Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 3:16

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
New American Standard Version
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Adam Clarke Commentary

For God so loved the world - Such a love as that which induced God to give his only begotten son to die for the world could not be described: Jesus Christ does not attempt it. He has put an eternity of meaning in the particle οὑτω, so, and left a subject for everlasting contemplation, wonder, and praise, to angels and to men. The same evangelist uses a similar mode of expression, 1 John 3:1; : Behold, What Manner of love, ποταπην αγαπην, the Father hath bestowed upon us.

From the subject before him, let the reader attend to the following particulars.

    First, The world was in a ruinous, condemned state, about to perish everlastingly; and was utterly without power to rescue itself from destruction.

Secondly, That God, through the impulse of his eternal love, provided for its rescue and salvation, by giving his Son to die for it.

Thirdly, That the sacrifice of Jesus was the only mean by which the redemption of man could be effected, and that it is absolutely sufficient to accomplish this gracious design: for it would have been inconsistent with the wisdom of God, to have appointed a sacrifice greater in itself, or less in its merit, than what the urgent necessities of the case required.

Fourthly, That sin must be an indescribable evil, when it required no less a sacrifice, to make atonement for it, than God manifested in the flesh.

Fifthly, That no man is saved through this sacrifice, but he that believes, i.e. who credits what God has spoken concerning Christ, his sacrifice, the end for which it was offered, and the way in which it is to be applied in order to become effectual.

Sixthly, That those who believe receive a double benefit:

  • They are exempted from eternal perdition - that they may not perish.
  • 2. They are brought to eternal glory - that they may have everlasting life. These two benefits point out tacitly the state of man: he is guilty, and therefore exposed to punishment: he is impure, and therefore unfit for glory.

    They point out also the two grand operations of grace, by which the salvation of man is effected.

    1. Justification, by which the guilt of sin is removed, and consequently the person is no longer obnoxious to perdition.
    2. Sanctification, or the purification of his nature, by which he is properly fitted for the kingdom of glory.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Bibliographical Information
    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 3:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    For God so loved - This does not mean that God approved the conduct of men, but that he had benevolent feelings toward them, or was “earnestly desirous” of their happiness. God hates wickedness, but he still desires the Happiness of those who are sinful. “He hates the sin, but loves the sinner.” A parent may love his child and desire his welfare, and yet be strongly opposed to the conduct of that child. When we approve the conduct of another, this is the love of complacency; when we desire simply their happiness, this is the love of benevolence.

    The world - All mankind. It does not mean any particular part of the world, but man as man - the race that had rebelled and that deserved to die. See John 6:33; John 17:21. His love for the world, or for all mankind, in giving his Son, was shown by these circumstances:

    1.All the world was in ruin, and exposed to the wrath of God.

    2.All people were in a hopeless condition.

    3.God gave his Son. Man had no claim on him; it was a gift - an undeserved gift.

    4.He gave him up to extreme sufferings, even the bitter pains of death on the cross.

    5.It was for all the world. He tasted “death for every man,” Hebrews 2:9. He “died for all,” 2 Corinthians 5:15. “He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world,” 1 John 2:2.

    That he gave - It was a free and unmerited gift. Man had no claim: and when there was no eye to pity or arm to save, it pleased God to give his Son into the hands of men to die in their stead, Galatians 1:4; Romans 8:32; Luke 22:19. It was the mere movement of love; the expression of eternal compassion, and of a desire, that sinners should not perish forever.

    His only-begotten Son - See the notes at John 1:14. This is the highest expression of love of which we can conceive. A parent who should give up his only son to die for others who are guilty if this could or might be done - would show higher love than could be manifested in any other way. So it shows the depth of the love of God, that he was willing. to give his only Son into the hands of sinful men that he might be slain, and thus redeem them from eternal sorrow.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Bibliographical Information
    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 3:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

    The Biblical Illustrator

    John 3:16

    God so loved the world, that He gave His-only begotten Son

    The gospel in brief

    Pliny declares that Cicero once saw the Iliad of Homer written in so small a character that it could be contained in a nutshell.
    Peter Bales, a celebrated caligrapher, in the days of Queen Elizabeth, wrote the whole Bible so that it was shut up in a common walnut as its casket. In these days of advanced mechanism even greater marvels in miniature have been achieved, but never has so much meaning been compressed into so small a space as in that famous little word “So,” in the text
    . (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    The gospel

    The text gives a deeper insight into the Divine character than the heavens which declare God’s glory and than those tender mercies of His providence which are over all His works.


    1. Its marvellousness. The world is

    2. Its universality.

    II. The Divine Gift. He could give nothing dearer or greater. Some may excel others in kindness; but God’s love is such that in its manifestation it cannot possibly be exceeded. Christ is His unspeakable gift. He gave His Son.

    1. To a humbling incarnation.

    2. To a laborious servitude.

    3. To an ignominious and sacrificial death.


    1. What God wants to do.

    2. The condition upon which He will do it. Faith in His Son. (Mortlock Daniell.)

    A triple ray of Gospel light

    Here are three great testimonies like the three primary colours which make one white beam.


    1. God loves. The Indian or Chinese will not let you say God loves. It is an impeachment of His dignity and argues need. In a profound sense, however, of yearning for protection, of appreciating the souls of men, of finding a necessity for seeing them blessed, in the sense of pity, mercy, self-effacement, God loves. Had we said this it would have been a marvellous testimony; much more so had Paul or John said it. But love on the lips of Christ has a thousandfold more meaning.

    2. God loves the world, the unregenerate world, as a mother loves her wayward no less than her worthy child, though the love be broken-hearted grief. So God loves the rebellious.

    3. God loves the world with a distributive affection reaching the “whosoerers.”

    4. God loves it with an affection so deep, self-effacing, self-sacrificing, as to give His only begotten Son. Love is ever giving, and the love of God says not of aught it possesses that it is its own. He keeps not His child. See, then, here in the first line of the Gospel that

    II. LIGHT UPON CHRIST. What a problem has Christ been! The generations have never been able to forget Him. Men have never given Him a small name. The estimates of foes have betrayed their sense of His greatness, and the adoration of friends has lost itself in the endeavour to express it. Who is He? The ages have been a wrestling Jacob whose question has been, What is Thy name? Ask Himself.

    1. The only begotten Son of God. The Son is of the nature of the Father--Divine in a sense no other being is. All the Divine fulness of the Godhead is in Him. And His life matches His name.

    2. The gift of God: the property of each soul of man. There is no tie which has knit Him to our hearts that He has not knit. He takes our nature, conditions, duties, temptations, sorrows, curse, death. Ours

    3. The Saviour. Only Christ has borne this great name. Mohammed is prophet; Buddha is teacher only; Jesus is Saviour. A name

    III. LIGHT ON MAN. Low views of God go together with low views of man. You cannot lose your faith in God without losing your faith in man. Here we see

    1. God loves each man, therefore each man is lovable; no heart without a beauty in it that charms the eye of God; no life without some possibility of glory in it which attracts His love.

    2. We are capable of faith. There is a Divine dignity in man which lets him lift himself up to God and entrust himself into His arms, and put himself wholly under His guidance and in His power.

    3. We are capable of everlasting life. Philosophy as we know it today is a theory of the graveyard only. If we cast away the Lord of life we have to believe in a destiny that is only a tomb. Christ has come that we might have everlasting life. (R. Glover.)

    The love of God


    1. object. The world: man in his corrupt and miserable state (John 5:19).

    2. The act.. The love of God is

    3. The degree--“So.” We are not told how much. It is to be conceived rather than spoken of; admired rather than conceived.

    Observe from all this

    1. That love is at the bottom of all. We may give a reason for other things, but not for this love (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; Matthew 11:26).

    2. Love is visible in the progress and perfection of our salvation in Christ Romans 5:8). Light is not more conspicuous in the sun.

    3. If there were any other cause it must be either

    The uses of all this.

    1. To confute all misapprehensions of God. Satan tempts us to view God as unlovely or to entertain unworthy thoughts of His mercy. But this shows us that He is fuller of love than the sea is of water.

    2. To quicken our admiration of the love of God in Christ. Three things commend any favour done us.

    3. To exhort us

    II. THE WAY GOD TOOK TO EXPRESS HIS LOVE. There is a twofold giving of Christ.

    1. For us (Romans 8:32). This mightily bespeaks God’s love and care for our salvation. In creation God made us after His own image; in redemption Christ was made after ours. This was the most convenient way to bring about His purposes of grace

    (a) By His humanity He taught men by doctrine and example.

    (b) By His dying He satisfied the justice of God, and so made a way for the course of His mercy to us (Romans 3:25-26).

    (c) By His resurrection, which was a visible satisfaction to the world that His sacrifice was accepted (Romans 4:25).

    (d) By His ascension the truth of eternal life was more confirmed.

    2. To us.

    (a) The image of God. This is restored by Christ, who is the pattern 2 Corinthians 3:18) and author (Titus 3:5-6). Till we are in Him we have not this great benefit (2 Corinthians 5:17).

    (b) The favour of God which Christ died to recover (2 Corinthians 5:17).

    (c) Fellowship with God (Genesis 3:24; cf. Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:16).

    The use of all this is

    1. To confute the world’s opinion who measure God’s love by outward things.

    2. To excite us to bless God for Jesus Christ (Romans 7:25; 1 Corinthians 15:57).


    1. The connection of our duty and privilege. We believe: God gives.

    2. The universality of the proposal.

    3. The condition.

    4. The benefits negatively and positively considered. (T. Manton, D. D.)

    The love of God

    What subject can be so interesting as this? The gospel in general is a record of the love of God, but there the only begotten Son from the bosom of the Father gives us an epitome of the whole.

    I. ITS OBJECT. If God so loved the world, then

    1. He loved those who deserved no such love.

    2. He loved those who could do nothing to purchase or to procure it.

    3. He loved those by whom it was unsolicited and undesired.

    4. He must manifest it in a way worthy of Himself.

    II. ITS MANNER. He loved in a way worthy of Himself, and bestowed a gift which proved its greatness.

    1. The supreme dignity and worth of the gift--“His Son” in a sense in which no other being is. Angels are sons because God has created them; Christians because God has adopted them. But Christ is God’s Son by eternal generation; Son in such a sense that He can say of the Father, “I and My Father are one,” and that the Father can say of Him, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.”

    2. The relation in which the gift stood to the Giver. He was one in whom the Father delighted, not as in a creature with a limited affection, but with a boundless complacency.

    3. Does not this teach us that a less valuable gift could not expiate human crime, and that no other price could have been accepted. Had Christ’s teaching, example, etc., been sufficient His blood would not have been shed. But “without shedding of blood is no remission.”

    4. The only begotten Son so loved the world that He gave Himself. The allegation that if Christ suffered under compulsion it were unjust is true. But Christ was Divine, and therefore independent, and consequently cannot be compelled to suffer. Hence He says, “I delight to do Thy will.” “No man taketh My life from Me.”

    III. ITS END. It was glorious and justified the means--the salvation of the world. But this great benefit is not dispensed indiscriminately. There must be a cordial acceptance of God’s plan. Two ideas:

    1. That of credence. Jesus must be believed to be what the record declares Him to be.

    2. But such credence of this testimony that it is accepted by us, and that there is a personal reliance on Christ for salvation. It is with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.

    3. Nor is this one act merely; it is an act repeated till a habit is formed, a habit which gives a distinctive denomination to the person--“believer.”

    4. This salvation through faith is negative and positive.

    In conclusion:

    1. “God so loved the world.” Then

    2. Has God so loved the world as to give, etc.? Then

    God’s love and its gift


    1. If God so loved this guilty world, then what an unplumbed depth of grace must have been in His heart! For the object of His love is not the world in its first condition when He pronounced it “very good,” but the world ruined by sin and condemned for apostasy. There would have been no wonder had the world been drowned. Yet without any change in our claims or character He loved us. And this love is not a mere relenting which might lead to a respite, or simple regret which might end in a sigh. There is no merit in loving what is lovely. There is nothing about man but his misery to attract the Divine attachment. Man’s sin is not his misfortune, but his fault. And the marvel is there is nothing God hates so much as sin, and yet no one He loved so much as the sinner.

    2. If God so loved this little world, then surely His love is disinterested. This orb is truly a “little one,” yet it has called out emotion, which mightier spheres had failed to elicit.

    3. If God loved this fallen world and not the world of fallen angels His love must be sovereign. “Be not high minded, but fear.” God spared not the angels that sinned, and if thou art spared thou hast no reason to boast.

    4. The fervour and mightiness of this love arrest our attention--“so.”

    II. THE GIFT OF GOD’S LOVE. We estimate the value of a gift by various criteria.

    1. The resources of the giver. Our Lord declared that the poor widow gave truly more than the wealthy worshippers.

    2. The motives of the giver. One may heap favours on a fallen foe to wound his pride.

    3. The manner. If it be withheld until wrung out, or if it be offered in a surly spirit, it sinks at once in importance below the lesser boon offered in frank and spontaneous sympathy.

    4. The condition of the recipient--whether rich or needy, and in what degree of need, and the extent to which the gift is adapted to him.

    Now let the love of God be tested by these criteria.

    1. The resources of the Giver are infinite; but in the donation of Christ you see the limits of possibility. If Christ be God what gift superior can be presented? or if He be the Son of God what richer love could be exhibited?

    2. God’s motives were perfectly unselfish.

    3. His gift is the only one that could have profited us.

    4. What adaptation there is in it to man’s dire need I


    1. To rescue man from perishing.

    2. To confer upon man the boon of everlasting life.

    3. To do this for all who believe:

    The love of God

    I. THE OBJECT OF THIS LOVE. The world--not a part of it. The same reasons upon which His love of individuals is justified will justify His love to all.


    1. Negatively.

    2. Positively.

    (10) It was universal.

    III. THE REASON FOR THIS WONDERFUL MEASURE OF THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT. Mankind had resisted this government. If God had seemed to connive at this, all other beings might have denied the justice of the law and disobeyed it also. What must be done? God’s relation to the universe demanded of Him either to execute the law or to make demonstration of His estimation of the law. It is easy to see that the honour of the law might be fully sustained by God Himself if He should show before the whole universe His approbation of the law. If God would take upon Himself human nature, and in this nature would stand right out before the universe, and obey the law and suffer its penalty, the law would be perfectly honoured. This was what was done in Christ. (Prof. Finney.)

    The love of God


    1. By His designation and appointment unto death (Acts 2:23; Isaiah 42:1).

    2. In parting with Him and setting Him at some distance from Himself for a John 16:28; Psalms 22:1-2).

    3. In delivering Him into the hands of justice to be punished (Romans 8:32).

    4. In the application of Him with all the purchases of His blood, and settling all this upon us as an inheritance (John 6:32-33; John 4:10).


    1. How near and dear Christ was to the Father (Colossians 1:13).

    2. To what He gave Him (Luke 22:22).

    3. That in giving Christ He gave the richest jewel in His cabinet.

    4. On whom the gift was bestowed.

    5. The freeness of the gift (1 John 4:19).


    1. The exceeding preciousness of souls (1 Peter 1:18; Matthew 16:26).

    2. Those for whom God gave His own Son may warrantably expect any other mercy from Him (Romans 8:32; 1 Corinthians 3:20-21).

    3. If the greatest love hath been manifested in the gift of Christ, then the greatest evil and wickedness is manifested in rejecting Him (Hebrews 2:2-4). (J. Flavel.)

    The love of God


    1. It is singular. He first loved.

    2. It is personal.

    3. It is compassionate. He pities the souls that sin has ruined.

    4. It is comprehensive. It extends to all mankind.


    1. In the gift. This includes

    III. ITS RESULTS. It is implied

    1. That all are lost.

    2. That none need perish; and

    3. That whosoever believeth in Him hath everlasting life.

    IV. WE LIVE IN THE GLORIOUS DAY OF SALVATION! This should be the tidings of great joy to all people. The return of Christmas should revive our hope and rekindle our zeal to spend and be spent in the Master’s service. (L. O.Thompson.)

    The love of God


    1. God can love and does love. We must beware of making God only an infinite man; yet love in Him must be the same in kind as love in us.

    2. Love is more than a Divine attribute. It is as light of which all the attributes are colours.

    3. How near this brings Him to our hearts. We admire other qualities; we only love the loving.

    4. The Scripture represents everywhere this love as the fountain of redemption.

    II. LOVE IN ITS PUREST FORM. It had nothing to attract it and everything to repel it.

    1. The world was perishing; it was therefore not complacent, but compassionating love. It is one thing to help the happy and prosperous and another to succour the needy and miserable.

    2. The world was guilty. It is harder to love those who add unworthiness to distress. Moral excellence may attract compassion to the wretched, but moral vileness disgusts. But “God commendeth His love,” etc.

    3. The world was at enmity with God. That love is purest which withstands provocations and does good to the injurious. “When we were enemies we were reconciled,” etc.

    4. The world’s misery and peril were caused by itself. It is always a sore strain on mercy when solicited for the wilful. How natural the reply: “It serves you right”! God says, “Thou hast destroyed thyself, but in Me is thy help.”

    III. Love IN ITS GREATEST STRENGTH That is a poor philanthropy which can pity without helping: but “the philanthropy of God appeared” in action. Love is as deeds, not words, desires, or feelings.

    1. The love of God was practical in the most costly way. The test of love is sacrifice; the criterion of its strength is the measure of the sacrifice. The Cross was the self-denial of God.

    2. Of all sacrifices the chief are those of persons. The highest sphere of value is in persons, not things, although the latter may be very precious.

    3. God sacrificed the highest of all persons.

    IV. Love IN ITS LOFTIEST PURPOSE. No purpose could be greater. We know the worth of life. “All that a man hath will he give for his life.” It is the condition of all else that is prized. Salvation is life, not in figure, but in fact. There is a life of the flesh, of the soul, and of the spirit. This life in all its perfection is the end of God. Beginning in the finest portion of our nature it will spread and strengthen until it possesses the whole of it. Man redeemed and renewed is to live to the utmost of his capacity of life. This life is “everlasting.” Sin brought death and separated from the tree of life: Christ restored access to it.

    V. LOVE IN ITS WIDEST SPHERE. The “world” is not here used in a restrictive sense. It would be difficult to believe, did not facts prove it, that any could be so blinded as to make “the world” signify the Church. For the fact is, whenever the “world” is applied to a portion of mankind it always means the wicked. Wherever there is a man in the way to perish, there is the world God loved. There is nothing in the love or sacrifice of the Father and the Son to prevent the whole world being saved. God loved without limit of nation or condition. Conclusion:

    1. You have here a pattern and spring of love. “Be imitators of God as dear children.” “If God loved us,” etc.

    2. What a gospel--good news--is here! God loves you now in spite of all your sins and follies. The only title to love is to be “perishing”; the only condition of its blessings is to “believe.”

    3. The subject casts a shadow by its very brightness on your unbelief, state, prospects. (A. J. Morris.)

    The love of God

    This affectionate compassion is set forth

    I. BY COMPARISON OF THE PARTIES LOVING AND LOVED. God most high and holy loved the base and wicked world.

    II. BY THE MEASURE OF IT. He so loved, that is, so infinitely, so transcendently, so incomprehensibly (Hebrews 12:3). Such as cannot be sufficiently expressed or conceived (1 John 3:1).

