Abide in Christ - what does that mean?

We read the word "abide" over and over in John's writings and maybe aren't quite sure what he is trying to tell us. But that can't keep us from finding out exactly what was intended when he used that specific word. Okay, how?

Since the original text was written in Greek, Hebrew and a bit of Aramaic it had to be translated to our languages for us to understand it but sometimes the meaning of a word isn't translated well between languages. To truly understand this word and others, sometimes we need to do a word study going back to the original text and looking at all the ways it is used.

In this word study we will use Scripture only as an example but when I did the original study I also used Bible and English dictionaries as well as looked up the original Greek word.

For this study, first I looked up the Greek word for "abide" and saw that it is a verb that has the meaning of to stay, abide, remain, to be true to, to persevere, to remain beside or near and had been translated as "abide, abides, abiding, await, continue, endures, lasting, living, remain, remained, remaining, remains, stand, stay, stayed, staying, and waiting." So, with this one word translated so many different ways I knew I would have to go to Scripture and look at each of them in context.

I listed out every instance the word was used. Then I looked for patterns to get a good definition of abiding in Christ in my own mind. I found that John used the word in differing ways in each of his writings. Here are the results of my study:

Practicing the Presence of God Dr. Kim West recommends Practicing the Presence of God – a 21 day journey of mind and heart to help you to live out abiding in Christ.

Abiding is a deep, intimate relationship with God and, so, learning to live in the presence of this God is the beginning of learning to abide in Christ.

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"Abide" in John – The call to stay in love

Used as a Command – to stay in Christ
- To stay in His love
- To stay in His words
- To stay in obedience

Used as a Warning - Life is only in Christ
- Life not remaining in Christ is worthless
- Life is only productive in Christ
- Life not in Christ will lose rewards

Used as a Promise - The Spirit will live in you
- Father and Son will make their home in you
- Remaining in Christ brings much fruit
- Prayers will be answered

"Abide" in 1 John – What love looks like lived out

- Christlikeness
- Works of eternal value
- Faithfulness to the truth
- Close connection to the Spirit
- Godly lifestyle
- Refraining from evil
- Love of God in action
- Living an intimate, daily, obedient relationship with God

"Abide" in 2 John – Remain faithful in love

- Make sure the truth stays in you
- The truth is sufficient – don’t add to it
- Staying in the truth is staying in relationship with the Father and Son

Conclusions on the word “abide”

John uses the word 43 times throughout the books of John, 1 John, and 2 John. It is used as a command, a warning, an invitation to a deeper love relationship, as an assurance, and as an exhortation to godly living.

The word “abide” carries the idea of continuing, enduring, awaiting, dwelling, and withstanding – firm and immovable without yielding.

Abide in Christ - the source of love and life

In the word abide I see the same call to live with and for God that I have seen throughout the Bible. A loving and awesome God calls His people to relationship with Him. If they will stay in that relationship He promises they will experience His faithful love, have an intimate relationship with Him, and gain rewards both now and eternal.

Abide is both a call and a command. In order to stay in relationship with God one must strive to live as Christ lived. This includes obeying His commands, loving one another, remaining faithful to the truth of the gospel, and refraining from any evil.

We are to stay in Christ, not yielding to the world around us. In being firm and immovable in our walk with God, we will experience the love of God lived out through our lives. Our hearts become His dwelling place and His ours.

To "abide" is to live from and stay in the very source of life and love - Christ.

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For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.

Hebrews 4:12 (NLT)

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