Monday, May 4, 2015

'In Order That' You May Love

Below is a rough translation and some preliminary comments regarding John 15:9-17, the Revised Common Lectionary gospel text for Sunday, May 10, 2015.

The word ἵνα appears in verses 11, 12, 13, 16 and 17. ἵνα is a conjunction that is most often translated “in order that,” or sometimes simply as “that.” It is different from a similar conjunction, ὅτι, which can also be translated “that” (and often as “because.”) According to greattreasures.org: ὅτι “is objective, and introduces the matter, while ἵνα specifies the purpose. As an indicator of purpose, ἵνα is followed by the subjunctive mood, a conditional mood often translated using ‘may’ or ‘might.’
In the translation below, I am going to use the larger phrase – ‘in order that’ – except for v.13, where the context simply will not allow it. My purpose (if I were writing this note in Greek, I would use a ἵνα right here), is a) to be consistent, and b) to honor John’s repetition and see if it makes a difference to use “in order that” instead of simply “that” in each case.
The purpose of exploring the ἵνα is not simply a linguistic matter, but a matter of meaning. This text is usually interpreted to mean that the command Jesus gives is to love one another. Consider these two options. A: “This is my command, that you love one another.” Or, B: “This is my command, in order that you love one another.” In the B translation, the pronoun “this” would refer to something Jesus has previously said as the command, and “love one another” would be the purpose of the command, not the command itself. That is the kinds of possibility that I am trying to raise with this translation.
Please bear in mind that I qualify this translation as a ‘rough translation’ and the comments as ‘preliminary.’

9 καθὼς ἠγάπησέν με ὁ πατήρ, κἀγὼ ὑμᾶς ἠγάπησα: μείνατε ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ τῇ ἐμῇ.
Just as the father loved me, so also I loved you; abide in my love.
ἠγάπησέν: AAI 3s, ἀγαπάω, 1) of persons  1a) to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly  2) of things  2a) to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing
ἠγάπησα: AAI 1s, ἀγαπάω, 1) of persons  1a) to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly  2) of things  2a) to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing
μείνατε: AAImpv 2p, μένω, 1) to remain, abide  1a) in reference to place  1a1) to sojourn, tarry  1a2) not to depart  1a2a) to continue to be present
1. In this verse, Jesus’ love is an imitative love, based on the pattern of God’s love. For the significance of a pattern (or ‘example’) see v.17 n.2 below.

10 ἐὰν τὰς ἐντολάς μου τηρήσητε, μενεῖτε ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ μου, καθὼς ἐγὼ τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ πατρός μου τετήρηκα καὶ μένω αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ.
If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my father’s commands and remain in his love.
τηρήσητε: AASubj 2p, τηρέω, 1) to attend to carefully, take care of  1a) to guard  1b) metaph. to keep, one in the state in which he is  1c) to observe 
μενεῖτε: FAI 2p, μένω, 1) to remain, abide  1a) in reference to place  1a1) to sojourn, tarry  1a2) not to depart  1a2a) to continue to be present
τετήρηκα: PerfAI 1s, τηρέω, 1) to attend to carefully, take care of  1a) to guard  1b) metaph. to keep, one in the state in which he is  1c) to observe 
μένω: PAI 1s, μένω, 1) to remain, abide  1a) in reference to place  1a1) to sojourn, tarry  1a2) not to depart  1a2a) to continue to be present
In vv.9 and 10, Jesus
1. Now, the disciples are invited to imitate Jesus’ imitation of God’s love. Please not that I am using ‘imitation’ in its best sense of following a pattern.

11 Ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡ ἐμὴ ἐν ὑμῖν καὶ ἡ χαρὰ ὑμῶν πληρωθῇ.
These things I have spoken to you in order that my joy may be in you and your joy may be fulfilled.
λελάληκα: PerfAI 1s, λαλέω, 1) to utter a voice or emit a sound  2) to speak  2a) to use the tongue or the faculty of speech
: PASubj 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
πληρωθῇ:  APSubj 3s, πληρόω, 1) to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full  1a) to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally 
1. This is the first of the ἵνα clauses in this pericope: in order that my joy may be in you ...” The structure of the sentence is rather consistently translated throughout various versions as an “I do X, in order that Y” structure. The X clause is in the indicative mood; the Y clause in the subjunctive mood.
2. Like the psalmists, who said things like, “How I love your law!”, Jesus does not speak of the commands as a drudgery, a burden, or a test, but as a means of joy.
3. Jesus says “my joy” and will use the phrase again in the prayer in 17:13, “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” I would guess that few persons have ever heard a sermon on Jesus’ joy. How would we name it? How would we relate it to Jesus’ commands? How would it re-describe how we typically think of joy, of Jesus, or of being a disciple of Jesus?  