    III. BY THE FRUIT OF HIS LOVE. It was no lip love, but a giving love. Yea, but some things are not worth the giving, therefore

    IV. BY THE WORTHINESS OF THE EXIT--His only begotten Son. And that to stand in our stead, and to die on the cross for us (John 3:14). Yea, but though never so excellent a gift be given, yet if it be not of use and profit to whom it is given, it doth not so testify love. Therefore

    V. It is set forth by THE BENEFIT THAT COMES TO US BY IT.

    1. Not perishing.

    2. Having eternal life. But perhaps though this gift brings so great profit, yet they to whom it is given must take some great and extraordinary pains to get it, and then God’s love is not so great. Therefore

    VI. It is set forth BY THE EASINESS OF THE MEANS whereby we are possessed of the profit of this gift, “That whosoever believeth.” Yet if this so worthy a gift, of such invaluable worth to the enjoyer, had been restrained to some few sorts of men, the matter had not been so much. Therefore

    VII. It is set forth BY THE UNIVERSALITY, that whosoever, be he what he will, so he will but reach forth his hand to take this gift, he shall have it, and all the comfort of it. (J. Dyke.)

    The Divine love

    I. IN ITS SOURCE. God loved the world.

    1. In its guilt, therefore His love was a love of benevolence. He could not take delight in it, but He did wish it well.

    2. In its depravity. Therefore His love is self-moved--the world not as made by God, but as ruined by the devil; consequently there was nothing in it to attract the Divine love.

    3. The world, not hell, consequently His love was sovereign-free as opposed to necessary. He could have loved fallen angels had such been His pleasure. But “He took not hold on angels, but the seed of Abraham.” Why? “Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight.”


    1. The birth or incarnation of Jesus Christ (1 John 4:9). This did not engender or excite His love, it only manifested it.

    2. In His death or atonement (1 John 4:10). The Divine love is not the effect, but the cause. The gods of heathenism received but never gave sacrifices.

    3. In the Person of the only begotten Son of God.


    1. It has in view the salvation of every individual.

    2. It offers to every individual the supremest, most precious blessing God Himself can bestow.

    3. It offers the supremest blessings on the easiest, cheapest terms. God the Father had a great deal to do, and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; but man has nothing to do but to believe. (J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)

    Immeasurable love

    I. IN THE GIFT. Men who love much will give much. Little love forgets to bring water for the feet, but great love breaks its box of alabaster. Consider

    1. What this gift was. The Father’s other self. What more could He give? Could you fathers give your sons to die for your enemy?

    2. How God gave it: not as you, to some honourable pursuit in which you would not be deprived altogether of your son’s company, but as an exile to be born in a manger, to toil as a carpenter, and to die as a felon.

    3. When He gave: for there is love in the time.

    II. IN THE PLAN OF SALVATION. What is it to believe in Jesus?

    1. To give your firm and cordial assent to the truth of the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ.

    2. To accept this for yourself. In Adam’s sin you did not sin personally, but by committing personal transgression you laid your hand upon it and made it your own. In like manner you must accept and appropriate the atonement of Jesus.

    3. Personal trust.

    III. IN THE PERSONS FOR WHOM THIS PLAN IS AVAILABLE. God did not so love the world that any man that does not believe in Jesus shall be saved. “Whosoever believeth.”

    1. From the moralist to the utterly vile; from the greyheaded sinner to the boy or maiden.

    2. It encircles all degrees of faith.

    IV. IN THE DELIVERANCE. Whosoever believes shall not perish, though he is ready to perish. To perish is to lose all hope in Christ, all trust in God, all light in life, all peace in death, all joy.

    V. In THE POSSESSION. God gives to every man that believes in Christ everlasting life. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    God’s love for the world


    1. The essence of His nature.

    2. All His attributes are modifications and manifestations of His love.

    3. His law, the order of creation, the arrangement of His providence are expressions of His love.

    4. Love is the ground of His perfect happiness.


    1. The origin of Christ’s mission was the love of God.

    2. God gave His Son.

    3. The relationship between the Father and the Son is the measure of the Divine love.


    1. Not the “elect” world, which God loves with the love of complacency.

    2. But the sinful world, which He loves with the love of compassion.


    1. To prevent dreadful evil.

    2. To bestow unspeakable good. (A. Beith, D. D.)

    God’s love to the world

    This verse is one of the gems of the Bible, a star of the first magnitude. Observe three things.


    1. Who is God? The God of the Bible.

    2. What is the cosmos? The world of human life.

    3. How they stood affected.

    4. New and Divine revelation: God is love.


    1. What He gave--His Son.

    2. How He gave.


    1. Negatively: that man might not loose himself utterly from God, duty, happiness. Thus was the pity of God manifested.

    2. Positively: that man may have life, age during life. (Bible Notes and Queries.)

    The love of God in the gift Of a Saviour

    These words express the substance of the gospel. No speaker ever had the power of condensing great principles into so narrow a compass as the Lord Jesus.


    1. The idea that God is loving has been doubted or denied.

    2. The text teaches that God was originally disposed to show mercy.


    1. Such a gift as that of His only begotten Son is the highest conceivable gift, and this Christ intends to convey. The Bible represents God as having the attributes of a kind and tender Father. He loves when He says He loves, and is no cold creation of the imagination. When a man bids his son go into the tented field with every prospect of his dying for the welfare of his country, it is the highest expression of his attachment for that country.

    2. But no man has ever manifested such a love as God’s. In a few instances a man has sacrificed his life for his friend, and not a few fathers and mothers endangered their lives for their children. But who has ever given the life of his child for an enemy? But “God commendeth,” etc. (A. Barnes, D. D.)

    Christ’s mission a revelation of God’s love

    I. LOVE IN ITS HIGHEST FORM. Love is a generic term and includes a large number of specific affections. There is a love of friendship, brotherly love, parental love, conjugal love, a love of country or patriotism, and a love of God, or religion. Love is a redeeming quality among the many miseries of our fallen state. It is like the silver ray of sun-light which gleams through the dark cloud when the storm is brewing in the sky. It is like an oasis in the desert, which is a scene of beauty and a home of life amid arid plains doomed to perpetual barrenness. It is like the wood which Moses took and placed in the bitter waters of Mara. It sweetens the cup of human experience. It is the only lasting bond of human society--the only guarantee of the perpetual bliss of heaven, and the only attribute in fallen man which is made an emblem of God, “God is love.” If love in human form and in a fallen world be so Divine, what must it be in God Himself? Love in man is but a ray from the sun; a drop from the ocean.

    II. LOVE IN ITS SUBLIMEST MANIFESTATION. The object of my text is not general, but special. It is to assure us that while the love of God may be traced in every object in nature, and read on every page of Providence, as the colours of the rainbow may be found in every ray of silvery sun-light, yet the brightest and the fullest manifestation of it is in the mission of Jesus into the world to save sinners. In considering this subject, we must carefully bear in mind that Jesus Christ was not a mere man, but God who assumed a human form and nature. Few men in the time of the Saviour’s advent had any idea of the love of God. Man’s true happiness must ever be found in God, and in other beings only as they are Godlike. But to find happiness in such a god as that of which the highest conception is realized in the mythology of Greece, the idolatry of Moab, or the dogmas of the Pharisees is out of the question. Jesus, however, came to overturn these errors and fearful misrepresentations of the Deity, and save the world by proving that God was kind and loving, just and faithful, and therefore deserving of men’s love and trust. It is most interesting to study the character of God according to the teaching of Jesus. He represented the Divine Being as a Father who yearned for the return of his prodigal child, welcomed him home, receiving him with open arms and open heart, bidding all his household help him to tell the world his joy, “Rejoice with me, for this my son was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found.” He represented God as the Good Shepherd, who goes after the lost one until it is found, and bears it to His home upon His shoulders with rejoicing. He represented God as the Good Samaritan who saw men lying in their wounds, robbed by sin of hope and heaven, upon the point of death, and came to save them at his own expense.

    III. LOVE IN ITS WIDEST FIELD OF OPERATION. This widest field is the world, for “God so loved the world.” It is evident that the text cannot mean merely to assert that God loved and admired the material world or the things of the world, as these need no salvation, and are not capable of being saved, and the love of God to the world, in the text, is said to have special reference to its salvation. As the pious Jew of old rambled among the ruins of his glorious temple, turning over with affection its broken columns, cherishing the very dust and stone thereof; so God in Christ, with His loving heart overflowing with sympathy and affection, seeks to gather the broken fragments of humanity together, and rebuild upon a surer basis the temple of man. As mother, sister, or wife walks in the field of blood after the day of dreadful slaughter, with tears of affection flowing from her eyes, the sigh of sorrow rising from her wounded heart and floating upwards to tell its grief to God, and with tenderness of touch turns over the forms of the dead, that she may press once more to her heart, now broken, the object of her warm affection; so God is represented as amid the carnage which sin has made of us, inspired by the love of which my text is speaking, toiling and labouring and suffering, having come to seek and to save those who were lost. “God so loved the world!” This is the source from which all our blessings flow.


    1. The sad condition of those whom it proposes to affects” should not perish.” The objects of His love are perishing--perishing, not in body but in soul.

    2. The glorious state to which the love of God proposes to raise all He found in this sad condition, “but have everlasting life.” Life, even of a temporal character, is of so much value that men toil and labour and manifest the deepest concern, in order, not to perpetuate it, but merely to prolong it for a few years.

    3. The simple way in which we may become eternally benefited by this saving work of God, “whosoever believeth in Him.” What an awful curse is unbelief!

    4. The impartial manner in which these blessings are offered, “whosoever.” Were man to make a feast, his invitations would not be to every one, for his ability to provide would have a limit. The richest man could not make a feast for all. But God is not man that He should be deficient. (E. Lewis, B. A.)

    God’s love for a sinning world


    1. It is the violation of an infinitely important law--a law designed and adapted to secure the highest good of the universe.

    2. As sin is this it cannot be treated lightly. The entire welfare of a government and its subjects turns upon obedience.

    3. The law of God must not be dishonoured by anything He shall do. He must stand by it to retrieve its honour.

    4. Hence the expense. Either the law must be executed at the expense of the race, or God must suffer the worse results of disrespect to His law, or a substitute be provided who shall both save the sinner and honour the law.

    II. HOW SHALL THE EXPENSE BE MET? Who shall head the subscription? The Father made the first donation.

    1. He gave His Son to make the atonement due to law.

    2. He gave His Spirit to take charge of this work.

    III. FOR WHOM WAS THE GREAT DONATION MADE? By the “world” cannot be meant any particular part. The Bible and the nature of the case shows that the atonement must have been made for the whole. Otherwise no man could be sure that it was made for himself.

    IV. WHAT PROMPTED GOD TO MAKE IT? Love. This love is

    1. Not complacency, or it would have been infinitely disgraceful to Himself.

    2. Not mere feeling, as in those who are carried away by strong emotion. But

    3. Disinterested: for He had nothing to hope or fear; no profit to make out of the saved.

    4. Zealous.

    5. Most self-denying.

    6. Universal because particular. God loved each, therefore all.

    7. Most patient.

    V. THE GIFT OF GOD MUST BE RECEIVED BY FAITH. This is the only possible way, God’s government is moral because the Saviour is a moral agent. Therefore God cannot influence us unless we give Him our confidence. Lessons:

    1. Sinners may place themselves beyond the reach of mercy.

    2. This involves them in the greatest responsibility.

    3. This responsibility can only be discharged and the sinner saved by accepting the donation of Christ.

    4. Accepting that donation let us give it to others. (C. G. Finney, D. D.)

    God’s wonderful love


    1. Eternal: “loved.” Who can tell when it began?

    2. Compassionate: “the world.”

    3. Unspeakable: “so”


    1. Condescending.

    2. Sacrificial.

    3. Exhaustive.


    1. Broad: “whosoever.”

    2. Limited: “believeth.”

    3. Blessed.

    The love of God self-originated

    The ocean is always moving, but it is not self-moving. The cause of its movements is outside itself, in the moon, and in the wind. Did the wind and the moon let it alone, the Atlantic would for ever be a pacific ocean, quiet, restful, pellucid as an inland lake; it has no power to heave itself. But as for the shoreless sea of the Divine Love, it has the power to move itself; and it did move itself. It rolled in a grand irresistible current towards the shores of our world. Like the Divine Essence, the Divine Love possesses the power of self-determination. (J. C. Jones, D. D.)

    God’s love for sinners

    I remember the case of a young man who was afflicted with a frightfully loathsome disease. He had to be kept out of sight. But was he neglected? No. I need not tell you who looked after him. There was not a morning but his loving mother bathed his wounds and swathed his limbs, and not an evening that she wearied in her toil. Do you think she had not natural sensitiveness? I knew her to be as sensitive as any lady; but by so much more as she felt the loathsomeness of her work do you see the love that constantly upheld her in doing it. But oh! what is the loathsomeness of cankered wounds compared with the loathsomeness of sin to God? There is but one thing that God hates, and that is sin. Yet with all His hatred of sin how He hangs over the sinner! (S. Coley.)

    The power of God’s love

    We often hear of counter currents, but was there ever such a counter current as is implied here! One of the most important and wonderful ocean currents is the Gulf Stream. It takes its rise in the Gulf of Mexico and sweeps across through the heart of the mighty Atlantic to the Arctic Seas; and by its strong currents, more rapid than that of the Mississippi, it engulfs every other ocean stream that comes athwart its course, making it tributary to its own grand mission of washing the shores and ameliorating the climate of the sea-bound countries of Europe. “So God loved the world.” His love is a mighty stream of warm, generous commiseration sweeping with mighty force towards that moral Arctic Sea sin has made of our world. And such was the strength of the current that it swept into its own bosom the mighty stream of God’s love of complacency towards His only begotten Son, so that He was borne on its bosom into this world, where, by suffering and death, He became “the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him.” (A. J. Parry)

    The love of God

    In human governments, justice is central, and love incidental. In the Divine government, love is the central element, and justice only incidental. God wishes to exhaust all means of kindness before His hand takes hold on justice. When the waves of penalty begin to come in in fearful tides, then He banks up against them. His goodness is the levee between justice and the sinful soul. (H. W. Beecher.)

    God is love

    God is love, and there is a something about love which always wins love. When love puts on her own golden armour, and bears her sword bright with her own unselfishness, she goeth on conquering and to conquer. Let a man once apprehend that God is love, that this is God’s very essence, and he must at once love God. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    A royal gift

    Plutarch, the Greek historian, tells a story to this effect: “ An ancient king once gave a present of a large sum of money to a personal friend, and was gently taken to task for his generosity. ‘What!’ was his astonished exclamation, ‘would you not have me be liberal? Let the world know that when the king gives he gives generously, like a king.’ “Upon this, he made a second present of equal value.

    Faith in Christ is certain salvation

    We lately read in the papers an illustration of the way of salvation. A man had been condemned in a Spanish court to be shot, but being an American citizen and also of English birth, the consuls of the two countries interposed, and declared that the Spanish authorities had no power to put him to death. What did they do to secure his life when their protest was not sufficient? They wrapped him up in their flags, they covered him with the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack, and defied the executioners. “Now fire a shot if you dare, for if you do so, you defy the nations represented by those flags, and you will bring the powers of those two great empires upon you.” There stood the man, and before him the soldiery, and though a single shot might have ended his life, yet he was as invulnerable as though encased in triple steel. Even so Jesus Christ has taken my poor guilty soul ever since I believed in Him, and has wrapped around me the blood-red flag of His atoning sacrifice, and before God can destroy me or any other soul that is wrapped in the atonement, He must insult His Son and dishonour His sacrifice, and that He will never do, blessed be His name. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    Believe only

    It is said that some years ago a vessel sailing on the northern coast of the South American continent, was observed to make signals of distress. When hailed by another vessel, they reported themselves as “Dying for water!” “Dip it up then,” was the response, “you are in the mouth of the Amazon river.” There was fresh water all around them, they had nothing to do but to dip it up, and yet they were dying of thirst, because they thought themselves to be surrounded by the salt sea. How often are men ignorant of their mercies? How sad that they should perish for lack of knowledge! Jesus is near the seeker even when he is tossed upon oceans of doubt. The sinner has but to stoop down and drink and live. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    We must believe or perish

    When a shipwrecked sailor, left to the mercy of the waves, has no help within reach or view but a spar or mast, how will he cling to it, how firmly he will clasp it--he will hold it as life itself. If a passing billow sweep him from it, with all his might he will make for it again, and grasp it faster than ever. To part is to perish; and so he clings--and how anxiously! So the awakened sinner feels. The ocean of wrath surrounds him; its billows and its waves go over him. Hell yawns beneath to engulf him. The vessel is an utter wreck. All its floating timbers are very rottenness. Oh, how he strains his eye searching for a mast, a plank, a spar! His eye rests on the only hope, the only rock in the wide ocean of wrath, the Rock of Ages, the Lord Jesus. He makes for the Saviour--he clasps Him--he cleaves to Him. Every terror of sin and of unworthiness that strives to loosen his hold only makes him grasp with more terrible and death-like tenacity, for he knows that to part company is to perish. (R. B.Nichol.)

    The love of God is a necessity of His own nature

    “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” etc. The life and death of Christ was but the working out of the love of God. The affection and the yearning of heart towards His erring creatures was just the same in God before Christ came, that Christ showed it to be while He was on earth. It is just the same still. There is no change in God, or in His love. Man nor woman need fear disappointment there. It has been the custom of some, a custom too much prevailing, to represent God as being under no manner of obligation to do anything for His creatures after they had broken His law. The trouble with this statement is that there is a great deal of truth in it; and yet it has been made in such a manner as to give a very wrong impression. In God’s own nature there is a necessity for His efforts for man’s redemption. (H. W. Beecher.)

    The word “so”

    Come, ye surveyors, bring your chains, and try to make a survey of this word “so.” Nay, that is not enough. Come hither, ye that make our national surveys, and lay down charts for all nations. Come ye, who map the sea and land, and make a chart of this word “so.” Nay, I must go further. Come hither, ye astronomers, that with your optic glasses spy out spaces before which imagination staggers, come hither and encounter calculations worthy of all your powers! When you have measured between the horns of space, here is a task that will defy you--“God so loved the world.” If you enter into that, you will know that all this love is to you--that while Jehovah loves the world, yet He loves you as much as if there were nobody else in all the world to love. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    The glory of the Gospel

    It is not like a banquet, accommodated to the tastes and wants of so many and no more. Like a masterpiece of music, its virtues are independent of numbers. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

    God’s mercy is free

    Let me tell thee that the mercy of God flows freely. It wants no money and no price from thee, no fitness of frames and feelings, no preparation of good works or penitence. Free as the brook which leaps from the mountain side, at which every weary traveller may drink, so free is the mercy of God. Free as the sun that shineth, and gilds the mountain’s brow, and makes glad the valleys without fee or reward, so free is the mercy of God to every needy sinner. Free as the air which belts the earth and penetrates the peasant’s cottage as well as the royal palace without purchase or premium, so free is the mercy of God in Christ. It tarrieth not for thee: it cometh to thee as thou art. It way layeth thee in love; it meeteth thee in tenderness. Ask not how thou shalt get it. Thou needst not climb to heaven, nor descend to hell for it; the word is nigh thee; on thy lip, and in thy heart if thou believest on the Lord Jesus with thy heart, and with thy mouth makest confession of Him, thou shalt be saved.

