When someone trusts Jesus as their savior, we would say that they have received eternal life. But what exactly is this life? Is it just living forever? Is it living forever as the same person I was before? It can’t be that. That would be terrible.
In fact, that is the scenario that God prevented in the Garden when he blocked Adam and Eve from the Tree of Life. He wanted to keep them from living forever trapped in their twisted, rebellious, sinful lives. So the life that God offers us through Jesus must be more than just our own life going on and on forever.
In the New Testament there are three Greek words for “life:” If you want to understand life in the New Testament, you need to understand these three different words.
Bios– This word is used to simply mean biological life or the course of our physical life.
1 John 2:16. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [bios], is not from the Father, but is from the world.
Psyche– This is the word that the authors used to mean the soul.
John 10:11. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life [psyche] for the sheep.
Zoe– This is the word that the biblical authors have chosen to mean the divine life of God. In fact every time the word zoe is used in the New Testament it refers to God’s life.
John 1:4. “In Him was life [zoe], and the life [zoe] was the light of men.”
(John uses the word zoe 26 times in his gospel. Zoe is a major them in his writing, and we will explore several of John’s uses of zoe over the next few days.)
Jesus Christ did not come to give us bios or psyche– we already had those. Jesus Christ came so that we might have zoe. God’s eternal life. He did not come to teach us how to win at life, or have our best life now. Jesus doesn’t want you to be your “best self,” and he isn’t interested in you refining your human life. Jesus came that we might be born again with the life of God. He came to live his life through us, making the invisible God visible, as we image God as he intended since the beginning.
John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life [zoe].
“To live is Christ” means that we live from zoe. We live from the power, love, grace, and hope of Jesus’ very own life. Won’t you stay with me as we explore the reality of Christ’s zoe in us, and what that means for our daily lives?
By the way, I’m a fan of Glen Scrivener (the video below) and Speak Life. The last couple minutes of this poem are especially good. Check out how he is differentiating between receiving life (zoe) and giving our lives (bios and psyche).