Interview on the White Horse Inn
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Jesus Light of the World (Part 2)

Interview on White Horse Inn

What Scriptures did Jesus have in mind when he taught that living water would flow from the hearts of those who believe in him? Similarly, when he claimed to be the light of the world, what Old Testament promises was he alluding to? Is the story of the woman caught in adultery an authentic part of the Fourth Gospel or a later addition? The White Horse Inn has been hosting a year-long series on the Gospel of John. In this episode, Shane Rosenthal discusses these questions and more with Andreas Kostenberger as they unpack the historical and theological significance of chapters 7 and 8 of the Gospel of John.

You can listen to the entire episode here.


Shane Rosenthal: Hey there! Welcome back to the White Horse Inn as we’re continuing our discussion on chapter 7 with our special guest, Andreas Kostenberger. He is the Research Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, and he is the author of a number of books and articles on the Fourth Gospel, including the chapter on the Gospel of John in the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament edited by Carson and Beale, which is a fantastic resource. Andreas Kostenberger, thanks for joining us again on this second program, as we’re making our way from chapter 7 to chapter 8 of John’s Gospel.

Dr. Kostenberger: Great to be with you.

Water in the Wilderness, Rivers of Living Water

Shane Rosenthal: So in our last program we were discussing the fact that many of the things that Jesus says in John 7 are specifically related to the Feast of Booths, which celebrated God’s provision of water from the rock in the days following the exodus. This is actually something that Paul brings up in his letters to the Corinthians. So he writes to the believers there in Corinth, saying, “I don’t want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and they passed through the sea, and they all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink. … they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor 10:1, 4). What do you think Paul there means when he says, “that Rock was Christ.” We’re dealing with he same imagery of God providing nourishment, life, in the wilderness, and he says, “that Rock was Christ.” 

Dr. Kostenberger: It’s a clear tributary, if you will, to this idea that you see in John 7 here, that God ultimately is the source of water, which is an emblem of life. And I think what’s interesting here is that is a lot of debate, as you know, about this idea that there is this phrase, “Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” So, of whose heart, right? Is it Jesus? And, again, that’s a very tempting interpretation, because, of course, we’re naturally inclined to see Jesus as that source, but I think that many, including myself, tend to think that it may actually look forward to the one who believes in Jesus.

Shane Rosenthal: Yes! Ezekiel says, “He will take your heart of stone and make it a heart of flesh,” and in that same context he is talking about sprinkling clean water. So, if we go back further from the time of Ezekiel to the first imagery of water coming from a rock, then we’re at the scene of Moses, where you have the source of God’s provision for their wilderness wandering, which is being commemorated here at the Feast of Booths. So that’s the source. And then that theme is found throughout the Prophets, and Ezekiel is summarizing it all.

Dr. Kostenberger: Yes, so even if we say that “out of his heart,” the “his” refers to the believer, it still doesn’t take away ultimately from the fact that ultimately God is the source through the Messiah. But then, I think what Jesus is saying here is that believers themselves who benefit from Christ’s salvation and atonement will in turn be sources of rich blessing. And you almost see what happens in terms of God’s judgment on Israel. We see that in the Vineyard Song as well, that basically things like, the pipes got clogged up there. And so the blessing couldn’t flow through to the nations. And so Jesus steps in, and he is the vine, and his new messianic community are the branches of that vine, and so they bear fruit.

Shane Rosenthal: There are a number of passages in Zechariah’s prophecy, which ties into the idea of living water. First of all, you have in 12:10, God says, “I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that when they look upon me, on him they have pierced, they shall mourn for him as an only child, … a firstborn.” So you have Yahweh being pierced, then, just four verses later, “In that day there shall be a fountain opened up for the house of David.”

Dr. Kostenberger: Absolutely. And that very passage, of course, is quoted explicitly in John 19 and even in Revelation chapter 1. And so, I mean, we have clear warrant to induce and invoke this passage here as well.

Shane Rosenthal: And then six verses later, we find the words, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me.” The shepherd theme will come up in John 10. “Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.” Jesus quotes that passage as applying to him in Matthew 26. And just a few verses later, chapter 14, “On that day, living water shall flow out of Jerusalem.” So, you have the piercing of God, and a fountain being created that cleanses from sin, and living water flows out of Jerusalem. That’s what Jesus is hinting at here.

