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Whom John 3:36 has in mind

aymon de albatrus

“He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God stays on him.” (Joh 3:36)

“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.” (Joh 3:16)


The passage John 3:36 and its meaning is hardly mentioned and discussed these days in our modern churches, for it is ecclesiastically not correct to mention the condemnation of unbelievers for God is a gentle God and would never break the “free will” of man to send him to Hell for man is full of “rights” and he is sovereign over his own life. Such is the delusion of modern rebellious man.

But man is a created being totally dependent on God to do as He pleases in every possible way: “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.” (Deu 32:39; Psa 50:22; Rev 4:11)  So much, for the myth of free will and rights of mankind.

When commenting on John 3:16, the most popular verse of the Bible, we ought to be honest and balance it with verse 36 for this is part and parcel of the everlasting evangel of Christ Jesus: “Suppose you that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, No; but rather division:” (Luk 12:51)  (Mat 10:33-37)

Spiritually humankind is divided in two: those who believe in Christ and His atoning work and those who do not.  To the former it is reserved the presence of God in Paradise forever, whilst for the latter they will pass eternity in Hell in the presence of Satan and his fallen angels (demons).

He that believes on the Son Christ is a proper object of faith and trust; which, if He was not truly and properly God, He would not be. This faith is the gift of God to His elect (Eph 2:8) by which a man spiritually is enabled to sees the Son (1Co 2:14), goes unto Him, ventures and relies upon Him, and commits himself to Him, and expects life and salvation from Him; and shall not be ashamed and confounded: “For the scripture said, Whoever believes on Him shall not be ashamed.” (Rom 10:11)

has everlasting life; Christ as man’s head (1Co 11:3) has given him eternal salvation, he believes in Him and now he has the justifying righteousness of Christ, by His grace he has obtained and in it he has faith and hope. Even in this life he has a beginning of it in the knowledge of Christ, and communion with Him; he has some foretastes of it in his present experience; and he has the earnest and pledge of it in his heart from the blessed Holy Spirit, who works him up for this selfsame thing.

he that believes not the Son. We have here to other side, those who do not believe in God, nor in His Son Jesus to be the Messiah, the Saviour of His people, and this is because they are not His people for if they were they would hear His voice and come to Him most earnestly: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” (Joh 10:27). 

shall not see life In their rebellion they will live and die in a state of impenitence and unbelief and shall not see eternal life with God; will not enter into it, and enjoy it and will die the second death in the lake of fire. "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Rev 21:8)

but the wrath of God stays on him. Terrible words, as the sentence of wrath, of condemnation, and eternal death are pronounced here. Wrath here means: anger, vengeance, indignation, fury which conveys a sense of God’s terrible disposition towards these rebellious people: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb 10:31)

The curse of the law was pronounced upon all mankind in Adam, it continues and will continue It will never be reversed but will be executed on those who are not redeemed, as their final unbelief shows for they were by nature children of wrath, and as the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men (Rom 1:18). It comes upon the children of disobedience, and remains there; it hangs over their heads, and they will be filled with a dreadful sense of it to all eternity. What a terrible situation to be in, as our Lord testifies: “And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 13:50)

He that believes ... he that believes (obeys) not ...
These are among the most decisive words in the New Testament with regard to what is meant by "believeth," or "faith" as frequently used by New Testament writers under the inspiration of the Spirit of God. In all instances, it is an OBEDIENT FAITH that is meant, and never is some special quality of faith apart from obedience intended. He who does not obey the Son, in the practical sense, is an unbeliever; and all faith, of whatever degree, is dead without obedience. How can one believes in someone without obedience to that one? Impossible.  Our Lord equated love (belonging) to obedience: “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (Joh 14:15

The wrath of God ...
New Testament passages regarding God's displeasure and wrath towards men who do not accept the Son and disobey the gospel are extensive. The total race of men from Eden and afterward is a fallen and rebellious race, their fellowship with God having been broken by their rebellion to Him; and God's face is set against fallen and un-regenerated men for having rejected His gracious offer of His Son. He has appointed a day in which the unredeemable portion of humanity will be judged and punished, and then evil will be cast out of God's universe. Amen

It is clear that the great obstacle to men's acceptance of the Bible is not intellectual. It is spiritual. It is not that the Bible is unreasonable. It is that men do not want Christ as their Saviour and Lord. They choose to reject God's way in order to follow their own way, for they love darkness and hate the light (John 3:19). They are evil in themselves.

Abideth on him (stays on him).
This implies that he is now under the wrath of God, or under condemnation. It implies, also, that it will continue to remain on him. It will abide or dwell there as its appropriate habitation. As there is no way of escaping the wrath of God but by the Lord Jesus Christ, so those who will not believe must go to eternity as they are, and bear alone and unpitied all that God may choose to inflict as the expression of his sense of sin. Such is the miserable condition of the sinner! Yet millions choose to remain in this state, and to encounter alone all that is terrible in the wrath of Almighty God, rather than come to Jesus, who is offering salvation through His sacrifice on the cross, and who is willing to bless them with the peace, and purity, and joy of immortal life.

How flatly does this contradict the teaching of many in our day, that there neither was, nor is, anything in God against sinners which needed to be removed by Christ, but only in men against God! But Scriptures destroys that false notion so largely promulgated these days that God loves the sinner but hates his sins.

Do yourself a favour, go humbly on your knees to Christ in repentance asking forgiveness for your many sins to obtain eternal life in His presence, for eternal life in Hell away from God is really terrible.

And if you think you have no sin, the Word of God contradicts you:

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Rom 3:23)

“Or do you not know that unjust ones will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be led astray, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor abusers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous ones, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1Co 6:9-10)