Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 3:15

so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Brazen Serpent;   Faith;   Immortality;   Jesus, the Christ;   Life;   Righteous;   Salvation;   Types;   Wicked (People);   Scofield Reference Index - Flesh;   Thompson Chain Reference - Believers;   Blindness-Vision;   Deathless;   Eternal;   Everlasting;   God's;   Indispensable, Christ;   Life;   Life, Eternal;   Life-Death;   Only Saviour;   Promises, Divine;   Saviour, Christ Our;   Sin-Saviour;   Vision;   The Topic Concordance - Belief;   Eternal Life;   Perishing;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Anger of God, the;   Faith;   Life, Eternal;   Salvation;   Serpents;   Types of Christ;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Brazen Serpent;   Faith;   Nehushtan;   Nicodemus;   Serpents;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Eternity;   John, gospel of;   Kingdom of god;   Snake;   Son of god;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Fulfillment;   King, Christ as;   Life;   Time;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Episcopacy;   Joy of God;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Brass;   Call;   Life;   Moses;   Nicodemus;   Serpent, Fiery;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Jesus Christ;   Serpent, Brazen;   Zechariah, the Book of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Children (Sons) of God;   Eternal Life;   Holy Spirit;   Hour;   Life;   Ordinances;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Gospels;   John, Gospel of;   John, Theology of;   Logos;   Love, Lover, Lovely, Beloved;   Mss;   Nicodemus;   Redeemer, Redemption;   Scribes;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Character;   Death of Christ;   Discourse;   Eternal Punishment;   Eternal Sin;   Faith ;   Holy Spirit;   Immortality (2);   Impotence;   Individuality;   Love (2);   Mental Characteristics;   Ministry;   Mission;   Name (2);   Property (2);   Quotations (2);   Reconciliation;   Redemption (2);   Regeneration;   Repentance (2);   Righteous, Righteousness;   Sacrifice (2);   Salvation;   Sin (2);   Teaching of Jesus;   Vicarious Sacrifice;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Believer;   Eternal;   Numbers, Book of;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Regeneration;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Numbers book of;   Serpent;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Brazen Serpent;   Calling;   Type;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - On to Canaan;   Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Justification;   Life;   Nicodemus;   Papyrus;   Restoration;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Brotherly Love;   Hatred;   Nicodemus;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for April 17;   Every Day Light - Devotion for December 4;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

That whosoever believeth - Bp. Pearce supposes that this verse is only the conclusion of the 16th, and that it has been inserted in this place by mistake. The words contain the reason of the subject in the following verse, and seem to break in upon our Lord's argument before he had fully stated it. The words, μη αποληται αλλα, may not perish but, are omitted by some very ancient MSS. and versions.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 3:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

That whosoever - This shows the fulness and freeness of the gospel. All may come and be saved.

d Believeth in him - Whosoever puts confidence in him as able and willing to save. All who feel that they are sinners, that they have no righteousness of their own, and are willing to look to him as their only Saviour.

Should not perish - They are in danger, by nature, of perishing - that is, of sinking down to the pains of hell; of being “punished with everlasting destruction” from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power, 2 Thessalonians 1:9. All who believe on Jesus shall be saved from this condemnation and be raised up to eternal life. And from this we learn:

1.that there is salvation in no other.

2.that salvation is here full and free for all who will come.

3.that it is easy. What was more easy for a poor, wounded, dying Israelite, bitten by a poisonous serpent, than to look up to a brass serpent? So with the poor, lost, dying sinner. And what more foolish than for such a wounded, dying man to refuse to look on a remedy so easy and effectual? So nothing is more foolish man for a lost and dying sinner to “refuse” to look on God‘s only Son, exalted on a cross to die for the sins of men, and able to save to the uttermost “all” who come to God by him.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 3:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-3.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