Dr. Kostenberger: And I think that’s what we’re talking about, that you see that cluster of messianic references including water symbolism and so forth, which you see not just in one of the prophets but you see that converge in Zechariah and Ezekiel, in Jeremiah and Isaiah. And so, this is almost like the river of prophecy that all then comes to, you know, its fruition in Jesus.

The Spirit Not Yet Given, Because Jesus Not Yet Glorified

Shane Rosenthal: Verse 39, “Now Jesus said this about the Spirit whom those who believe in him were to receive. For as yet the Spirit had not yet been given, for Jesus was not yet glorified.” What do you think he is getting at here? It sounds like the image of water is maybe an image or metaphor for the Holy Spirit?

Dr. Kostenberger: Yeah, I mean, so, just briefly, I mentioned a minute ago this is some sort of a strange-sounding reference here, because it is John seems to get so far ahead of himself in the narrative. You might compare it to Luke 9:51, where Luke, you know, about a third into his Gospel, refers to the ascension. And so here, John refers about a third into his Gospel to Jesus’ glorification. You can really go all the way back to the prologue, I think we briefly touched on that, where it says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” And here it comes: “Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” So, that’s where John for the first time talks about the need for regeneration. And then, of course, Jesus speaks to Nicodemus in chapter 3 about this as well.

Shane Rosenthal: And there he gets into the issue of water as well: “Those who were born from above, of water and spirit.” Which is happening here, too?

Dr. Kostenberger: Yes. In Ezekiel, chapter 36, I think it is. And Nicodemus there, serving as a representative of Judaism as a whole, I think it’s not even just him personally, even though it certainly is that, but you see the pronoun shift at some point from second singular, you know, to second plural, which in English sometimes is lost. You almost have to say “you all,” “y’all.” He is including Nicodemus and his fellow Jews in this orbit, which again tying in with Ezekiel 37, the valley of dry bones, coming to life, the idea of national resurrection, if you will, and renewal.

Shane Rosenthal: Yeah. So do you think that water, especially in a desert environment, is a source of life. And the Spirit is a source of life. So it’s used metaphorically as an image to that which gives life.

Dr. Kostenberger: It’s a great example of how historical background research can really unlock a passage for us, because, in our day, of course, you know, we …

Shane Rosenthal: We take that for granted, exactly. You come from a Baptist background. There are some who take Jesus’ words to Nicodemus and apply it to baptism. And it sounds like what I’m hearing you say it’s not necessarily a reference to baptism. It’s a reference to the Old Testament imagery about the power of the Spirit.

Dr. Kostenberger: Yes. And I think it makes more sense in context there not to tell Nicodemus he needs to be water-baptized, if you will, but rather to say, well, don’t you know, have you not read those passages in those prophets?

Shane Rosenthal: Yeah. “Are you a teacher of Israel and you don’t know these things?”

Dr. Kostenberger: Yeah. And then you see the references to living water to the woman at the well in the next chapter, which, again, don’t talk about water baptism, which, you know, wouldn’t make much sense to her.

Shane Rosenthal: You have similar language in John 6, where he says, “It is the Spirit who gives life. The flesh is no help at all. The words that I’ve spoken to you are Spirit and life.” Here, Spirit is joined with life, not water, but water conveys that idea in the same way. So, in John 4, in John 3, and here in John 7, Spirit and life are going together. It all takes us back to exodus, where water gives life, right?

Dr. Kostenberger: And in the prologue, you see that the life theme is prominent as well. “In him was life,” you know, so you see that fleshed out, as you mentioned, in various ways, water symbolism, bread of life, bread, water, you know, essentials for life. And then, beyond that in John 10, he talks about that Jesus gives abundant life, so there is a bit of a climax of this idea that, it’s not just life, it’s abundant life.

Shane Rosenthal: Yeah. It’s never-ending life. The source of eternal life. So now the narrator’s comment in John 7:39 seems to point to a yet-future event in which the disciples will receive the Spirit. So the Spirit has not yet been given. How was it that some people believed in Jesus? What’s the best way, you think, to explain that?

