Please note that all Biblical quotes, in this and all other lessons posted to Greek Thoughts, are from The Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries - The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.
Throughout Church history, many false doctrines have circulated through the Body of Christ. These have been based in personal belief, rather than being established fact from the Word of God. An example of one presently being taught states that believers must practice certain mental principles in order to remain in or continue to dwell in Christ. In addition to the errant teachings present in the Church, some 80% of those involved in cults come from a fundamental Christian background and have knowledge of the Bible. This situation causes many questions to arise, questions which are answered by this present study.
In the previous parts of this study, we established the meaning of μὲνω (meno Strong's #3306- to remain, to abide, to stay) through an examination of its many uses in Scripture. This helped us understand that the word denotes a permanency of something/someone remaining or abiding in something/someone else. Today we will see that the permanency denoted by μὲνω, as used in the Greek New Testament, is important in describing the relationship between every believer and Christ; in that the permanence of the believer in Christ and of Christ in the believer is elucidated through an understanding of μὲνω.
In this study, we first focused on the permanence of a believer's relationship with God's word as we considered the use of μὲνω in Chapters 5,8 of the Gospel of John. Then we shifted our attention to John 14:15-17 and John 15:4-8 where μὲνω is used to give the understanding that the person who belongs to the Lord has the Spirit of God "abiding" or "remaining" in him. This week we center our attention on the believer's permanent and remaining fellowship with the Body of Christ as we look at the use of μὲνω in 1 John 2:18-19.
1 John 2:18-19
- Young children, it is the last hour, and according as you heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, from which we know that it is the last hour.
- They went out from us, but they were not from us. For if they were from us, they would have remained (μὲνω) with us; but in order that they might be revealed that they all are not from us.
In 1 John 2, a fact, then well known among believers, is presented: the antichrist is coming. John tells them that even now (at the time of the writing of this letter) many antichrists have come, which indicates that they are in the last hour. Then John makes a profound statement about those antichrists that have gone out into the world: they originated from the fellowship of believers. John states, "They went out from us."
After stating that those antichrists went out from the fellowship of believers, John says that even though they went out from them, "they were not from us." John is teaching that they physically left the fellowship of believers, but they were not from the same spiritual source. John explains, "For if they were from us, they would have remained (μὲνω) with us " John uses μὲνω seventy times in his writings to describe the permanence or remaining of something or someone. In this verse, he presents that the evidence showing a person belongs to Christ is his/her remaining (μὲνω) with the fellowship of believers. The word μὲνω in this text is in the perfect tense form, which means those who have experienced the spiritual birth in Christ have remained with the Body of Christ from the time of the spiritual birth until the present time. John then states that this evidence is designed by God to distinguish true believers from those who are not: "But in order that they might be revealed that they all are not from us."
In this text, John presents one of the most important principles concerning the fellowship of believers: remaining in the fellowship of believers, those holding the correct doctrine of Jesus Christ, is evidence that one belongs to Christ. According to the statement of John at the end of verse 19, this is God's plan to reveal those who are among the believers, but who do not actually belong to Christ.
There are two divisions taking place at the preaching and teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The first division comes when nonbelievers hear the Gospel message and some receive spiritual birth in Christ. These have then become believers and are now spiritually separated from nonbelievers. The second division happens within the Body of Christ, at the teaching of His Word, those who genuinely belong to Christ are distinguished from those who are merely pretenders those who are within the group or fellowship, talking and acting like believers, but who have never experienced spiritual birth by receiving Christ. This second division is taught in 1 John 2:18-19 and also by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:17-19.
1 Corinthians 11:17-19
- Now by commanding this, I am not praising you, because you come together not for the better, but for the worse.
- For indeed first, while coming together in the assembly, I am hearing that divisions existF1 among you. And in some part I believe it.
- For it is also necessary that factions should beF2 among you, in order that the ones approved might become revealed among you.
In this section of scripture, Paul teaches about this second division, saying that when the church assembles, they do not gather for the better, but for the worse. This shows that it is possible for believers to leave church gatherings spiritually weakened if false teaching has been presented and/or a false experience of the Holy Spirit has been promoted. Paul then says he has heard that when the Corinthian Christians assemble, divisions exist among them, which he, in part, believes. He gives, in verse 19, his reason for believing it: because it is necessary for factions to be among them, so that those who are approved by God might be revealed. The term "necessary" is the literal translation of the Greek word δεῖ (Day Strong's #1163), which is from δὲω (Deo Strong's #1210) meaning "to bind." Paul is saying that it is necessary or divinely appointed or bound that divisions be within the church, indicating that this is part of God's design for revealing those who are walking in the truth.
The Greek word translated "factions" is the noun αἵρεσις (Hairesis - Strong's #139), which is the origin of the English word "heresy." Properly defined from the Greek word αἵρεσις, heresy means "choice" and is from the verb form αἱρὲομαι (Haireomai Strong's #138) meaning "to choose, to prefer." Therefore, a heresy is something someone chooses to believe as true, but is found to be false when held up to God's Word. The translation "factions" from our text indicates that people who have the same personal beliefs or choices about certain issues in the church have gathered and formed groups. In this text, Paul expresses that division is being caused by more than one group or faction that has formed in the Corinthian church. In this same verse, Paul gives the reason why God designed "heresies" to be among believers: to reveal those who are approved of God.
From these Scriptures, we learn two things: first, the word μὲνω is used by John in 1 John 2:19 to describe the evidence of those who belong to Christ genuine believers will remain with the Body of Christ; and second, those who leave to follow false doctrine will do so under the design of God, so that it will be revealed that they are not of the Lord.
Next week we will continue our study of μὲνω from I John, Chapter 2, again focusing on the evidences of those who are remaining or abiding in the Lord. Specifically, we will study John's presentation that those who belong to Christ will not leave the teaching of truth.
*MENO is the English font spelling of the Greek word μὲνω.
F1: The infinitive used in indirect discourse ὑπὰρχειν, "To exist," is translated ὅτῖὑπὰρχουσι, "That there exists."
F2: The infinitive of result εἶναι, "To be," is translated νὰ͂ὑπὰρχωσι, "That should be."
'Greek Thoughts' Copyright 2014© Bill Klein. 'Greek Thoughts' articles may be reproduced in whole under the following provisions: 1) A proper credit must be given to the author at the end of each article, along with a link to www.studylight.org/ls/gt/ 2) 'Greek Thoughts' content may not be arranged or "mirrored" as a competitive online service.