John 3:16 Explained
Carlton Foster – July 28, 2020
“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.”
A friend of mine who belongs to a certain religious organization said that the word “world” in John 3:16 is specifically referring to their religious organization and that it excluded all other nations and religious groups, and that the word “whoever” is only referring to the people in their religious group. This is the belief of thousands of believers in their organizations. I decided to research the information surrounding John 3:16.
God created the universe with all its planets. The world refers to the universe, not just one planet. The earth is only one of the many planets. So God’s domain is the entire universe. God loves the world means he has domain over the universe and loves it. In the book of 1 Samuel 2:8, the Bible said, “He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, placing them in seats of honor. For all the earth is the Lord’s, and he has set the world in order.” And in Psalm 24:1-2, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all the people belong to him. For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths”.
For God so loved the world refers to the earth and the universe that he created. He gave his only begotten Son – Jesus Christ to redeem us from our sins – which would result in eternal death if Jesus did not come and save them from death everlasting. Save us? Who is God saving? Answer: those who have sinned! The Apostle Paul reminded us of that in Romans 3: 9-10, “Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. As the Scriptures say, No one is righteous—not even one”.
Paul continued in verse 20-24 to show us that all people need Jesus saving grace: “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are but now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” So all human beings on this earth have sinned and need Jesus’ saving grace. But who can be saved? Whoever believes in him will be saved and have everlasting life. Who is the “whoever”?
Since God was referring to the universe, the earth, the world, then the “whoever” is the inhabitants of the entire world. All humans need Jesus saving power for everlasting life. What happened to those humans who died before Jesus came? They too will inherit Jesus’ gift of salvation if they were obedient to God’s commandments. On the Day of Judgment, Jesus will resurrect them to eternal life. What about his special people? God created Adam and Eve and all humans descended from these two humans.
Some were disobedient and some were not. In Genesis 6:5-8, the Bible recorded, “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the Lord said, ‘I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.’ But Noah found favor with the Lord.” Despite the sinful nature of mankind, God continued to work with those who are obedient – Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, etc.
God said in Isaiah 42:5-7, “God, the Lord, created the heavens and stretched them out. He created the earth and everything in it. He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth. And it is he who says, I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be a light to guide the nations. You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.” Even though God selected Israel to carry out His will on this earth, the Gentile was to be blessed by the words of God.
Isaiah restated this in Isaiah 49:5-7, “And now the Lord speaks—the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him. The Lord has honored me, and my God has given me strength. He says, ‘You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.’ The Lord, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel says to the one who is despised and rejected by the nations, to the one who is the servant of rulers: Kings will stand at attention when you pass by. Princes will also bow low because of the Lord, the faithful one, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” But this Israel nation also did not shine the light of God’s grace to the Gentiles, so God made a change.
Hosea prophesied this change in Hosea 8:7-9, “They have planted the wind and will harvest the whirlwind. The stalks of grain wither and produce nothing to eat. And even if there is any grain, foreigners will eat it. The people of Israel have been swallowed up; they lie among the nations like an old discarded pot. Like a wild donkey looking for a mate, they have gone up to Assyria. The people of Israel have sold themselves to many lovers.” Hosea got this vision in Hosea 1:8-10, “After Gomer had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she again became pregnant and gave birth to a second son, and the Lord said, ‘Name him Loammi—Not my people—for Israel is not my people, and I am not their God. Yet the time will come when Israel’s people will be like the sands of the seashore—too many to count! Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ it will be said, ‘You are children of the living God.’” First, God rejected Loammi, and then He accepted Loammi. Similarly, the Gentiles were not accepted as the forerunner of God’s messages to the world, but at the time of Jesus ministry, the Gentiles will get the light and will accept the Gospel, and then they will also be called ‘the children of God’.
This is confirmed by Micah in Micah 5:7-8, “Then the remnant left in Israel will take their place among the nations. They will be like dew sent by the Lord or like rain falling on the grass, which no one can hold back and no one can restrain. The remnant left in Israel will take their place among the nations. They will be like a lion among the animals of the forest, like a strong young lion among flocks of sheep and goats, pouncing and tearing as they go with no rescuer in sight.”
Jesus also confirmed this in Matthew 21: 42-44, “Then Jesus asked them, ‘Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.’ I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit. Anyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.” Jesus came to fulfill the prophecy of giving light to the Gentiles as recorded in Matthew 4:13-17, “He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah: ‘In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.’ From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
Peter also confirmed this in Acts 10:43-47, “He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name. Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles too; for they heard them speaking in other tongues and praising God. Then Peter asked, ‘Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did’?”
The Apostle Paul said in Galatians 3: 13, “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” As stated before, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever (from all tribes, nations, and people on earth –sinners, Jews, Israelites, Gentiles, Moslems, Whites, Blacks, Chinese, etc.), not only a few selected tribe or nations, but whoever on this earth who believes in Jesus should not perish but have everlasting life.