Dr. Kostenberger: Right. OK, so there’s two things I would say here. On the one hand, the word “believe” in John’s Gospel doesn’t always refer to saving faith. So we almost need to put different lenses on and read John’s Gospel, there is a spectrum here. For instance, in John 2:23–25, it says, “Many believed,” it even says there, “in Jesus’ name,” maybe alluding to the prologue, but then John immediately adds that Jesus himself did not entrust himself, he didn’t trust those professions of faith, because he knew what was in people’s hearts. And then immediately he follows that up with the example of Nicodemus.

The other observation, which may be even more pertinent in response to your question, is that, I think, Jesus’ statement here is probably more generic. I think he is saying that the one who believes in him, meaning maybe the ones who would believe in him in the future, would be a source of spiritual blessing for others. So I think this is more of a forward-looking statement, which refers to those who would believe in Jesus later and would receive the Spirit subsequent to Pentecost and then would become a source of blessing to others.

Shane Rosenthal: Do you think it’s also possibly referring to what happens in John 20 where Jesus breathes on the disciples and gives them the Holy Spirit and then talks about that ministry of forgiving: “If you forgive the sins of others, they are forgiven”? So, there is the declaration of pardon, which communicates forgiveness and liberation.

The “Johannine Pentecost” and New Creation Theology

Dr. Kostenberger: Definitely. I think within the narrative of John, John 20:22, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” is really the point of reference for John 7:39 here. Now, of course, commentators differ on how they take this. It’s commonly referred to in the scholarly literature as the “Johannine Pentecost.” I think some people are saying this is really some sort of in contradiction to Luke who has Pentecost later in Acts chapter 2. So that’s why I don’t like this term “Johannine Pentecost.”

Shane Rosenthal: I agree.

Dr. Kostenberger: And so he implicitly hints at that. I’m with Don Carson at this point, that this is more of a creation symbolism. There is a new creation motif here. I think commentators agree that Genesis 2:7 is alluded to, God breathing on Adam.

Shane Rosenthal: Right.

Dr. Kostenberger: And he becomes a living being. So here Jesus, as Yahweh essentially, is breathing on the new messianic community, and, again, they would become a source of blessing, as John 7:39 says, to others.

Shane Rosenthal: Yeah. You see that a little bit in John 9, too, where he heals the man born blind with mud. Like Yahweh creating Adam from the dust. He he is recreating this man with mud.

Dr. Kostenberger: Exactly. In my book Theology of John’s Gospel, I have a whole chapter on new creation, which is a bit of an overlooked motif. I had to dig a little harder in that chapter to find literature on it. But I became convinced that there is, from the beginning, I mean, “In the beginning was the Word,” that’s creation! And in the end, Jesus rises in a garden. I mean, there’s just so much there, the resurrection, right, as an indicator of new life and of new creation. And I think John 20:22, too, then, would be part of this new creation motif in John’s Gospel.

Shane Rosenthal: So you can have a situation in which someone believes, like, Peter believes, “You are the Christ, the Son of God.” “This was not given to you by men, but by my Father in heaven.” So he has that before the events of John 20. So what I think Jesus may be saying here is the Spirit had not been given in this official way that we see spelled out in John 20 in which it’s now official. Here is the great explosion of the announcement of the apostles declaring, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Dr. Kostenberger: So in the eschatological sense that Peter quotes in Acts 2, not in that sense.

First-century Messianic Expectations

Shane Rosenthal: Yeah. Right! Alright, in John 7, verse 40, we read that, “When they heard these words, some of the people said, ‘This really is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ But some said, ‘Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village of David?’ So there was a division among the people over him.” What strikes you as significant about the way the hopes and expectations of the people are described here?

Dr. Kostenberger: Yes. The Prophet, of course, refers to the prophet like Moses, who is mentioned in Deuteronomy 18, who was commonly expected. In the first century, actually, it seems that the Prophet and the Messiah were often viewed as two separate figures.

Shane Rosenthal: Yeah, in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Dr. Kostenberger: Yeah, even in John 1:21, those are separate questions for John the Baptist, and then, as you mentioned, the people at Qumran, they expected the coming of at least as many as three end-time figures, the Prophet, and then, not one, but sometimes two or three Messiahs, the royal, the priestly Messiah. And so, in this case, the objection that the Messiah would not come from Galilee but be born in Bethlehem is Johannine irony all over again, of course, because I think John’s readers, almost across the board, would have understood perfectly well that even though Jesus operated in Galilee, he was in fact born in Bethlehem in the first place.

