John 3:16 has been called “an ocean in a dew drop” because the meanings of this verse is oceanic. It has been called “a forest in the single leaf of tree” because of how magnanimous it is. It is the Word of God in a nutshell and there is no verse in all of the Scripture that so captures the attention of all people. Its truth goes far beyond anything that anyone can truly fathom. And it affects all people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and every color of people on the planet. In essence, it is the hub of the revealed truth of God Almighty who is able to still save today!
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever beleives in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
For God So Loved the World
God loves because He is love. It is His very nature to love. He loves people because He is the kind of God that He is. John the apostle tells us that God’s love is shown in the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. In recent times some scholars have argued that John sees God’s love as only for believers of Him, but here it is in plain language that God loves “the world.” Leon Morris adds that “The Greek construction puts some emphasis on the actuality of the gift: it is not ‘God loved enough to give,’ but ‘God loved so that He gave.'” This speaks of a costly love. God gave what is the dearest of all to Him, namely His only begotten Son.
Jesus Christ’s mission is bound to the supreme love of God for the evil, sinful “world” of humanity. These are the ones who are in rebellion against Him. As Paul the apostle puts, “There is none righteous, no not one,” and “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” The Bible says, ethnically speakng, that the world is divided into Jews and Gentiles. This statement from Jesus Christ “For God so loved the world” would have rocked Nicodemus’ world. As a Pharisee, as a Jew, he would not have in his mind that God loved the “world” but just the Jews. In essence, Nicodemus would be considered a racist today having an abhorrence for the Gentiles. But Jesus makes it clear that eternal life is a possibility not just for the Jews but also for the Gentiles. God’s love is not confined to any national group or spiritual elite. His love proceeds from the fact that God is love. John affirms that God loves all people regardless of their ethnicity.
God Gave His Only Begotten Son
John the apostle uses the word “gave” in two senses. First, God gave the Son by sending Him into the world, but God also gave the Son on the Cross. Notice the cross is not said to show us the love of the Son but that of the Father. The atoning work of Jesus Christ proceeds from the loving heart of God. It is not something wrung from Him–it is Him! God so loved the world that He gave His “only begotten Son” which means His Son who is the most unique of all. To be “only begotten” emphasizes the greatness and costliness of the Gift! As Paul the apostle exclaims, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” James Montgomery Boice says, “Unique means being without a like or equal, single in kind or excellence, matchless. It is an important word, and it is particularly important at just this point in our study since it occurs twice in the space of five verses.”
The Greek term for “only begotten” is monogenes. It means “monos = alone + genos = birth, race, kind. It comes from the Greek word ginomai meaning to come into being, to become. This means that which is the only one of its kind of class or specific relationship and thus is unique or “one and only.” We see that Jesus Christ–God’s only begotten Son–is unique because there is no one like Him. He is unique in His person, birth, doctrine, works, miracles death, resurrection, and future triumphs. Jesus Christ is the very gift of God the Father to all the world.
Whoever Believes In Christ Shall Not Perish
Sola fide is the great word of the reformers. “Faith alone” is important because it is one of the distinguishing characteristics or key points that separate the true Biblical Gospel from all of the false gospels. Paul the apostle says in Galatians 1 that anyone who preaches something different than what he preached then they should be accursed. So how is man justified by God? Again, Paul makes it clear that man is “justified by faith in Christ and not observing the law” (Galatians 2:16). The rest of the Bible concurs with this idea as well. “Whoever” is a pronoun that flings open the doors of heaven to any person who beleives in Jesus Christ for salvation. The belief is in Him–Jesus Christ–which is shorthand for saying believing everything about Him–that He is fully Man, fully God, that He is without sin, that He died on the Cross as our substitute for our sins, and that God showed He was satisfied with His Son’s “sin offering” by raising Him from the dead.
This means that this salvation which is believed gives to anyone a new birth, eternal life, and salvation. Whoever believes in Him experiences salvation and is saved forever. Conversely, those who are “perishing” are damned by their sin. The ultimate sin God will not forgive is the sin of refusing to trust His Son, Jesus Christ. If one refuses to believe, the consequences are they will perish, lose their lives, and destruction will befall them. There is no third option: we either believe or we do not beleive. We are either by faith turning to Jesus Christ or refusing this Gospel message.
When we believe this Gospel of Jesus Christ, it means that we are accepting it as being true, genuine, and real. It means that we have the conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of God to save us through His only begotten Son. It means that we have been fully persuaded to obey God by accepting the gift of His Son and to believe in Him for salvation.
Whoever Believe in Christ Shall Have Eternal Life
Jesus Christ in John 3:16 is contrasting the difference between those who believe and those who do not. It is between those who are perishing and those who have eternal life. Every soul of man will spend eternity either in a state of spiritual death or spiritual life based on whether they have received this gift of salvation from God the Father which is only found in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Those who believe have a present possession and privilege as being a part of the family of God. And it will last forever.
As Dr. W.A. Criswell so aptly put it, “There are two words used for ‘life’ in the Greek New Testament. Zoe, meaning “life” in its absolute sense, as God has given it, is used in thsi verse. It signifies spiritual life in John. This word is frequently used for “eternal life” with its special emphasis upont he quality of life and its endless duration through the ages to come. Thsi life is available only through beliefe in God’s Son. The Biblical concept of ‘eternal life’ is more than immortality, and it involves not only the soul but also the body. From creation man was made for never-ending life, not for death. The death and resurrection of Jesus provide the basis for and give the picture of the divinely appointed redemption-life. “Life” in its purest and noblest sense is inextricably joined to regeneration.”
So Where Do You Stand?
Have you believed in Jesus Christ for salvation and eternal life? Have you accepted the gift that God the Father so lovingly has given to the world? Are you aware of how much God loves you? If not, re-read John 3:16 and believe that He loved you enough that He gave His only begotten Son for you! For God so loves you!