Re: John 15:4 MEINATE EN EMOI?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Feb 28 1997 - 09:00:56 EST

At 7:43 PM -0600 2/27/97, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>Thu, 27 Feb 97 16:07:44 MST
>> I need some discussion on the issue of the meaning of EN (a person). I
>> overheard a discussion on the use of EN (a person) in John 15:4a
>> recently. This is not one of my areas of focus so I am not current on
>> the issues involved; but I take the "EN" of John 14:4 as a Dative of
>> Association or Unity due to the 15:4b reference to the branches
>> remaining EN the vine (association).
>> Is this not a Dative of Association/Unity? I tried to look this up in
>> the archives and found little. Professor Krentz cited Deissmann which
>> I do not have. What resources comment on the Dative of Association/
>> Unity, or otherwise, that can give me a sanity check.
>A little Greek opinion:
>EN+dative means "in". I think it is easiest to think of the dative
>as part of the EN, but you could probably think of it as a locative
>dative, which expresses place and time. In this case, it would be
>the dative of place.
>Look at the context: if we don't remain in Jesus as the branches
>remain in the vine, getting our sustenance from him, we will wither.
>In the same way that Jesus remains in the Father, we are to remain
>in Jesus. This passage describes the mystical union that we have
>with Christ, in the same way that he is one with the Father, deriving
>his sustenance from the Father.
>Apart from Jesus, we cannot bear fruit, so we must remain in him.
>The Bible frequently refers to believers as being "in Christ", e.g.
>1Cor 1:30 (NASU) But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us
>wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
>Gala 1:22 (NASU) I was [still] unknown by sight to the churches of Judea
>which were in Christ;
>1Cor 3:1 (NASU) And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men,
>but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. (In Christ, but still
>Phil 1:1 (NASU) Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the
>saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and
>In fact, something tells me that "those who are in Christ Jesus" is used as
>a synonym for Christians. I'll stick my neck out and say that I doubt that
>similar terms are used to describe the relationship between disciples and
>teachers, e.g. I doubt that the Bible says John's followers were "in John",
>or that Plato's followers were "in Plato". I really think that mystical
>union with Jesus Christ is the thing that defines the Church, and to me this
>is one of the things which implies the deity of Christ.

I'd agree that one ought not to see this EN EMOI as a comitative dative but
rather as an extension of the locative dative to personal use, and I think
Jonathan is quite right in understanding this as referring to mystical
communion of believers with Christ. What is involved here is the
fundamental and recurrent Johannine usage of MENW and its cognate MONH
(Elizabethan English "mansion") to give expression to the notion of what I
like to call "mutual indwelling." It's worth looking at what Raymond Brown
has to say on MENW (and other verbs too, for that matter) in the appendix
to the second volume of his Anchor commentary on John's gospel.

I also think Jonathan's substantially right in pointing the parallel with
the Pauline phrase EN CRISTWi; I think that comes to mean the same thing,
although I think it's more parallel than it is identical. I think its worth
noting, moreover, that the Johannine usage in chapter 15 and in the"
Farewell Discourses" generally, is also like Paul's EN CRISTWi in
emphasizing the CORPORATE nature of the bond between believers and
Christ--not a personal bond; when Paul uses the term in letters, he seems
normally to be speaking of the corporate relationship that he shares with
other believers.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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