I have recently been working through a small portion of Scripture in the Gospel according to John. Many of the ancient spiritual mystics and contemplatives wrote about union, or communion with God. In these writings one can get the idea that ‘abiding’ with, or in, Christ is foundational. I read John 15:1-7. In the 2011 NIV the verb, meno, has been rendered, “remain.” So, verse 4 reads, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you.” According to BDAG there are several ways to understand the language of ‘remaining.’ One of them is, of course, to remain in a certain place or position. It refers to location. In a sense, it can carry with it the flavor of dwelling or lodging. When I read ‘remain,’ however, I get the idea that it is something static that is left where it was found. ‘Remain in the house’ means to be static and stuck in a position or location. The NASB rendered this word “abide.” Again, BDAG, confirms this, also. Part of their definition is, “to denote an inward, enduring personal communion.” TDNT contains, “By the use of μένειν Jn. seeks to express the immutability and inviolability of the relation of immanence.”1God abides in the Son, believers abide in Christ, Christ abides in believers, believers abide in God, and God in believers. Kittel goes on to assert that, in this use of the present tense, “the eschatological promise of salvation becomes immediate possession [of believers].2
For me, the use of ‘abide’ rather than ‘remain’ is a more accurate understanding. Abide in English carries the color of relationships in active growth. It is a ‘green’ word. It is not a ‘steely gray’ word like “remain.”
The text in John is deserving of long, quiet meditation to allow the Holy Spirit to “abide” in us.
1&2Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964-c1976. Vols. 5-9 edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin. (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (4:576). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.