Son's devotion, founded in the love of the Father to the Son and effective as unselfish love for the world.
Jesus' devotion is only mirrored superficially and for a limited time by the work of the earthly ruler who acts as God's representative. In truth, Jesus' loving care is an expression of the freedom, sovereignty and love of God's Son who acts with divine knowledge of his mission. The full power of Jesus' voluntary devotion is an explication of God's command grounded in the Father's love. In comparison, "the ruler of this world" is powerless. No positive authority creating love and salvation is granted to a ruler. Full power in the Johannine sense is a characteristic of divine love and one of the base categories of Johannine theology.
add a comment on this article
add a comment on this article