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John 3:16 examined



One of the most famous Gospel passages that Christian missionaries like to use while preaching is that of John 3:16, which teaches:

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.

To just see one example of this, here is some commentary from Dallas Roark, an author from Answering-Islam who writes:

Do you really want God? There is no other way than through Jesus. I urge you to consider these words and give your commitment to Him. For "God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die." (John 3:16 CEV) God's love commands a response from you in love and faith.

So John 3:16 is meant to be this lovely and beautiful verse that should make us see the light and accept the message of Christianity.

The aim of this article is to objectively examine John 3:16, to see if it’s message adds up, and if it’s as compelling as Christian missionaries would have us believe.

With that said let’s now examine this passage, we quote the passage again:

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.

Okay, so this verse is meant to show how God loves us so much, and to demonstrate God’s universal love. For starters the verse is not saying that God loves everybody as Christian missionaries often assert; the verse is talking in a general sense, and not in the specific. The verse says for God loved the world, it doesn't say that God loved everyone, or God loved everyone in the world, rather it says God loves the world, a general claim, not a specific claim, and this refutes the first claim set forth by missionaries, that God loves everybody according to this verse.

Just to highlight this further, if I say I love animals, it’s a general claim, but it doesn't mean I like every specific type of animal, such as rats, I certainly don’t love rats. Or if I say I love food, it doesn’t mean I love every specific type of food out there. So it’s the same thing with this passage, when God says he loves the world it is a general claim, not an absolute and specific claim that he loves us all.

Moving on, we find another problem with this verse. As already mentioned, due to the fact that this verse is a general claim, and not a specific, it also means the son who was sent was not sent for everyone.

I re quote the verse again:

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.

Christian missionaries claim that God sent his son for us. Yet since we have established the fact that the verse is general, and not specific, it also means that Jesus was generally sent for the world, and that he wasn't specifically sent for everyone.

What this means is that this verse teaches limited atonement, meaning the son was not sent to save us all, but for some people only.

So let’s establish what we have so far. So far we have seen that John 3:16 does not preach that God loves us all, rather he makes a general claim of love, not a specific claim of love for everyone. This therefore also means that when the son is sent for us, he is only sent generally and not specifically for everyone, meaning not everyone has a chance of redemption, and that atonement is basically limited for a select few who are loved by God.

Moving on, the word ‘whosoever’ that is used in John 3:16 means pas in Greek, the word pas in Greek does not have to mean everyone as meaning each single person, as Charles H. Spurgeon explains:

'The whole world is gone after him.' Did all the world go after Christ? 'Then went all Judea, and were baptized of him in Jordan.' Was all Judea, or all Jerusalem baptized in Jordan? 'Ye are of God, little children', and 'the whole world lieth in the wicked one.' Does 'the whole world' there mean everybody? If so, how was it, then, that there were some who were 'of God?' The words 'world' and 'all' are used in some seven or eight senses in Scripture; and it is very rarely that 'all' means all persons, taken individually. The words are generally used to signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts?some Jews, some Gentiles, some rich, some poor, and has not restricted his redemption to either Jew or Gentile." (Charles H. Spurgeon, Particular Redemption, A Sermon, 28 Feb 1858).

So John 3:16 teaches limited atonement, not atonement for every single human being out there.

Let’s continue to examine this verse:

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.

Okay, we have more problems now. God loves some of so much that he sends his son? Why didn't he send himself? The only logical explanation and conclusion one can reach is that God doesn’t really love us all that much, because he couldn’t send himself but he sends his son. Second why type of Father sends his son into harms way? A father doesn't put his son in harm's way, but he takes the harm and pain off his son so his son doesn't have to suffer.

Secondly, what is the Bible trying to say when it says God has a begotten a son? If the term Son of God is not meant to be taken literally then why is a literal word of offspring through sexual intercourse being used? There are 2 solutions to this, either the God mentioned in the Gospel of John had physical relations with a lady to have Jesus, which is why he is called begotten, or someone made this teaching up, which throws the entire theology of John into doubt, since we can’t trust somebody who’s blatantly preaching a false doctrine concerning God.

Now if it’s the first option, that God actually consorted with a woman then this is very irrational and hard to believe, as the Quran says:

072.003: And Exalted is the Majesty of our Lord: He has taken neither a wife nor a son.

112.003: He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;

Let’s continue to analyze this verse:

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.

So if we accept the Son, meaning Jesus, and sincerely believe in him, then we get eternal life. Now what if I don't accept the Father? What happens? Have we found a loophole? The verse clearly says that we must believe in the son in order to have eternal life, it doesn't even say that I must believe in the son and the father, it simply says I must accept the son.

On top of that, the verse says nothing about the Holy Spirit; the verse doesn't say you must believe in the Son and the Father and the Holy Spirit, basically the Trinity. The verse clearly says that whoever wants to inherit eternal life then they must believe in the Son.

The Christian missionary might tell us to read the context; well our response is very simple. You’re the one that didn’t give us the context, you’re the one who quoted John 3:16 as a stand-alone verse that is meant to be so powerful on it’s own, to convince us of the truth. So if you want us to read the context then why don't you quote the context? If context is needed to properly understand this verse, then the missionary aim is refuted, as we’ve proven this verse is not actually so great on it’s own to convince us of the truth, as when we do look at the verse on it’s own, it poses a whole load of questions and problems. 

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