    What is it to perish

    What is it to perish? It is to die in our sins, without bright angels to smile upon us as they wait to carry us away from earth; to die without the Saviour’s glorious presence to cheer us in the valley of the shadow of death. It is to be turned away from the shut door of our Father’s mercy, because, like the foolish virgins, we are not ready when the bridegroom comes. To perish is to lose the smile of God, the company of the redeemed, the society of angels, the glories of the heavenly world, and, with no ray of comfort or gleam of hope, to be driven away into outer darkness, into misery and woe, without deliverance and without end. The thought of this awful perdition made Jesus weep over Jerusalem and say, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem: thou that killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not.” (Rev. R. Brewin.)


    “Whosoever” has a finger for babes, and an arm for old men; it has an eye for the quick, and a smile for the dull. Young men and maidens, whosoever offers its embrace to you! Good and bad, honourable or disreputable, this “whosoever” speaks to you all with equal truth! Kings and queens may find room in it; and so may thieves and beggars. Peers and paupers sit on one seat in this word. “Whosoever” has a special voice for you, my hearer! Do you answer, “But I am an oddity”? “Whosoever” includes all the oddities. I always have a warm side towards odd, eccentric, out-of-the-way people, because I am one myself, at least so I am often said to be. I am deeply thankful for this blessed text; for if I am a lot unmentioned in any other catalogue, I know that this includes me: I am beyond all question under the shade of “whosoever.” No end of odd people come to the Tabernacle, or read my sermons; but they are all within the range of “whosoever.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)


    When the great mutiny in India had been brought to a close, and peace was being made between the government and the rebels, the Queen caused a proclamation to be made throughout the rebel provinces that all who should lay down their arms, and come to certain appointed places by a fixed day, should receive forgiveness, with some exceptions. Ah! these exceptions. The poor fellows who knew they could not be forgiven, but must be put to death, never came. The love of God knows no exceptions; whosoever will,nay come. (C. H. Spurgeon.)


    Somebody said he would rather read “Whosoever” than see his own name, because he should be afraid it might refer to some other man who might have the same name. This was well brought out in a prison the other day, when the chaplain said to me, “I want to describe a scene that occurred here some time ago. Our Commissioners went to the Governor of the State and got him to give his consent to grant pardons to five men on account of their good behaviour. The Governor said the record was to be kept secret; the men were to know nothing about it; and at the end of six months the criminals were brought out, the roll was called, and the President of the Commission came up and spoke to them; then putting his hand in his pocket he drew out the papers and said to those 1,100 convicts, ‘I hold in my hand pardons for five men.’ I never witnessed anything like it. Every man held his breath, and was as silent as death. Then the Commissioner went on to tell how they obtained these pardons; that it was the Governor who granted them,” and the chaplain said the suspense was so great that he spoke to the Commissioner and asked him to first read out the names of those who were pardoned before he spoke further, and the first name was given out thus, “Reuben Johnson will come out and get his pardon.” He held out the papers but no one came. He looked all around, expecting to see a man spring forward at once; still no one arose, and he turned to the officer of the prison and said, “Are all the convicts here?” “Yes,” was the reply. “Then, Reuben Johnson will come and get his pardon.” The real Reuben Johnson was all this time looking around to see where Reuben was; and the chaplain beckoned to him, and he turned and looked around and behind him, thinking some other man must be meant. A second time he beckoned to Reuben, and called to him, and the second time the man looked around to see where Reuben was, until at last the chaplain said to him, “You are the man, Reuben;” and he rose up out of his seat and sank back again, thinking it could not be true. He had been there for nineteen years, having been placed there for life; and when he came up and took his pardon he could hardly believe his eyes, and he went back to his seat and wept like a child: and then, when the convicts were marched back to their cells, Reuben had been so long in the habit of falling into line and taking the lock step with the rest that he fell into his place, and the chaplain had to say, “Reuben, come out; you are a free man.” (D. L. Moody.)

    The naturalness of God’s love

    When William Knibb had been preaching from this text in Jamaica, returning home he came up with an old black woman, and he said to her, “What do you think of the great love of God?” Simplicity is often allied to sublimity. “Think, massa!” she replied; “Me think it be just like Him.” So it is. St. Peter says, “According to His abundant mercy He hath begotten us again.” It is just like Him. It is as a father pitieth his children. (S. Coley.)

    Christ not the cause but the manifestation of God’s love

    The law of gravitation existed from the foundation of the world, it daily exerted its influence, keeping the stars in their orbits, and swinging them around their respective centres. The mysterious force, however, was unknown until discovered by Sir Isaac Newton, and published in his writings. It existed from the first; only a century or two ago was it made manifest. In like manner the love of God existed from eternity, from days of old. It burnt as hot in the days of Noah and of Abraham, as on the Incarnation morn or the Atonement eve. All through the ages it governed the world with a view to its final redemption. But in the Incarnation and Propitiation was it revealed, only then did it force itself upon the obtuse vision of the world. “Ye have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from--out of--the Father, and am come into the world.” Not only He came from God, but He came out of God. John the Baptist came from God. (J. C. Jones, D. D.)

    The love of God as seen in the gift of Christ

    A story has been often told of the fondness of parents for their children; how in a famine in the East a father and mother were reduced to absolute starvation, and the only possibility of preserving the life of the family was to sell one of the children into slavery. So they considered it. The pinch of hunger became unbearable, and their children pleading for bread tugged so painfully at their heart-strings, that they must entertain the idea of selling one to save the lives of the rest. They had four sons. Who of these should be sold? It must not be the first: how could they spare their firstborn? The second was so strangely like his father that he seemed a reproduction of him, and the mother said that she would never part with him. The third was so singularly like the mother that the father said he would sooner die than that this dear boy should go into bondage; and as for the fourth, he was their Benjamin, their last, their darling, and they could not part with him. They concluded that it were better for them all to die together than willingly to part with any one of their children. Do you not sympathize with them? I see you do. Yet God so loved us that, to put it very strongly, He seemed to love us better than His only Son, and did not spare Him that He might spare us. He permitted His Son to perish from among men “that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    The love of God in the gift of Christ

    When Jesus looked at the poor widow He found a new rule of arithmetic. When she dropped in her two mites He said that she had given more than they all. What new rule was this? Many had given much, but the Lord looked at what they had left. This woman had given all. Try God by His own rule. He had but one Son--His only begotten. If He had taken every star from the sky, and manipulated those stars, and moulded them all into a gigantic body of which every star was an atom; and then if He had taken every seraph from His throne and made a mighty amalgam of all souls into one, and had put that giant mind into that gigantic body, and given that body and soul for man, it would have been as nothing to this. A word of His could have restored the dismantled heavens; but God Himself cannot make an only-begotten Son. (S. Coley.)

    God’s provision of the sacrifice

    Transport yourselves in imagination to Athens or Rome; observe closely the images of the gods, in motley crowds on either hand of you; see the rivers of red blood flowing towards them. No marvel that “Paul’s spirit was stirred within him as he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.” Come with me again to Jerusalem. Behold the image of the invisible God lifted up on Calvary. Does blood flow towards it No: blood flows from it. Here, then, we have hit upon the radical difference between paganism and Christianity. Blood to the image: that is’ the essence of paganism. Blood from the image: that is the essence of Christianity. The heathen gods demand a sacrifice, but never provide it; the gospel God both demands it and provides it. “He gave His only-begotten Son.” (J. G. Jones, D. D.)

    God’s love and justice in sacrifice

    King Zeleueus decreed that whosoever committed a particular offence should lose his eyes; and the first person found guilty was his own son. What a company would be gathered, and what an anxious inquiry there would be! What will the king do? Will he set aside the law because the offender is royal? Amid the hush of that gathered company the officer sternly commanded to do his duty dashed out one of the prince’s eyes. “Stop,” said the king, “take the other from me.” This was done. This will show that the love of the king was seen all the more from the justice of his administration. (S. Coley.)


    I. ITS ORIGIN IN THE LOVE OF GOD, which will appear after we consider that

    1. Man by nature is in a state of degradation and spiritual death by reason of sin.

    2. The essential means of salvation is the free gift of God.


    1. The gift.

    2. The faithfulness of the Father in this transaction.

    3. The part which the Son took in this stupendous work.

    4. The necessity of this gift.


    1. There must be repentance.

    2. There must be faith. (J. Gaskin, M. A.)

    The cost and cheapness of salvation

    A preacher had gone down into a coal mine during the noon-hour to tell the miners of the glad tidings of salvation. Meeting the foreman on his way back to the shaft he asked him what he thought of God’s manner of saving men. “Oh, it is too cheap, I cannot believe in such a religion as that.” Without an immediate reply to his remark the preacher asked, “How do you get out of this place?” “Simply by getting into the cage,” was the reply. “And does it take long to get to the top?” “Oh, no; only a few seconds.” “Well, that certainly is very easy and simple. But do you not need help to raise yourself?” said the preacher. “Of course not,” replied the miner, “As I have said, you have nothing to do but to get into the cage.” “But what about the people who sunk the shaft, and perfected all this arrangement? Was there much labour or expense about it?” “Yes, indeed; that was a laborious and expensive work. The shaft is a thousand feet deep, and it was sunk at great cost to the proprietors; but it is our way out, and without it we should never be able to get to the surface.” “Just so,” and when God’s Word tells you that whosoever believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life, you say, “Too cheap,” forgetting that God’s work to bring you and others out of the pit of destruction was accomplished at a vast cost, the price being the death of His only-begotten Son. (W. Baxendale.)

    Redemption through Christ






    I. THE DOCTRINE. “God so loved,” etc.

    1. The first cause of redemption--the love of God to man. Christ died not that God might, but because He did love us.

    2. The mode of human redemption. God’s love could not be a powerless thing dealing in fine sentiment and words of pity. It had a great end in view which could only be secured by an unparalleled sacrifice. “He gave His only begotten Son.”

    3. The extent of human redemption. It would not be easy to find language more free and comprehensive than “the world … whosoever.” All are not saved, but none need be unpardoned. An universal need is here universally provided for.

    II. THE DUTY. God has lavished the love of His heart on us and requires the trust and love of ours. Nothing can be simpler or more common than trust, the child’s first lesson and act. This is illustrated in the miracles of Christ. Only believe that Jesus has the will and the power to save and your confidence will not be disappointed.

    1. Faith is different from knowledge. Yet there must be some knowledge. But there may be little knowledge and strong faith, and much knowledge and no faith. There are many well-instructed people who shrink from the thought of infidelity. Yet infidelity is the want of trust in God and Christ. Faith is the soul’s own rest in Jesus as its own Redeemer.

    2. The text makes no distinction in the kind or degree of faith. It is doubtless better to have a firm than a weak faith. Still, if a man have faith at all he will be saved.

    III. THE PROMISE. “Eternal life.”

    1. A present realization.

    2. “More abundantly” hereafter. Of this the unbeliever is deprived in time and eternity. He that believeth not is dead already. (J. Guiness Rogers, B. A.)

    The Christian’s creed

    I. Its first article is--GOD LOVES THE WORLD. Easy to say, impossible to realize in all its augustness. The great question is, What does God feel? Agnostics do not know whether He is force or Father. But when they cannot tell what you yearn to know Jesus comes, and there is light over all the darkness and despair of life. On any lips this would be a wonderful word, but in the lips of Christ “love” meant all that was in His own heart. Himself the embodiment of love, He lifts our eyes to heaven and says, God loves, not made, rules, judges, but loves; and not the Church, but the world, and every individual in it. Mankind is not a larger family for God to love than is yours for you.

    II. Its second article is--GOD HAS GIVEN US HIS SON. Love is ever giving. It gives its best. Our best earthly gifts are our friends, and God gives us the best friend. And He is ours absolutely, individually, and for ever--all He is and all He has. Value the gift which cost God so much.

    III. The third article is--WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN CHRIST, etc. The condition upon which we are to receive salvation is universally practicable. If there were any other it would shut some one out. All our training in this world is a training for faith. All the joys of life are joys of trust. It is not a question whether faith shall be the condition of salvation. It is a necessity in the nature of things. If you suspect any you shrink from them. Doubt is the great gulf fixed between you and God, but faith is the link which binds us to Him. All that is needed, therefore, is the entrustment of the heart to God. Conclusion: That is our creed.

    1. Repent of treating it so negligently.

    2. Be not ashamed of it.

    3. Fear not its future. Man will want no new one until all that wakes up our need of Christ is destroyed. (R. Glover.)

    The everlastings

    I. The everlasting FATHER.

    II. The everlasting SON.

    III. The everlasting LOVE.

    IV. The everlasting LIFE. (J. C. Jones.)

    The morality of the Evangelical faith

    I. In these words I find my religion, theology, ethics, and politics, politics being one of the chief branches of ethics.

    1. The Divine love for mankind.

    2. The mission of the love of God for salvation.

    3. Faith in the Son of God the condition of salvation.

    4. Eternal life the gift of Divine love to all who believe in Christ.

    II. Evangelical Christians have claimed one of these truths as preeminently their own. Faith in Christ as the condition of salvation is the very heart of the Gospel. Whitefield the Calvinist and Wesley the Arminian differed on many points, but when a man asked, “What must I do to be saved?” each gave the same answer.

    III. Luther maintained that justification by faith was the test of a standing or a falling Church. We go further. It is as necessary to preach that men are sanctified by faith. Faith is the root of morality as well as the condition of pardon. Hebrews 11:1-40., which illustrates the triumphs of faith, is an unfinished fragment. You must add to it the story of the saintliness, heroism, righteousness, and charity of sixty generations; even then it remains a fragment still.

    IV. To believe in Christ--what is it? Not the mere acceptance, however cordial, of the Christian creed. It is to have confidence in Christ, unreserved, unqualified, unmeasured. Whatever dignity Christ claims, faith reverently acknowledges. Whatever relations He assumes to God and to man, it concedes. Whatever authority He asserts, it submits to. When He teaches, faith admits His teaching as absolute truth. When He commands, faith accepts His precepts as the perfect law of life. When He promises, faith relies on Him to fulfil. To admit some of Christ’s claims and to reject the rest; to listen to His declarations that His blood is shed for the remission of sins; to refuse to listen, or to listen incredulously, when He speaks as the moral ruler of the race, this is inconsistent with faith in Him. (R. W. Dale, D. D.)

    The power of this gospel of love on its first proclamation

    If we could but hear the words for the first time, and without prepossessions either of Pharisaic error or logical orthodoxy, hear them with nothing but consciousness of sin and thirst for life, before the love of God had been hardened into doctrine, and the only begotten Son has become a quarrel for the schools. “Do your gods love you?” asked a missionary of some Indians. “The gods never think of loving,” was the cheerless answer. The text before us was read. “Read it again,” asked the arrested pagan. “That is large light, read it again.” A third time the blessed words were repeated; and with this emphatic response, “That is true, I feel it.” On one occasion a missionary was dictating to a native amanuensis the translation of the First Epistle, and when he reached the passage, “Now are we the sons of God,” the poor child of heathenism burst into tears, and exclaimed, “ It is too much, it is too much; let me put it, Now are we permitted to kiss His feet.” (A. J. Morris.)

    God’s love for man

    The missionary Nott was once reading and explaining this passage to some awakened Tahitians. One of his auditors asked: “Is it then really true that God has so loved you and us that He gave His only begotten Son for us?” Nott stedfastly affirmed that the gospel which he was preaching was really true; upon which the Tahitian cried out: “Oh, and thou canst speak of such love without tears!”--himself weeping from shame and joy. (R. Besser, D. D.)

    The love of God

    When Bonplau the botanist climbed one of the loftiest peaks of the Andes, he found it a volcano. The rim of the crater was covered with scoriae, and everything that looked like blasting and desolation, but just in one little crevice there was a tiny bright flower.

    There it grew in beauty. Like enough the seed had dropped from a bird. The shower had fallen, the sun had shone, and the flower had grown there waving in the wind amidst surrounding desolation. The flower growing there on the rim of that fire funnel is something like the grand and beautiful love of God. He has planted flowers on the rim of perdition, on the very edge of that rim. (S. Coley.)


    When John Williams sailed in his missionary ship, he said as he touched a shore where he had never been before, where no foot of white man had ever trod, wherever he preached for the first time he had this for his text. No text could bear him beyond this. He could stand anywhere, on any shore, and cry, “ God so loved the world.” (S. Coley.)


    “I thank God for this word ‘whosoever,’” remarked Richard Baxter, “did it read, there is mercy for Richard Baxter, I am so vile, so sinful, that I would have thought it must have meant some other Richard Baxter; but this word ‘whosoever’ includes the worst of all the Baxters that ever lived.”

    The universality of the atonement

    Suppose a will is made by a rich man bequeathing certain property to certain unknown persons, described only by the name of “the elect.” They are not described otherwise than by this term, and all agree that although the maker of the will had the individuals definitely in his mind, yet that he left no description of them, which either the persons themselves, the courts, nor any living mortal can understand. Now such a will is of necessity altogether null and void. No living man can claim under such a will, and none the better though these elect were described as residents of Oberlin. Since it does not embrace all the residents of Oberlin, and does not define which of them, all is lost. All having an equal claim and none any definite claim, none can inherit. If the atonement were made in this way, no living man would have any valid reason for believing himself one of the elect, prior to his reception of the Gospel Hence he would have no authority to believe and receive its blessings by faith. In fact, the atonement must be wholly void--on this supposition--unless a special revelation is made to the persons for whom it is intended. (C. G. Finney, D.D.)

    The personal appropriation of the atonement

    During a revival season, a young man came to me in the inquiry room, and showed me a card like the following:


    In the blank space, the young man had written his own name in full. Said he: “My superintendent gave me this card on condition that I would write my name in the blank space. If I had known what it was, I never would have promised; for I have had no peace since that day.” That night, on his knees, he found peace. Let the teacher prepare such cards, and try the plan. I have tried it with powerful effect. It makes this seem personal, and puts “me” in the place of “whosoever.” (A. F. Schauffer.)

    A mother’s lesson

    A young soldier was shot on the battlefield, and dragged by a comrade aside to die. He shut his eyes, and all his past life flashed before him. It seemed but an instant of time. He looked forward and saw eternity, like a great gulf, ready to swallow him up, with his sins as so many weights sinking him deeper and deeper. Suddenly a lesson, which his pious mother taught him when a little boy at her knee, stood before him in shining letters. It was a lesson he heard repeated again and again and again; she was never tired of imprinting it on his memory before she died; it was her only legacy. In the gaiety of life he had forgotten it. He had lost his hold on it, but it had never quite lost its hold on him; and now, in the hour of peril, it threw out to him a rope of mercy. What was it? “God so loved the world,” etc. He caught the rope; it seemed let down from heaven. “Lord, I believe,” he cried; “save me, or I perish!” Till he died, a few hours after, he said little but this one prayer: “Lord, I believe; save me, or I perish!” a prayer never uttered by the penitent soul in vain. (Clerical Anecdotes.)

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    These files are public domain.
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    Bibliographical Information
    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "John 3:16". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

    Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have eternal life.

    We reject the notion of that school of exegetes who make a break at this place, removing this from the interview with Nicodemus and attributing these words, not to Christ, but to John the apostle.

    This whole chapter may be read in less than five minutes; and thus there is nothing unusual or atypical in the Master's brief exhortation of Nicodemus concerning those "heavenly things" mentioned in John 3:12. To make of these short remarks some big sermon and to allege on that basis that the interview must have been terminated already is to overlook the near certainty that this interview was longer than a mere five minutes. Moreover, after Nicodemus rejected what Jesus said, exclaiming, "How can these things be?" it was altogether natural for Jesus to have continued for a few moments without any further interruption from Nicodemus. This and the following reasons for rejection of the idea of a break at this point are weighty enough for doing so.

