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"Instruction for the Early Church was the Main Purpose of John's Discourses" - Examine and Assess this Statement with Reference to Any Two "I am" Discourses.

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Introduction

13CA 24th November 2003 "Instruction for the Early Church was the Main Purpose of John's Discourses." Examine and Assess this Statement with Reference to Any Two "I am" Discourses Instruction for the Early Church is an important function of the discourses in John's Gospel. Indeed, the scholar Bultmann describes the discourses as sermons because the discourses instruct the Early Church in the beliefs of Christianity. The discourses instruct Early Christians in John's Christology as the divine and human nature of Jesus is emphasised. For example, in the True Vine Discourse, Bultmann points out that Jesus' absolute vine nature links him with the divine; Jesus is not is not like a vine, he is the vine. In the Resurrection and the Life Discourse Jesus points out that through him, and only through him can people access eternal life "he who believes in me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." ...read more.

Middle

Jesus' relationship with humanity is based on love, he calls the disciples "friends" and instructs them in a new way of life based on love: "This is my command: Love each other". This discourse is an uninterrupted monologue, demonstrating the importance of this teaching. The Early Church is being taught that love is the means by which they can know God and access eternal life. Schachenburg supports this maintaining that Jesus embodies in himself the divine truth which becomes the way for believers to seek salvation. The Early Church is therefore also being instructed about the work of Jesus. Jesus is there to bring salvation to people. He is vine whose branches, the disciples, will bear fruit, teaching converts about Jesus and glorifying God. Jesus is instructing the disciples, who will form the basis of the Early Church after Jesus has gone, on how to lead people to salvation, through love. Jesus is also showing the Early Church that the Kingdom of God has arrived, through him, on Earth. ...read more.

Conclusion

The True Vine discourse is a predicated discourse, as it is metaphorical. Jesus deliberately chooses a concept that the Jews would be familiar with and sets himself above this symbol to illustrate his point. Jesus is replacing the Jewish religion, which stressed solely the importance law and yielded bad fruit, with the unconditional love of Christianity. Jesus' love, will bear "fruit that will last". Jesus is also using language of the divine from the Old Testament. The "I am" formula of the discourses is the language that God uses frequently in the Old Testament: "I am who I am" Exodus. Yahweh, the name used for God by the Jews literally means "he is". Barrett points out that it is the divine word of self revelation. It again demonstrates the continuity between Judaism and Christianity. The instruction of the Early Church was a hugely important purpose of the discourses, as they serve to teach people about the person and work of Jesus. However, it is not the only function of the discourses, as equally important in the discourses is the theme of replacement theology and the link between Christianity and Judaism. ...read more.

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