That whosoever believeth in him,.... Whether Jew or Gentile, a greater, or a lesser sinner, and of whatsoever state and condition, age or sex; and though ever so weak a believer, provided his faith, is of the right kind: not an historical or temporary one, a mere assent to the truth of things respecting his person, office, and work; but such a faith, by which a soul sees a glory, fulness, and suitableness in him as a Saviour; goes to him, ventures on him, commits itself to him, lays hold on him, and receives him, leans and relies upon him, and trusts in him, and lives upon him; and which is the faith of God's elect; a gift of his grace, and the operation of his Spirit; and which works by love, and is attended with the fruits of righteousness: now the end of Christ's crucifixion and death is, that such an one

should not perish; though he is in a lost and perishing condition in Adam, and by nature, and sees himself to be so, and comes to Christ as such; and though his frames and comforts are perishing, and he sometimes fears he shall be utterly lost; and though he is subject to slips and falls, and great spiritual decays; and shall perish as to the outward man by death; yet he shall never perish eternally, or be punished with everlasting destruction, as the wicked will:

but have eternal life; not by his works, but as the gift of God: and which he that truly believes; has already in the covenant of grace, in Christ his head, in faith and hope; and has the earnest and pledge of it, the Spirit of God; and the beginning of it, which is the knowledge of God in Christ; and shall hereafter possess it fully, and in person, to all eternity: even a life of perfect holiness and knowledge; a life of never ending pleasure; a life free from all the sorrows, distresses, and imperfections of this; and which will always continue.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 3:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-3.html. 1999.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

That whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life (ινα πας ο πιστευων εν αυτωι εχηι ζωην αιωνιονhina pas ho pisteuōn en autōi echēi zōēn aiōnion). Final use of ιναhina with present active subjunctive of εχωechō that he may keep on having eternal life (a frequent phrase in John, always in John αιωνιοςaiōnios occurs with ζωηzōē 16 times in the Gospel, 6 in 1John, ageless or endless life, beginning now and lasting forever). It is more than endless, for it is sharing in the life of God in Christ (John 5:26; John 17:3; 1 John 5:12). So here εν αυτωιen autōi (in him) is taken with εχηιechēi rather than with πιστευωνpisteuōn The interview with Nicodemus apparently closes with John 3:15. In John 3:16-21 we have past tenses constantly as is natural for the reflection of John, but unnatural for Jesus speaking. There are phrases like the Prologue (John 3:19; John 1:9-11). “Only begotten” does not occur elsewhere in the words of Jesus, but is in John 1:14, John 1:18; 1 John 4:9. John often puts in explanatory comments (John 1:16-18; John 12:37-41).

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 3:15". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Believeth in Him ( πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν )

The best texts read ἐν αὐτῷ , construing with have eternal life, and rendering may in Him have eternal life. So Rev.

Should not perish, but

The best texts omit.

Have eternal life

A characteristic phrase of John for live forever. See John 3:16, John 3:36; John 5:24; John 6:40, John 6:47, John 6:54; 1 John 3:15; 1 John 5:12.

The interview with Nicodemus closes with John 3:15; and the succeeding words are John's. This appears from the following facts: 1. The past tenses loved and gave, in John 3:16, better suit the later point of view from which John writes, after the atoning death of Christ was an accomplished historic fact, than the drift of the present discourse of Jesus before the full revelation of that work. 2. It is in John's manner to throw in explanatory comments of his own (John 1:16-18; John 12:37-41), and to do so abruptly. See John 1:15, John 1:16, and on and, John 1:16. 3. John 3:19is in the same line of thought with John 1:9-11in the Prologue; and the tone of that verse is historic, carrying the sense of past rejection, as loved darkness; were evil. 4. The phrase believe on the name is not used elsewhere by our Lord, but by John (John 1:12; John 2:23; 1 John 5:13). 5. The phrase only-begotten son is not elsewhere used by Jesus of himself, but in every case by the Evangelist (John 1:14, John 1:18; 1 John 4:9). 6. The phrase to do truth (John 3:21) occurs elsewhere only in 1 John 1:6.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 3:15". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/john-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

That whosoever — He must be lifted up, that hereby he may purchase salvation for all believers: all those who look to him by faith recover spiritual health, even as all that looked at that serpent recovered bodily health.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 3:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-3.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life1.

  1. That whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life. When the world was perishing because of sin, Jesus, made to resemble sin (Romans 8:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21) was hung upon the cross, that those who look unto him in faith (Isaiah 45:22) may find life through him (1 John 5:11-13).