12 αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἐντολὴ ἡ ἐμή, ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς:
This is my command, in order that you may love one another just as I loved you;
ἐστὶν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ἀγαπᾶτε: PASubj 2p, ἀγαπάω, 1) of persons  1a) to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly  2) of things  2a) to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing
ἠγάπησα: AAI 1s, ἀγαπάω, 1) of persons  1a) to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly  2) of things  2a) to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing
1. This is the second ἵνα clause in this pericope. Again, the X clause is in the indicative (“is”), and the Y clause that follows the ἵνα is in the subjunctive (“may love”). Many translations have “that” instead of “in order that” for the ἵνα . In doing so, however, it changes the ἵνα from indicating purpose to “introducing the matter” (which is the role that greattreasures.org describes for the word ὅτι). The NIV takes this direction very far and changes the nature of the verse entirely: My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. This translation turns the subjunctive mood into an imperative. For more on this, see the comment on v.17 below. The NIV’s choices also make this sentence complete, whereas the manuscripts make the next verse part of this sentence.
2. The interpretive question is this: Is Jesus saying “Love each other …” is the command or is he saying that the purpose of his command is so that they will love each other? Does the pronoun “this” at the beginning of the sentence point forward, to what follows? Or, does it point backwards to Jesus’ previous teaching, the purpose of which is that they will love each other? 
3. Whereas v.11 speaks of Jesus’ joy, v.12 speaks of Jesus’ love. A billion sermons have been focused on Jesus’ love. But, the remainder of this sentence in the next verse re-describes love from a squishy feeling to a sacrificial disposition.

13 μείζονα ταύτης ἀγάπην οὐδεὶς ἔχει, ἵνα τις τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ θῇ ὑπὲρ τῶν φίλων αὐτοῦ.
greater love than this nobody has, that one would lay down his psyche for his friends.
ἔχει: PAI 3s, ἔχω, 1) to have, i.e. to hold  1a) to have (hold) in the hand, in the sense of wearing, to have  (hold) possession of the mind
θῇ: AASubj 3s, τίθημι, 1) to set, put, place 1a) to place or lay  1b) to put down, lay down  1b1) to bend down
1. The ἵνα in this verse poses the strongest case for being translated as “that” rather than “in order that.” (In doing so, it suggests that the distinction greattreasures.org makes between the objective use of ὅτι and the purposive use of ἵνα is more suggestive than firm.) Because of the comparative language in the first clause, “nobody has greater love than this,” the ἵνα seems necessarily to introduce the matter, rather than the purpose.
2. I may not use “psyche” in a refined translation, but I use it here to show that John uses ψυχὴν, from which “psyche” is a transliteration, rather than other words that could mean “life.”

14 ὑμεῖς φίλοι μού ἐστε ἐὰν ποιῆτε ἃ ἐγὼ ἐντέλλομαι ὑμῖν.
You are my friends if you do the things which I command you.
ἐστε: PAI 2p, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ποιῆτε: PASubj 2p, ποιέω, 1) to make  1a) with the names of things made, to produce, construct,  form, fashion, etc.
ἐντέλλομαι: PMI 1s, ἐντέλλομαι, 1) to order, command to be done, enjoin
1. The word “friend” at the end of v.13 introduces the topic of vv.14-15.
2. It seems odd that Jesus is now speaking conditionally about the disciples being his friends, “you are my friends if ....” As I noted in last week’s remarks, Jesus always speaks of the disciples as “disciples” conditionally in John’s gospel, although the narrator uses the indicative mood when speaking of Jesus’ disciples.
2. If the “command” to which Jesus is referring here is the command to love one another, then if we love one another, we are Jesus’ friends.
3.  The pronoun ἃ, which I have translated as “the things” is plural, but in some manuscripts it is , which is singular. My guess is that even among the scribes who preserved this text there was some question over whether Jesus issues one command – love one another – or if all the things that Jesus taught, collectively, were his command.

15 οὐκέτι λέγω ὑμᾶς δούλους, ὅτι ὁ δοῦλος οὐκ οἶδεν τί ποιεῖ αὐτοῦ ὁ κύριος: ὑμᾶς δὲ εἴρηκα φίλους, ὅτι πάντα ἃ ἤκουσα παρὰ τοῦ πατρός μου ἐγνώρισα ὑμῖν.
I no longer call you servants, because the servant has not known what his lord is doing; but I have called you friends, because all the things which I heard from my father I made known to you.
λέγω: PAI 1s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain
οἶδεν: PerfAI 3s, εἴδω, ἴδω, (an obsolete form of the present tense, the place of which is supplied by ὁράω) to perceive, notice, discern, discover.
ποιεῖ: PAI 3s, ποιέω, 1) to make  1a) with the names of things made, to produce, construct,  form, fashion, etc.
εἴρηκα: PerfAI 1s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain
ἤκουσα: AAI 1s, ἀκούω, 1) to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf  2) to hear
ἐγνώρισα: AAI 1s, γνωρίζω, 1) to make known  1a) to become known, be recognized
1. One place where Jesus seems to call the disciples “servants” is in John 13:15-17: “For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”