    (1) It is fully in keeping with many of Jesus' actions that the world-shaking concept of the new birth should first have been mentioned to this proud and bigoted Pharisee. Did Jesus not also propound the greatest sermon on worship to a woman at the well?

    (2) It is more logical to believe that the epic teachings of this passage came first from the lips of Jesus, rather than from John. This verse is the heart of Christianity; and to identify it as coming from the reflections of a Spirit-guided John so long afterward is simply unreasonable. Scholars favoring such a view are unconsciously advocating an evolutionary hypothesis of Christianity, rather than the view that Christ brought it all at one time. They forget that the function of the Spirit in the apostles was to help them remember what Jesus said (John 14:26).

    (3) The technical reasons alleged against this position are weak. For example, some words in the paragraph beginning here do not appear elsewhere in words attributed to Jesus but do appear in other writings of John, "only begotten" being a conspicuous example. As Reynolds noted:

    The reply is that John used this great word because he had heard it on the lips of Jesus. He would not have dared use it otherwise; and he used it because he had heard our Lord thus express himself.[18]

    Furthermore, the connective, "for," at the beginning of the paragraph shows that there is no break. See below.

    For God so loved the world ... "For" indicates that we do not have here a new section, but the continuation of the interview with Nicodemus.

    So loved the world ... is the burden of the entire corpus of divine revelation. Fittingly, this announcement of God's universal love was made to a representative of the narrowest and strictest sect in ancient Judaism, who taught that God's love was the special province of Israel, who were at that very time hoping for their long-awaited Messiah, who would, according to their views, restore the kingdom of Israel and judge the whole Gentile world with an overwhelming destruction. Jesus' refusal to conform to such an idea of the Messiah was a very conspicuous element in their rejection of him. Here, Christ hurled into the very teeth of the Sanhedrin the mind-blowing concept that God loved everyone on earth, the whole creation! It is no wonder that John never forgot such a confrontation as this; and no wonder that some of the words in this interview became a part of his permanent vocabulary, appearing even in the writings of his old age, as in "And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2).

    God's love for mankind is pure, spontaneous, and constant. Jesus did not die on the cross to compel God to love people, but because he already loved them, the cross being a result of God's love, not the cause of it. God's holy love is not inconsistent with His wrath, for God's love extends to man himself, but not to the sins that man is guilty of. The doom of the wicked appears by implication in this very statement of his love.

    That he gave his only begotten Son ... Although the initiative of the Father appears here in the word "gave," Christ also gave himself for man. Seven centers of initiative are discernible in the drama of the cross, and the student is referred to my Commentary on Romans, pp. 117f, for a review of them. It is the Father's initiative on view here, and it is significant that in the Christian religion alone it is God who provides the offering for sin. In this sublime fact, Christianity rises above any comparison with ethnic and natural religions, in which, in all of them, it is man himself who pays and pays. It is always a man, like Prometheus, who is chained to the rock; but in the holy religion of Christ, it is God who provides the offering for man's sin.

    The thought in focus here is the sacrifice of Christ. Such is the nature of sin and rebellion against God, that only God could extricate fallen humanity from the morass into which they had fallen; and God could do it only at awful cost in the giving of Jesus as an offering. Note the significant shift of titles. John 3:14 spoke of the Son of man; here Jesus spoke of the Son of God. No MAN could have died for all men; only God in the form of man could have done it. The highest angel in heaven would not have sufficed to provide such an offering as Jesus.

    O listen to our wondrous story: Counted once among the lost, Jesus came from heaven's glory, Saving us at awful cost.

    No angel could his place have taken, Highest of the high though he; The loved one on the cross forsaken Was one of the Godhead three![19]

    This was the mystery hidden before times eternal, that God would enter the lists of humanity as a man, paying the penalty of human transgression himself in the person of his Son and discharging the debt due to the fall in Eden. It was primarily for the purpose of delivering the flesh of the Messiah to humanity that the device of a chosen people had been provided by God in the days of Abraham; and, despite the will of the chosen people to reject him, Christ here unfolded the full mystery to one of the noblest and best men in the very council of the Sanhedrin itself.

    That whosoever believeth on him ... Faith is the great principle of Christianity, motivating every act of obedience, securing the believer in times of bewilderment or temptation, sustaining the disciple through tribulations and distress, and enlightening the soul during every darkness. Faith is the first of the preconditions of redemption in Christ Jesus, and it is also the last, there never being a single moment of the Christian pilgrimage when faith is not required. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). "On him ..." is alleged to be one of the words that is Johannine rather than from Christ, but such a conceit is rejected. Glorious as faith assuredly is, it is faith "in Christ" that saves, not faith "in faith."

    Should not perish ... The so-called translations that read this place "shall not perish" are incorrect. See under John 3:15. "Perish ..." is a reference to the overthrow of the wicked in hell, and is a hint of the judgment when God will settle accounts with evil. Tender as the love of God is, it does not extend far enough to include any divine acceptance of man's rebellion against the Creator.

    But have everlasting life ... Such an unspeakable reward contrasts with God's wrath (John 3:36), destruction (Matthew 7:13,14), eternal fire (Matthew 18:9), and with judgment or death (John 5:24). Everlasting life is antithetical to such things, being eternal both in its excellence and in its duration.

    The careful student should not overlook the fact that this passage (John 3:15) reveals that the eternal life which is available to men is located "in Christ." This means that eternal life is available only for those who become identified with Christ in the absolute sense, being so united with him that they are in fact "Christ," as Paul declared (Galatians 2:20). Nor is this teaching ever lost sight of by the apostle John; he said:

    And the witness is this, that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son hath not life (1 John 5:11,12).

    [18] H. R. Reynolds, op. cit., Vol. 17, p. 122.

    [19] L. O. Sanderson, Christian Hymns Number Two (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Company, 1948), What Did He Do? No. 187.

    Copyright Statement
    Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
    Bibliographical Information
    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 3:16". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    For God so loved the world,.... The Persic version reads "men": but not every man in the world is here meant, or all the individuals of human nature; for all are not the objects of God's special love, which is here designed, as appears from the instance and evidence of it, the gift of his Son: nor is Christ God's gift to every one; for to whomsoever he gives his Son, he gives all things freely with him; which is not the case of every man. Nor is human nature here intended, in opposition to, and distinction from, the angelic nature; for though God has showed a regard to fallen men, and not to fallen angels, and has provided a Saviour for the one, and not for the other; and Christ has assumed the nature of men, and not angels; yet not for the sake of all men, but the spiritual seed of Abraham; and besides, it will not be easily proved, that human nature is ever called the world: nor is the whole body of the chosen ones, as consisting of Jews and Gentiles, here designed; for though these are called the world, John 6:33; and are the objects of God's special love, and to them Christ is given, and they are brought to believe in him, and shall never perish, but shall be saved with an everlasting salvation; yet rather the Gentiles particularly, and God's elect among them, are meant; who are often called "the world", and "the whole world", and "the nations of the world", as distinct from the Jews; see Romans 11:12, compared with Matthew 6:32. The Jews had the same distinction we have now, the church and the world; the former they took to themselves, and the latter they gave to all the nations around: hence we often meet with this distinction, Israel, and the nations of the world; on those words,

    ""let them bring forth their witness", that they may be justified, Isaiah 43:9 (sayF2T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 2. 1. the doctors) these are Israel; "or let them hear and say it is truth", these are "the nations of the world".'

    And againF3Ib. fol. 4. 1. Vid. T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 91. 2. & Bereshit Rabba, fol. 11. 3. ,

    "the holy, blessed God said to Israel, when I judge Israel, I do not judge them as "the nations of the world":'

    and so in a multitude of places: and it should be observed, that our Lord was now discoursing with a Jewish Rabbi, and that he is opposing a commonly received notion of theirs, that when the Messiah came, the Gentiles should have no benefit or advantage by him, only the Israelites; so far should they be from it, that, according to their sense, the most dreadful judgments, calamities, and curses, should befall them; yea, hell and eternal damnation.

    "There is a place (they sayF4Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 24. 1. Jarchi & Kimchi in Zech. ix. 1. ,) the name of which is "Hadrach", Zechariah 9:1. This is the King Messiah, who is, חד ורך, "sharp and tender"; sharp to "the nations", and tender to "Israel".'

    And so of the "sun of righteousness", in Malachi 4:2, they sayF5Zohar in Gen. fol. 112. 2. ,

    "there is healing for the Israelites in it: but the idolatrous nations shall be burnt by it.'

    And thatF6Zohar in Exod. fol. 15. 1, 2. .

    "there is mercy for Israel, but judgment for the rest of the nations.'

    And on those words in Isaiah 21:12, "the morning cometh", and also the night, they observeF7T. Hieros. Taaniot, fol. 64. 1. ,

    "the morning is for the righteous, and the night for the wicked; the morning is for Israel, and the night for "the nations of the world".'

    And againF8Shemot Rabba, sect. 14. fol. 99. 4. ,

    "in the time to come, (the times of the Messiah,) the holy, blessed God will bring "darkness" upon "the nations", and will enlighten Israel, as it is said, Isaiah 60:2.'

    Once moreF9Ib sect. 11. fol. 98. 3. ,

    "in the time to come, the holy, blessed God will bring the nations of the world, and will cast them into the midst of hell under the Israelites, as it is said, Isaiah 43:3.'

    To which may be added that denunciation of theirsF11T. Bab. Succa, fol. 55. 2. .

    "woe to the nations of the world, who perish, and they know not that they perish: in the time that the sanctuary was standing, the altar atoned for them; but now who shall atone for them?'

    Now, in opposition to such a notion, our Lord addresses this Jew; and it is as if he had said, you Rabbins say, that when the Messiah comes, only the Israelites, the peculiar favourites of God, shall share in the blessings that come by, and with him; and that the Gentiles shall reap no advantage by him, being hated of God, and rejected of him: but I tell you, God has so loved the Gentiles, as well as the Jews,

    that he gave his only begotten Son; to, and for them, as well as for the Jews; to be a covenant of the people, the Gentiles, the Saviour of them, and a sacrifice for them; a gift which is a sufficient evidence of his love to them; it being a large and comprehensive one, an irreversible and unspeakable one; no other than his own Son by nature, of the same essence, perfections, and glory with him; begotten by him in a way inconceivable and expressible by mortals; and his only begotten one; the object of his love and delight, and in whom he is ever well pleased; and yet, such is his love to the Gentiles, as well as Jews, that he has given him, in human nature, up, into the hands of men, and of justice, and to death itself:

    that whosoever believeth in him, whether Jew or Gentile,

    should not perish, but have everlasting life; See Gill on John 3:15.

    Copyright Statement
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    Bibliographical Information
    Gill, John. "Commentary on John 3:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

    5 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth o in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    (5) Nothing else but the free love of the Father is the beginning of our salvation, and Christ is he in whom our righteousness and salvation dwells: and faith is the instrument or means by which we apprehend it, and everlasting life is that which is set before us to apprehend.

    (o) It is not the same to believe in a thing, and to believe about a thing, for we may not believe in anything except in God alone, but we may believe about anything whatever, says Nazianzene in his Oration of the Spirit.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 3:16". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    For God so loved, etc. — What proclamation of the Gospel has been so oft on the lips of missionaries and preachers in every age since it was first uttered? What has sent such thrilling sensations through millions of mankind? What has been honored to bring such multitudes to the feet of Christ? What to kindle in the cold and selfish breasts of mortals the fires of self-sacrificing love to mankind, as these words of transparent simplicity, yet overpowering majesty? The picture embraces several distinct compartments: “THE WORLD” - in its widest sense - readyto perish”; the immense “LOVE OF GOD” to that perishing world, measurable only, and conceivable only, by the gift which it drew forth from Him; THE GIFT itself - “He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” or, in the language of Paul, “spared not His own Son” (Romans 8:32), or in that addressed to Abraham when ready to offer Isaac on the altar, “withheld not His Son, His only Son, whom He loved” (Genesis 22:16); the FRUIT of this stupendous gift - not only deliverance from impending “perdition,” but the bestowal of everlasting life; the MODE in which all takes effect - by “believing” on the Son. How would Nicodemus‘ narrow Judaism become invisible in the blaze of this Sun of righteousness seen rising on “the world” with healing in His wings! (Malachi 4:2).

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    These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
    This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
    Bibliographical Information
    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

    Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

    For so (ουτως γαρhoutōs gar). This use of γαρgar is quite in John‘s style in introducing his comments (John 2:25; John 4:8; John 5:13, etc.). This “Little Gospel” as it is often called, this “comfortable word” (the Anglican Liturgy), while not a quotation from Jesus is a just and marvellous interpretation of the mission and message of our Lord. In John 3:16-21 John recapitulates in summary fashion the teaching of Jesus to Nicodemus.

    Loved (ηγαπησενēgapēsen). First aorist active indicative of αγαπαωagapaō the noble word so common in the Gospels for the highest form of love, used here as often in John (John 14:23; John 17:23; 1 John 3:1; 1 John 4:10) of God‘s love for man (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:16; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:4). In John 21:15 John presents a distinction between αγαπαωagapaō and πιλεωphileō ΑγαπαωAgapaō is used also for love of men for men (John 13:34), for Jesus (John 8:42), for God (1 John 4:10).

    The world
    (τον κοσμονton kosmon). The whole cosmos of men, including Gentiles, the whole human race. This universal aspect of God‘s love appears also in 2 Corinthians 5:19; Romans 5:8.

    That he gave
    (ωστε εδωκενhōste edōken). The usual classical construction with ωστεhōste and the indicative (first aorist active) practical result, the only example in the N.T. save that in Galatians 2:13. Elsewhere ωστεhōste with the infinitive occurs for actual result (Matthew 13:32) as well as purpose (Matthew 10:1), though even this is rare.

    His only begotten Son
    (τον υιον τον μονογενηton huion ton monogenē). “The Son the only begotten.” For this word see note on John 1:14, note on John 1:18; and John 3:18. The rest of the sentence, the purpose clause with ιναεχηιhina -εις αυτονechēi precisely reproduces the close of John 3:15 save that εν αυτωιeis auton takes the place of πιστευωνen autōi (see John 1:12) and goes certainly with εχηιpisteuōn (not with εν αυτωιechēi as μη αποληται αλλαen autōi in John 3:15) and the added clause “should not perish but” (απολλυμιmē apolētai alla second aorist middle subjunctive, intransitive, of apollumi to destroy). The same contrast between “perish” and “eternal life” (for this world and the next) appears also in John 10:28. On “perish” see also John 17:12.

    Copyright Statement
    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 3:16". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

    Vincent's Word Studies

    The world ( κόσμον )

    See on John 1:9.


    Rather than sent; emphasizing the idea of sacrifice.

    Only-begotten Son

    See on John 1:14.


    See on John 3:15.

    This attitude of God toward the world is in suggestive contrast with that in which the gods of paganism are represented.

    Thus Juno says to Vulcan:

    “Dear son, refrain: it is not well that thus

    A God should suffer for the sake of men.”

    Iliad,” xxi., 379, 380.

    And Apollo to Neptune:

    “Thou would'st not deem me wise, should I contend

    With thee, O Neptune, for the sake of men,

    Who flourish like the forest-leaves awhile,

    And feed upon the fruits of earth, and then

    Decay and perish. Let us quit the field,

    And leave the combat to the warring hosts.”

    Iliad,” xxi., 461, 467.

    Man has no assurance of forgiveness even when he offers the sacrifices in which the gods especially delight. “Man's sin and the divine punishment therefore are certain; forgiveness is uncertain, dependent upon the arbitrary caprice of the gods. Human life is a life without the certainty of grace” (Nagelsbach, “Homerische Theologie”). Mr. Gladstone observes: “No Homeric deity ever will be found to make a personal sacrifice on behalf of a human client” (“Homer and the Homeric Age,” ii., 372).

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    The text of this work is public domain.
    Bibliographical Information
    Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 3:16". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    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.

    Yea, and this was the very design of God's love in sending him into the world.

    Whosoever believeth on him — With that faith which worketh by love, and hold fast the beginning of his confidence steadfast to the end.

    God so loved the world — That is, all men under heaven; even those that despise his love, and will for that cause finally perish. Otherwise not to believe would be no sin to them. For what should they believe? Ought they to believe that Christ was given for them? Then he was given for them.

    He gave his only Son — Truly and seriously. And the Son of God gave himself, Galatians 4:4, truly and seriously.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
    Bibliographical Information
    Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 3:16". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

    The Fourfold Gospel

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish1, but have eternal life2.

    1. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish. Luther calls this verse "the Bible in miniature". It is a lesson as to God's love: (1) Its magnitude--he gave his only begotten Son. (2) Its reach--he gave it to a sinful world (Romans 5:8). (3) Its impartiality--he gives it to whoever; that is, to all alike (Matthew 5:45; Revelation 22:17). (4) Its beneficial richness --it blesses with life eternal. (5) Its limitations--it is nowhere said that God so loves that he will save unbelievers. Love is the mutual and binding grace between God and man; it may also be said that in Christ is made God human and man divine.

    2. But have eternal life. John uses the word "eternal" ("ainios" in Greek) seventeen times in his Gospel (John 3:15,16,36; John 4:14,36; John 5:24,39 John 6:27,40,47,54,68; John 10:28; John 12:25,50; John 17:2,3) and six times in his First Epistle (1 John 1:2; 1 John 2:25; 1 John 3:15; 1 John 5:11,13,20). He always applies it to life. The synoptists use it eight times (Matthew 18:8; Matthew 19:16,29; Matthew 25:41,46; Mark 3:29 Mark 10:17,30; Luke 10:25; Luke 16:9; Luke 18:18,30), applying it to life, and also to fire, punishment, damnation, and habitation.

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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 3:16". "The Fourfold Gospel". Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

    Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

    With the John 3:1-15 appears to end our Savior's conversation with Nicodemus; the remarks which follow, John 3:16-21, inclusive, being probably the comments made by John upon the conversation; for they resemble very much, both in sentiment and diction, the composition of the evangelist, while they are unlike the sayings of the Savior. Other similar cases of this character hereafter occur. For evidence of the effect which this conversation, and the Savior's ministry in general, produced on Nicodemus, see John 7:50,51,19:39.

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    Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on John 3:16". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    Ибо так возлюбил Бог мир. Христос открывает здесь первую причину и источник нашего спасения, дабы никто не сомневался в этом вопросе. Ибо наша душа не обретет состояния спокойствия, в котором могла бы обрести отраду, доколе не познает незаслуженную любовь к себе Бога. Наше спасение следует искать в одном только Христе, и надобно знать, от Кого нам был послан Христос, и почему Он был предложен нам как Спаситель. И то, и другое сказано весьма четко. Вера во Христа животворна для всех, и Христос потому приносит нам жизнь, что небесный Отец не восхотел погибели любимого Им человеческого рода. Надо обратить особое внимание на этот порядок. Когда речь заходит о причине нашего спасения, немедленно по врожденной нам нечестивой мнительности всплывают дьявольские измышления о собственных заслугах. Мы думаем, что Бог милостив к нам потому, что счел достойными тех, на кого призрел. Но Писание везде превозносит чистое и беспримесное милосердие, отвергающее все заслуги. Христос именно это и имеет в виду, полагая причину в божественной любви. Если подняться еще выше, то Дух устами Павла открывает нам тайну и учит, что любовь эта основана на благоволении божественной воли (Еф.1:5). Совершенно ясно: Христос сказал так для того, чтобы отвлечь людей от самих себя, и привлечь их взор к одному лишь милосердию Божию. Он возвещает, что Бог не потому подвигся на наше избавление, что увидел в нас нечто достойное Его благодеяний. Напротив, всю славу за наше избавление Христос приписывает только Его любви. Это вполне ясно следует из контекста. Ведь Сын был дан людям, чтобы они не погибли. Откуда следует: если Христос не удостоит Своей помощи погибших, все будут предназначены к вечной смерти. Павел доказывает это, указывая на порядок событий в нашем спасении (Рим.5:10): Мы были возлюблены, когда по своим грехам еще оставались врагами. Действительно, там, где царит грех, нельзя найти ничего, кроме гнева Божия, влекущего за собой смерть. Итак, лишь по милосердию Бог примиряет нас с Собой, одновременно воскрешая к жизни.

