Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 3:17

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Righteous;   Salvation;   Wicked (People);   Thompson Chain Reference - Mission;   Saviour, Christ Our;   Sin-Saviour;   The Topic Concordance - Belief;   Condemnation;   Jesus Christ;   Light;   Salvation;   Sending and Those Sent;   Unbelief;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Anger of God, the;   Salvation;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Nicodemus;   Son of God;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Judgment;   Predestination;   Propitiation;   Salvation;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Condemnation;   Hell;   Time;   Word;   World;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Episcopacy;   Universalists;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Call;   Faith;   Life;   Moses;   Nicodemus;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Jesus Christ;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Condemn;   Fullness of Time;   Incarnation;   World, the;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Gospels;   John, Gospel of;   John, Theology of;   Logos;   Love, Lover, Lovely, Beloved;   Mss;   Nicodemus;   Scribes;   World;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Adoption;   Advent (2);   Attributes of Christ;   Begetting;   Character;   Condemnation (2);   Death of Christ;   Discourse;   Eternal Punishment;   Holy Spirit;   Immortality (2);   Incarnation (2);   Israel, Israelite;   John, Gospel of (Ii. Contents);   Judgment Damnation;   Love (2);   Man;   Mediator;   Mission;   Property (2);   Punishment (2);   Redemption (2);   Righteous, Righteousness;   Salvation;   Sanctify, Sanctification;   Sin (2);   Teaching of Jesus;   Trinity (2);   Universalism (2);   Wilderness (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Believer;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Regeneration;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Calling;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Condemn;   Eunuch;   Papyrus;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Nicodemus;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for February 5;   Every Day Light - Devotion for December 4;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

For God sent not, etc. - It was the opinion of the Jews that the Gentiles, whom they often term the world, עלמה olmah, and העולם אומות omoth haolam, nations of the world, were to be destroyed in the days of the Messiah. Christ corrects this false opinion; and teaches here a contrary doctrine. God, by giving his Son, and publishing his design in giving him, shows that he purposes the salvation, not the destruction, of the world - the Gentile people: nevertheless, those who will not receive the salvation he had provided for them, whether Jews or Gentiles, must necessarily perish; for this plain reason, There is but one remedy, and they refuse to apply it.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 3:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

To condemn the world - Not to judge, or pronounce sentence on mankind. God might justly have sent him for this. Man deserved condemnation, and it would have been right to have pronounced it; but God was willing that there should be an offer of pardon, and the sentence of condemnation was delayed. But, although Jesus did not come then to condemn mankind, yet the time is coming when he will return to judge the living and the dead, Acts 17:31; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Matthew 25:31-46.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 3:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-3.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

For God sent not his Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him.

Here again, these words have a pertinent application to the prejudices of Nicodemus and the class to which he belonged, to such a degree that it is mandatory to believe they were spoken to Nicodemus by the Saviour, and that they were not anything projected into this context from the thoughts of the apostle John. The Sanhedrinists and all of the leaders of Israel were anxiously expecting a Messiah who would put the Romans out of their country, blast the whole Gentile world with the judgment they hoped God would execute upon them, and restore the political economy of the chosen people. Here, Christ flatly rejected any notion that he had come to execute any such judgment upon the Gentiles, hence, he said, "God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world ..." (that is, in the sense they expected). There was, to be sure, a function of judgment pertaining to the Son, revealed later in this Gospel (John 5:22ff); and that was not here denied. What was denied was Christ's conformity to the Jewish expectation of judgment upon the Gentiles.

Christ's first advent was not to pronounce and execute judgment upon the nations abiding in God's wrath; but rather, his was a saving mission, commensurate with God's love of the whole human creation. It was that saving mission which formed the burden of the Lord's mission in the first advent.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 3:17". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/john-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

For God sent not his Son into the world,.... God did send his Son into the world in the likeness of sinful flesh, being made of a woman, and made under the law; and which is an instance of his great love, and not of any disrespect to his Son, or of any inequality between them: but then this was not

to condemn the world; even any part of it, or any in it: not the Gentiles, as the Jews thought he would; for though God had suffered them to walk in their own ways, and had winked at, or overlooked the times of their ignorance, and had sent no prophet unto them, nor made any revelation of his will, or any discovery of his special grace unto them; yet he sent his Son now, not to destroy them for their idolatry, and wickedness, but to be the Saviour of them: nor the Jews; for as impenitent and unbelieving, and as wicked as they were, he did not accuse them to the Father, nor judge and condemn them; he was to come again in power and great glory, when he would take vengeance on them, and cause wrath to come upon them to the uttermost, for their disbelief and rejection of him; but this was not his business now: nor the wicked of the world in general; to judge, and condemn them, will be his work, when he comes a second time, in the day God has appointed to judge the world in righteousness.

