“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Explanation and Commentary of John 3:16
Our God is righteous and holy and bears wrath for a world in rebellion. There is no other way that he could be in his perfect nature. He is all goodness, all love, all truth. The world will perish and pass away (1 Cor 7:31) but it does not change the fact that God loves the world. He loves it more perfectly than any human could ever grasp. The adulterous world in sin must be cleansed by fire (2 Pt 3:10), but God will not leave us without a way to be saved. In fact, he has done what was necessary in order to forgive us. Forgiveness is always costly for the one forgiving, but no one paid a higher cost than the Father for forgiveness (Jn 3:16).
God sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, who willingly came down off his eternal throne and lived a perfectly righteous and sin free life so that he could be the spotless lamb of sacrifice (Heb 9:22). The humans who he came to save murdered him so that he could be a sacrifice for them, although they did not know it. Because of this, anyone who believes in his name, and calls on the name of the Lord (Ro 10:13) will not perish but will live forever and ever with the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and all the saints in Christ for eternity in God’s Heavenly Kingdom.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of John 3:16
#1 “For God…”
Jesus has been explaining to Nicodemus, “The Son of Man must be lifted up” so that those who look on him can be saved (Jn 3:15). Now he explains God’s motive.
#2 “…so loved the world…”
Though he has wrath for sin and hates it (Prov 6:16-19), he loves the world and the people he has created. Righteousness demands that the world be judged, but love moves God to offer a way to be saved from the coming wrath. Further, God saw a way to bring men and women to himself in peace and in friendship.
#3 “…that he gave his one and only Son,”
God the Son was not created. He always existed with the Father and the Spirit (Jn 1:1). Jesus the man was begotten by God and Mary, fully God and fully man, in order to be the perfect sacrifice. It is astounding that the eternal Son of God, the Lamb that was slain since the foundation of the world, (Rev 13:8) had to be born a baby and grow up like everyone else.
#4 “That whoever believes in him…”
John 6:28-29 says, “Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’” Before we can call out to God for salvation, we must believe. Before we can believe, we must be born again (Jn 3:3).
#5 “…shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Believers will not bear the wrath of God for their sin. Jesus has imputed his righteousness to us by taking our sin on himself. Everlasting life is difficult to grasp, but there is hardly a more clear promise in Scripture.
Bible Study on John 3:16
Expert Overview of John Ch. 1-12
Biblical Translations of John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal 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.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.