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(John 3:16)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The Gospel of John, chapter 3, verse 16, is one of the all-time beloved and well-known verses in the entire Bible. It is frequently called the “golden text” of the Scripture.

One might be shocked to learn, therefore, that this great passage is one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented texts of the Word of God. Many sincere people, who dearly cherish John 3:16, have little idea what this marvelous verse actually is teaching.

In a brief study, let us carefully look at the passage in its constituent elements.


In the New Testament, John 3:16 begins with the conjunction for, which is used to explain a foregoing statement. In this case, the writer has just alluded to an historical situation that occurred in the days of Moses.

After the Israelites were led from Egyptian bondage into the wilderness of Sinai, many of them began to murmur against the Lord. Accordingly, the Lord sent fiery serpents among them as a mode of punishment. When the people acknowledged their sin and sought deliverance, God instructed Moses to fashion a serpent out of brass, and set it upon a standard. Any person who “looked” upon the serpent would live (Numbers 21:4-9).

It must be observed that the desired cure was not to be realized in simply “believing” that such could occur; rather, in addition to having faith in the Lord, the Israelite who sought healing was required to obediently look upon the image.

The incident of the serpent was, of course, typical of the death of Christ, i.e., it was a symbol or picture.

Jesus Christ, consistent with the divine plan of redemption, must die, and in a manner whereby he would be “lifted up” (John 12:32). This was accomplished by the Lord’s death on the cross.

…God so loved…

It is here affirmed that God so loved the world. The term “God” is the designation of the divine nature, and so can be employed of either the Father (Ephsians 1:3); of Jesus, the Son (John 1:1); or of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4). In this verse, obviously “God” is used of the Father, who gave his Son.


How wonderfully the love of God is here portrayed. Unlike the gods of paganism, who were vicious and cruel, and also the cold and indifferent “god” of modern philosophy, the God of the Bible is loving (2 Corinthians 13:11; 1 John 4:8,16).

The term “loved” translates the Greek verb “agapao.” The noun form agape is not a love which is merely emotional. It is the love of genuine interest, that of determined dedication. It is the love which acts out of concern for others.

It is this magnanimous love of God that motivates man to seek his grace. John once wrote: “We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

…the world…

The Greek word for “world” is “kosmos.” In a literal sense, the term denotes the orderly universe created by the intelligent God (Acts 17:24), or, in a more limited sense, the earth (Mark 16:15). Frequently, though, “world” stands for all people of the earth — this is a figure of speech known as metonym; the world stands for its inhabitants. The passage therefore emphasizes the universal love of God.

“God loves the whole world and wants all to be saved, but he will force no one to yield to his plan!”

…that he gave…

Giving is a characteristic of God. He has given us life (Acts 17:25), and his gifts of providence are daily evident (Acts 14:17). He is the source of all good gifts (James 1:17), and the greatest was the gift of his Son. Seven centuries before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah announced: “…a child is born… a son is given…” (Isaiah 9:6).

Surely we must say with Paul: “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

It is quite apparent, however, that even when a gift is made available, for it to be effective, one must be willing to receive it. There must be a concurrence between the will of the giver and the will of the benefactor. Now the tragic fact of the matter is, though God willingly gave his Son, not all have been disposed to receive him.

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Of some it was said: “they that were his own received him not (John 1:11).”

Further, it is certainly true that an object may be freely given, i.e., not deserved, and yet be conditional.

Similarly, those who would receive Christ, as God’s gracious gift, must submit to the conditions required by the Lord and his apostles (Acts 2:41).

This is interesting right??

…his only begotten Son…

I tried to understand this phrase very well by employing other study tools, the concept of trinity is still a mystery, yet, there ‘re certain events to make one understand it. There has been many misrepresentation of “Only begotten son”. Some people see this as biological son, or two different God, in fact; below ‘re bible references suggesting Jesus as the son of God.

The Lord Jesus was declared to be the Son of God by:

– the prophets (Isaiah 9:6);
– the Angels (Luke 1:32);
– the Father (Matthew 3:17);
– himself (Mark 14:62);
– his disciples (Matthew 16:16);
– his enemies (Matthew 27:54); and
– by the power of his resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4).

But, for clarity, the phrase translated as “One and Only Son,” or “only begotten Son” uses the Greek word “monogenes”.

This is a very precise word, and one which John uses in other places in this gospel (John 1:14; John 1:18; John 3:18). While the English term “begotten” often makes people think of biology, monogenes does not imply it.

The word literally means something of the exact same “stuff.” In other words, the Son is exactly of the same nature as God the Father. This makes John 3:16 an important part of proving the biblical concept of the Trinity.

…that whosoever believes on him…

Again, the term “whosoever” (literally, “everyone”) reveals the universality of God’s saving plan. The gospel is addressed to “the whole creation” (Mark 16:15), and, as the final great invitation of the Bible has it, “…he that is athirst, let him come: he that will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

The verb “believe” simply means “to comply” in addition to the acknowledgment of the historical data, and a trusting disposition.

J. H. Thayer noted that belief is “used especially of the faith by which a man embraces Jesus, i.e. a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah — the divinely appointed author of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God conjoined with obedience to Christ”.


It follows therefore, that faith cannot be divorced from obedience as the following evidence clearly reveals.

“He that believes in the Son has eternal life; but he that obeys not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

While John 3:16 promises eternal life to him who believes, Hebrews 5:9 attributes eternal salvation to such as who obey, thus demonstrating that the two are not mutually exclusive, rather, saving faith includes obedience.

…should not perish…

Contrary to the assertions of some religious materialists, the Scriptures do not teach that the wicked will ultimately cease to exist. No, the word is employed to describe the miserable condition one will find himself if he disobeys, like the prodigal son, when separated from his loving father. In that state the son was “lost” (Luke 15:24), but he had not ceased to exist.

…but have eternal life…

Eternal life is here promised to those who pursue the life of obedient trust.

But, what is exactly eternal life?

Most assuredly, it is not mere eternal existence, for the wicked will also exist eternally. Eternal life is the exact opposite of everlasting death. The final abode of evil persons is called “the second death” (Rev. 2:11; 20:6,14).

Since “death” always connotes the idea of separation, in some form or another (Ephesians 2:1), the final death is obviously eternal separation from God (Matthew 7:23; 25:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:9).

Conversely, eternal life is everlasting communion with God, along with all the wonders that involves. It is a state of glory (Romans 2:10; 2 Corinthians 4:17), rest (Hebrews 4:11), and happiness (Matthew 25:21).


John 3:16 is truly a marvelous text (Golden text). But it is deeper and much richer than many have supposed. May we be wise enough to study its truths in the light of the bible as a whole. It contains history, responsibility, warning, and promise. May the love of God never cease to abide with us both now and forever. Amen!!

Peace be with you all.