    Однако, кажется, такой способ выражения противоречит многим местам Писания, полагающим первое основание божественной любви к людям во Христе Иисусе. Эти места говорят, что вне Христа мы ненавистны для Бога. Но следует помнить, что было сказано раньше: тайная любовь, коей нас возлюбил небесный Отец, и проистекающая из Его тайного намерения, превыше всех остальных причин. Благодать же, свидетельствующая нам об этой любви, и подвигающая нас к спасительному упованию, берет начало в примирении, совершенном Иисусом Христом. Ведь Бог по необходимости ненавидит грех, как же мы говорим, что Он любит нас, доколе наши грехи не заглажены? Те самые грехи, взирая на которые Бог нас заслуженно ненавидит. Посему, ради умилостивления к нам Бога, прежде чем к нам пришло какое-либо чувство Божия отеческого благоволения, и надлежало пролиться Христовой крови. Кроме того, как мы слышали ранее, Бог предал на смерть Своего Сына из-за любви к нам. И вскоре будет сказано, что Христос – единственный, на Кого должна взирать наша вера. Бог отдал Единородного Сына, дабы всякий верующий в Него не погиб. Здесь указан тот объект, на который взирает вера. Ей предлагается Христос, в Котором она видит отверстое в любви сердце Отца. Посему она прочно и надежно опирается на смерть Христову, как на единственный залог спасения. Слово «Единородный» является εμφατικον [эмфатическим; – прим. пер.], выражая пламенность Божией к нам любви. Поелику же людей не просто убедить к любви к ним Бога, устранив при этом все сомнения, Христос особо указывает на следующее обстоятельство: мы были столь сильно дороги Богу, что ради нас Он не пощадил даже Единородного Сына. Итак, поелику Бог вполне достаточно засвидетельствовал нам о Своей любви, всякий, кто не довольствуется этим свидетельством и продолжает колебаться, немало оскорбляет Христа, словно Он какой-то бездумный обыватель, неосмотрительно предавший Себя на смерть. Скорее надо принять во внимание, сколь сильно ценит Бог Своего Единородного Сына. Отсюда мы сделаем вывод, что столь же ценным было для Него и наше спасение, за которое Он пожелал заплатить смертью Единородного. Впрочем, Христос по праву носит это имя, будучи единственным по природе Сыном Божиим. Нам же Он сообщает подобную честь через усыновление, и притом лишь тогда, когда мы прививаемся к Его телу.

    Верующий в Него не погиб. Великая похвала вере, спасающей нас от вечной погибели. Христос весьма ясно выразил следующую мысль: хотя мы кажемся рождающимися для смерти, вера в Него дарует несомненное избавление. И посему смерти, иначе представляющей для нас великую угрозу, вовсе не следует бояться. Он употребляет здесь обобщающее слово, всех без различия приглашая к участию в жизни, и одновременно лишая неверующих всяких оправданий. Для этой же цели ранее Он использовал слово «мир». Хотя в этом мире не найдется никого достойного божественного благоволения, Христос являет Себя в умилостивление за весь мир, призывая всех без исключения к вере в Самого Себя, а это есть не что иное, как начало вечной жизни. Кроме того, будем помнить: жизнь повсеместно обещается всем верующим во Христа, но сама вера не является общей для всех людей. Ибо ясно, что Христос выставлен перед всеми, но лишь избранным Бог открывает очи, дабы те искали Христа с верою. Далее, чудесная действенность веры явствует из того, что через нее мы принимаем Христа таким, каким Он дан нам от Отца. Мы принимаем Христа, Который, избавив нас от осуждения на вечную смерть, делает нас же наследниками вечной жизни. Ведь жертвоприношением смерти Своей Он изгладил все наши грехи, дабы ничто не мешало Богу признать нас Своими детьми. Итак, вера принимает Христа вместе с действенностью Его смерти и плодом Его воскресения. Посему не удивительно, ежели через нее мы также участвуем в Христовой жизни. Однако еще не вполне ясно, почему и каким образом вера приносит нам жизнь. Потому ли, что Христос возрождает нас Своим Духом, дабы в нас жила и процветала праведность Божия, или же потому, что, омытые Его кровью от своих грехов, мы считаемся праведными в глазах Божиих по Его незаслуженному прощению. Несомненно, эти две вещи всегда связаны между собой. Но поскольку здесь идет речь об уверенности в спасении, необходимо придерживаться следующего убеждения: мы живем лишь потому, что Бог, не вменяя нам грехи, совершенно ни за что нас возлюбил. Посему здесь отдельно упоминается та жертва, коей были упразднены грех, проклятие и смерть. Ранее я говорил, какова цель этих двух фраз. Они направлены на то, чтобы мы знали: во Христе нам возвращается жизнь, которой сами по себе мы полностью лишены. Ибо в этом горестном состоянии человеческого рода искупление по порядку предшествует спасению.




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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:16". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

    Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books

    Ver. 16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but should have eternal life."

    Here is the ἐπουράνιον, the heavenly mystery, par excellence;Jesus displays the source of the redemptive work, which He has just described; it is the love of God itself. The world, that fallen humanity of which God in the Old Testament had left the largest part outside of His theocratic government and revelation, and which the Pharisees devoted to wrath and judgment, Jesus presents to Nicodemus as the object of the most boundless love: "God so loved the world ..." The gift which God makes to it is the Son,— not only the Son of man, as He was called John 3:13-14 in relation to His humanity, but His only-begotten Son. The intention, in fact, is no longer to make prominent the homogeneity of nature between this Redeemer and those whom He is to instruct and save, but the boundlessness of the love of the Father; now this love appears from what this messenger is for the Father Himself. It has been claimed that this term, only-begotten Son, was ascribed to Jesus by the evangelist. For what reason? Because, both in his Prologue (John 1:14-18), and in his Epistle (John 4:9) he himself makes use of it. But this term is, in the LXX., the translation of the Hebrew יָחִיד, H3495, (Psalms 25:16; Psalms 35:17; Proverbs 4:3).

    Why should not Jesus have employed this word if He was, as we cannot doubt (Matthew 11:27; Matthew 21:37), conscious of His unique relation to God? And how should the evangelist have been able to render it in Greek otherwise than the LXX. had rendered it? Man had once offered to God his only son; could God, in a matter of love, remain behind His creature?

    The choice of the verb is equally significant; it is the word for giving, and not only for sending; to give, to surrender, and that, if necessary, even to the last limits of sacrifice.—The last clause produces the effect of a musical refrain (comp. John 3:14). It is the homage rendered by the Son to the love of the Father from which everything proceeds. The universality of salvation (whosoever), the easiness of the means (believeth), the greatness of the evil prevented (should not perish), the boundlessness, in excellence and in duration, of the good bestowed (eternal life): all these heavenly ideas, new to Nicodemus, are crowded into this sentence, which closes the exposition of the true Messianic salvation.—According to this passage, redemption is not extorted from the divine love; it is its thought, it is its work. It is the same with Paul: "All things are of God, who reconciled us unto Himself by Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:18).

    This spontaneous love of the Father for the sinful world is not incompatible with the wrath and the threatenings of judgment; for here is not the love of communion, which unites the pardoned sinner to God; but a love of compassion, like that which we feel towards the unfortunate or enemies. The intensity of this love results from the very greatness of the unhappiness which awaits him who is its object. Thus are united in this very expression the two apparently incompatible ideas which are contained in the words: so loved and may not perish. Some theologians, beginning with Erasmus (Neander, Tholuck, Olshausen, Baumlein) have supposed that the conversation of Jesus and Nicodemus closes with John 3:15, and that, from John 3:16, it is the evangelist who speaks, commenting with his own reflections on the words of his Master. This opinion finds its support in the past tenses,loved and were, John 3:19, which seem to designate a more advanced period than that at which Jesus conversed with Nicodemus; in the expression μονογενής, only-begotten Son, which belongs to John"s language; finally, in the fact that, from this point, the dialogue-form wholly ceases. The for of John 3:16, is, on this view, designed to introduce John"s explanations; and the repetition in the same verse of the words of John 3:15 are, as it were, the affirmation of the disciple answering to the Master"s declaration.—But, on the other hand, the for of John 3:16 is not a sufficient indication of the passing from the teaching of Jesus to the commentary of the disciple.

    The author must have marked much more distinctly such an important transition. Then, how can we imagine that the emotion which bears on the discourse from John 3:13 is already exhausted in John 3:15? The increasing exaltation with which Jesus successively presents to Nicodemus the wonders of divine love, the incarnation (John 3:13) and redemption (John 3:14-15), cannot end thus abruptly; the thought can rest only when it has once reached the highest principle from which these unheard of gifts flow, the infinite love of the Father. To give glory to God, is the goal to which the heart of Jesus always tends. Finally, who could believe that He would have dryly sent Nicodemus away after the words of John 3:15, without having given him a glimpse of the effects of the salvation announced, and without having addressed to him for himself a word of encouragement? Would this be the affectionate sympathy of a truly human heart?

    The part of Jesus, in that case, would be reduced to that of a cold catechist. The difficulties which have given occasion to this opinion do not seem to us very serious. The past tenses of John 3:19 are justified in the mouth of Jesus, like the reproach of John 3:11 : "You receive not our testimony," by the attitude, which the population and authorities of the capital had already taken (John 2:19). We have justified by the context the term only-begotten Son, and have seen that it would hardly be natural to refuse it to Jesus Himself. The terms new birth, birth of water and birth of the Spirit (John 3:3; John 3:5) are also not found in the rest of Jesus" discourses; must we, for this reason, doubt that they are His? In a kind of discoursing so original as His, does not the matter, at each moment, create an original form? When we remember that the ἅπαξ λεγόμενα (words employed only once) are counted by hundreds in the Epistles of St. Paul (two hundred and thirty in the first epistle to the Corinthians, one hundred and forty-three in the epistles to the Colossians and Ephesians taken together, one hundred and eighteen in the Ep. to the Hebrews), how can we conclude from the fact that a term is found only once in the discourses of Jesus which have been preserved to us, that it does not really belong to His language?

    Finally, the cessation of the dialogue-form results simply from the increasing surprise and humble docility with which Nicodemus, from this point onwards, receives the revelation of the heavenly things. In reality, notwithstanding this silence, the dialogue none the less continues. For, in what follows, as in what precedes, Jesus does not express an idea, does not pronounce a word, which is not in direct relation to the thoughts and needs of His interlocutor, and that as far as John 3:21, where we find, at last, the word of encouragement which naturally closes the conversation, and softens the painful impression which must have been left in the heart of the old man by the abrupt and severe admonition with which it had begun.— De Wette and Lucke, while maintaining that the author makes Jesus speak even to the end, nevertheless think that, without himself being conscious of it, he mingled more and more his own reflections with the words of his Master. Nearly the same is also the opinion of Weiss, who thinks that, in general, John has never given an account of the discourses of Jesus except by developing them in his own style. If, in what follows, we find any expression wanting in appropriateness, any thought unconnected with the given situation, it will indeed be necessary to accept such a judgment. If the contrary is the fact, we shall have the right to exclude this last supposition also.

    One idea is inseparable from that of redemption,—it is that of judgment. Every Pharisee divided man into the saved and the judged, that is to say, into circumcised and uncircumcised, into Jews and Gentiles. Jesus, who has just revealed the redeeming love towards the whole world, unfolds now to Nicodemus the nature of the true judgment. And this revelation also is a complete transformation of the received opinion. It will not be between Jews and Gentiles, it will be between believers and unbelievers, whatever may be their nationality, that the line of demarcation will pass.

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    Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 3:16". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books".

    Scofield's Reference Notes


    (Greek - ἀπόλλυμι," trans). "marred," Mark 2:22, "lost,"; Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24; Matthew 18:11; Luke 15:4; Luke 15:6; Luke 15:32. In no N.T. instance does it signify cessation of existence or of consciousness. It is the condition of every non-believer.

    world kosmos = mankind. (See Scofield "Matthew 4:8").

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    Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on John 3:16". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". 1917.

    James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


    ‘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.’

    John 3:16

    That is the great Magna Charta of Christianity. What is the meaning of it? I believe that it meets with a response not only in your hearts but in all the hearts of all mankind. We believe in God, and we believe in love. Not only in the beginning there was God, but God is, and if there is a God men ask that that God shall exhibit:—

    I. The highest quality known to human nature.—What is that quality? It is the theme of all the poets, it is the inspiration of the greatest pictures of art, especially Christian art. What is the meaning of it? There is only one meaning of it—that the biggest achievement of man, springing from the deepest parts of his human nature, is love.

    II. Christianity not a new thing.—Now the mistaken conception people have got about Christianity is that Christianity was something that came into the world two thousand years ago, or nearly that, as a new thing, and that you can put on your letters ‘Anno Domini.’ That is quite true in a sense, and yet really it is untrue. There is no date that you can put down ‘Anno Domini,’ for He is from eternity. Before the foundation of the world God loved man, and placed love as the key of all the universe.

    III. Love manifests itself.—Some people think of love as a sentiment. Divine love is far deeper than that. And God reveals His love. How do you reveal your love? Exactly in the same way as you reveal your intelligence—by an incarnation. How is God to manifest Himself that He loves? In the stars? In the flowers? In a magnificent sunset? We all know that, but yet how far is He? If God loves He must come to us in personality, and if He did not the world would say: ‘It is a mistake, and God has not revealed Himself yet as He can and as He ought.’ God was in Christ. That is the highest revelation you can have—God in personality. And why was that? Do you not see what we had done? We were made all right, but we were spoiled by sin. Then the communion was broken, and if the communion is to be established again in personality, as it started in personality, it can only be done when Deity touches the eternal shore on one side and man on the other side, and redeems our human nature. That is what God did, and Christ took our human nature and redeemed it, and presented it perfect and spotless to God.

    IV. Salvation by faith.—Mark the text—‘That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ People say they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ by a speculative assent of something they call the intellect. That is not belief. Do you know what it cost God to believe in the redemption of men? It cost Him His only begotten Son. What did it cost Christ to save man? It cost Him a Cross, and yet men think they can be saved by the sentimental assent to the doctrines of Christianity. Christ never said: ‘He that believeth in the doctrine of the Atonement shall be saved.’ He said, ‘He that believeth in Me shall be saved.’ What does that mean? Belief with the intellect? Yes. Belief in the Atonement? Yes. What else? You have got to believe with the heart. What else? To believe with the will, and to do His Will. Christ asks you for your heart—all you have got. I want you to give your intellect and lay it at the Cross; I want you to give your love and put it at the feet of the Crucified; I want you to be able to say, ‘O God, not my will but Thy Will be done,’ and give your will to God. Then you will understand that he that believeth has communion with God and hath eternal life. Will you have it? How can you get it? Do you know what wants redeeming? It is human nature, and He has redeemed it. Will you give it back to him and get this new life? Will you understand that you have been reconciled to God through the death of Jesus Christ? I want you to go away believing in the doctrine that God is love, and that the highest life is that which is wholly consecrated to Him.

    —Rev. A. J. Waldron.



    There are three great mysteries which are conveyed in this text.

    I. Here, first of all, is the mystery of the Divine love of the world.

    II. Then there is the second mystery—the mystery of self-sacrifice in God, Who gave His Son.

    III. Then I come to the third mystery, perhaps the most wonderful of all—God’s individual care for the soul.—It is no Gospel to you or to me to be told that God so loved the world, unless I am told that whosoever believeth in Him shall have everlasting life, unless, as a sinner, I am told that whosoever cometh unto Him, He will in no wise be cast out.


    ‘Do not believe that the world is so had as you are in your more despairing moments tempted to suppose. Remember the warning of him in the Psalms—“I had almost said even as they; but lo! then I should have condemned the generation of Thy children.” Carry a pure, simple heart within you wherever you go. Everywhere you shall find that the children of God are not so hard to seek; everywhere you shall find the tokens of that Blessed Spirit Who is ever working in the dark places of human life, drawing souls and hearts in ways unknown to us to God. And carry also in your hearts that thought—you in your loneliness, your difficulties at home or in your work, your depression, your sadness, or solitariness, are yet the object of God’s eternal care and love, that you may be able to see and to know that God is present with you, watching over you, keeping you, saying to you, as He said to Jacob, “I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest.… I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.”’

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    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    16 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.

    Ver. 16. God so loved the world] This is a sic so without a sicut, just as, there being nothing in nature wherewith to parallel it. The world, that is, all mankind fallen in Adam. This the apostle fitly calleth God’s philanthropy, Titus 3:4, it being a sweet favour to the whole kind of us that any are saved by Christ.

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    Sermon Bible Commentary

    John 3:16

    I. A difficulty arises in considering this text. If God so loved the world, why did He allow the fall of man. I answer, Never was a kinder act in God's whole government than that fall of man. For, from what did He fall? A garden. To what does he rise? A heaven. But how can a loving Father permit so much pain, and sin, and misery among His creatures? Two keys unlock that mystery. (1) One is Christ. This world of ours was made to be a platform for the manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ. You will never read rightly the history of this earth till you adopt that as your first principle—this world was made to be a platform to show Christ. To that manifestation of Christ in His redeeming work, pain, and sin, and misery were absolutely essential. (2) The other key is eternity. We do not yet know how that world will explain and rectify this. We do not yet know how the discipline of this world is bringing out the joy of another; and how the rough and noisy quarry of this Lebanon is giving effect to that temple which is now rising in its calmness upon the hill of Zion. When we behold all its balanced action, and its perfect unity, and its grand results, I am quite sure that we shall say of it all, "God is love."

    II. God does not give many things. He lends many; and what He lends, He recalls. He lends everything that has not Christ in it; and therefore He recalls everything that has not Christ in it. But Christ, and what has Christ in it, He never recalls. A Christian affection—a Christian union—a Christian peace—He never recalls! Christ fills it. God gave Christ; therefore that affection, that peace, that union is for ever and ever. You will observe that the promise is twofold—one negative and the other positive. (1) The negative we owe, strictly speaking, to the death of Christ. Our punishment having passed on to Christ, it would not be just in God to punish us also, for that would be punishing the same sin twice. (2) The positive boon, our admission into heaven, we owe to the meritorious righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is imputed to us. And when in that righteousness, we have an actual claim, even the same claim that Christ has, of admission into the heavenly kingdom, because we carry Christ's own claim—His righteousness imputed to us.

    J. Vaughan, Sermons, 1865.

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    Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on John 3:16". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

    Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

    John 3:16. For God so loved the world, Our Lord here assures Nicodemus, that men owed the unspeakable happiness spoken of in the preceding verse, to the free and unutterable love of God the Father, who desired their salvation with such ardency, that he sent his only-begotten Son to bestow everlasting life on those who perseveringlybelieve in him; so far washe from sending him to condemn them, as he had reason to fear. This is one of those bright and heart-affecting passages in the gospel, which shines too strong to admit the least attempt at illustration in a commentator. Reader! may your soul and mine feel and experience its energy now and for ever!

