It’s one of the most quoted verses of all time. It’s the one that people still hold up on signs at sporting events. That verse is John 3:16.
I was thinking about that verse this weekend and it’s been a long time since I learned it. The version that I memorized comes from the King James Bible and it reads this way:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
There are so many other Bible translations and versions that give essentially the same words, but I’m going to share 10 things with you that I have been thinking about when it comes to that verse:
- For God. Go all the way back to Genesis 1:1 and we read, “In the beginning, God created…” Without God, what we read in this verse is an absolute fantasy.
- For God so loved. The “so” that is used here means “in this manner.” So, John is setting up a statement that gives us the example of what God’s love is like.
- The world. The “world” is the object of God’s love and in this case, the world means everybody. There is no limit placed on the world. It is not a statement of one group being accepted and another excluded. Everybody means everybody.
- That he gave. True love, loving in the way that God loves, requires sacrifice. God’s love in action means that a sacrifice must be made for the world (everybody).
- His only begotten Son. There’s a so much power in this statement. God loves the world in such a way that he demonstrates it by sacrificing his only Son. Now, we know that as Jesus. However, in the world of the Bible, having a son meant that the family line continued on. Sons received the inheritance. God is willing to give that all up because God loves the world.
- That whosoever believeth in him. Believeth is not a word we use often and the spellcheck goes nuts with it. Believeth means that you place your trust in something and that you have confidence in something. In this case, it’s talking about those who are confident and place trust in God and God’s sacrifice.
- Should not perish. John gives us a contrast here with these two options: (1) Believing in God or (2) perishing. Perish is a strong word that means “destroyed.” So, in other words, those that believe are saved from complete destruction.
- But have everlasting life. It’s positioned as the opposite of perishing. Utter destruction verses eternal life.
- The formula of unconditional love. Love = action (God gives) + sacrifice (God gives his Son) + rescue (Those who believe have everlasting life.)
- John 3:16 is the bottom line of the Gospel. It’s what God and Jesus are about in a single statement. It’s a word of hope for those who need it.
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