But the end of his mission, and first coming is,

that the world through him might be saved; even the world of the elect in general, whom God determined to save, and has chosen, to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ, and has appointed Christ to be the salvation of; and who being sent, came into the world to seek and save them; and his chosen people among the Gentiles in particular: wherefore he is said to be God's salvation to the ends of the earth: and all the ends of the earth are called upon to look unto him, and be saved by him, Isaiah 49:6.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 3:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

6 For God sent not his Son into the world p to condemn the world; but that the q world through him might be saved.

(6) Christ does not condemn, but rather despising Christ condemns.

(p) That is, to be the cause of the condemning of the world, for indeed sins are the cause of death; however, Christ will still judge the living and the dead.

(q) Not only the people of the Jews, but whoever will believe in him.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 3:17". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/john-3.html. 1599-1645.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

[Not to condemn the world.] In what sense (beside that which is most common and proper) the Jewish schools use the word the world, we may see from these and such like instances:

I. The whole world hath forsaken the Misnas, and followed the Gemara. Where something may be noted in the story as well as in the grammar of it.

So John 12:19: Behold the world is gone after him. We very often meet with All the world confesseth, &c. and The whole world doth not dissent, &c. By which kind of phrase, both amongst them and all other languages, is meant a very great number or multitude.

II. When they distinguish, as frequently they do, betwixt the poor of their own city, and the poor of the world; it is easy to discern, that by the poor of the world are meant those poor that come from any other parts.

III. "R. Ulla requires not only that every great man should be worthy of belief, but that the man of the world should be so too." It is easy to conceive, that by the man of the world is meant any person, of any kind or degree.

IV. But it is principally worthy our observation, that they distinguish the whole world into Israel, and the nations of the world; the Israelites and the Gentiles. This distinction, by which they call the Gentiles the nations of the world, occurs almost in every leaf, so that I need not bring instances of this nature. Compare Luke 12:30 with Matthew 6:32; and that may suffice.

V. They further teach us, that the nations of the world are not only not to be redeemed, but to be wasted, destroyed, and trodden underfoot. "This seems to me to be the sense: the rod of the exactor shall not depart from Judah, until his Son shall come to whom belongs the subduing and breaking of the people; for he shall vanquish them all with the edge of his sword." So saith Rambam upon that passage in Genesis 49.

"'The morning cometh, and also the night,' Isaiah 21:12. It will be the morning to Israel [when the Messiah shall come]; but it will be night to the nations of the world."

"R. Abin saith, That the Holy Blessed God will make the elders of Israel sit down in a semicircle, himself sitting president, as the father of the Sanhedrim; and shall judge the nations of the world."

"Then comes the thrashing; the straw they throw into the fire, the chaff into the wind; but the wheat they keep upon the floor: so the nations of the world shall be as the burning of a furnace; but Israel alone shall be preserved."

I could be endless in passages of this nature out of these authors: but that which is very observable in all of them is this; That all those curses and dreadful judgments which God in his holy writ threatens against wicked men, they post it off wholly from themselves and their own nation, as if not at all belonging to them, devolving all upon the Gentiles and the nations of the world. So that it was not without great reason that the apostle asserteth, Romans 3:19, "Whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to them which are under the law." Which yet they will by no means endure.

Christ, therefore, by this kind of phrase or scheme of speech, well enough known to Nicodemus, teacheth him (contrary to a vulgar opinion, which he also could not be ignorant of), that the Messiah should become a Redeemer and propitiation, as well to the Gentiles as to the Jews. They had taught amongst themselves, that God had no regard to the nations of the world, they were odious to him, and the Messiah, when he came, would destroy and condemn them: but the Truth saith, "God so loved the world, that he hath sent his Son not to condemn, but to save the world." This very evangelist himself is the best commentator upon this expression, 1 John 2:2; "He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world"; i.e. not for us Jews only, but for the nations of the world.

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Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on John 3:17". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/john-3.html. 1675.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

For God sent not the Son (ου γαρ απεστειλεν ο τεος τον υιονou gar apesteilen ho theos ton huion). Explanation (γαρgar) of God‘s sending the Son into the world. First aorist active indicative of αποστελλωapostellō John uses both αποστελλωapostellō from which comes αποστολοςapostolos (John 3:34; John 5:36, John 5:38, etc.) and πεμπωpempō (John 4:34; John 5:23, John 5:24, John 5:30, etc.) for God‘s sending the Son and πεμπωpempō more frequently, but with no real difference in meaning. All the Gospels use ο υιοςho huios in the absolute sense in contrast with the Father (Mark 13:32; Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22).

To judge (ινα κρινηιhina krinēi). Final clause with ιναhina and the present (or aorist) active subjunctive of κρινωkrinō The Messiah does judge the world as Jesus taught (Matthew 25:31.; John 5:27), but this was not the primary or the only purpose of his coming. See note on Matthew 7:1 for krinō to pick out, select, approve, condemn, used so often and in so many varying contexts in the N.T.

