This Is Eternal Life
When we read the line above from Jesus, it makes us stop and pause. It seems odd that Jesus would define eternal life as knowing him and his Father. Isn't eternal life living forever after we die?
An interesting insight comes from how the term "eternal life", hayei olam (Hi-YAY Oh-LAHM) can be understood in a Jewish context.1 While it sometimes has our traditional understanding of life after death, hayei olam sometimes used in a different way, when it was contrasted with "hayei sha'a" (fleeting life). Hayei sha'a, fleeting life, is living a life that is only concerned about the short term needs of today - working, making money, eating, etc. Hayei olam, "lasting life" or "a life of eternity" refers to living a life focused on matters of eternal importance.
Traditionally, Jewish people have considered the study of the Bible truly living out one's "eternal life." A story is told about a rabbi who spent years in study of the Scriptures, and then walked past farmers tilling their land. He remarked, "they have abandoned lasting life and involve themselves instead with fleeting life."2
It is fascinating that elsewhere in John, Jesus seems even to be commenting on the Jewish tradition that the way to live "eternal life" right now is to study the Scriptures. He says,
He is speaking to some of his fellow Jews who did not see that the Scriptures ultimately pointed toward him. Eternal life is not had even in studying the Scriptures, but in finding in them that Jesus is our Lord, and we can live for serving him.
| ©2004 Lois A. Tverberg, Ph.D., OurRabbiJesus.com. All rights
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