The first word is bios, in which the English word biology is derived. It refers to the duration of life -- one's life span, the time between one's birth date
and one's death date; or it refers to the necessities of life -- one's food, shelter, and clothing. The second word is zoe
, in which the English words zoo and zoology are derived. It refers to life as God has it. The life that be-longs to God that becomes ours when we cross the doorway of Jesus and enter into a relationship with God. It is not a duration because this life is not limited by time, nor hindered" by death. It is not a possession but rather an infilling -- God once again breathing his life into us.
When we were born we were given bios
life, when we are born again we are given zoe
life. Until we cross the doorway of Christ and enter into a relationship with God through Jesus we may be physically alive but spiritually we are dead.
Jesus goes on to quantify this life, "and have it to the full" (John 10:10
). Depending on the translation one uses the word that is translated full in the NIV may be translated "abundantly," or "fullness," or "overflowing" in other versions of the Bible. But what is meant by this word? "Have it to the full" means to have a superabundance of a thing. To be a follower of Jesus, to know who he is and what he means, is to have a superabundance of life. There is a new vitality, a new meaning, a new energy, a new purpose, a new significance, a new outlook, a new hope, a new joy, a new life.
Granted this is hard to explain, but consider this scenario for a clarification.
You have reserved a subcompact car like a Ford Escort to rent for a vacation. Now I have nothing against a Ford Escort. The last vacation my wife and I went on we rented a Ford Escort and we got around with it just fine. The Ford Escort gets good gas mileage. It runs fine. It will get you where you need to go. But let's suppose when you go to the Car Rental place and you ask for your Ford Escort they tell you that all the Ford Escorts are in service. "Would you mind an upgrade?"
"Would you mind an upgrade?" you say to yourself. "Come on, get serious," you think. You would love an upgrade.
The car rental attendant says, "Well, it looks like the only car we have available is a Lincoln Town Car. Would that be all right?"
Of course that will be all right. So you hop into your Lincoln Town Car and drive off in style. Does this car get you to your destination any faster? NO. But you get there in greater comfort and in luxury. You feel better about yourself. You don't mind a few stares and looks from people you pass on the road. When you get out at the motel you're treated with a little more respect than you have been before when you pulled up in the Ford Escort.
When Cindy, my wife, and I went on our honeymoon, we arrived at the airport late. We were allowed to board but we were not given seats next to each other. In fact she was one row behind me. When the steward came by for drink orders, Cindy must have had a look on her face that caused the steward to ask, "Are you on your honeymoon?"
"Yes," Cindy replied.
"Where is your husband?" he asked.
Cindy pointed to me in the row in front of her. The steward left, but in a few minutes he returned. He requested that Cindy and I retrieve our things and follow him. We did. He lead us to the first class section. When we got to that part of the plane, he announced, "On behalf of American Airlines we have upgraded your seats and we wish you a happy honeymoon." Between our seats was a bottle of chilled champagne. The rich Corinthian leather seats were wide and comfortable. We had an endless supply of food and drinks. Did we get to our destination any sooner? NO. But we did get there in greater style and comfort. Our seats had been upgraded.
What was God up to when he sent Jesus to this Earth? Upgrading life, that's what. Through Jesus Christ he was offering to us life not just good, but better, not just full, but fuller.
Think of Jesus as your friendly travel agent. If you are not already on board, he would like to book you on a flight to glory, heaven as the final destination. While this ticket is free you must receive it by asking Jesus into your heart. And furthermore, while your on the journey, as you live this life, he wants to offer you an upgrade. This is a gift too, but you must take advantage of it. Just as Cindy and I were obedient and followed the steward to our new accommodations, so to you must be obedient and follow the Master.
And when you do, what a wonderful life it is.