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 3:15". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-3.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books

Vv. 15 finishes the application of the type. To the look of the dying Israelite the faith of the sinner in the crucified one corresponds; to the life restored to the wounded one, the salvation granted to the believer.— πᾶς, whosoever extends to the whole of humanity the application of the Israelitish type, while emphatically individualizing the act of faith ( ).—The reading of the T. R. εἰς αὐτόν, to or on Him, is the one which best suits the context (the look turned towards ...); faith looks to its object. If we consider how little the Alexandrian authorities agree among themselves, the received reading will be acknowledged as, on the whole, the best supported one. Tischendorf (8th ed.) reads ἐν αὐτῷ, after the Vatican MS.; in that case, this limiting phrase may be connected with ἔχῃ, as Weiss and Keil connect it, rather than with πιστεύων . But, in this context, the connection with πιστεύων remains, nevertheless, the most natural relation. The Alexandrian authorities reject the words μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλά should not perish, but; they may certainly have been introduced here from John 3:16. Even in that case we are struck with the rhythmic relation between the last words of these two verses; it is the sign of the stirring of feeling and elevation of thought (Introd., p. 137). We comprehend, indeed, what an impression this first revelation of His future suffering of punishment must have produced on Jesus Himself; comp. John 12:27.

As for Nicodemus, we also account for what he experienced when on the Holy Friday he saw Jesus suspended on the cross. That spectacle, instead of being for him, as for others, a stumbling-block, a ground of unbelief and despair, causes his latent faith to break forth (John 19:39). This fact is the answer to de Wette"s question, who asks if this anticipatory revelation of the death of the Messiah was not contrary to the pedagogic wisdom of Jesus. Weiss, who is not willing to admit that Jesus so early foresaw and predicted His death, thinks that Jesus did not express Himself in so precise a way, but that he spoke vaguely of some lifting up which would be accorded to Him during His earthly life, to the end that He might be recognized as Messiah by the Jews. But, in that case, it is necessary to suppose: 1. That John positively falsified the account of the words of Jesus; 2. That Jesus spoke of something which was never realized, for we know not what that supposed lifting-up can be; 3. There no longer remains, in this case, any relation between the prophecy of Jesus and the matter of the brazen serpent. From the cross Jesus ascends to God, from whose love this decree emanates ( δεῖ must, John 3:14).

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Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 3:15". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/john-3.html.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Ver. 15. That whosoever believeth] Faith is the soul’s hand ( fidei mendica manus, saith Luther); foot, whereby we come to Christ; mouth ( hic credere est edere, saith Austin); wing, whereby we soar up and fetch Christ into the heart, John 6:35-36.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 3:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-3.html. 1865-1868.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

15.] The corresponding clause applying to the type is left to be supplied—‘And as every one who looked on it was healed, so …’

πιστ. ἐν αὐτῷ] This expression, here only used by John, implies His exaltation,—see ch. John 12:32. It is a belief in (abiding in, see note on John 3:18) His Person being what God by His sufferings and exaltation hath made Him to be, and being that TO ME. This involves, on the part of the believer, the anguish of the bite of the fiery serpent,—and the earnest looking on Him in Whom sin is crucified, with the inner eye of faith.

ἔχῃ ζ. αἰ.] Just as in the type, God did not remove the fiery serpents,—or not all at once,—but healing was to be found in the midst of them by looking to the brazen serpent ( πᾶς ὁ δεδηγμένος ἰδὼν αὐτὸν ζήσεται, LXX),—so the temptations and conflicts of sin shall not leave the believer,—but in the midst of these, with the Eye of Faith fixed on the uplifted Son of Man, he has eternal life; perishes not of the bite, but ζήσεται.