But that the world should be saved through him
(all hina sōthēi ho kosmos di' autou). First aorist passive subjunctive of κρινωsōzō the common verb to save (from αλλ ινα σωτηι ο κοσμος δι αυτουsōs safe and sound), from which σωζωsōtēr (Saviour) comes (the Saviour of the world, John 4:42; 1 John 4:14) and σωςsōtēria (salvation, John 4:22 here only in John). The verb σωτηρsōzō is often used for physical health (Mark 5:28), but here of the spiritual salvation as in John 5:34.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 3:17". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Sent ( ἀπέστειλεν )

See on John 1:6. Sent rather than gave (John 3:16), because the idea of sacrifice is here merged in that of authoritative commission.

His Son

The best texts read τὸν , the, for αὐτοῦ , his.

Condemn ( κρίνῃ )

Better, as Rev., judge. Condemn is κατακρίνω , not used by John (Matthew 20:18; Mark 10:33, etc.). The verb κρίνω means, originally, to separate. So Homer, of Ceres separating the grain from the chaff (“Iliad,” v. 501). Thence, to distinguish, to pick out, to be of opinion, to judge. See on Hypocrite, Matthew 23:13.

World

The threefold repetition of the word has a certain solemnity. Compare John 1:10; John 15:19.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 3:17". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/john-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world — Although many accuse him of it.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 3:17". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-3.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him1.

  1. For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him. Christ's first mission to the world was for salvation rather than for judgment. His second mission was for judgment, but a judgment-hour wherein he will be able to save those who have accepted the means of grace which he established by his first coming. But the first coming of Christ incidentally involved judgment (John 9:39), and John the Baptist emphasized the judgment of Christ. This judgment, however, was not the principal object of Christ's coming, but was an inevitable result of it. Jesus here speaks of it as a self-executed judgment. It was a necessary result of the revealed presence of Christ (Luke 2:35). That Christ is at present a Savior, and not a judge, is a truth which needs to be emphasized. Catholics are taught to fear Christ and flee to the Virgin; and many ignorant Protestants are disposed to look upon him as a prosecutor rather than as an advocate.

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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.
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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 3:17". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-3.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Ибо не послал. Подтверждение предыдущего предложения, поелику Бог не напрасно послал нам Своего Сына. Но Он не пришел, чтобы погубить. Отсюда следует, что присущее Сыну Божию служение – даровать спасение верующим в Него. Ни у кого нет причин сомневаться и колебаться, думая над тем, как он избежит смерти. Ведь мы верим: совет Божий как раз и состоял в том, чтобы Христос исхитил нас из этой смерти. Еще раз повторяется слово «мир», дабы кто, идущий путем веры, не счел себя исключенным. «Судить» же, как и во многих иных местах, означает здесь «осуждать». Говоря, что Он не пришел ради осуждения мира, Христос имеет в виду главную цель Своего пришествия. Ибо, какой смысл Христу приходить для нашей погибели, если мы и так были трижды погибшими?

Итак, во Христе надо видеть лишь то, что Бог по Своей безмерной благости восхотел облагодетельствовать нас погибших и спасти от этой погибели. И всякий раз, когда грехи будут приходить нам на память, когда сатана будет побуждать нас к отчаянию, нам надо защищаться непробиваемым щитом: Бог не хочет подвергнуть нас вечной погибели, поелику сделал Своего Сына спасением мира. В других местах Христос говорит, что пришел для суда, о Нем сказано как о камне преткновения, говорится, что Он восстал на падение многих, но все это является привходящим, или, так сказать, случайным. Те, кто отвергает предложенную им благодать, достойны обнаружить во Христе судью и мстителя за свой мерзкий и недостойный отказ. И яркий пример этого виден в евангельской проповеди. Ведь сила Божия прежде всего направлена во спасение всякому верующему, но неверие многих делает так, что она оборачивается к их смерти. И то, и другое хорошо выражает Павел. У Бога, – говорит он, – уже готово отмщение. Им он поразит всех противников своего учения, когда мера нечестия их окажется исполненной (2Кор.10:6). Павел как бы говорит: Евангелие прежде всего и в основном даровано верующим, дабы служить их спасению. Но, одновременно, оно не оставляет безнаказанными и неверующих, которые, презрев благодать Христову, вместо того, чтобы иметь Христа начальником жизни, предпочли получить в Его лице автора смерти.

 

 

 

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:17". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-3.html. 1840-57.

Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books

Ver. 17. "For God sent not his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him."

For: the purpose of the mission of the Son, as it is indicated in this verse, proves that this mission is indeed a work of love (John 3:16). The word, world, is repeated three times with emphasis. Nicodemus must hear in such a way as no more to forget that the divine benevolence embraces all humanity. The universalism of Paul, in its germ, is in these John 3:16-17. The first clause, by its negative form, is intended to exclude the Jewish idea, according to which the immediate purpose of the coming of the Messiah was to execute the judgment on the Gentile nations. Our versions translate, κρίνειν, in general, with the meaning condemn; Meyer himself still defends this meaning. It is explained thus: "Jesus did not come to execute a judgment of condemnation on the sinful world." But why should not Jesus have said κατακρίνειν, to condemn, if He had this thought?

