Original Research

The concept and activity of ‘obedience’ in the Gospel of John

Dirk G. van der Merwe
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2367 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2367 | © 2022 Dirk G. van der Merwe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 September 2021 | Published: 11 February 2022

About the author(s)

Dirk G. van der Merwe, Department of New Testament, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


The concept and activity of obedience can be regarded as fundamental to human existence as well as to Christian religion. The focus of this study was to investigate the occurrence of this concept in the Gospel of John. Of the two well-known Greek nouns ὑπακοή and ἀπειθέω (translated as ‘obedience’), and the two related verbs ὑπακούω and ἀπειθέω (translated as ‘obedient’), only ἀπειθέω occurs once (3:36) in the Gospel of John. The verb τηρέω has been used several times and not consistently translated because of diverse literary contexts. The objective of this study was to point out how the Gospel of John is filled with the obedience concept and how it was implied from different perspectives. The following themes associated with obedience will be discussed: (1) obedience to God as Father, (2) the essence of obedience – to love, (3) various expressions of obedience, (4) the ability to obey, (5) Christian obedience is to become like Jesus and (6) the rewards of being obedient.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The concept and activity, ‘obedience’, are understood as a virtue fundamental to human existence, as well as fundamentally essential and important for the Christian religion. This article investigates the occurrence of ‘obedience’ in the Gospel of John. To experience God’s blessings and enjoy God’s communion, God should be obeyed.


obedience; Gospel of John; concept; activity; human existence


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Crossref Citations

1. Johannine Ethics: An Exegetical-Theological Summary and a ‘Desiderative’ Extension of Mimesis
Paul Anthony Hartog
Religions  vol: 13  issue: 6  first page: 503  year: 2022  
doi: 10.3390/rel13060503