1 March 2012

John 3:16-21

"God so loved the world ..." (v. 16)


This passage is a continuation of the conversation with Nicodemus (begun yesterday). The words are attributed to Jesus, and reflect the theology of the Johannine Christian Community (ie the first recipients of John's Gospel). What were they saying? It is helpful to go from verse 11 to 21:

  • Verse 11 - We speak of what we have seen (see 1 John 1:1).
  • Verse 13 - "No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man".
  • Verse 14 - Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so is the Son of Man lifted up.
  • Verse 15 - Whoever believes in Jesus may have eternal life.
  • Verse 16 - "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life".
  • Verse 17 - God did not send his Son to condemn the world, but to save it through him.
  • Verse 18 - "Those who believe in him are not condemned".
  • Verse 18 - Those who do not believe in him are condemned (because they have not believed in the name of the Son of God).
  • Verse 19 - The light has come into the world, but people love darkness.

The words are addressed to all those whom Nicodemus represents, but also to the wider Jewish community, the Samaritans (John 4) and the Greeks (John 12:20-22) who all represent the world in which Jesus and his community is set. They state God's purpose: "God so loved the world ..."


To Ponder

How would you illustrate the point that God loves the world?

How would you explain the concept of eternal life, without using religious language?