What He means to say is, that His coming into the world has for its purpose, not an act of judgment, but a work of salvation. Reuss concludes from this saying that "the idea of a future and universal judgment is repudiated" in our Gospel. But the future judgment is clearly taught in John 3:27-28. The idea which Jesus sets aside in this saying, is only that the present coming of the Messiah has for its purpose a great external judicial act, like that which the Pharisee Nicodemus was certainly expecting. If a judgment is to take place as a personal act of the Messiah, it does not appertain to this coming. However, although the purposeof His coming is to save, not to judge, a judgment, but an altogether different one from that of which the Jews were thinking, was about to be effected because of that coming: a judgment of a moral nature, in which it is not Jesus who will pronounce the sentence, but every man will himself decide his own salvation or perdition.

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Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 3:17". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/john-3.html.

Scofield's Reference Notes

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

condemn Or, judge, and so in John 3:18; John 3:19 cf. John 15:22-24.

saved (See Scofield "Romans 1:16")

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These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.
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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on John 3:17". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/john-3.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Ver. I7. Not to condemn the world] Unless it be by accident, because they will not be saved; they will not have heaven upon Christ’s terms, they will not part with their fat and sweet (with the vine in Jotham’s parable, 9:13), no, not for a kingdom; they will not be constrained to live happily, reign eternally. {a}

{a} At Paris ut vivat regnetque beatus Cogi posse negat. Hor. Epist. 2.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 3:17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-3.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

John 3:17. For God sent not his Son—to condemn the world; God is often represented as an avenger in the Old Testament: and as mankind had incurred his wrath by their iniquities, it might be expected that when he sent his Son into the world, it would have been to inflict punishments upon them, as the word rendered condemn also implies; but, on the contrary, the Son of God was sent to save the world and to give life, as the Syriac emphatically renders it.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 3:17". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/john-3.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, That the salvation of sinners was the intentional end, and the condemnation of them only the accidental event, of Christ's coming into the world. The design of Christ's first coming into the world. The design of Christ's first coming into the world was to save it. The end of his second coming will be to judge the unbelieving part of it.

Observe secondly, That unbelief is the cause of the sinner's damnation; it is that sin which doth bind all other sins upon the sinner, and consigns him over to damnation; it is that sin which doth not only procure damnation, but no damnation like it; which is intimated in the next verse.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 3:17". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/john-3.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

17.] The κόσμος,—the Gentile world,—was according to Jewish ideas to be judged and condemned by the Messiah. This error our Lord here removes. The assertion ch. John 9:39, εἰς κρῖμα ἐγὼ εἰς τ. κόσ. τοῦτ. ἦλθον, is no contradiction to this. The κρῖμα there, as here, results from the separation of mankind into two classes,—those who will and those who will not come to the light; and that result itself is not the purpose why the Son of God came into the world, but is evolved in the accomplishment of the higher purpose, viz. Love, and the salvation of men. Observe, the latter clause does not correspond to the former—it is not ἵνα σώζῃ τὸν κόσμον,—but ἵνα σωθῇ ὁ κόσμος διʼ αὐτοῦ:—the free will of the κόσμος is by this strikingly set forth, in connexion with John 3:19-20. Not that the Lord is not the σωτὴρ τοῦ κόσμου (ch. John 4:42), but that the peculiar cast of this passage required the other side of the truth to be brought out.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 3:17". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-3.html. 1863-1878.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 1611

THE END FOR WHICH GOD SENT HIS SON

John 3:17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

AN expectation generally prevailed among the Jews that their Messiah would interpose on behalf of their nation alone, and bring all other kingdoms into subjection to them. Our Lord took frequent occasions to rectify this mistake, and to shew, that he was to be the Saviour, not of one people only, but of the whole world. In this discourse with Nicodemus, he introduces this important subject in such a way as to inform his mind, without shocking his prejudices. Having explained to him the nature and necessity of regeneration, and shewn him, by reference to a well-known type, the way of salvation, he declares, that the whole world, Gentiles as well as Jews, were to participate the benefits of his coming; and that God, in sending him into the world, had as much respect to the welfare of the benighted heathens as of his chosen and peculiar people. To elucidate the words before us, we shall shew,

I. That, supposing God to send his Son into the world, it was far more probable that he should send him to condemn the world than to save it—

That God should ever send his Son into the world at all is such a mystery as must for ever fill the whole universe with amazement. But supposing him to make known his determination to do so, the probability certainly was that it should be for our destruction rather than our salvation—

1. Consider what was the state of the world at the time he did send his Son—

[Had he seen the greater part of mankind lamenting their fall, wishing earnestly that some way could be devised for their recovery, and struggling, but with unsuccessful efforts, to get free from sin, we might have supposed that God would exercise mercy towards us, and open a way for our restoration through the sacrifice of his Son. But when the whole mass of mankind were up in arms against him, when not one of the whole human race (except a few whose hearts he himself had touched) desired reconciliation with him; yea, when all were utterly averse from it, and desired nothing so much as to live in sin with impunity, and wished for no better heaven than the unrestrained indulgence of their lusts; for what end could God send his Son, but to execute upon them the vengeance they deserved?]