Shane Rosenthal: Yeah, it’s interesting because he assumes his readers know that. He doesn’t explain that in a narrative comment. So he seems to be assuming the knowledge on the part of his readers, that they know the full story.

Dr. Kostenberger: Oh, some working knowledge. You see, to give just a couple quick examples, Andrew is referred to as Simon Peter’s brother.

Shane Rosenthal: Yeah, they know that. Or they know that John the Baptist had not yet been put in prison. But they didn’t even know that he had from reading John’s Gospel.

Dr. Kostenberger: Yeah. Absolutely. So, I think, in this case, you know, it is just ironic that what is presented as an objection by some people turns out to be the exact opposite. Because Jesus did fit the bill in that he was born in Bethlehem. So, I think it’s more, as John says at the end of this verse, “So there was a division among the people over him.” Which, my paraphrase would be, people were just confused.

Shane Rosenthal: Yeah.

Dr. Kostenberger: Part of the division was not because Jesus was unclear in his claims or had not performed the signs that were in keeping with prophetic prediction of what the Messiah would do. The problem was really in people’s heads and in their conflicted expectations. They couldn’t even agree with each other who the Messiah was going to be. So no matter who the Messiah turned out to be, there were going to be some, he was not going to fit with the preconceived notions.

Shane Rosenthal: And they were pulling in strands from the Old Testament, they just didn’t know how all those strands came together in one person, who is prophet, priest, and king. So, people are thinking about all those different promises, but they didn’t know that it was going to be one person.

Dr. Kostenberger: Yeah. And, I mean, to some extent 1 Peter 1, verses 10–12 tells us, even the prophets were not exactly sure as to exactly the time, exactly, you know, the person. But I think what what we’re seeing here is that the common people, they were even more confused than that, because they just pulled in strands of tradition here and there and they couldn’t reconcile them.

No One Ever Spoke Like This Man

Shane Rosenthal: Verse 44: “Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one hands on him. The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, ‘Why did you not bring him?’ The officers answered, ‘No one ever spoke like this man.’” Here is that theme I mentioned earlier, there is an assumption that he should have been arrested, but they were dumbfounded by what he said in the context in which he said it.

Dr. Kostenberger: They forgot all about their orders.

Shane Rosenthal: Yeah. He was speaking about living water and that he is the source of that living water during this temple ritual in which that’s the major part of the liturgy. He speaks with authority, and he speaks with conviction. No one has ever spoken like this. So, then, the Pharisees answer them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?” You know, look, if he is to be believed, we’ll let you know. “But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”

Ah, see, there’s the problem. It’s the crowd. They don’t know the law. Well, what Jesus just said in the other chapter. You don’t know. Actually, in this chapter. You have Moses, but you don’t keep it. They’re looking down their noses on the common people. One thing is clear, though: The temple officers are not dumbfounded with the idea that Jesus came to teach effective principles for life. They’re dumbfounded that he is claiming to be the source of living water that we see throughout the Old Testament, right?

Dr. Kostenberger: Yeah. He made a deep impact on them. And, yeah, you have to read that passage in light of the entire chapter 7 that preceded it.

Shane Rosenthal: Now in verse 50, Nicodemus came and said, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” And they replied, “Are you from Galilee, too?”

Dr. Kostenberger: I think you see the disdain for Galilee. You know, you see that in chapter 1. And so I think this is part of this. I think they’re just hurling some verbal abuse at Nicodemus or anybody who would be tempted to give any credence to his words, like the temple guards did, like Nicodemus does, because to some extent this is really a battle for popular opinion. And I think that is what you see in chapter 7. You have the crowds, and John very skillfully uses them as part of his characterization, is almost like the jury in a trial.

Shane Rosenthal: Right!

Dr. Kostenberger: And so they listen to the Pharisees. And they listen to Jesus. And you see they’re torn. I mean, they can’t deny some of the incredible claims Jesus stakes and the works he does, and at the same time, as we mentioned earlier, they’re afraid of the Jewish authorities, because they know they’re very antagonistic and hostile.

The Pericope of the Adulterous Woman

Shane Rosenthal: Now we get to the famous conclusion to John chapter 7 where we’re told that they each went to his own house, verse 53, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, and early in the morning he came again to the temple. So, this is the introduction to the famous scene with the woman caught in adultery. And I’ve actually asked a number of New Testament scholars about this passage, such as D. A. Carson, Craig Blomberg, Daniel Wallace, and all of them have been convinced that this passage was a later addition. What’s your take?

