Puns in John's Gospel: Receive / Take (1:11, Part 2)

Puns in John’s Gospel

John 1:11 “Receive / Take” (Part 2)  

Review of Part 1:

In our first article on the use of paralambanŨ in John 1:11, we first looked at where this word is used elsewhere in John’s Gospel. We saw it was used only two other times: once at 14:3 and once at 19:16. After observing the three nuances listed in BDAG (an esteemed lexicon of biblical and ancient Greek), we concluded that the use in 14:3 fits nuance #1 (an endearing term connoting an affectionate disposition) and that the use in 19:16 fits nuance #2 (an adversarial term connoting a legal and jurisdictional sense). There is no indication that this term is used as a pun in either of these references. But can we say that of its first usage in the Prologue at 1:11?

We are considering the third instance of paralambanŨ in John’s Gospel, which is actually the first occurrence found in the opening Prologue at 1:11.

He came to his own and his own did not receive him. (ESV)

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Puns in John's Gospel: Receive / Take (1:11, Part 1)

Puns in John’s Gospel

John 1:11 “Receive / Take” (Part 1)

Before I introduce and explain the second installment of what I’m calling “Puns in John’s Gospel,” perhaps I should entertain the question, “How do we know when something is a pun or not?” That is, how do we know if the author is actually punning instead of simply employing a different nuance of a fairly well-known word? After all, we have many words in English that in one context we’ll use with one particular meaning in mind, but then in a different context—or sometimes even in the same context—we’ll use that same word, except we intend a different nuance. Moreover, the shift in meanings is seldom lost on anyone, unless, of course, someone is deliberately using riddles to entertain his audience.

            Take, for example, the word “entertain” in the previous paragraph. I used...

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Good Fruit / Bad Fruit (Part 1)

Good Fruit / Bad Fruit (Part 1)

When Jesus says, “the tree is known by its fruit,” in Matthew 12:33 (ESV), what is the nature of the fruit he’s referencing and how do we apply it today? The answer to that question is the topic of this blog, although our limited space allows for only a few brief suggestions, while leaving much unsaid. In Part 1, we’ll consider briefly three other places where Jesus makes an identical (or nearly identical) statement—made nowhere else by anyone else in the New Testament—and then in Part 2, we’ll zero-in on Matthew 12:33–37 as our primary focus.

Aside from Matthew 12 (which we’ll discuss later), we find the three other “tree-known-by-its-fruit(s)” statements in Matthew 7:16, 7:20 and Luke 6:44. Before commenting on any differences we find between them, let me first mention something about the context in which we find each of these. The statement itself is embedded in a passage of...

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Puns in John's Gospel: Overcome / Comprehend (1:5, Part 2)

Puns in John’s Gospel

John 1:5 “Overtake/Comprehend” (Part 2)



In Part 1, we explained the meaning of the word “pun,” and then highlighted John’s penchant for employing them in his Gospel. Then we considered the first instance of one, which comes as early as 1:5, involving the word “overcome” (or “comprehend” depending on the translation). Then we looked at the three other places where John uses that word in his Gospel (8:3, 4, and 12:35), concluding that we need to take a closer look at the context of his last usage before we could draw any reasonable conclusions. Finally, we offered a practical application for life and ministry.


In this installment, we need to look at how John uses that same word (katalambanŨ) in 12:35. To do that properly, we need to consider the larger context of John 12. And here is what we have: Up to a certain point in the Gospel, Jesus had repeated encounters with the...

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Puns in John's Gospel: Overcome / Comprehend (1:5, Part 1)

Puns in John’s Gospel

John 1:5 “Overtake/Comprehend” (Part 1)

The Gospel of John is known for both its simplicity and its sophistication. That is to say, on one level of reading, virtually anybody can understand it and find edification in it. But at another level of reading, the reader must go deeper and read with more insight and astuteness into the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. In my study of the Fourth Gospel over many years, I’ve observed that John loves to play with the various nuances of word meanings. When he does that, it’s called a pun. Others may call it double-entendre, double meaning, ambiguity, paronomasia, witticism, among other labels. While there might be slight differences between each of these terms, for our purposes here, I’m basically using the word pun synonymously with any and all of the above.

Now, John is also well-known for his use of irony and it is not uncommon for him to employ a pun at the same time that he speaks...

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