See on this verse the remarkable passage, Wisdom of Solomon 16:5-13, where as much of the healing sign is opened as could be expected before the great Antitype Himself appeared.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 3:15". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-3.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 3:15. ἵνα, that) The goodness to us of the Son in John 3:15, and of the Father in John 3:16, is described in the same words. [The grace of the Son is what is most frequently noted, and the love of the Father (2 Corinthians 13:14, the benediction).—V. g.] Comp. ch. John 6:37, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me: and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out;” notes, ch. John 10:28-29, “Neither shall any pluck them out of My hand:—none is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand:— πιστεύων, who believeth) Now Jesus begins a plainer style of speech. Faith, in the case of those needing to be saved, is what looking to the uplifted serpent was in the case of those needing to be healed.— εἰς αὐτόν, in Him) as lifted up. The cross [is] the ladder to heaven.— μὴ ἀπόληται, should not perish) by the poison of sin.— ζωὴν αἰώνιον, eternal life) by regeneration and faith. This mention of eternal life is made at the earliest time in each instance, in the discourses of the Saviour, and occurs in this passage first. He takes it for granted as very well known from the Old Testament: ch. John 5:39, “Search the Scriptures: for in them ye think ye have eternal life.” See Daniel 12:2, “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life,” etc.; Luke 10:25, [The lawyer’s question] “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 3:15". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/john-3.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Here our Lord openeth the instrumental cause of justification and salvation, that is, believing eiv auton,

in him. It is one thing to believe in him as a teacher, another thing to believe in him as a Saviour. The object of the first is a proposition; we believe a person when we assent and give credit to what he saith, because he saith it. The object of the latter is the person and merits of the Mediator. As the looking up to the brazen serpent healed the person, not by any physical operation, but from the goodness of God, as it was an act of obedience to the Divine institution for that end; so neither doth faith in the Mediator justify and obtain pardon for any soul from any meritorious virtue in that act, but from God’s gracious ordination, that so it shall be; he hath so ordained, that whosoever shall rest upon Christ, and receive him by faith as his Mediator and Saviour, should not perish, but live for ever. There are other things besides faith necessary to salvation, such are repentance, love, and new obedience; nor is faith only mentioned because they are ingredients into it, but because faith is the root of all those, and that from which they must necessarily flow; for it is as impossible that any should truly hope, and trust in, and rest upon Christ for that life which he hath only promised to those that obey him, as it is impossible that any should indeed trust in and rest upon a man who hath promised a reward upon a condition for that reward, without any care to fulfil that condition. But by this and other places, where faith alone in Christ is mentioned as necessary to salvation. Nicodemus was taught, that no obedience to the works of the law without this faith in the Mediator would bring the soul to eternal life and salvation.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 3:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-3.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

жизнь вечную В Евангелии от Иоанна это – первое из десяти упоминаний «вечной жизни». Греческое слово 8 раз переведено как «вечная жизнь», иногда это слово имеет значение будущего бесконечного постоянства. Оба выражения появляются в Новом Завете около 50 раз. Вечная жизнь относится не только к вечно существующему количеству, но и к Божьему качеству жизни. Буквально выражение означает «жизнь грядущего века» и поэтому говорит о воскресении и небесном бытии в совершенной славе и святости. Верующие переживают такую жизнь во Христе Иисусе до того, как достигнут небес. По существу, эта «вечная жизнь» не что иное, как соучастие в вечной жизни Живого Слова, Иисуса Христа. До воскресения умерших, это – пока еще не совсем очевидная жизнь Бога в каждом верующем (Рим. 8:19-23; Флп. 3:20, 21).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 3:15". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/john-3.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15.Whosoever believeth—The offers of the means of salvation are universal; extended to the entire world. The salvation itself is limited only by the unbelief of man. The atonement is unlimited by God’s design; the salvation, by application of the atonement, is limited by man’s rejection. This whosoever takes in every individual person; just as the term world takes in the sum total.

Perish’ have eternal lifePerishing and eternal life are placed in opposition, and so aid to explain each other.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 3:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-3.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The purpose of Jesus" uplifting, as was the purpose of the uplifting of the bronze serpent in the wilderness, was the salvation (deliverance) of those who believed. By comparing Himself to that serpent Jesus was teaching that whoever trusted in Him and His death would receive eternal life.

This is the first reference to eternal life in this Gospel. Eternal life refers to the life of the age to come, namely, the kingdom age and forever after. It is life that one experiences normally after resurrection that fits him or her for the kingdom. However, John presented that life as something that people can experience in measure before the kingdom begins. The eternal life that people receive at new birth is the life of the eternal Word ( John 1:4). It comes to them by believing in the person and saving work of Jesus.