Dr. Kostenberger: Yeah. I think it’s hard to conclude otherwise. I mean, to go no further, 7:53 to 8:11 interrupt the flow of chapters 7 and 8, even geographically, as you alluded to there. It says here that Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, and then early in the morning, it’s already the next day. But then, back in chapter 8, verse 12, seamlessly picking up where 7:52 leaves off. So, to go no further, just from a narrative standpoint, it’s very intrusive into the flow of the narrative.

Shane Rosenthal: Yeah, I think Philip Comfort says something like, the earliest manuscript with this additional material is something like from the fourth century. And then after that, it’s something like the ninth century. But even if that weren’t the case, I’m totally with you. That this story ruins the flow of the narrative. This is the way John works. He’ll take an idea, like in John 6, and everything is relating to this imagery of the bread and the manna from heaven. And the entire theology fits with that section. And that’s what’s happening here at the Feast of Booths. And you have all the theology surrounding the Feast of Booths. Well, we found in John 7 that this was the last day of the feast. So if have here this break of a new day, well, you’ve ruined the theological significance of everything that happens in the next few days.

Dr. Kostenberger: So that’s the literary argument against the inclusion. Then there is also the linguistic argument. That, I think it’s demonstrable that whoever wrote the so-called Pericope of the Adulterous Woman, it was not the evangelist. Because there is a large number of words that are found here but nowhere else in the entire Gospel. And what’s also interesting, conversely, there’s a lot of words that are very frequently used in the Gospel of John that are not found a single time here. 

And so, clearly, when it comes to style, right, and we all have our typical way of communicating and writing, and so clearly, the author of this particular pericope was somebody other than the evangelist. I think that’s demonstrable. So you have the literary argument, you have the linguistic argument, and then add to that, as you mentioned, the external evidence, even the lack of patristic references to this. I think a few people have tried to argue that there are one or two earlier reference, but I’m not convinced of that. I think, again, you’re back to the fourth or fifth century when you see the first reference. Same with manuscript evidence.

Shane Rosenthal: I read one of the Fathers, that this appears here in John but in other texts it appears somewhere in Luke’s Gospel. And Daniel Wallace says we actually don’t have those manuscripts. So it seems like a story looking for a home.

Dr. Kostenberger: Totally. Yeah, as you mentioned, I read that there are at least five different locations in the manuscript traditions. Different places in John 7, a few have it at the end of John’s Gospel, which is kind of interesting. They patch it after the Gospel. And then a few even have it after Luke chapter 21, verse 38. So, I think that all supports the idea that, like you said, it’s a story in search for a home, but clearly not originally part of the Gospel.

Jesus the Light of the World

Shane Rosenthal: Now, looking ahead in John’s Gospel, so if you see chapter 7 not as having a break in day but chapter 8 verse 12 continuing on the last, great day of the feast, which makes sense theologically, as we’ve said, when do you see that day ending?

Dr. Kostenberger: Yeah, so, I basically see at least the narrative starting in chapter 7, verse 1, and then continuing on to the end of chapter 8. You have the climactic pronouncement, “Before Abraham was, I am,” and then Jesus is hiding himself from the temple, which again is a sign of judgment.

Shane Rosenthal: Yeah. He leaves the temple in verse 59, the very last verse of chapter 8. 

Dr. Kostenberger: And then you have a mild transition, if you will, “As he was passing by,” in chapter 9, verse 1, which is where he heals the man born blind. So clearly there you see the change in location. It’s interesting that even in chapter 10, you don’t have a hard break. It kind of continues right on. So you can tell we’re in this two-month period, like I mentioned, where Jesus is in Jerusalem at Tabernacles and later on at Dedication (which is Hanukkah). And so this is this in-between time where John selects some key events.

