An interlocutor from days of yore contends that eternal life is a possession of the believer in the here-and-now (hic et nunc). Personally I have no disagreement with him as long as he is not interpreting present "eternal life" to mean "eternal security." He never really explained this point, so I am therefore not sure what my partner in dialogue means by eternal life being a present possession of the Christian believer. However, I notice that he seems to rely on some passages in the Johannine corpus. Two that I will cite are John 3:36 and 1 John 5:12:
hO PISTEUWN EIS TON hUION EXEI ZWHN AIWNION hO DE APEIQWN TWi hUIWi OUK OYETAI ZWHN ALL' hH ORGH TOU QEOU MENEI EP' AUTON (Jn. 3:36).
hO EXWN TON hUION EXEI THN ZWHN hO MH EXWN; hO MH EXWN TONN hUION TOU QEOU THN ZWHN OUK EXEI (1 Jn. 5:12).
One point that immediately comes to my mind when reading these verses is that one must "have" (EXEI) the Son in order to see (eternal) life. EXEI is the present indicative active 3rd-person singular form of the verb EXW ("to have or hold"). It could signify continuous action in both Johannine verses. Nevertheless, does it?
When discussing the controversial passage found in 1 Jn. 3:9, Buist M. Fanning concludes that 1 Jn. 3:4-10 is not discussing habitual or customary sin but should be interpreted in a generic or gnomic manner (Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek, 217). But he adds:
"Again, the possibility of a habitual sense cannot be ruled out entirely (cf. Matt. 7:17, John 3:36), but it seems less likely. On purely grammatical grounds, therefore, the absolute interpretation of 1 John 3:4-10 is to be preferred" (217).
Note that while Fanning emphatically denies 1 John 3:4-10 deals with the habitual sinning of a Christian believer or godly believers, he alternately appears to think that Mt. 7:17 and Jn. 3:36 do delineate continuous action. Fanning evidently clarifies his terminology on page 210 of Verbal Aspect after citing Jn. 3:36 again. He explains:
"The gnomic present can be viewed as the final step on the continuum which moves from very narrow reference(instantaneous present), to narrow reference (descriptive present), over to wider reference (customary present), and finally to widest reference (gnomic present). Thus, the gnomic present is similar to the customary present in that they both express generalized continuing or repeated occurrence (this is the aspect-meaning), but the gnomic use is even more general and indefinite, even less focused on particular people and restricted circumstances."
It is not important to understand what Fanning is saying to the nth detail. I quote him to show that 1 Jn. 3:4-10, according to Fanning and others, could potentially be delineating habitual action by its use of the present tense (imperfective aspect), although it's possible that the present does not signify continuous action. Yet Fanning appears to sense a difference aspectual nuance between Mt. 7:17, Jn. 3:36 and 1 Jn. 3:9. His work on aspect thus allows for the possibility that Jn 3:36
and 1 Jn 5:12 may well be saying that the one who
*continually* obeys the Son NOW 'has' life. But one
must continue in such obedience in order to retain the
present possession that JWs refer to as a 'saved
However one construes the present in Jn 3:36, it seems that Jesus was not teaching eternal security when he encouraged implicit obedience to the Son. I thus conclude that eternal life is a present posession, mutatis mutandis.