"The life Christians possess is not in any sense independent of Christ. It is a life that is "hidden with Christ in God" ( Colossians 3:3).... The Jews divided time into the present age and the age to come, but the adjective [eternal] was used of life in the coming age, not that of the present age. "Eternal life" thus means "the life proper to the age to come." It is an eschatological concept (cf. John 6:40; John 6:54). But as the age to come is thought of as never coming to an end the adjective came to mean "everlasting," "eternal." The notion of time is there. Eternal life will never cease. But there is something else there, too, and something more significant. The important thing about eternal life is not its quantity but its quality.... Eternal life is life in Christ, that life which removes a person from the merely earthly." [Note: Morris, p201.]

Some authorities believe that John 3:16-21 are the Apostle John"s comments, his aside, rather than a continuation of Jesus" words to Nicodemus. [Note: E.g, Tenney, " John," pp49-50; Carson, p203; Everett F. Harrison, "The Gospel According to John," in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p1079; Morris, p202; Westcott, p54; and Beasley-Murray, p51.] Others believe Jesus" words continue through John 3:21. [Note: E.g, Barrett, p169; Tasker, p66; J. P. Lange, ed, A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, 12vols, vol9: The Gospel According to John, by J. P. Lange, p134; Richard C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John"s Gospel, p258; Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 1:120; G. Campbell Morgan, The Gospel According to John, pp59-60; William Barclay, The Gospel of John, 1:128; Wiersbe, 1:298; and John G. Mitchell, An Everlasting Love: A Devotional Study of the Gospel of John, p57.] I prefer the second opinion on this issue. Unfortunately the Greek text does not contain quotation marks, or any punctuation for that matter, so it does not identify quotations for the reader. This section of the text is the heart of John"s record of Jesus" early ministry (chs2-4).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 3:15". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-3.html. 2012.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 3:15. The words of the T.R. are omitted by Tisch[41], W.H[42], and R.V[43] Further, the same editors replace the words by , and the R.V[44] translates “that whosoever believeth may in Him have eternal life,” in accordance with Johannine usage, which does not support the rendering “believeth in Him”. This is the object to be accomplished by the “elevation” of the Son of Man, viz., that whoever, Jew or Gentile, believes that there is life in Him that is thus exalted, may have life eternal.

[41] Tischendorf.

[42] Westcott and Hort.

[43] Revised Version.

[44] Revised Version.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 3:15". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-3.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

whosoever = every one who. As here defined. believeth in. See App-150. (See note on John 1:7.) L reads epi; Lm T Tr. A WI and R read en. but have. Figure of speech Pleonasm (App-6), for emph. The phrases "bath", "have eternal life", are the usual expressions in this Gospel for "live for ever "(App-151. a). Compare verses: John 3:16, John 3:36; John 5:24; John 6:40, John 6:47, John 6:54; 1 John 3:15; 1 John 3:5, 1 John 3:11.

eternal. Greek. aionios. App-151. i: i.e. in Him. Compare 1 John 5:12.

life. See note on John 1:4. App-170.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 3:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/john-3.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. Since this most heavenly thing, for the reason just mentioned, might be apt to stumble, Jesus holds it forth under a somewhat veiled form, but with sublime precision-calling His death His 'uplifting' (compare John 8:28; John 12:32-33); and by comparing it to the up-lifting of the brazen serpent, He still further veiled it. And yet to us, who know what it all means, it is, by being cast in this form, unspeakably more lively and pregnant with instruction. But what instruction? Let us see. The venom of the fiery serpents, shooting through the veins of the rebellious Israelites, was spreading death through the camp-lively emblem of the perishing condition of men by reason of sin. In both cases the remedy was divinely provided. In both the way of cure strikingly resembled that of the disease. Stung by serpents, by a serpent they are healed.

By "fiery serpents" bitten-serpents, probably, with skin spotted fiery-red-the instrument of cure is a serpent of brass or copper, having at a distance the same appearance. So in redemption, as by man came death, by Man also comes life-Man too, "in the likeness of sinful flesh," differing in nothing outward and apparent from those who, pervaded by the poison of the serpent, were ready to perish. But as the uplifted serpent had none of the venom of which the serpent-bitten people were dying, so while the whole human family were perishing of the deadly wound inflicted on it by the old serpent, "the Second Man," who arose over humanity with healing in His wings, was without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. In both cases the remedy is conspicuously displayed: in the one case on a pole; in the other on the cross, to "draw all men unto Him" (John 12:32). In both cases it is by directing the eye to the uplifted Remedy that the cure is effected: in the one case it was the bodily eye, in the other it is the gaze of the soul by "believing in Him," as in that glorious ancient proclamation - "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth," etc. (Isaiah 45:22) Both methods are stumbling to human reason.