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    Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 3:16". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

    Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

    Here observe, 1. The original source and fountain of man's salvation; and that is, God's free and undeserved, his great and wonderful love.God so loved the world; he doth not say how much, but leaves it to our most solemn raised thoughts; it is rather to be conceived than declared; and admired rather than conceived. God so loved the world:

    Hence note, That the original spring and first cause of our salvation is the free favour and mere love of God; a love worthy of God from whom it proceeds, even love inexpressible and inconceivable.

    Observe, 2. The greatness of the gift by which God evidenced and demonstrated the greatness of his love to a lost world. He gave his only begotten Son: that is, he delivered him out of his own bosom and everlasting embraces. Now this will appear a stupendous expression of God's love, if we consider that God gave him who was not only the greatest, but the dearest person to him in the world, even his own Son: that he gave him for sinners; that he gave him for a world of sinners; that he gave him up to become a man for sinners; that he gave him up to be a sacrifice for the sin of sinners.

    Observe, 3. The gracious end for which God gave this great gift of his love to lost sinners: That whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    Where note, 1. The gentle and merciful condition upon which salvation depends; Whosoever believeth in Christ shall not perish.

    2. The infinite goodness of God in proposing such a vast reward unto us, upon our performing of this condition; He shall have everlasting life.

    Learn hence, That faith is the way which God hath appointed, and the conditon which God hath required, in order to our obtaining salvation by Jesus Christ. This faith consists in the assent of the understanding, that Jesus is the Saviour of the world; in the consent of the will, to accept of Jesus freely and voluntarily, deliberately, advisedly, and resolvedly, for our Saviour; in accepting the merit of his blood, and submitting to the authority of his laws; it being in vain to expect salvation by Christ, if we do not yield subjection to him; he that thus believes in Christ, that submits himself to his ruling power, as well as commits himself to his saving mercy, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

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    Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 3:16". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. 1700-1703.

    Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

    16.] Many Commentators—since the time of Erasmus, who first suggested the notion—have maintained that the discourse of our Lord breaks off here, and the rest, to John 3:21, consists of the remarks of the Evangelist. (So Tholuck, Olshausen, Lücke, De Wette; which last attributes John 3:13-14 also to John.) But to those who view these discourses of our Lord as intimately connected wholes, this will be as inconceivable, as the idea of St. Matthew having combined into one the insulated sayings of his Master. This discourse would be altogether fragmentary, and would have left Nicodemus almost where he was before, had not this most weighty concluding part been also spoken to him. This it is, which expands and explains the assertions of John 3:14-15, and applies them to the present life and conduct of mankind.

    The principal grounds alleged for supposing the discourse to break off here seem to be ( α) that all allusion to Nicodemus is henceforth dropped.

    But this is not conclusive, for it is obvious that the natural progress of such an interview on his part would be from questioning to listening: and that even had he joined in the dialogue, the Evangelist would not have been bound to relate all his remarks, but only those which, as John 3:2; John 3:4; John 3:9, were important to bring out his mind and standing-point. ( β) That henceforth past tenses are used; making it more probable that the passage was added after the great events alluded to had taken place. But does not our Lord speak here, as in so many other cases, proleptically, of the fulness of the accomplishment of those designs, which in the divine counsels were accomplished? Is not this way of speaking natural to a discourse which is treating of the development of the new birth, itself not yet brought in till the Spirit was given? See a parallel instance, with the Evangelist’s explanation, ch. John 7:37-39. ( γ) On account of this use of μονογενής,, John 3:16; John 3:18, which is peculiar to John. But, as Stier well enquires (iv. 84, edn. 2), whence did John get this word, but from the lips of his Divine Master? Would he have ventured on such an expression, except by an authorization from Him? ( δ) It is asserted that John often continues our Lord’s discourses with additions of his own;—and John 3:31, and ch. John 1:16, are alleged as instances. Of these, ch. John 1:16 is beside the question;—for the whole prologue is spoken in the person of the Evangelist, and the Baptist’s testimony in John 3:15 is merely confirmatory of John 3:14, and then the connexion goes on with John 3:16. On the untenableness of the view with regard to John 3:31 ff., see notes there.

    It would besides give us a very mean idea of the honesty or reverence of one who sets forth so sublime a view of the Divinity and Authority of our Lord, to suppose him capable, in any place, of attributing to his Master words and sentiments of his own invention. And that the charge amounts to this, every simple reader can bear testimony. The obvious intention of the Evangelist here is, that the Lord shall have said these words. If our Lord did not say them, but the Evangelist, we cannot stop with the view that he has added his own remarks to our Lord’s discourse, but must at once pronounce him guilty of an imposture and a forgery. (See Stier, iv. 81 ff., edn. 2.) I conclude therefore on all these grounds that the words following, to John 3:21, cannot be otherwise regarded than as uttered by our Lord in continuation of His discourse.

    ἠγάπησεν] The indefinite signifying the universal and eternal existence of that love which God Himself is (1 John 4:8).

    τὸν κόσμον, the world, in the most general sense, as represented by, and included in, man,—Genesis 3:17-18; Genesis 1:28;—not, the elect, which would utterly destroy the force of the passage: see on John 3:18.

    The Lord here reveals Love as the one ground of the divine counsel in redemption,—salvation of men, as its one purpose with regard to them.

    τὸν υἱὸν ἔδωκεν] These words, whether spoken in Hebrew or in Greek, seem to carry a reference to the offering of Isaac; and Nicodemus in that case would at once be reminded by them of the love there required, the substitution there made, and the prophecy there uttered to Abraham, to which ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστ. so nearly corresponds.

    ἔδωκεν—absolute, not merely τῷ κόσμῳgave up,παρέδωκεν,—Romans 8:32; where as Stier remarks, we have again, in the οὐκ ἐφείσατο, an unmistakeable allusion to the οὐκ ἐφείσω, said to Abraham, Genesis 22:16.

    ἵνα] By the repetition of this final clause verbatim from John 3:15, we have the identity of the former clauses established: i.e. the uplifting of the Son of Man like the serpent in the wilderness is the manifestation of the Divine Love in the gift of the Son of God:— ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου of John 3:14, = in the strictest sense, ὁ υἱὸς αὐτ. ὁ μονογ. of John 3:16.

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    Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

    DISCOURSE: 1610


    John 3:16. 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.

    THE doctrine of our reconciliation with God through the death of his Son, is calculated to impress our minds with a deep sense of the love of Christ in undertaking for us; but, if not cautiously stated, it may give us very erroneous conceptions respecting the Father. If, for instance, we imagine that the Father needed the mediation of his Son to render him propitious, then we must ascribe all the glory of our salvation to the Son, and consider the Father merely as acquiescing in the Son’s wishes, and shewing mercy to us for his sake. But the whole plan of our salvation originated with the Father: the very gift of a Saviour was the fruit of the Father’s love; and therefore, in contemplating the wonders of Redemption, we must trace them to their proper source, the love of God the Father.

    To this view of things we are led by the text; in elucidating which, we shall not form any particular arrangement, but simply take the several expressions contained in it, and use them as so many mirrors to reflect light upon one central point, the love of God the Father in sending his only-begotten Son to die for us.

    Consider then, first, the Giver

    [If man confer a benefit upon his fellow-creature, we are not surprised; because there is no man so elevated, but he may need the assistance of his inferiors; nor is there any man so depressed, but he may, at some period or other, have it in his power to requite a kindness. But “God” is totally independent of us; “our goodness extendeth not to him [Note: Psalms 16:2.];” “it is no profit to him that we are righteous [Note: Job 22:2-3.]:” he would have been equally happy and glorious, though no creature had ever been formed; and he would remain so, if every creature in the universe were annihilated. How wonderful, then, was it, that he should condescend to look on us; yea, that he should take such an interest in our affairs, as to supply, at a most incalculable price, our pressing necessities! Even in this first view of his love we are lost with wonder.]

    But our admiration will be greatly increased, if we reflect upon the gift

    [It was his Son, “his only-begotten Son,” whom he vouchsafed to give. It was not a creature; no, not the first of all created beings, but his co-equal, co-eternal Son [Note: Micah 5:2.]; who from eternity had been in his bosom [Note: John 1:13.], and “daily his delight [Note: Proverbs 8:22-30.].” A less gift than that would not have sufficed for our relief: and a greater, God himself was not able to bestow. In comparison of this, ten thousand angels would have been as nothing; yea, all the hosts of heaven would not have been more than a grain of sand is in comparison of the universe. Yet God, seeing our wants, “sent his own Son to be a propitiation for our sins [Note: 1 John 4:9-10.].” What manner of love was this! How “incomprehensible are its breadth and length, and depth and height [Note: 1 John 4:9-10. with Ephesians 3:18-19.]!”]

    Additional lustre will be reflected on this mystery, if we consider the manner in which he bestowed this gift

    [He waited not to be solicited: indeed no creature could have asked for such a favour: the thought could not have entered into the mind of any created intelligence; nor, if it had occurred, could he have presumed to utter it. But God needed no suggestion from his creatures: his love prevented their requests [Note: God, instead of following our first parents with denunciations of wrath, gave, unsolicited, that promise, which was the foundation of hope to them and all their posterity. Genesis 3:15.]; it even provided for their wants before those wants existed, yea, before the creatures themselves had any being. He himself is love [Note: 1 John 4:16.]; and the exercise of mercy is his delight [Note: Micah 7:18.]. He neither had, nor could have, any inducement from without: all his motives were found within his own bosom: the displaying of his own unbounded love was a sufficient reason for his utmost exertions: he shewed mercy for mercy sake; and “gave,” because it was the joy of his soul to give.]

    But how will this stupendous love be heightened in our esteem, if we take into consideration the persons on whom this gift was bestowed!

    [It was not vouchsafed to angels, though angels needed it as much as we. This was a mercy reserved for fallen man, even for “the world” that lieth in wickedness [Note: Hebrews 2:16.]. To form an estimate of the world, let us look around us, and see to what an awful extent iniquity abounds: or, if we would have our judgment still more according to truth, let us look within our own hearts, and see what horrible abominations are harboured there. We know nothing of others, but by their words and actions: but we have a juster criterion within our own bosoms: we may search into our own thoughts and desires; we may discern the base mixture that there is in all our motives and principles of action: in short, we may see such “a world of iniquity” within us, as may well constrain us to say, with David, “My heart sheweth me the wickedness of the ungodly, that there is no fear of God before his eyes [Note: Psalms 36:1. Prayer-book translation.]:” yes, in our own hearts there is an epitome of all the evil that is in the world: and, if we know any thing of ourselves, we shall stand amazed that God should look upon such a world as this, and give his only dear Son to save those who so richly merited his hottest indignation.]

    We cannot do justice to this subject, if we do not further notice God’s ultimate design in bestowing this precious gift upon us

    [We must, but for this marvellous effort of divine love, have perished in our sins. Having resembled the fallen angels in their sin, we must have resembled them also in their misery. But “God would not that we should perish.” Notwithstanding the greatness and universality of our guilt, he would not that we should suffer according to our desert; and therefore he interposed for our deliverance. But this was not all. He desired to restore us to our forfeited inheritance, and to bring us to the possession of “everlasting life.” It was not enough for him to save us from perishing; he must also renovate us after his own image, and make us partakers of his own glory. What stupendous love was this! That he should ever think of receiving such hateful creatures into his presence; that he should lay a plan for the exalting of them to thrones and kingdoms in heaven; and that he should even give his only-begotten Son out of his bosom to effect it! How infinitely does this surpass all the comprehension of men or angels!]

    The condition which he has imposed for our participation of these benefits, yet further illustrates and magnifies his love—

    [Suppose God had said, “Find me fifty righteous, or forty, or thirty, or twenty, or only ten, and for their sakes I will pardon and save all the rest [Note: Genesis 18:24-32.]:” we must have perished, because among the whole human, race there is “not one righteous, no, not one [Note: Romans 3:10.].”

    Suppose that, instead of this, he had said, “I will give my Son to die for your past offences, and will bring you back to a state of probation; whereby, if you fall not again from your righteousness, you shall be saved:” the offer had been exceeding kind and gracious; but we should not long have reaped any solid advantage from it: we should soon have broken the covenant again, and been involved in the same misery as before.

    Suppose God had said, “I foresee that a renewal of your former covenant would be to no purpose; and therefore my Son shall work out a righteousness for you; and I require nothing of you, but to add to that a righteousness of your own, that the two righteousnesses together may form a joint ground of your acceptance with me:” alas! we should have been in as deplorable a state as ever; for we never have done, nor ever can do, one single act, which, if weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, will not be found wanting.

    But suppose God yet further to lower his demands, and to say, “I will give you a complete salvation through the blood and righteousness of my dear Son; and I will require nothing of you, but only to render yourselves worthy of it;” still had our state been altogether hopeless; for we can no more render ourselves worthy of such a mercy, that we can create a world.

    This was well known to God; and therefore he proposed none of these things: he requires only that we should believe in his Son, and accept freely what he so freely offers. It is true, that, if even this depended on ourselves, we should perish: because without the grace of God we cannot exercise saving faith [Note: Philippians 1:29.]: but still this is the condition, which alone is suited to our helpless state; because it implies a total renunciation of all merit or strength in ourselves, and leads us to Christ, that we may find our all in him. O how does this enhance the love of God! And in what bright colours does that love appear, when viewed in the light which so many mirrors reflect upon it!]

    If any thing can add to the lustre with which his love already shines, it is the extent in which the offers of these benefits are made

    [There is not a human being upon earth, who shall not be a partaker of all these benefits, if only he believe in Christ. There is no limitation, no exception: God gave his Son, that “whosoever” believeth in him should not perish. Past sins, however numerous or heinous, are no bar to our acceptance with God, if only we accept his mercy on the terms on which it is offered. This is the uniform testimony of Holy Writ [Note: Isaiah 45:22; Isaiah 55:1 and Revelation 22:17 and John 6:37.] — — — O let us magnify God for his mercy; and be telling of the wonders of his love from day to day!]


    1. How aggravated must be the condemnation of them that reject the Gospel!

    [Our Lord says, “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil [Note: John 3:19.].” Let this sink down into our ears: for, if such love cannot melt us into contrition, and such goodness bring us to repentance, we may well expect a most accumulated weight of vengeance at the hands of an offended God.]

    2. How groundless are the fears of many who embrace the truth!

    [Many sincere Christians are troubled in mind; some on account of their temporal wants, and others on account of their spiritual necessities. But “if God has delivered up his own Son for us, will he not with him also freely give us all things [Note: Romans 8:32.]?” And “if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life [Note: Romans 5:10.].” These are unanswerable arguments; and they should compose our minds under trials, of whatever kind.]

    3. How deeply should we all be affected by the love of God!

    [Pungent indeed is that question, “What could I have done more for my vineyard, that I have not done [Note: Isaiah 5:4.]?” The more we consider how God has loved the world, the more we shall see, that he has indeed done all for us that he could do, consistently with our free agency, and his own honour. And when he has so loved the world, are we at liberty to forget him? Does such love call for no return? or are we to requite it only by increased impiety? O let every one of us say, “What shall I render to the Lord?” And let his love to us constrain us to devote ourselves unreservedly to him.]

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    Bibliographical Information
    Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on John 3:16". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

    Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

    John 3:16. Continuation of the address of Jesus to Nicodemus, onwards to John 3:21,(162) not, as Erasmus, Rosenmüller, Kuinoel, Paulus, Neander, Tholuck, Olshausen, Maier think (see also Bäumlein), an explanatory meditation of the evangelist’s own; an assumption justified neither by anything in the text nor by the word ΄ονογενής, a word which must have been transferred from the language of John to the mouth of Jesus (not vice versa, as Hengstenberg thinks), for it is never elsewhere used by Christ, often as He speaks of His divine sonship. See on John 1:14. The reflective character of the following discourse is so fully compatible with the design of Christ to instruct, and the preterites ἠγάπησαν and ἦν so little require to be explained from the standing-point of a later time, that there does not seem any sufficient basis for the intermediate view (of Lücke, De Wette, Brückner), that in this continued account of the discourse of Jesus, John 3:16 ff., John inserts more explanations and reflections of his own than in the preceding part, how little soever such a supposition would (as Kling and Hengstenberg think) militate against the trustworthiness of John, who, in recording the longer discourses, has exactly in his own living recollection the abundant guarantee of substantial certainty.

    οὕτω] so much; see on Galatians 3:3.

    γάρ] reason of the purpose stated in John 3:15.

    ἠγάπησεν] loved, with reference to the time of the ἔδωκεν.

    τὸν κόσμον] i.e. mankind at large,(163) comp. πᾶς, John 3:15; John 17:2; 1 John 2:2.

    τὸν ΄ονογ.] to make the proof of His love the stronger, 1 John 4:9; Hebrews 11:17; Romans 8:32.

    ἔδωκεν] He did not reserve Him for Himself, but gave Him, i.e. to the world. The word means more than ἀπέστειλεν (John 3:17), which expresses(164) the manner of the ἔδωκεν, though it does not specially denote the giving up to death, but the state of humiliation as a whole, upon which God caused His Son to enter when He left His pre-existent glory (John 17:5), and the final act of which was to be His death (1 John 4:10). The Indicative following, ὥστε, describes the act objectively as something actually done. See on Galatians 2:13; and Klotz ad Devar. 772.

    μὴ ἀπόληται, κ. τ. λ.] Concerning the subjunctive, representing an object as present, see Winer, 271 [E. T. p. 377]. The change from the Aorist to the Present is to be noted, whereby the being utterly ruined (by banishment to hell in the Messianic judgment) is spoken of as an act in process of accomplishment; while the possession of the Messianic ζωή is described as now already existing (commencing with regeneration), and as abiding for ever. Comp. on John 3:15.

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    Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on John 3:16". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

    Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

    John 3:16. ἠγάπησεν, loved) The Son knows the Father, and the love of the Father: and alone [though but one] bears the best witness [of Him]: comp. John 3:35, “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand.”— τὸν κόσμον, the world) [all] the men under heaven, even those who were about to perish (comp. δέ, [autem] moreover—for indeed, John 3:19, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light”): as being those with whom He was otherwise [i.e. but for the atonement through His Son] angry: John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” Were it not for this, their unbelief would not properly be a fault [guilt] fatal to unbelievers; [but as it is] they ought to have believed that the Son of God was given even for the sake of them also; therefore He was given for their sake. Comp. by all means ch. John 12:47, “If any man hear My words and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world—the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” Mich. Beckius, “I heard an interpretation (as truly as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who knows I lie not, loves me) at an inn in Strasburg, in the year 1681, from a possessed woman, through whom Satan in the Latin tongue, in answer to that saying [of Scripture], which I brought against Satan to prove the universal love of God, even extending to that wretched woman still living in the world [according to the then prevalent superstition], whose name was Salome—replied in turn, with a horrible groan, in these words, The believing are the world” [meant].—Disquis. hermen., p. 5.— ἔδωκεν) gave [to be crucified.—V. g.], in truth, and in earnest [in act and in purpose]: Romans 8:32, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how” etc. And Christ gave Himself, Galatians 2:20, “The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me,” in truth and in earnest.— εἰς αὐτόν, in Him) as having been [so] lovingly given by God.