Shane Rosenthal: What’s interesting, though, is what you read in 9:14, which says, “It was a Sabbath day on the day which Jesus healed the man.” He leaves the temple, sees the man as he is leaving the temple, heals the man, and that last great day of the feast would have been a Sabbath day. So that makes total sense. It would have been one of those special Sabbaths. And then there is one final tie-in with the Feast of Booths that I’d like to discuss with you. According to the Mishnah, the requirement of the dwelling in the booths are for seven days. And every day they walk around the altar one time and say, ani wahu, “Save us, we pray.” And that phrase, ani wahu, basically means, “I am he.” That’s from the divine declaration from Deuteronomy 32: “Behold, I, even I, am he. There is no god besides me.” But it also appears here in John 8, where Jesus says, “Unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.” In other words, there is another tie-in, because if that was part of the sacred liturgy at this particular feast, and this is language we’re finding on Jesus’ lips.

Dr. Kostenberger: Yes, and I totally agree with that. And, of course, the “I am” statements are also very prominent throughout John’s Gospel. So what is interesting is now Jesus is continuing in chapter 8 verse 12, and he is identifying himself as the light of the world. He says we’ve seen that light is very prominent from the prologue onward. You even think of passages like, you know, Jesus would be a light to the Gentiles. So this is not just creation imagery and symbolism. This is also messianic symbolism.

Shane Rosenthal: Right. Light to the Gentiles.

Dr. Kostenberger: And, so here, again, this is pregnant with meaning in light of the messianic expectations that we’ve seen voiced in chapter 7. And, of course, chapter 9 verse 5 repeats the phrase, “I am the light of the world.” So there is even an interesting connection, very much like the kind of thing that John does, connecting chapter 8 with chapter 9.

Shane Rosenthal: Tying in the light of the world with the healing of the blind man.

Dr. Kostenberger: Yeah. So you see that there may be a soft transition in 9:1, but it’s not a hard one, right, he continues right on. So you see that in chapter 8, verse 20, John writes, “These words he spoke in the treasury,” including identifying himself as the light of the world, “as he taught in the temple. But no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.” So that is a bit of a conclusion, if you will, at this point that ties in that statement in the temple treasury, which, of course, would have been the place where offerings would have been brought.

Shane Rosenthal: Actually the Court of Women, right?

Dr. Kostenberger: Yes.

Shane Rosenthal: That way women could come in and deposit their offerings.

Dr. Kostenberger: Right. Like the widow’s mite, I think, it’s mentioned.

Shane Rosenthal: This is again from the Mishnah: “At the end of the feast of Booths, the priests went down to the Court of Women where there were four great candleholders there, and they would ascend the ladder to light each candlestick. There was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that was not lit up from the light.” In this same courtyard where Jesus is declaring himself to be the light of the world!

Dr. Kostenberger: It’s great to visualize that background, isn’t it? It just adds, it illuminates, you know …

Shane Rosenthal: An appropriate metaphor!

Dr. Kostenberger: … so much of what Jesus is saying here in its original Jewish context.

Shane Rosenthal: Yeah, especially when you think of it both as looking back to the exodus, because you had that angel of the Lord who went before the people in the pillar of cloud and fire, which lit up the night, but also looking forward to the expectation of the prophets that a light for the Gentiles will shine.

Jesus and God Are the Eternal Light

Dr. Kostenberger: There, of course, is this escalation. Those who that, you know, were lit up for a few days, but Jesus is the light of the world forever. So Jesus is the essence and the final fulfillment, you know, in an ultimate sense.

Shane Rosenthal: And it’s also, just like with the water imagery, you know, when you go back and look at the Old Testament, Yahweh himself is the fountain of life. Similarly, in the Old Testament we read about the light imagery. Psalm 36, for example, “For with you is the fountain of life. In your light do we see light.” When he is described as the light of the world, we’re being connected to Yahweh again, not just some nice teacher.

Dr. Kostenberger: And it’s tempting not to bring up Revelation 21 and 22, because there you have the final culmination even within the Johannine corpus and within Scripture as a whole. We see there is no more need for light in heaven, because God will be there, and he will be our perennial light. And there was a river of life flowing through the city. And so you see yet another stage of fulfillment, if you will, further down the road in Revelation at the very end of history.

Shane Rosenthal: Well, my guest for this program has been Andreas Kostenberger, who is Research Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of a number of helpful resources related to the Fourth Gospel, such as Encountering John: The Gospel in History, Literary, and Theological Perspective. Andreas Kostenberger, thanks so much for helping us to better understand this incredibly significant part of John’s Gospel and for being with us on the White Horse Inn.

Dr. Kostenberger: I’ve enjoyed it. Thank you so much, a fascinating conversation.

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