Original Research - Special Collection: New Testament landscape in Zimbabwe

The role of the church in the public space in Zimbabwe (2017–2023): Lessons drawn from Johannine Jesus in John 21:15–18

Phillemon M. Chamburuka
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 4 | a8979 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i4.8979 | © 2023 Phillemon M. Chamburuka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 May 2023 | Published: 29 December 2023

About the author(s)

Phillemon M. Chamburuka, Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe; and Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


The New Testament presents Jesus as a transformational leader whose ministry had a holistic approach to challenges that were prevalent in his contemporary world. This article is a theological reflection of the role of the church in the public space in Zimbabwe as we draw lessons from servant leadership which is derived from Johannine Jesus’ message in John 21:15–18 with special focus on the Zimbabwean socio-political context (2017–2023). It is imperative for the Zimbabwean church to draw lessons from the socio-historical interpretation of Johannine Jesus’ message in John 21:15–18 because the Bible has to speak to our context in the here and now. The article concludes that the Zimbabwean church is compromised because of divisions among ecumenical Christian organisations on how to deal with socio-political issues in Zimbabwe such that an effective application of Jesus’ political ethics is problematic. The article recommends that church should be more proactive by empowering her members and the community at large on how Jesus’ ethics on servant leadership are useful in socio-political context in Zimbabwe. This will help the church to remain relevant and transformative in the public space.

Contribution: The article contributes towards the scope of the special collection on the contextual reading of New Testament in the socio-political landscape in Zimbabwe as it focuses on the lessons drawn from the socio-historical interpretation of the Johannine Jesus’ message in John 21:15–18 towards the role of the church in the public space in Zimbabwe.


Church; Johannine Jesus; public space; servant leadership; socio-political; Zimbabwe


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