2. Consider for what end God had before sent messengers from heaven—

[God had on some remarkable occasions commissioned angels to perform his will: and though, when sent to some highly-favoured individuals, they were messengers of mercy, yet, when sent to the avowed enemies of God, they were, for the most part, ministers of wrath to execute the most signal vengeance. Who can contemplate Sodom and the cities of the plain; who can call to mind the Egyptian first-born; who can survey one hundred and eighty-five thousand soldiers lying dead in the Assyrian camp; and not tremble at the thought of a messenger being sent from heaven? Suppose then we should hear that God was about to send his own Son from heaven to execute his will with respect to the whole world, and especially such a world as this; what would any one imagine, but that, as it was not a particular city or nation that God was about to punish, but a whole world, he had determined to employ his own Son; and that the judgments he was about to inflict, would be great in proportion to the power and dignity of the executioner? As for conceiving the idea that he should send his Son to save the world, it would not so much as enter into the mind of any created being.]

3. Consider that God certainly foreknew the way in which the world would treat his Son—

[If God had not certainly foreknown all future events, he might perhaps have reasoned thus: ‘I have sent to that wretched world my servants the prophets, and instead of attending to them they have persecuted them even unto death: but if I should send them my Son, surely they would reverence him; they would not dare to lift up a finger against him; they would be so struck with wonder at my condescension and love, that they would return instantly to their allegiance. Rather therefore than they should perish, I will send them my Son to save them.’ But God knew that instead of reverencing his Son, they would no sooner see him, than they would exclaim, “This is the heir; come let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.” He knew full well that, however manifest the credentials of his Son, and however indisputable the evidences of his divine mission, they would not believe in him, but would cast him out of the vineyard and slay him. What then must we suppose God would say on such an occasion? Surely he would speak to this effect: ‘If I could hope that they would reverence my Son, I would overlook all the injuries done to my prophets, and would even send my Son for their salvation: but I know they would all thirst for his blood; they would pluck me from my throne if they were able; and, if I should put my Son into their power, they would load him with all manner of indignities, and put him to the most ignominious death: shall I then, foreseeing these things as I do, put him into their power? No: that were unworthy of my majesty, and degrading to my Son. I may possibly send my Son; but, if I do, it shall not be to save the world, but to condemn them according to their desert.’]

These considerations fully evince the improbability that God should ever use the mediation of his Son in a way of mercy towards us. Yet we must add,

II. That, notwithstanding it was so improbable, God did really send his Son, not to condemn, but to save the world—

The frequency with which we hear of this stupendous mystery, prevents the surprise which the declaration of it must otherwise excite. But, whatever the ignorance of scoffers, and the pride of infidels may suggest, be it known to all, that God did send his Son,

1. To expiate sin—

[God knew that it was impossible for man to atone for sin — — — Yet it was also impossible that sin could be forgiven, unless an adequate atonement were offered to the Divine Majesty — — — What was to be done? The angels, even if they were willing, were not able to undertake our cause. There was but one, even in heaven, that was competent to the mighty task of appeasing incensed Majesty, and of satisfying offended justice: there was none but Jesus, the best-beloved of the Father, who from eternity had lain in his bosom. And would the Father give him? Yes; “He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.” “He prepared him a body,” and “sent him to be a propitiation, not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world” — — — What amazing love! Eternity will not suffice to explore and celebrate this stupendous mystery.]

2. To work out a righteousness for us—

[Mankind were as unable to provide for themselves a righteousness wherein they might stand before God, as they were to make an atonement for their past offences — — — But, behold, God would not leave us destitute; he gave his Son to fulfil the law which we had broken, and, “to bring in an everlasting righteousness,” “which should be unto all and upon all them that believe” — — — The name given him on this very account is, “The Lord our Righteousness.” Clothed in his unspotted robe, the vilest of returning prodigals may stand perfect and complete in the presence of their God — — — Every one of them may say, “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.”]

