20 June 2020

John 3:16-21

For 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. (v. 16)

Psalm: Psalm 57:1-3, 7-11


The Gospel of John, written in about 100 AD, is different from the other Gospels. Several themes characterise this Gospel, including light and darkness, life and death and flesh and spirit.

The study passage comes after Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus, in which Jesus explained what it meant to be born from above and that Jesus’ work was about much more than outward signs. The passage is followed by an account of both Jesus and John the Baptiser performing baptisms in Judea.

John continues the theme of life and links it to light: those who are in the dark love evil, but those who are in the light are those whose deeds are done in God.

It is not clear whether this is a continuation of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, though it is most likely that it does. Following Jesus’ explanation of this new birth, Jesus explained the reason for his coming into the world, namely, not to condemn, but to save. And Jesus came for all people; it is an inclusive Gospel. But it is not forced on anyone. Those who believe will have eternal life. This does not refer only to life after death – a concept which is somewhat strange and mysterious – but to life in a new way. This can be explained with reference to John 10:10 where Jesus said that he came so they might have life and have it abundantly.

And Jesus links the concept of life with the symbol of light. Charles Wesley in the famous carol 'Hark! The herald-angels sing', writes: 'Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings'.


To Ponder:

  • John 3:16 is a verse which many people know by heart. What does this verse mean for you?
  • This verse speaks about God loving all people: how could you put this into practice, especially since the death of George Floyd has demonstrated that the world is still plagued by racism? 

Bible notes author

Revd Lynita Conradie

Lynita Conradie was ordained in 2005 in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and worked part-time as a minister and also as a human rights lawyer and editor of the Namibian Law Reports, in Namibia. Lynita came to Britain in September 2013 and served as a presbyter in the Nottingham (North) Circuit until August 2018. She is currently in the Harrow and Hillingdon Circuit. In her spare time, Lynita follows cricket and rugby and likes reading and travelling.

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