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    Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 3:16". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    For God the Father, who is the Lord of all, debtor to none, sufficient to himself,

    so loved the world, that is, Gentiles as well as Jews. There is a great contest about the signification of the term, between those who contend for or against the point of universal redemption; but certain it is, that from this term no more can be solidly concluded, than from the terms all and every, which in multitudes of places are taken in a restrained sense for many, or all of such a nation or kind. As this term sometimes signifies all persons, so, in 1 John 2:21, the Gentiles in opposition to the Jews. Nor, admitting that

    the world should signify here every living soul in the place called the world, will any thing follow from it. It is proper enough to say, A man loved such a family to such a degree that he gave his estate to it, though he never intended such a thing to every child or branch of it. So as what is truth in that so vexed a question cannot be determined from any of these universal terms; which must, when all is said that can be said, be expounded by what follows them, and by their reconcilableness to other doctrines of faith.

    God so loved the world that he gave his Son to die for a sacrifice for their sins, to die in their stead, and give a satisfaction for them to his justice. And this Son was not any of his sons by adoption, but his only begotten Son; not so called (as Socinians would have it) because of his singular generation of the virgin without help of man, but from his eternal generation, in whom the Gentiles should trust, Psalms 2:12, which none ought to do, but in God alone, Deuteronomy 6:13 Jeremiah 17:5.

    That whosoever, &c.: the term all is spoken to above; these words restrain the universal term world, and all, to let us know that Christ only died for some in the world, viz. such as should believe in him. Some judge, not improbably, that Christ useth the term world in this verse in the same sense as in 1 John 2:2. Our evangelist useth to take down the pride of the Jews, who dreamed that the Messiah came only for the benefit of the seed of Abraham, not for the nations of the world, he only came to destroy them; which notion also very well fitteth what we have in the next verse.

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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 3:16". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

    Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

    Ибо так возлюбил Бог мир Предназначение Сына – в величайшей Божьей любви отдать Свою жизнь за злой, греховный «мир» человечества (ср. 6:32, 51; 12:47; см. пояснения к 1:9; Мф. 5:44, 45), который восстает против Него. Слово «так» подчеркивает силу или величину Его любви. Отец отдал Своего единственного и возлюбленного Сына на смерть ради грешных людей (см. пояснение к 2Кор. 5:21).

    жизнь вечную См. пояснение к ст. 15; ср. 17:3; 1Ин. 5:20.

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    MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 3:16". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

    Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

    Gave his only begotten Son; the highest expression of his infinite compassion. Chap John 1:14.

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    Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 3:16". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

    Wells of Living Water Commentary

    God's Wonderful Love Story

    John 3:16 ; 1 John 4:7-19


    We wish to give our whole attention today to one verse of Scripture. It stands before us as an unfathomable river of blessing. Some one has called John 3:16 "the Gospel in a nutshell."

    Let us notice for our first statement The Great Lover.

    Who is it that so loves the world? It is God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, the Divine Trinity loves us, and yet John 3:16 is speaking particularly of the love of the Father because the verse says "God so loved * * that He gave His * * SON." Let us then think of God, the Lover, for a few moments.

    1. The common conception of God. To the carnal mind, God is often a tyrant who is driving men to hell. The heathen spend much of their time trying to propitiate an angry God. The medicine men and the dancers of wild tribes all imagine that God is a God of terror. We have read of as many as thirty-six thousand babes who have been ruthlessly murdered in order to appease the imaginary wrath of the Almighty.

    In India the babes are thrown into the Ganges with the same argument. Even in a so-called Christian country, and sometimes in pulpits, God is described as a God of wrath, while His Son, Christ, is pictured as seeking to placate His anger, and to induce Him to love sinful men. Not for one moment would we overlook the fact of "the wrath of God" being "revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." However, by the side of this we would place the God of love, who was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.

    Even in John 3:16 there is a vision of the wrath of God in the word, perish. However, the verse, as a whole, is love superabounding over wrath. It is love finding the way out, and showing how God can be just and yet the Justifier of those who believe.

    2. God's part in redemption. God knew that man would sin, and therefore before He created him, He gave Jesus Christ to die for sin. The Bible says that Christ was "delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." He was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." God the Father is the great Lover of men. While He is a holy God, and cannot receive into His presence the unclean; while He is a just God, and cannot justify the guilty, yet He planned redemption in such a way that He could satisfy the righteous demands of the Law, uphold the honor of His justice, and save the lost. In all of this, one thing is seen, and that is our next point.

    3. God, the Lover of men. As we think of the Almighty, the Creator, the Provider of the human race, we think of Him with a love that absolutely surpasses knowledge. It is in the Book of Titus that we find these words, "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared * * according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour." In this Scripture the Father and the Son are spoken of as our Saviour. We think of Jesus loving us, and He did, but God loved us supremely.


    "So" is the biggest little word in the Bible. Included in the word "so" are all of the agonies of the Cross, and all of the riches of God's grace; in the gift of His Son, are all the depths, the heights, the breadths, and lengths of grace.

    In Ephesians 3:18-19 Paul is praying for the saints that they may "comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge." Did you ever try to fathom an unfathomable depth? Did you ever try to know the unknowable? That is just what Paul prayed we might do. After his prayer he said, "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory."

    How the little word "so" remains with us. We revel in its beauty. The love of God is a love that knows no end. It is a love that never fails. It is a love that loves unto the end. Many waters cannot quench His love. Neither can the floods drown it. This should all be true of our love to Him. It is certainly true of His love to us. "Having loved His own * * He loved them unto the end." To know Him is to love Him, because our love is born of His love. We love Him because He first loved us. Because of His love, we ought also to love one another.

    O what love now enraptures my soul,

    O what grace doth my spirit control;

    For the Saviour is mine, and His love-light doth shine;

    And the billows of joy o'er me roll.

    O My Saviour is more than a friend,

    And His love knows no change to the end;

    'Neath the smile of His face, and the wealth of His grace,

    All the beauties of Heaven do blend.


    It is easy for us who are saved to want to monopolize God's love. That God loved us, we know. That we love Him, we know. However, the love of John 3:16 is His own all-inclusive love. It is His love to all of the world.

    1. God's love to Israel set forth. In the Old Testament we read concerning Israel these words: "[He] did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; * * but because the Lord loved you." Here is a gripping statement, God did not love Israel because of what Israel was numerically, nor in any other way. He loved them because He loved them. There is something about the love of God that is indescribable and incomprehensible. When God tried to tell His people why He loved them He simply said because He loved them. Call "because" a woman's reason, if you want to, but here it is God's reason.

    2. God's love to the Church set forth. Christ loved the Church, and bought it with His Blood. "For we know the love which God hath toward us." In our Scripture for today there is much of the love of God toward His own. God loves, because God is love. God manifested His love toward us.

    3. God's love to the world set forth. In Romans 5:8 is this statement. "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." In Revelation 1:5 is a verse that is, perhaps, still more striking: "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His Own Blood." That is, God loved us before He washed us.

    He loved me when, a sinner,

    I trampled on His love,

    He loved me still, though straying,

    I spurned His Home above;

    And still He loved; and loving,

    For me He bled and died,

    Then loving on and wooing,

    He drew me to His side.


    When we speak of the supreme Lover, we delight in speaking of the manifestations of His love, of the gift of His love, and of how He proves His love to us.

    1. He loved us and gave all things richly to enjoy. When God created the Heavens and the earth, He commanded the earth to bring forth fruit. When God filled the earth with beasts and birds, fish and creeping things, in all of this He was working for man. He was storing the earth, and even the air with everything which man would need, and He saw that it was good.

    2. He loved and gave us the Word. What a marvelous gift it is, God's love letter is God's revelation of things to come, God's expression of His heart toward men.

    3. He loved and gave us the Holy Ghost. In Luke 11:1-54 we read, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?" What a gift is the Paraclete!

    4. He loved and gave us His Son. He gave Him as a teacher. He gave Him as a healer. Jesus went about doing good. All of this was the gift of God. The supreme gift of the Son, however, was that He gave the Son to be our Sin-bearer. "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."


    There is one great joy, and that is that the love of God is all-inclusive. Rich and poor, peer and pauper, good and bad all come under the word, "whosoever."

    An old blacksmith was trying to read John 3:16 . When he came to the word, "whosoever," his knowledge of letters was too circumscribed. He could not make the word out. He read, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that * *," and then he desired so much to know the next word. He laid his book aside awaiting the return of his daughter from school. He put his finger on the word, when she came in, and said, "What is this, daughter?" She said, "It is 'whosoever,' and it means me, or you, or anybody else." He clapped his finger down on the word as though it might get away, and said, "Thank God, that means me!"

    1. Whosoever signifies that Christ tasted death for every man. No man is lost because there was no provision for his being found. No man is lost because his sins knew no atonement, Christ died for all.

    2. Whosoever means that God sent His messengers to every man. The command was, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." None are excluded.

    "None are excluded thence

    But those who do themselves exclude;

    Welcome the learned, the polite,

    The ignorant, the rude."

    3. Whosoever includes every son of Adam. It is an all-embracing word. It is not a question of whether you are invited, it is a question of whether you want to believe. Sin and shame, in Him will find a Saviour who can save to the uttermost.


    1. There are some who spurn God's love as manifested in Christ. Isaiah 53:1-12 must stand before us as an exponent, not alone of God's saving grace, but of man's sinfulness of heart. Isaiah 53:3 says, "We hid as it were our faces from Him; * * we esteemed Him not. * * We did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. * * We have turned every one to his own way." Oh, how vile is the heart that rejects the Son of God! If men in their sin were rejecting an enemy, it would be different.

    In the second chapter of Romans there is a statement like this: "Not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance." The man who despiseth God, despises the riches of His goodness, of His forbearance, and of His long-suffering.

    2. Those who accept His love. Not all spurn it. In Acts it is told how "some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not." To believe in Him, is to turn to Him. We believe it was Robert L. Stevenson who wrote, "Oh, my friend, teach me to be thine."

    The story is told how when Caesar saw Brutus, his own familiar friend, come to him with a dagger, it quite vanquished him. How can we help but love Christ? How can we refrain from believing Him? "We love Him, because He first loved us."


    1. Men are under Satan's power. Jesus Christ came to open the prison bars, and to set the captive free. This was God's gift, and He does not want men to remain trapped by the devil.

    2. Men are sin-driven. There are not only dangers from without, which engulf sinners, but there is the power of the flesh within, the sinful self that holds men captive. God loved us, and gave Christ to deliver us so that we should not perish under the reign of self.

    3. Men are hell-bound. The wicked shall be cast into hell, and all nations that forget God. God loved us and gave Jesus Christ, His Son, that we might not perish, and become engulfed in the powers and darkness of the pit.

    We delight in that wonderful story of the Good Shepherd who went out after the sheep which was lost. He stayed out until he found it, and when he found it he put it upon his shoulders, and brought it home rejoicing. When we think of the love of God in Christ, we think of a love that will not let us perish, that will not let us go.

    "O Love that wilt not let me go,

    I rest my weary soul in Thee;

    I give Thee back the life I owe,

    That in Thine ocean depths its flow

    May richer, fuller be."

    Let us close with that wonderful statement which was written by the Holy Ghost, "I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." This is the love of God which assures us that we will never perish.


    How unfathomable is the word, "everlasting." Some one has suggested that eternity might be described by a bird which carried the grains from every seashore to some distant planet, and this one grain each year until all was gone, and then eternity would just have begun. This life is everlasting.

    1. There is included the city of gold, the new Jerusalem, the new heavens, and the new earth. These will be the abode of the saints forevermore. We shall dwell where sin and sorrow, sighing and sickness, penury and pain, can never enter. We shall dwell in the city of light. We shall walk in the Garden of God, and eat of the fruit of the tree of life, of the tree which bears twelve manner of fruit. We shall pass down by the river of the water of life, clear as crystal.

    2. There is included the reunion of the saints. This is for all those who are in Christ, they shall live forever together, knowing as they are known forevermore. From the east, and from the west; from the north and from the south, they will come, and sit down together in the Kingdom of God with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and with the redeemed.

    3. There is included God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. No more of separation; no more of isolation, but eternal fellowship.


    Love is Heaven's great gift. God's love in its endurance is well illustrated by a mother's love.

    The end came happily to Mrs. Ellen Brown because the son for whom she had waited and watched for ten years was at her side. Today he followed her to the grave.

    Everybody in Newburgh knew the sad-faced little woman who had haunted railroad stations and boat landings for a decade. Often she went across to Fishkill to watch the arrival of the New York Central trains.

    "I am waiting for my son," she told those who questioned her. "He will come back to me some day,"

    Richard Brown was only seventeen when he left his home. His mother never heard from him.

    A month ago Mrs. Brown became grievously ill and was taken to St. Luke's Hospital. The doctors knew that she would not leave it alive. Each morning she asked whether there was news from her son. They knew that it was the longing to see him that kept her alive.

    A week ago Richard Brown returned to Newburgh. He went to the hospital. There was no surprise in the little mother's face, but only a great joy.

    From that time she failed rapidly. She died with her boy's hand in hers, with peace and happiness in her heart.

    J. W. C.

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    Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on John 3:16". "Living Water".

    Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

    ‘For God loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes on him should not perish but have everlasting life’.

    The message is now expanded. The reason that Jesus has come is because “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son”. This is the amazing new revelation that surpasses all that has gone before, that God was such that He had not only seen man’s need but has met it in the only way possible at greatest cost to Himself. ‘In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us, and gave His Son to be a propitiation for ours sins’ (1 John 4:10).

    A further interesting fact is that it is ‘the world’ that is in view. His love is reaching out to the world. Jesus is not just a Messiah for the Jews, He is the Christ for the world, the world that is in darkness (John 1:10). He has come to be a light to every man.

    The point is that there was no other way by which salvation and deliverance could come to mankind, only by God’s giving of His only Son to die on the cross, ‘wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities --- the Lord laid upon him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5-6. See Luke 22:37 for Jesus’ own application of this chapter to Himself). This is the full meaning of the title ‘the Lamb of God’ (John 1:29; John 1:36).

    Here Jesus’ distinctiveness is again being drawn out. ‘His only Son’, ‘the only Son from the Father’ (John 1:14; John 1:18), Who was in the bosom of the Father (in closest personal relationship) and Who made the Father known and revealed His glory (John 1:18), is the One Who will be offered up for sin.

    And the purpose? Negatively, to save men from ‘perishing’. Positively, that they might have eternal life. In Plato’s Immortality to ‘perish’ meant to be destroyed utterly. He used it as the opposite of being an immortal soul. As Paul says, God alone has immortality (1 Timothy 6:16). We will no doubt read into this what we will.

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    Pett, Peter. "Commentary on John 3:16". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    16.Whosoever believeth—From this we learn: 1. That God loved the world before the atonement, and the atonement was the result of his previous love. 2. That in spite of that love the atonement was necessary, to save man from perishing. The atonement was God’s method, adopted by his love, of allowing man to exist and yet not be damned. 3. That the world for which Christ died was not part of the world, nor the elect world, but the whole world. 4. That faith, the faith which accepts Christ, is necessary to bring the atonement in application upon the soul so as to produce salvation. 5. That universal salvation would result but for the individual’s unbelief. 6. The doctrine of justification by faith is as clearly taught, though in different words, in the Gospels and in Christ’s teachings, as in any of the Epistles of Paul.


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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 3:16". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

    Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

    This best-known verse in the whole Bible expresses the gospel message more clearly and winsomely than any other. Almost every word in it is significant.

    Jesus" mission in the Incarnation ( John 3:13; John 3:17) and the Cross ( John 3:14-15) resulted from God"s love for human beings. The construction of the Greek sentence stresses the intensity of God"s love. He gave His best, His unique and loved Son. The Jews believed that God loved the children of Israel, but John affirmed that God loved all people regardless of race. According to one commentator, no Jewish writer specifically asserted that God loved His world. [Note: Odeberg, p116.] There is nothing in this verse or in the context that would limit "the world" to the world of the elect. This love of God is amazing not so much because the world is so big as because it is so bad (cf. John 1:9). The Father loves the world with the selfless love that provided the Incarnation and the Crucifixion. Galatians 2:20 reveals that the Cross shows the Son"s love.

    "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." His love is not a vague, sentimental feeling, but a love that costs. God gave what was most dear to him." [Note: Morris, pp203-4.]

    Christians should not love the world with the selfish love that seeks to profit from it personally ( 1 John 2:15-17).

    The world stands under the threat of divine judgment because of the Fall and sin ( John 3:36; Romans 1:18). God in His gracious love has reached out and chosen some people from out of the world for salvation ( John 15:19; Romans 6:23). He does not take pleasure in pouring His wrath out on the lost, but He rejoices when people turn from their wicked ways to Him ( Ezekiel 18:23). The fact that God allows sinners to perish does not contradict His love. He has provided a way by which they need not perish because He loves mankind. His ultimate purpose is the salvation of those who believe in His Son.

    The consequences of belief are new birth ( John 3:3; John 3:5), eternal life ( John 3:15-16), and salvation ( John 3:17). The alternative is perishing ( John 3:16; cf. John 10:28), losing one"s life ( John 12:25), and destruction ( John 17:12). To perish (Gr. apoletai) does not mean to experience annihilation but ruin, failure to realize God"s purpose, and exclusion from His fellowship. The only alternatives are life or perishing; there is no other final state.

    Cessation of belief does not result in the loss of salvation.

    "We might say, "Whoever believes that Rockefeller is a philanthropist will receive a million dollars." At the point in time a person believes this, He is a millionaire. However, if he ceases to believe this ten years later, he is still in possession of the million dollars. Similarly, if a man has believed in Christ, he is regenerate and in possession of eternal life, even if he ceases to believe in God in the future." [Note: Joseph C. Dillow, The Reign of the Servant Kings, p200.]

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    Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 3:16". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

    Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

    John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that every one that believeth in him may not perish, but have eternal life. In the preceding verses is recorded the first announcement of the Gospel by our Lord, the revelation of the mystery made manifest by Him who came out of heaven. John pauses to set his Master’s words in the light in which he himself had afterwards beheld them. Jesus had said ‘must be lifted on high,’ but had given no reason. His disciple, whose message to the church was ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:16), refers back the necessity to this truth. Whatever remains still hidden, so much as this is certain, that the humiliation and exaltation of Him who came down out of heaven were the expression of God’s love to the whole world. The Son of man is the Son of God, the only begotten Son; the one term expresses His fitness for the work, the other points to His dignity and to the greatness of the Father’s love. In this love the Father gave the Son: to what He surrendered Him is not here said; our Lord’s own words (John 3:14) fill up the meaning. The universality of the blessing is marked with twofold emphasis; designed, not for Israel only, but for the whole world, it is the actual possession of every believer. The words relating to faith are more definite than in John 3:14; for (see chap. John 2:11) to ‘believe in Him’ points to a trust which casts itself on Him and presses into union with Him. The Divine purpose is presented under two aspects, not one only (as in John 3:15); it is that the believer may be saved from perdition, and may now possess eternal life.-This verse contains most of the leading terms of John’s theology. One only of these requires further comment, on account of the various senses in which it is employed by the Evangelist. The ‘world’ does not in this verse designate those who had received and rejected the offer of salvation. It is thought of as at an earlier stage of its history; the light is not yet presented by the acceptance or rejection of which the final state of the world shall be determined.

