Abiding in Christ: What Does it Mean? part 4 of 9, the Lexica
The significance of abide as a synonym of remain, continue, endure, or persevere appears clear from an examination of the texts. While continuing with a person may often be connected with fellowship, the word itself does not signify any necessary personal communion. This fact is confirmed by an examination of the lexica.
The standard classical Greek lexicon provides the following definitions for various constructions of meno:
I. stand fast, in battle . . . of soldiers . . . 2. Stay at home, stay where one is . . . b. lodge, stay . . . c. stay away, be absent from . . . and so abs., to be a shirker, . . . 3. stay, tarry . . . loiter, be idle . . . 4. of things, to be lasting, remain, stand . . . having no proper motion . . . b. remain in one’s possession . . . 5. of condition, remain as one was, of a maiden . . . generally, stand, hold good . . . of circumstances . . . of prosperity . . . remain contented with . . . be content with . . . of wine, keep good . . . 6. abide by an opinion, conviction, etc. . . . the party which observes an engagement . . . 7. Impers. c. inf., it remains for one to do . . . II. Trans., of persons, await, expect . . . esp. await an attack without blenching . . . of a rock, bide the storm . . . reversely of things, awaits him . . . 2. c. acc. et inf., wait for, . . . [as in] wait ye for the Trojans to come nigh? . . . they waited for evening’s coming on . . . why wait to go? . . . I wait, i. e., long, to hear (Liddell, H. G. & Scott, R. Greek-English Lexicon, 9th ed., New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1996).
One notices that there is no definition for meno as “hold communion with” or the equivalent out of the many significations listed.
me÷nw(Hom.+) impf. e¶menon; fut. menw◊; 1 aor. e¶meina, impv. mei√non (Hv 3, 1, 9); pf. ptc. pl. memenhko/taß 2 Macc 8:1; plpf. memenh/kein 1J 2:19 (on the lack of augment s. B-D-F §66, 1; W-S. §12, 4; Mlt-H. 190).
1.remain, stay, intr.
a. a pers. or thing remains where he, she, or it is.
a. of a location stay, oft. in the special sense live, dwell, lodge . . .
b. in transf. sense, of someone who does not leave a certain realm or sphere: remain, continue, abide . . . a pers. or thing continues in the same state
2.to continue to exist,remain, last, persist, continue to live, intr.
3.wait for, await, trans.
BDAG gives many objective definitions and analyses of the word, along with the interpretive statement that the word “is a favorite of J[ohn] to denote an inward, enduring personal communion.” While meno is unquestionably associated with communion, personal relationship is not an inherent part of the word itself. For example, when the disciples abode in a house on their evangelistic journeys (Luke 9:4) or the Lord Jesus abode in Zaccheus’ house (Luke 19:5), there doubtless was fellowship with the owners of the respective places of abode. Nonetheless, the word itself does not directly require the fellowship.
One thus notes that other lexica, such as The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains by Johannes P. Louw & Eugene A. Nida, define meno as “to continue to exist — ‘to remain, to continue, to continue to exist, to still be in existence. . . . to continue in an activity or state — ‘to continue, to remain in, to keep on.’ . . . to remain in the same place over a period of time — ‘to remain, to stay. . . . to remain in a place and/or state, with expectancy concerning a future event — ‘to await, to wait for.’” (13:89; 68:11; 85:55; 85:60). No definition of the word as fellowship or communion is listed. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines the word as “1. to remain, abide . . .1a) in reference to place . . . 1a1) to sojourn, tarry . . . 1a2) not to depart . . . 1a2a) to continue to be present . . . 1a2b) to be held, kept, continually . . . 1b) in reference to time . . . 1b1) to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure . . . 1b1a) of persons, to survive, live . . . 1c) in reference to state or condition . . . 1c1) to remain as one, not to become another or different . . . 2) to wait for, await one.” Here again, no definition of the word as a synonym for fellowship is listed.
See the complete study on meno or "abiding," which includes the passages not only in the KJV but also in the Greek NT (not present in this series of blog posts), by clicking here.