3. To exalt us to glory—

[It was not only to begin, but to carry on and perfect our salvation, that the Father sent his Son into the world. He is to be both “the author and the finisher of our faith” — — — Having delivered our souls from the guilt of sin, and from the powers of darkness, he will raise up our bodies also from the grave, and exalt us to sit upon his throne for evermore — — — Never will he cease from his work, till he has fully and finally accomplished it on behalf of his people — — — How wonderful is this! Surely it almost exceeds belief: that, instead of condemning the world, God should send his Son to save it, to save it by laying down his own life a ransom for us, and by managing all the concerns of every one of his elect till he shall have finally established them in the possession of their heavenly inheritance! Hear, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth: yea, let all the choirs of heaven make it the everlasting subject of their highest praises — — —]

Address—

1. Those who are regardless of their own salvation—

[Alas! how little effect do the wonders of redemption produce on the world at large! But what an aggravation of their guilt will it be to have poured contempt upon the Son of God! Surely God’s greatest mercy will prove their heaviest curse. The very devils will have more to say on their own behalf than they. Satan himself may say, “I never had salvation offered me; I never sinned against redeeming love.” But careless sinners are daily “trampling under foot the Son of God,” who lived and died to save them. O lay this to heart, and seek an interest in him who alone can deliver you from the wrath to come.]

2. Those who are ready to doubt whether they ever can be saved—

[Many such there are in the Church of Christ — — — But did God send his Son to execute a work which he was not able to perform? or has Jesus discovered any backwardness to fulfil his engagements? — — — Let not any be afraid: for if a whole world is to be saved by him, he cannot but have a sufficiency to supply all our wants, provided we commit ourselves entirely to him — — —]

3. Those who are enjoying salvation—

[While you are reaping the blessed fruits of the Father’s love, surely you will often say, what shall I render to the Lord? If he gave up his dear Son for my salvation, shall not I give up a bosom lust for his glory? — — — Think how much you are indebted to him; and endeavour to glorify him with your body and your spirit which are his.]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on John 3:17". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/john-3.html. 1832.

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

John 3:17. Confirmation of John 3:16, in which ἀπέστειλεν answers to the ἔδωκεν, κρίνῃ to the ἀπόληται, and σωθῇ to the ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον of John 3:16. Considering this exact correspondence, it is very arbitrary with modern critics (even Lücke, B. Crusius) to understand the second τὸν κόσμον differently from the first, and from the τ. κόσμον of John 3:16, as denoting in the narrow Jewish sense the Gentile world, for whose judgment, i.e. condemnation, the Messiah, according to the Jewish doctrine, was to come (see Bertholdt, Christol. pp. 203, 223). Throughout the whole context it is to be uniformly understood of the world of mankind as a whole. Of it Jesus says, that He was not sent to judge it,—a judgment which, as all have sinned, must have been a judgment of condemnation,—but to procure for it by His work of redemption the Messianic σωτηρία. “Deus saepe ultor describitur in veteri pagina; itaque conscii peccatorum merito expectare poterant, nlium venire ad poenas patris nomine exigendas,” Grotius. It is to be remembered that He speaks of His coming in the state of humiliation, in which He was not to accomplish judgment, but was to be the medium of obtaining the σώζεσθαι through His work and His death. Judgment upon the finally unbelieving was reserved to Him upon His Second Advent (comp. John 5:22; John 5:27), but the κρῖμα which was to accompany His works upon earth is different from this (see on John 9:39).

The thrice-repeated κόσμος has a tone of solemnity about it. Comp. John 1:10, John 15:19.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on John 3:17". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/john-3.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 3:17. ἵνα κρίνῃ, that He may judge [“to condemn,” Engl. Vers.]) Although men accuse God of this. To judge, is by judgment to cast away into deserved destruction.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 3:17". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/john-3.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The word we translate condemn, krinh, signifies to judge, as well as to condemn. The Jews were mistaken in their proud conceit, that Christ came to judge and destroy all those that were not of their nation; thus, John 7:47, he saith, he came not to judge, but to save the world. Nor is this contrary to what he saith, John 9:39, For judgment I am come into this world; for that is ex accidenti, from the corruption of men, shutting their eyes against the light, and hardening their hearts against the offers and tenders of Divine grace. Christ will come in his second coming to condemn the world of unbelievers; but the tendency of his coming was not for condemnation, but to offer the grace of the gospel, and eternal life and salvation, to men in the world.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 3:17". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-3.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Might be saved; on their compliance with the terms of salvation.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 3:17". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world should be saved through him.’

Other (mythical) gods came to the world to condemn it, never to save it, but God’s purpose in sending His Son was to save. He wanted to give men eternal life. He wanted to save them from ‘perishing’. And there was only one way to do so, by taking their deserved suffering on Himself. Notice the stress on the fact that Jesus is ‘God-sent’. His sending by the Father is a theme of the Gospel.

