Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Today is the third day in our 47th week, reading the Bible through in a year.  Our scriptures today are:  Haggai; Zechariah 1; 1 John 2; Psalm 138.

This morning, you're going to appreciate why I've named my blog, "Love the Word," because today I'm going to focus on just one word--the word remain.

Ten times in one chapter, John uses the word remain.  This really stands out in the Holman Christian Standard Bible, which translates words with the same Greek root by consistently using the English word remain.  Most other English translations use various words such as "abide, dwell, stay, and remain," and don't give the same effect.  I happened to be using the HCSB this morning, so the word remain really stood out to me.  Below, I've listed all the occasions that John uses this word in 1 John 2.

The one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked.

10 The one who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
14 I have written to you, children,
because you have come to know the Father.
I have written to you, fathers,
because you have come to know
the One who is from the beginning.
I have written to you, young men,
because you are strong,
God’s word remains in you,
and you have had victory over the evil one.

17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.

24 What you have heard from the beginning must remain in you. If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. 

27 The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie; just as He has taught you, remain in Him.

28 So now, little children, remain in Him, so that when He appears we may have boldness and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. 

Because I am, as my wife says, a "word nerd," I couldn't resist digging into the etymology of this fascinating word remain.  At first, I thought it must come from a combination of re (which means "back, again") and main (which means "the principle thing").  If this were so, then to remain would be to return again to the principle thing.  This seemed to make sense to me, since remaining in Christ would involve re-maining, or re-centering yourself on the main thing in life, which is Jesus.

But then, after some research, I found that I was wrong.  According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the English word main comes from the Old English word maegn, which means "power, bodily force, efficacy."  This is a cognate of the Latin word magnus, which also means "great, powerful."  If remain stemmed from maegn and magnus, then remaining would mean "returning to your source of strength and power."  This would be a great definition, and it would fit these biblical passages.  However, this isn't the case.  Remain has a different root word altogether.

It turns out that the English word remain has its roots not in the Old English or Latin, but in ancient Greek.  The actual word that John uses, ten times in this one chapter, is a form of meno.  You can hear the English sound "main" in it, though the English meaning of "main" isn't the sense we get in the Greek.  This is what we call a false cognate--when words from two different languages appear to be related, but aren't really.  Main (power, principle, force) and meno aren't related at all.

The Greek verb meno means "I abide, stay, wait."  Thus, to re-main would mean "to wait again," or "return to your place of abiding."  

I like that.  If we remain in Christ, then we dwell in Him--over and over.  We keep returning to Christ, who is our home.  We wait on Him.  We stay with Him.

If the Greek meno and Old English maegn are false cognates, you may ask, "Are there any real cognates between meno and English words?"  Whew!  I thought you'd never ask.  Since you did, I've listed a few below:

The English words immanence, immanent, manor, mansion, manse, ménage, permanency, permanent, remain, remainder, and remanence all come from the Latin word manere, which itself is derived from the Greek word meno.

So, to remain in Christ, to remain in the light is to construct a mansion there and take up residence.  For God's Word to remain in you means that you become the permanent dwelling place for God's truth.  God's anointing remains in you when it is immanent within you--naturally part of you, and inherent part of your being.

You may say, "All that from one little word?"  

Yep--all that from one little word.  Now you can see why I love words so much.  They can convey so much with just a few syllables.

And more than loving words, I hope you can see why I "Love the Word."  I hope that you'll remain in The Word, and love much as I do.

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