The anointed community : Christ, Christians and the Spirit according to the Fourth Gospel
Despite the absence of the term 3kklho ia&d12;&d12; in the Fourth Gospel, it is. clear that the gospel's communal images, the prayer for unity in chapter 17, and especially the undertone of the Farewell Discourse point to the assumption that after the death of Jesus the disciples were to constitute a continuing community. Alan Culpepper has pointed to this as well as to the role of the Beloved Disciple in John and the presence of distinctive historical traditions and concluded that there was a Johannine community in the first century which shared the essential characteristics of other ancient schools in Hellenism, Qumran, and contemporary Judaism. The aim of this thesis is to examine one feature of this community's belief and experience namely, the rote of the Spirit in its view both of Christ and of Christian experience. It will be argued that the Johannine community was a pneumatic community in that the anointing of each member was an important distinctive of community life. This meant that the experience of Christ was paradigmatic: he was the Spirit-anointed man whose model was to be emulated. He was the source of the Spirit for the church. And his Spirit was the Spirit that sustained the church in power. Therefore the foremost feature of Johannine pneumatology was its christocentric basis. In Johannine christology the Spirit is fully integrated into the person of Christ---so much so that the synoptic portrait is substantially refashioned. In this regard the anointing of Jesus is a continuing motif in the gospel, but remains second to John's concept of the Spirit indwelling and residing in the messiah as a part of his life. Thus the Spirit and Jesus are closely linked before the Farewell Discourse insofar as the Spirit is viewed as an integral part of Jesus' life and being and is finally released through his death. The implied union of Spirit and Christ is made explicit in Johannine eschatology. The Fourth Evangelist stresses the present reality of Christ in Spirit in contrast to the traditional focal point of the parousia. This is achieved not only by aligning the gift of the Spirit with the hour of glorification and Jesus' resurrection, but in the parallel expectation running throughout the Discourse that in the believer's encounter with the Paraclete, he will effectively encounter Jesus. Again, the Spirit is Jesus' life which is released in death and when Jesus gains resurrection life, this life is passed on, to his followers in the insufflation of 20:22. Therefore the unity of Christ and Spirit is seen with particular clarity in the glorification when through the Spirit Jesus will be with his disciples in a new way. In the Johannine community Spirit-experience was thus "Jesus-experience." But how was this experience realized within the community In chapter four John's corrective view of baptism and the Lord's Supper will be related to his message about the experiential Spirit. The mark of discipleship in this community was not baptism as much as it was spiritual birth and this dynamic anointing was characteristic of ongoing community life. Similarly, the eucharist was not an empty tradition but a meeting-place wherein the believer could encounter the living Christ in Spirit. This is the definition of true worship: it is the believer's expression of faith in light of the work of the cross when joined with the adoration of God in Christ who is encountered powerfully in the Spirit. In concert with traditional expressions of worship, the Johannine expression was based on the objective criteria of the cross and faith. But its distinctive element was subjective: it reflected a vitality and enthusiasm that could only be attributed to the Spirit. Johannine worship was pneumatic worship. Thus as Jesus was anointed, so too, the believer must be anointed with the Spirit of Jesus. But likewise, as Jesus was persecuted, his followers would be tested with parallel persecutions. The trial motif which runs through the Fourth Gospel was to be indicative for the Beloved Disciple and his community. They were to be agents as Jesus was an agent of God. And similarly, they found in the Spirit Paraclete the power to sustain their witness before the world and to engage in an offensive posture before Christ's opponents. But again, Jesus himself was the center point of the Paraclete's witness. The Paraclete recalled the tradition of what Jesus taught, provided words for the present crisis, and revealed the future. Above all, the Paraclete exegeted Christ to the world. He revealed Jesus in truth, conviction, and power through the compelling witness of the church.