Thus God’s purpose towards the world is one of love. But this must not lead us into presumption. If we reject that offer of love and refuse to come to His light so that our sins might be revealed, because we love our sins too much, then we face the awful alternative of condemnation.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on John 3:17". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/john-3.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

17.Not’ condemn the world—The divine ideal, purpose, or object, is that the whole world should be saved. All that is necessary for this ideal to be realized is provided, on the basis that man remain a free agent, and that that free agency remain inviolate. If that free agent reject the offer of salvation by which he might be saved, he will be lost. Yet the purpose of the atonement was not to condemn but to save.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 3:17". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-3.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

John further clarified God"s purpose in sending His Son by explaining what it was not. It was not to judge or condemn (Gr. krino) humankind. Judging as John spoke of it here is the opposite of saving (cf. John 3:18; John 5:24). God could have condemned human beings without the Incarnation. Jesus will judge everyone, but that was not God"s purpose in the Incarnation. Rather it was to provide salvation for everyone through His death on the cross.

How can we reconcile this verse with John 9:39 where Jesus said that He came into the world for judgment (cf. John 5:27)? Judging was a secondary duty involved in saving, which was Jesus" primary purpose (cf. Daniel 7:13-14). Jesus came into an already condemned world to save some. He did not enter a neutral world to save some and condemn others. Anyone who brings light casts a shadow, but the bringing of shadow is only an attendant circumstance that is inevitable when one brings light.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 3:17". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-3.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

John 3:17. For God sent not the Son into the world that he may judge the world; but that the world through him may be saved. The thought of the last verse is expanded. There it was the gift of God’s love that was brought before us; now it is the mission of the Son. To ‘may perish (John 3:16) here corresponds’ may judge the world, to ‘have eternal life’ answers ‘may be saved.’ This alone is sufficient to show that the word ‘judge,’ though not in itself equivalent to ‘condemn,’ has reference to a judgment which tends to condemnation. The Jews believed that Messiah would come to glorify Israel, but to judge the Gentiles; the solemn and emphatic repetition of ‘the world’ rebukes all such limitations, as effectually as the words of John 3:3 set aside the distinctions which were present to the thought of Nicodemus.—It may seem hard to reconcile the first part of this verse with John 5:22; John 5:27, John 9:39, John 12:48. We must, however, recognise a twofold purpose in Christ’s coming. He came to save, not to judge the world. He came to judge the world in so far as it will not allow itself to be saved; and this judgment is one that takes place even now (because even now there is wilful unbelief), though it will only be consummated hereafter.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 3:17". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-3.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 3:17. . For whatever the result of Christ’s coming has been, in revealing a love of sin and bringing heavier judgment on men, this was not God’s purpose in sending His Son. The Jewish idea was that the Messiah would come “to judge,” i.e., to condemn the world.— and , though originally distinct, are in the N.T. sometimes identical in meaning, the result of judgment so commonly being Condemnation; cf. crime. But although the result is judgment, the bringing to fight a distinction among men and the resulting condemnation of many, yet the object was . John repeats his favourite word three times in this verse that there may be no possibility of missing his point, that so far as God’s purpose was concerned, it was one of unmixed love, that all men might be saved. The emphasis was probably due to the ordinary Messianic expectation which limited and misrepresented the love of God. Westcott remarks on this verse: “The sad realities of present experience cannot change the truth thus made known, however little we may be able to understand in what way it will be accomplished”. It might on similar grounds be argued that because God wills that all men be holy in this life, all men are holy.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 3:17". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-3.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

sent. Greek. apostello. App-174.

to condemn = to judge. Greek krino. App-122. A characteristic word of this Gospel. See note on p. 1511.

through. Greek. dia. App-104. John 3:1.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 3:17". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/john-3.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. A statement of vast importance. Though "condemnation" is to many the issue of Christ's mission (John 3:19), it is not the object His mission which is purely a saving one.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-3.html. 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

17. But to be its Savior. The world was already condemned because of sin, and doomed. Jesus came to make it possible for us to escape from this, and to return to God. See Revelation 1:5-6. [When Jesus Comes Again, he will be the Judge at that time. See Acts 17:31; Matthew 25:31-46.]

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on John 3:17". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/john-3.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(17) To condemn the world gives to the English reader a stronger impression than that of the original Greek. The word ( κρίνω, krino, the Latin c(k)erno, and the English dis-cern) means originally to separate, and in the moral sense to separate good from evil. Passing from the act to the effect, it may mean to absolve; but as the usual effect of separation is to exclude the evil, the word has attached to itself more frequently the idea of condemnation. Our word judge, which has itself something of this double meaning, is probably the best rendering in this context.