16 οὐχ ὑμεῖς με ἐξελέξασθε, ἀλλ' ἐγὼ ἐξελεξάμην ὑμᾶς καὶ ἔθηκα ὑμᾶς ἵνα ὑμεῖς ὑπάγητε καὶ καρπὸν φέρητε καὶ ὁ καρπὸς ὑμῶν μένῃ, ἵνα ὅ τι ἂν αἰτήσητε τὸν πατέρα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου δῷ ὑμῖν.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you in order that you may go and may bear fruit and your fruit may remain, in order that whatever you may ask the father in my name may be given to you.
ἐξελέξασθε: AMI 2p, ἐκλέγομαι, 1) to pick out, choose, to pick or choose out for one's self  1a) choosing one out of many, i.e. Jesus choosing his disciples
ἐξελεξάμην: AMI 1s, ἐκλέγομαι, 1) to pick out, choose, to pick or choose out for one's self  1a) choosing one out of many, i.e. Jesus choosing his disciples
ἔθηκα: AAI 1s, τίθημι, 1) to set, put, place  1a) to place or lay    3a) to set forth  3b) to establish, ordain   
ὑπάγητε: PASubj 2p, ὑπάγω, 1) to lead under, bring under  2) to withdraw one's self, to go away, depart
φέρητε: PASubj 2p, φέρω, 1) to carry   1a) to carry some burden   1a1) to bear with one's self   1b) to move by bearing;
μένῃ: PASubj 3s, μένω, 1) to remain, abide  1a) in reference to place  1a1) to sojourn, tarry  1a2) not to depart  1a2a) to continue to be present
αἰτήσητε: AASubj 2p, αἰτέω, 1) to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require
δῷ: AASubj 3s, δίδωμι, 1) to give  2) to give something to someone  2a) of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage
1. This verse has two ἵνα clauses. The first clause is just like the former pattern – Indicative X clause, then ἵνα, then subjunctive Y clause. The second leaves out the indicative X clause, but continues the ἵνα, then subjunctive Y clause.
2. John has, I think, a rather nuanced theology of prayer. See last week’s remarks about 15:7 for more.

17 ταῦτα ἐντέλλομαι ὑμῖν, ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους.
I command these things to you, in order that you may love one another.
ἐντέλλομαι: PMI 1s, ἐντέλλομαι, 1) to order, command to be done, enjoin
ἀγαπᾶτε: PASubj 2p, ἀγαπάω, 1) of persons  1a) to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly  2) of things  2a) to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing
1. In this case, I think using “in order that” is very important, to distinguish that the ἵνα shows the purpose of the command and does not just present a repetition of the command.
2. If the distinction between ἵνα and  ὅτι is strong and intentional here, “love one another” is not the command itself. It is the purpose of the things that Jesus commands. Jesus commanded “these things” so that they would love one another. The question becomes, “what does Jesus mean by “these things,” (ταῦτα) a substantive pronoun here and in v.11.
As we go about answering this question, it helps to remember that we are still in the room where Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Afterward, he told them, “I have set you an example (or pattern), that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” (John 13:15-17) However we answer this question of identifying what “these things” that Jesus had commanded the disciples are, it must be an answer that is grounded in the Messiah, washing feet.

Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT) has 10 pages devoted to the word ἵνα. It says that in the NT there are two primary uses of ἵνα, to denote either a theological final clause or an ethical final clause. Because John displays ‘teleological’ (or purposive) theology, the TDNT focuses mostly on the theological use in John. The Q&A in John 9 is an example: “Who sinned, this man or his parents, in order that he was born blind?” is the question posed to Jesus. “Neither … but in order that the work of God may be revealed in him.” The point is that in the theological use, ἵνα points toward the end or the purpose of something. Another example is John 15:8, the verse just before our pericope: “My Father is glorified by this, in order that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

Again, I think it best to refrain from making verses 12 and 17 of our pericope into commandments, and to focus on the purpose of the commands that Jesus has already given the disciples. Those commands are given in order that they might love one another. Love, then, is not the command itself, but the fruits of and final purpose for keeping the commands.

Bonus:
From Frances Taylor Gench’s “Between Text and Sermon” on Jn. 15:12-17:
It is also worth noting another respect in which John's language of love is "a different ethical language" from the language of discipleship explicated in the synoptic gospels. Gail O'Day provides incisive commentary on this point too, noting that John speaks of the fullness and abundance of love rather than of emptying self-denial and sacrifice: "Fullness and sharing of love characterize discipleship and faith. The Christian community is known by how much its members love one another, not by how much they deny themselves. The ultimate sign of this love remains the giving of one's life, but it will be given in fullness of self, not in denial" (O'Day, 302-303). There is, to be sure, an important difference between "laying down" one's life and having it "taken," between self-gift and self-sacrifice or self-denial. As Jesus affirms in John 10:18, "No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord." It is the same kind of self-giving love that Jesus prescribes for his disciples— love inspired by the one who came that we might "have life, and have it abundantly" (10:10)—love that spills out of the "fullness we have all received" from him, "grace upon grace" (1:16).



3 comments:

  1. Looking back at the earlier context in chapter 13, where Jesus talks about this new commandment (also "ina" conjunction used), what about the idea that foot washing is the commandment?

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  2. I really like keeping the whole shebang - from the foot washing meal in c.13 through the prayer in c.17 together, Loren. So, your suggestion is a great one. "Service is the point" as my late friend Gus Nelson would say.

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