Thursday, August 07, 2008

His Permanent Address

A Synonym is one of two or more words in the same language which have the same or very nearly the same meaning. The meanings are so similar the words are often used interchangeably. The challenge is to know which of these words to use when you are translating. For example, there is no word in Spanish for righteousness. Many use the Spanish word for Justice: Justicia. But, justice and righteousness do not have the same definition, they are not synonyms.

A similar thing happens with the word dwell in the Bible. Sometimes it means to live permanently and sometime it means temporarily. The latter is the case of John 1:14. The word used in the Greek is Skenoo, which means: to have or fix one's tabernacle, abide (or live) in a tabernacle (or tent), tabernacle; to dwell. Let us read John 1:14,

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Christ dwelling with us as the Son of Man was temporary. When Christ was on earth He “pitched His tent” among us. Tents are for temporary dwellings. In contrast, other words are used regarding His dwelling in us. The first one is Enoikeo which means to dwell in; to dwell metaphorically in one and influence him (for good). Because is for good, it gives an impression of permanency. Two verses use this example,

2Ti 1:14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
2Co 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

The second one is Katoikeo, which means to dwell in, inhabit as in, God is said to dwell in the temple, i.e. to be always present for worshippers. Also to dwell, settle; used metaphorically to refer to when divine powers, influences, etc., are said to dwell in his soul, to pervade, prompt, govern it. Examples of this use are found in

Eph 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
Col 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
Col 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

The word kaitokeo gives an implication of something more lasting than just pitching a tent. The third word is oikeo which simply means to dwell in. However, there is no sign of short term stay or pitching a tent. Again there is a sense of permanence in the use of this verse. Let us read

Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Rom 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

The last word is naos {nah-os'} – (our word for “IN”) which is derived from naio which also means to dwell. It was used when referring to the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of Holies. This word is the one used for referring to Jesus in the Sanctuary. Let us read,

1Co 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

No reference in this verse of anything temporary. Our bodies are supposed to be Jesus’ permanent address. As we can see all these words were translated as dwelling. However, skenoo is temporary dwelling.

In conclusion, when the Bible talks about Christ dwelling among us as a man, it is temporary living. However, when it talks about Christ dwelling in us it is permanent living. Both dwellings are because God loves us. God wants to permanently dwell in us. He does not want to temporarily dwell among us. His incarnation limited the how and amount of time He could dwell with us. But, through the Holy Spirit he can dwell in us forever. Yes, we can evict Him and foreclose our property, in which case the devil will repurchase it, and it will be destroyed when the devil is destroyed. Or we can let God abide in us, and eventually live eternally with Him.

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