Part of the current belief about the Messiah’s advent was, that he would destroy the Gentile world. The authorised expositions of many texts of the Old Testament asserted this, and Nicodemus must ofttimes have heard it and taught it. God’s love for, and gift to, the world has just been declared. This truth runs counter to their belief, and is now stated as an express denial of it. The purpose of the Messiah’s mission is not to judge, but to save. The latter clause of the verse changes the order of the thought. It would naturally be “but that He might save the world.” The inversion makes prominent the action of man in willing to be saved.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 3:17". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
God
5:45; 8:15,16; 12:47,48; Luke 9:56
but
1:29; 6:40; Isaiah 45:21-23; 49:6,7; 53:10-12; Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 1:23; 18:11; Matthew 1:23; 18:11; Luke 2:10,11; 19:10; 1 Timothy 2:5,6; 1 John 2:2; 4:14
Reciprocal: Psalm 40:10 - lovingkindness;  Isaiah 9:6 - unto us a son;  Zechariah 4:9 - and;  Matthew 27:43 - I am;  Luke 20:13 - I will;  John 3:34 - for God;  John 7:29 - for;  John 8:11 - Neither;  John 9:39 - For;  John 10:10 - I am;  John 10:36 - sent;  John 11:42 - that thou;  John 14:4 - and the;  John 17:3 - and Jesus;  2 Thessalonians 2:10 - that they;  1 Timothy 1:15 - worthy;  James 3:15 - wisdom

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 3:17". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-3.html.

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

Ver. 17. "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world: but that the world through Him might be saved."

The triple mention of the world here, is no more accidental than the triple mention of believing in ver. 18. The object is not to oppose the Jewish opinion, which regarded Christ by way of preference as the Judge of the Gentile world; for everything in this discourse has a personal reference, and is intended to win the heart of Nicodemus. So also here, the words are to turn the heart of Nicodemus to Christ; so that he may resign himself to Him who has come from heaven for the salvation of the world, and for his salvation. It is to make him feel that here there is no new law presented before him, but a gospel, a free message. "O wondrous grace and goodness! O deepest love and kindness!" etc. It is not denied that the judgment is a consequence, but that it is the object of the mission of Christ. It cannot be the object; for if God had purposed only to judge, He could have done it without giving up His Son, and the latter would not have appeared in the form of a servant. Luther: "For such a judgment and sentence has been already passed by the law on all men, because they are all born in sin; so that they are already adjudged to death, and to the executioner with the cord, and nothing now is wanting but that the sword be drawn." But on this very account, because God sent His Son to be a Saviour, the judgment must be passed on those who despise so great a benefit, and thus fill up the measure of their sin. Cf. vers. 18, 19, John 9:39. Quesnel: "The first advent of the Son of God is the advent of salvation. Unhappy he who renders it in vain, and even changes it into a judgment by his unbelief."

The passages in which Christ appears as the sent of God, occur in number only in the discourses of Christ and of John. As Christ's designation of Himself as the Son of man always refers to Daniel, so does this expression invariably contain an allusion to the personal identity of Christ with the Old Testament Angel, or sent of the Lord. Cf. Christology 3, 2, S. 62, 63. The" Old Testament basis for the words, ἵνα σωθῇ ὁ κόσμος διʼ αὐτοῦ, is formed by Isaiah 52:10, "And all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God."

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 3:17". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-3.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

17.For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world. It is a confirmation of the preceding statement; for it was not in vain that God sent his own Son to us. He came not to destroy; and therefore it follows, that it is the peculiar office of the Son of God, that all who believe may obtain salvation by him. There is now no reason why any man should be in a state of hesitation, or of distressing anxiety, as to the manner in which he may escape death, when we believe that it was the purpose of God that Christ should deliver us from it. The word world is again repeated, that no man may think himself wholly excluded, if he only keep the road of faith.

The word judge ( πρίνω) is here put for condemn, as in many other passages. When he declares that he did not come to condemn the world, he thus points out the actual design of his coming; for what need was there that Christ should come to destroy us who were utterly ruined? We ought not, therefore, to look at any thing else in Christ, than that God, out of his boundless goodness chose to extend his aid for saving us who were lost; and whenever our sins press us — whenever Satan would drive us to despair — we ought to hold out this shield, that God is unwilling that we should be overwhelmed with everlasting destruction, because he has appointed his Son to be the salvation of the world

When Christ says, in other passages, that he is come to judgment, (John 9:39;) when he is called a stone of offense, (1 Peter 2:7;) when he is said to be set for the destruction of many, (Luke 2:34 :) this may be regarded as accidental, or as arising from a different cause; for they who reject the grace offered in him deserve to find him the Judge and Avenger of contempt so unworthy and base. A striking instance of this may be seen in the Gospel; for though it is strictly

the power of God for salvation to every one who believeth,
(
Romans 1:16,)

the ingratitude of many causes it to become to them death. Both have been well expressed by Paul, when he boasts of

having vengeance at hand, by which he will punish all the adversaries of his doctrine after that the obedience of the godly shall have been fulfilled,
(
2 Corinthians 10:6)

The meaning amounts to this, that the Gospel is especially, and in the first instance, appointed for believers, that it may be salvation to them; but that afterwards believers will not escape unpunished who, despising the grace of Christ, chose to have him as the Author of death rather than of life.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 3:17". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-3.html. 1840-57.