What, to any thinking Israelite, could seem more unlikely than that a deadly poison should be dried up in his body by simply looking on a reptile of brass? Such a stumbling-block to the Jews and to the Greeks foolishness was faith in the crucified Nazarene, as a way of deliverance from eternal perdition. Yet was the warrant in both cases to expect a cure equally rational and well-grounded. As the serpent was God's ordinance for the cure of every bitten Israelite, so is Christ for the salvation of every perishing sinner; the one however a purely arbitrary ordinance, the other divinely adapted to man's complicated maladies. In both cases the efficacy is the same. As one simple look at the serpent, however distant and however weak, brought an instantaneous cure; even so, real faith in the Lord Jesus, however tremulous, however distant-be it but real faith-brings certain and instant healing to the perishing soul. In a word, the consequences of disobedience are the same in both. Doubtless many bitten Israelites, galling as their case was, would reason rather than obey, would speculate on the absurdity of expecting the bite of a living serpent to be cured by looking at a piece of dead metal in the shape of one-speculate thus until they died. Alas! is not salvation by crucified. Redeemer subjected to like treatment? Has "the offence of the Cross" yet ceased? (compare 2 Kings 5:12.)

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-3.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(15) Not perish, but . . .—These words have been added here from the following verse. Omitting them, the sentence should be rendered, that every one who believeth may have in Him eternal life. This construction is borne out by a comparison of John 5:39; John 16:33; John 20:31. “To believe in Him” is not used by St. John. (See Note on John 1:12.) The thought of this verse is that as every Israelite, believing in God, had in the brazen serpent a message from God; so every man who believes in God ever has this message from God in the crucified Son of Man. The object of faith is not here expressed. The words speak only of the man who believeth, whose heart is open to spiritual truth. That man has, in Jesus Christ and Him crucified, a truth which goes to his inmost spirit, sending a new life through his whole being. To the non-believer this may be but the self-sacrifice of heroism. To the believer it is Light breaking upon the darkness of his soul; it is Life bursting the cold sepulchre of a deadened spirit; it is Love winning its way through the scales of a hardened heart; it is Mercy deeper and wider even than his sin; it is Hope bracing the man to a new life of holiness; it is the Word of God, and in Him he has eternal life. The reader will not forget that the lifting up the serpent of brass followed the confession of the people. “We have sinned . . . pray unto the Lord that He take away the serpents from us” (Numbers 21:7).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 3:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
whosoever
16,36; 1:12; 6:40,47; 11:25,26; 12:44-46; 20:31; Isaiah 45:22; Mark 16:16; Acts 8:37; 16:30,31; Romans 5:1,2; 10:9-14; Galatians 2:16,20; Hebrews 7:25; 10:39; 1 John 5:1,11-13
not
5:24; 10:28-30; Matthew 18:11; Luke 19:10; Acts 13:41; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 4:3
eternal
17:2,3; Romans 5:21; 6:22,23; 1 John 2:25; 5:13,20
Reciprocal: Numbers 21:9 - A serpent of;  2 Kings 18:4 - the brazen serpent;  Isaiah 11:10 - which shall;  Isaiah 51:6 - my salvation;  Matthew 19:16 - eternal;  Matthew 25:46 - the righteous;  Luke 6:19 - sought;  John 8:51 - If;  John 9:35 - Dost;  Acts 20:21 - faith;  Acts 26:22 - the prophets;  Acts 28:5 - felt;  Romans 3:21 - being;  Romans 4:11 - father;  2 Corinthians 5:15 - that they;  Galatians 3:22 - to;  1 Timothy 1:16 - believe;  1 Timothy 2:4 - will;  1 Timothy 4:10 - the saviour;  Titus 1:2 - eternal

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 3:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-3.html.