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    Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 3:16". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

    The Expositor's Greek Testament

    John 3:16. Several conservative theologians, Neander, Tholuck, Westcott, are of opinion that the words of Jesus end with John 3:15, and that from John 3:16-21 we have an addition by the evangelist. There is much to be said in favour of this idea. The thoughts of these verses are explanatory rather than progressive. John 3:16-17 repeat the object of Christ’s mission, which has already been stated. John 3:18-19 declare the historic results in faith and unbelief, results which at the date of the conversation were not conspicuous. John 3:20-21 exhibit the causes of faith and unbelief. The tenses also forbid us to refer the passage directly to Jesus. In His lips the present would have been more natural. To John looking back on the finished story aorists and perfects are natural. Also, the designation “only begotten son” is not one of the names by which Jesus designates Himself, but it is used by the evangelist, John 1:18 and 1 John 4:9.— . The love of God for the world of men is the source of Christ’s mission with all its blessings. It was this which prompted Him to “give,” that is, to give not solely to the death of the cross alluded to in John 3:14, but to all that the world required for salvation, His only begotten Son. “The change from the aorist ( ) to the present ( ) is to be noted, the utter ruin being spoken of as an act, the possession of life eternal as an enduring experience” (Meyer, Weiss, Holtzmann).



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    Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 3:16". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary




    Greek: Aei Theos, aei uios; ama pater, ama uios. Arius began his heresy by denying this, as it appears in his letter to Eusebius, of Nicomedia, in St. Epiphanius, hær. 69, p. 731.

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    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on John 3:16". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    loved. Greek agapao. App-135. A word characteristic of this Gospel. See p. 1511.

    world. Greek. kosmos. App-129. See note on John 1:9. only, &c. See John 1:14.

    Son. App-108.

    everlasting. Same as "eternal" in John 3:15. See App-151.

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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 3:16". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    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.

    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. Who shall speak or write worthily of such a verse? What proclamation of the Gospel has been so oft on the lips of missionaries and preachers in every age since it was first uttered-what has sent such thrilling sensations through millions of mankind-what has been honoured to bring such multitudes to the feet of Christ-what to kindle in the cold and selfish breasts of mortals the fires of self-sacrificing love to mankind, as these words of transparent simplicity yet overpowering majesty have done? The picture embraces several distinct compartments. First, we have the object of regard, "THE WORLD" [ ton (Greek #3588) kosmon (Greek #2889)] - in its widest sense, ready to "perish:" Next, "THE LOVE OF GOD" to that perishing world-measured by, and only measurable and conceivable by, the gift which it drew forth from Him-He so loved the world, that He gave," etc.: Then, THE GIFT itself, He so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son; or, in the language of the apostle, He "spared not His own Son" (Romans 8:32): Further, THE FRUIT of this stupendous gift-negatively, in deliverance from impending perdition, that they "might not perish;" and positively, in the bestowal of "everlasting life:" and finally, THE MODE in which all takes effect-simply by "believing on the Son of God." How would Nicodemus' narrow Judaism become invisible in the blaze of this Sun of righteousness seen rising on "the world" with healing in His wings!

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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

    The Bible Study New Testament

    16. For God loved the world so much. Love caused God to act through Jesus to set men free! This verse says: (1) God is love. (2) Instead of hating the world, he loved it. (3) He gave his only Son because of this love. [Note: not to appease wrath, but because of love. The other religions of the world appease the wrath of an angry god. Christianity is unique in showing the God who acts in history to make it possible to change men.] (4) He came to keep men from dying eternally. His only Son. Seth Wilson writes on this: “MONOGENES has been mistakenly treated in English translations for hundreds of years as if it were MONOGENNETOS, from GENNAO, which WOULD MEAN “only one begotten.” Of the two words, John chose to use the one which means UNIQUE rather than ONLY-BEGOTTEN.” TEV makes clear that Jesus is God’s unique Son. It correctly translates the Greek word MONOGENES. Compare note on Hebrews 11:17.




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    Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on John 3:16". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (16) The last verse has spoken of “every one who believeth.” The thought went beyond the limits that Rabbis set to the kingdom of God. Its only limit is humanity. This thought is now repeated and strengthened by the “might not perish,” and the love of God is made the foundation on which it rests. Perhaps no verse in the Bible has been so much explained as this; perhaps no verse can be so little explained. Most young preachers have sermons upon it; older men learn that its meaning must be felt and thought rather than spoken. Still less can it be written; and this Note may not attempt to do more than indicate some lines of thought which may help to lead to others.

    God so loved the world.—Familiar as the words are to us, they were uttered to Nicodemus for the first time. They are the revelation of the nature of God, and the ground of our love to God and man. (Comp. Notes on 1 John 4:7-11.)

    His only begotten Son.—Here, once again, the Old Testament Scriptures suggest and explain the words used. Every Jew knew, and loved to think and tell of his forefather who was willing to sacrifice his own and only son in obedience to what he thought to be the will of God (Genesis 22). But Love gives, and does not require, sacrifice. God wills not that Abraham should give his son, but He gave His only begotten Son. The dread power that man has ever conceived—that is not God; the pursuing vengeance that sin has ever imagined—that is not God; the unsatisfied anger that sacrifice has ever suggested—that is not God. But all that human thought has ever gathered of tenderness, forgiveness, love, in the relation of father to only child—all this is, in the faintness of an earth-drawn picture, an approach to the true idea of God. Yes, the true idea is infinitely beyond all this; for the love for the world gives in sacrifice the love for the only begotten Son.

    Believeth in.—Better, believeth upon. The preposition is not the same as in the last verse. (Comp. John 1:12.) There the thought was of the Son of Man lifted up, in whom every one who believes and can interpret spiritual truth, ever has eternal life. Here the thought is of the Son of God given for the world, and every one who believes upon, casts his whole being upon Him, and, like Abraham, in will rests all upon God, finds that God has provided Himself a lamb for a burnt-offering instead of human sacrifice or death.

    Everlasting life.—Better, as the same Greek word is rendered in the previous verse, eternal life. For the meaning of this word see Note on Matthew 25:46. It is of frequent use in this Gospel (seventeen times), and always used in reference to life.

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    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 3:16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    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.
    Luke 2:14; Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; Titus 3:4; 1 John 4:9,10,19
    1:14,18; Genesis 22:12; Mark 12:6; Romans 5:10; 8:32
    that whosoever
    15; Matthew 9:13; 1 Timothy 1:15,16
    Reciprocal: Genesis 22:2 - Take;  Deuteronomy 30:15 - GeneralPsalm 2:7 - this;  Psalm 36:7 - How;  Psalm 40:10 - lovingkindness;  Proverbs 8:4 - GeneralProverbs 8:24 - I was;  Proverbs 8:35 - whoso;  Isaiah 9:6 - unto us a son;  Isaiah 51:6 - my salvation;  Isaiah 55:4 - I have;  Ezekiel 2:1 - Son;  Ezekiel 47:9 - every thing;  Zechariah 9:17 - how great is his goodness;  Matthew 7:11 - how;  Matthew 17:5 - This;  Matthew 21:37 - last;  Matthew 25:46 - the righteous;  Matthew 26:63 - the Christ;  Matthew 27:43 - I am;  Mark 1:1 - son;  Mark 1:11 - Thou;  Mark 9:7 - This;  Mark 16:16 - that believeth and;  Luke 1:78 - tender;  Luke 9:35 - This;  Luke 20:13 - I will;  John 1:34 - this;  John 3:36 - that believeth on;  John 4:10 - If;  John 5:24 - He that;  John 5:43 - come;  John 6:29 - This;  John 6:47 - He that;  John 6:51 - the life;  John 7:29 - for;  John 8:51 - If;  John 10:28 - I give;  John 14:4 - and the;  John 20:31 - believing;  Acts 16:31 - Believe;  Romans 1:3 - his Son;  Romans 4:11 - father;  Romans 5:15 - But not;  Romans 8:39 - love;  1 Corinthians 2:9 - eye;  2 Corinthians 1:19 - the Son;  2 Corinthians 5:15 - that they;  2 Corinthians 5:18 - all;  2 Corinthians 9:15 - his;  Galatians 2:20 - the Son;  Galatians 4:4 - God;  Colossians 1:15 - the firstborn;  Colossians 3:3 - your;  2 Thessalonians 2:16 - which;  Titus 1:2 - eternal;  Hebrews 1:2 - spoken;  Hebrews 1:6 - And again;  Hebrews 2:3 - so;  Hebrews 2:9 - by;  Hebrews 5:5 - Thou;  Hebrews 10:39 - but;  Hebrews 11:17 - only;  1 John 3:1 - what;  1 John 3:16 - perceive;  1 John 4:14 - the Saviour;  1 John 5:10 - that believeth on;  1 John 5:11 - God;  Revelation 2:18 - the Son

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 3:16". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

    Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

    Ver. 16. "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."

    It is of significance that in the second part of this verse, the fifteenth verse is repeated letter for letter. This shows that the main emphasis rests on these words, which in the preceding verse occupy a more subordinate position, being thrown into the shade by the deep significance of the objective fact of salvation, the redemption to be made by Christ: they state the theme for the last part of the discourse of Christ to Nicodemus, which places in a clear light the vast importance of faith, and drives it home to the conscience of Nicodemus. In the first part of the verse, a resum is given of the contents of vers. 13, 14, just as in ver. 15 the way is prepared for the section, vers. 16-21. The designation of Christ as the only-begotten Son of God, comprises what has been said in ver. 13 of the heavenly past, present, and future of Christ; and that which is here said of the loving gift of this only-begotten Son of God, resumes what is said in ver. 14. Thus is brought to light the inner connection of vers. 13 and 14, which seem to be merely in juxtaposition. They present the interdependence of the divinity of Christ and the atonement.

    Many modern commentators have supposed, after the example of Erasmus, that Christ's conversation with Nicodemus ceases at ver. 15, and that from thence onwards John continues the discourse independently. But there is no proof of this. When Olshausen remarks, "That they are no longer the words of Jesus, is evident from the fact that all reference to Nicodemus is lost," he has in point of fact only this reason for doing so, that Nicodemus, whose heart was most deeply touched in this latter part, does not again open his mouth. But this is perfectly explained by the remark made already in the Berleburger Bibel after Anton: "An anxiety to have part in God had now entered the heart of Nicodemus. Therefore he now becomes quiet, and loses himself entirely, so that we do not know what has become of him. He had been quite cast down by the former matter, his heart had been thoroughly searched; he therefore listened attentively and submissively, and perceived how necessary this only-begotten Son was for him. And though he might have made objections to this most of all, if he had wished to follow his depraved reason, yet now there was no contradiction in his mouth, because he perceived the truth and necessity of the thing. The fear of being lost had been fully developed in him. For Christ meets him now with loving and sweet words, though before He had spoken sharply to him; not as though the disposition of Christ induced this, but the disposition of Nicodemus required such an order, because he needed first to be subdued and humbled." But it is opposed to the supposition, that from ver. 16 onwards John speaks in his own person, not only that no single certain, or even probable, instance can be adduced of such a continuation of a discourse of Christ (the γὰρ, which expressly connects the preceding words, must be regarded here), and that the credibility of the Gospel is seriously injured by it; but, still more, that the discourse of Christ has thus an incomplete character. It had commenced with an earnest appeal to the conscience, and we expect it to conclude in the same manner. The objective facts, the divinity of Christ and His atonement, are still in suspense, if they are not in the conclusion of the discourse stamped, as it were, into the mind. Faith generally, and especially in the discourses of Christ in John, occupies so important a position, that its significance is not satisfied by the brief intimation in ver. 15.— κόσμος is properly the universe, the creation. Its limitation here to the human race, which, according to Genesis 1, forms the centre of the creation, is required even from the nature of the case. The limitation to the mundus electorum in the decisions of the Synod of Dort, and in the Swiss Formula Consensus, is opposed not only by the parallel passages, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9, where "all men," and "all" without exception, correspond to the world here, but it is also absolutely irreconcilable with our text. Even the word itself is decisive against it; and further, as Heumann remarks, "It was not perceived that the Lord divided the world of which He speaks into two classes of men, namely, into such as on account of their unbelief would be lost, and those who would be saved by their faith; and teaches, that God has loved them both, and desires as much that one part of mankind should believe and be saved, as the other." But the words are to call attention not merely to the greatness of the love of God, but at the same time also to the depth of our misery. This point of view is rendered prominent by Luther when he says, "By this He wishes to show the world the misery and need in which it is involved; namely, that its condition is such that it is altogether lost, and must remain eternally lost where Christ does not interpose with this sermon.

    Here is required another word and sermon than that which they had hitherto heard and learned from the law, and another power than that of men."—"That He gave His only-begotten Son." Luther: "His Son, who is as great as Himself, this is an eternally incomprehensible gift." The assertion, that " μονογενής must have been put into the mouth of Jesus from the language of John," is to be reversed. John, who alone uses this word (cf. what is said of it at John 1:14) of Christ, and alone also records that Christ used it of Himself, derived it without doubt from this discourse. It has an Old Testament basis, besides that in Zechariah 12:10 (cf. on John 1:14), in substance also in Genesis 22:2, where God says to Abraham, "Take thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest." Coincident with this transfer of only-begotten from this passage, is the reference of ἠγάπησεν to the words, whom thou lovest. The typical significance of the occurrence is expressly taught, in harmony with the declaration of our text, in Hebrews 11:19 : ὅθεν αὐτὸν ( τὸν μονογενῆ, ver. 17) καὶ ἐν παραβολῇ ἐκομίσατο, in a figure, i.e., as prefiguring Christ. So also the typical reference of the occurrence—which has its truth in this, that God does not require without giving; that when He requires the dearest, there is in this a pledge that He also will give His dearest,—lies at the foundation of Romans 8:32, where the Apostle verbally alludes to Genesis 22:16 : "Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son."

    That ἔδωκε does not refer merely to the incarnation, but principally to the atonement, is evident from the reference to ver. 14, and also from the reference to the type, where the words, "hast not withheld," correspond to "gave" here. In Romans 8:32, παρέδωκεν αὐτόν corresponds to ἔδωκε, without being on this account exactly equivalent in meaning. The completion of the gift of God was the resignation even to death.

    How is faith here related to regeneration in ver. 5? It is not identical with it, but its condition. Faith takes hold of the atoning death of the only-begotten Son of God. On this follow, in the case of those who are in circumstances like Nicodemus (how it is with children is another question), the forgiveness of sins and impartation of the Holy Spirit, which are embodied in baptism. Cf. Acts 8:12, ὅτε δὲ ἐπίστευσανἐβαπτίζοντο; ver. 13, John 18:8; Mark 16:16; Ephesians 4:5. Acts 10:47, where the Holy Spirit is imparted before baptism, forms an exception, the reasons of which are obvious.

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    Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 3:16". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    16.For God so loved the world. Christ opens up the first cause, and, as it were, the source of our salvation, and he does so, that no doubt may remain; for our minds cannot find calm repose, until we arrive at the unmerited love of God. As the whole matter of our salvation must not be sought any where else than in Christ, so we must see whence Christ came to us, and why he was offered to be our Savior. Both points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish. And this order ought to be carefully observed; for such is the wicked ambition which belongs to our nature, that when the question relates to the origin of our salvation, we quickly form diabolical imaginations about our own merits. Accordingly, we imagine that God is reconciled to us, because he has reckoned us worthy that he should look upon us. But Scripture everywhere extols his pure and unmingled mercy, which sets aside all merits.

    And the words of Christ mean nothing else, when he declares the cause to be in the love of God. For if we wish to ascend higher, the Spirit shuts the door by the mouth of Paul, when he informs us that this love was founded on the purpose of his will, (Ephesians 1:5.) And, indeed, it is very evident that Christ spoke in this manner, in order to draw away men from the contemplation of themselves to look at the mercy of God alone. Nor does he say that God was moved to deliver us, because he perceived in us something that was worthy of so excellent a blessing, but ascribes the glory of our deliverance entirely to his love. And this is still more clear from what follows; for he adds, thatGod gave his Son to men, that they may not perish. Hence it follows that, until Christ bestow his aid in rescuing the lost, all are destined to eternal destruction. This is also demonstrated by Paul from a consideration of the time;

    for he loved us while we were still enemies by sin,
    Romans 5:8.)

    And, indeed, where sin reigns, we shall find nothing but the wrath of God, which draws death along with it. It is mercy, therefore, that reconciles us to God, that he may likewise restore us to life.

    This mode of expression, however, may appear to be at variance with many passages of Scripture, which lay in Christ the first foundation of the love of God to us, and show that out of him we are hated by God. But we ought to remember — what I have already stated — that the secret love with which the Heavenly Father loved us in himself is higher than all other causes; but that the grace which he wishes to be made known to us, and by which we are excited to the hope of salvation, commences with the reconciliation which was procured through Christ. For since he necessarily hates sin, how shall we believe that we are loved by him, until atonement has been made for those sins on account of which he is justly offended at us? Thus, the love of Christ must intervene for the purpose of reconciling God to us, before we have any experience of his fatherly kindness. But as we are first informed that God, because he loved us, gave his Son to die for us, so it is immediately added, that it is Christ alone on whom, strictly speaking, faith ought to look.

    He gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him may not perish. This, he says, is the proper look of faith, to be fixed on Christ, in whom it beholds the breast of God filled with love: this is a firm and enduring support, to rely on the death of Christ as the only pledge of that love. The word only-begotten is emphatic, ( ἐμφατικὸν) to magnify the fervor of the love of God towards us. For as men are not easily convinced that God loves them, in order to remove all doubt, he has expressly stated that we are so very dear to God that, on our account, he did not even spare his only-begotten Son. Since, therefore, God has most abundantly testified his love towards us, whoever is not satisfied with this testimony, and still remains in doubt, offers a high insult to Christ, as if he had been an ordinary man given up at random to death. But we ought rather to consider that, in proportion to the estimation in which God holds his only-begotten Son, so much the more precious did our salvation appear to him, for the ransom of which he chose that his only-begotten Son should die. To this name Christ has a right, because he is by nature the only Son of God; and he communicates this honor to us by adoption, when we are engrafted into his body.

    That whosoever believeth on him may not perish. It is a remarkable commendation of faith, that it frees us from everlasting destruction. For he intended expressly to state that, though we appear to have been born to death, undoubted deliverance is offered to us by the faith of Christ; and, therefore, that we ought not to fear death, which otherwise hangs over us. And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found inthe world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.

    Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith. Here, too, is displayed a wonderful effect of faith; for by it we receive Christ such as he is given to us by the Father — that is, as having freed us from the condemnation of eternal death, and made us heirs of eternal life, because, by the sacrifice of his death, he has atoned for our sins, that nothing may prevent God from acknowledging us as his sons. Since, therefore, faith embraces Christ, with the efficacy of his death and the fruit of his resurrection, we need not wonder if by it we obtain likewise the life of Christ.

    Still it is not yet very evident why and how faith bestows life upon us. Is it because Christ renews us by his Spirit, that the righteousness of God may live and be vigorous in us; or is it because, having been cleansed by his blood, we are accounted righteous before God by a free pardon? It is indeed certain, that these two things are always joined together; but as the certainty of salvation is the subject now in hand, we ought chiefly to hold by this reason, that we live, because God loves us freely by not imputing to us our sins. For this reason sacrifice is expressly mentioned, by which, together with sins, the curse and death are destroyed. I have already explained the object of these two clauses,

    which is, to inform us that in Christ we regain the possession of life, of which we are destitute in ourselves; for in this wretched condition of mankind, redemption, in the order of time, goes before salvation.

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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:16". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.