"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:14-18).John 3:16 is probably the greatest misquoted and misinterpreted verse in all of Scripture, with 2 Peter 3:9 close behind. This verse began to be largely corrupted and perverted through Billy Graham's ministry, which is why pretty much the entire world knows this verse. But the way in which this verse is represented by the majority of believers who have been influenced by such erroneous teachings could not be further from the truth. If you have read my previous blog entry titled The Word "World", you will have learned that the word "world" has over eight different possible usages throughout Scripture. It rarely ever means each and every individual on the entire planet without exception. It does not mean such here either.
In verses 15 and 16, the word translated as "whoever" ("whosoever," KJV) is the Greek word pas (πας—the same word we examined in the blog entry 2 Peter 3:9) and means:
- each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything
- some of all types
Arminianist-based faiths treat "whoever" as if it is offering an option, which it is not. It is not saying "whoever wants to believe," but is declaring "the ones that do believe." Man does not want to believe. Man hates God (John 3:19-20; 7:7; 15:18). Man is dead in his trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). Man does not seek after God (Rom. 3:11b). Man rejects God (Rom. 1:18-19). Man cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). Man is full of evil (Mark 7:21-23). Man is lawless, rebellious, unholy, and profane (1 Tim. 1:9). Man is a child of wrath (Eph. 2:1). Man does not choose God (John 15:16). Man will not believe unless he is part of Jesus' flock (John 10:26). If God merely made an offer of salvation to mankind and left the decision to be saved up to man, no one would ever be saved! Why? Because we cannot alter our original state. If someone comes and preaches the Gospel to us, there is nothing in and of ourselves that can change our spiritual blindness, to regenerate us and make us born again, to give us a heart of flesh, to make us love God, etc. God must do that before we are able to respond to His call, and after He has done it we will respond to His call. Read my blog entry Faith Is A Gift. If all these things are true of man, and they are, then man will never come to God by himself. God must first change man's heart by regenerating him and drawing him to Himself, at which point man will freely accept Jesus as Lord. If Jesus is not your Lord, He cannot be your Saviour. A regenerated man will never and can never reject Jesus. Only the unregenerate can do so. Those who claim to have been regenerated and now reject Jesus demonstrate that they were never regenerated to begin with. They merely put on a show for all to see, imitating what they saw and heard. But they never belonged to Jesus (Matt. 7:15-23; John 6:66; 1 John 2:19).
If "world" in verse 16 is supposed to mean each and every individual without exception, then the same logic must be applied to verse 17. Therefore, each and every individual will not be judged but will be saved through Jesus. Trying to force the meaning "each and every individual without exception" onto the word "world" results in support for the heresy of Universalism. If one is going to argue that "world" must mean "each and every individual without exception" in one verse, he must use that same argument for all verses. The fact of the matter is that the word "world" is rarely used this way in the Bible and has over eight different uses. Ignorance wants to force a single meaning upon a word when the word is clearly used in different contexts throughout Scripture and the whole of Scripture contradicts such a forced meaning of the word.
Verse 18 tells us that the one that does not believe "has been judged already." Past tense. Compare this to John 5:24 where it says the one that believes "does not come into judgment." Future tense. One has already been condemned while the other will not be condemned. Revelation states clearly that there are those “whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundations of the world” (17:8; cf 13:8). These vessels of wrath (Rom. 9:22; Prov. 16:4; 1 Pet. 2:8) were "long beforehand marked out for this condemnation" (Jude 4; cf. 2 Pet. 2:3).
John 3:16 is a verse about God's elect. God so loved His chosen people that He sent Christ Jesus to be a propitiation for their sins. All of Scripture supports this correct interpretation. Jesus came to save His own people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). Jesus gave His life for His own people—His sheep (John 10:11, 15), the church (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25-27). He accomplished redemption for His own people (Luke 1:68). Scripture never mentions mediation for any other except His own! His people consist of believing Jews and Gentiles. All people—each and every individual without exception—have not been given to Christ Jesus as an inheritance (John 6:37; Eph. 1:18). No one can come to God unless the Father has given him to Jesus and draws Him (John 6:44, 65). If all mankind is being drawn to God, then they will all come to Him, which again is support for the heresy of Universalism. The fact and truth of the matter is that Jesus came to redeem those whom the Father gave Him, of which all will come to Jesus in faith (John 6:37).