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.
Christopher Ness An Antidote Against Arminianism
1. The word "world" is of various significations. A decree went out that "all the world should be taxed" (Luk 2:1), that is, the Roman empire and such countries in subjection thereto. The faith of the church of Rome was "spoken of throughout the whole world" (Romans 1:8), that is, throughout all the churches, and among all the saints in the world. When the Pharisees said to Christ, "Behold, the world is gone after Him" (John 12:19), by reference we find that they meant "much people" who went out of Jerusalem to meet Jesus, crying, "Hosanna" (John 12:12,13). The Pharisees themselves, who so said, they were not gone after Christ; therefore the whole world was not gone, they themselves not being gone. So John 3:16: "God so loved the world" cannot be understood of the world in a strict sense, for so birds, beasts, fishes, and all inanimate things are comprehended, which cannot have everlasting life; nor can it be the world of men, but as God is the Preserver of both man and beast (Psalms 31:6). There is God's love to creatures, His love to men, and His love to good men. God's love was the cause of His sending Christ, and the word "whosoever" (in the verse) restrains this love of God to some and not to others. It must therefore be properly God's love to good men, the third love; not such as He found good, but such as He made so.
2. There is a world of believers (Rev 5:9); and as manna was only for Israel, so Christ, the true manna, the Bread from Heaven, gives life to the world of believers only (John 6:33). Christ was believed on in the world of believers only (1Ti 3:16); the reconciled world (2Co 5:19): and "all men have not faith" (2Th 3:2). There is also the world of unbelievers. "All the world wondered after the beast. And "they worshipped the dragon" (Rev 13:3,4). "The whole world lieth in wickedness" (1Jo 5:19). The believing world is a world in the world ("these are in the world," John 17:11); and they are taken and chosen out of the world. They are in the world, and sojourning among the inhabitants of it as strangers and pilgrims only, this not being their rest, their home; their desires being towards a better country (Heb 11:13-16). And that they are taken and chosen out of the world and given to Christ is clear from John 15:19: "If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore, the world hateth you." Also from John 17:6,9: "I have manifested Thy Name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world . . . I pray for them; I pray not for the world." "Zion's garden wall'd around, Chosen and made peculiar ground; A little spot, enclosed by grace, Out of the world's wide wilderness."
3. It is granted that God hath a respect for all mankind. "We trust," saith Paul, "in the living God, who is the Saviour," i.e., the Preserver, "of all men, especially of those that believe" (1Ti 4:10). "The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works" (Psalms 145:9). "He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good; and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45). All this implies not eternal preservation, but only temporal providence and preservation; for the wages of sin would have been paid at the birth of it, and the world (through confusion by sin) would have fallen about Adam's ears, had not Christ been the glorious undertaker.
All that are redeemed are redeemed by Christ; but the elect only are given to Him; they alone have an interest in Him, are redeemed by Him, and they shall be glorified with Him.
4. The word "world" is sometimes in Scripture put for Gentiles in opposition to Jews, and so it is in 1Jo 2:2. John wrote to the Jews, and ministered unto the circumcision (see Gal 2:9), and he says unto them, "Christ is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world," that is, not for the Jews only, but for the Gentiles also. The Jewish nation considered themselves as the peculiar people of God; and so they were, for to them "pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises." And Christ was a Jew, "of whom concerning the flesh Christ came" (Romans 9:4,5). The Jews were always taught to appropriate the Messiah exclusively to themselves, to the utter rejection of the Gentiles, who were called "strangers," "uncircumcised," "common," "unclean," "dogs," etc. And it was unlawful for a Jew to keep company or have any dealings with a Gentile (see Matthew 10:5; Mark 7:17; Act 10:28, and Act 11:3). The salvation of the Gentiles is in various parts of Scripture called a "mystery," "hidden mystery;" the "mystery of Christ which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men ... that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs" (Eph 3:4-6; Col 1:27). But when this mystery was revealed and made fully known by the divine mission to Paul, who was by Christ sent to preach to the Gentiles (Act 26:17,18), when it was declared by the vision of the unclean beasts and the Lord's consequent commission to Peter (Act 10:9-15,20), then the contentions of the circumcision ceased (Act 11:2,3); they found "the middle wall of partition" between Jew and Gentile was "broken down;" the latter, who before were "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise," being now "brought nigh by the blood of Christ." They glorified God saying, "Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." Jesus Christ is not only the propitiation for the sins of us Jews, but for the Gentiles also (Eph 2:11-18).
5. The foregoing is proved from Romans 11:12, where the two words, "world" and "Gentiles," are both used as signifying one and the same thing. "If the fall of them (Jews) be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?
"It was a controversy agitated among the Jewish doctors whether, when the Messiah came, the Gentiles, the `world' should have any benefit by Him. The majority was exceeding large on the negative of the question; only some few, as old Simeon and others, knew that He should be `a light to lighten the Gentiles,' as well as `the glory of His people of Israel.' The rest concluded that the most severe judgments and dreadful calamities would befall the Gentiles; yea, that they should be cast into hell, in the room of the Israelites" (Dr. John Gill).
A W Pink Sovereignty of God
Turning now to John 3:16, it should be evident from the passages just quoted, that this verse will not bear the construction usually put upon it. "Go so loved the world". Many suppose that this means, The entire human race. But "the entire human race," includes all mankind from Adam till the close of the earth's history: it reaches backward as well as forward! Consider, then, the history of mankind before Christ was born. Unnumbered millions lived and died before the Saviour came to earth, lived here "having no hope and without God in the world", and therefore passed out into an eternity of woe. If God "loved" them, where is the slightest proof thereof? Scripture declares, "Who (God) in times past (from the tower of Babel till after Pentecost) suffered all nations to walk in their own ways" (Act 14:16). Scripture declares that, "and....God gave them over....convenient" (Rom 1:28). To Israel God said, "You only....earth" (Amo 3:2). In view of these plain passages, who will be so foolish as to insist that God in the past loved all mankind! The same applies with equal force to the future. Read through the book of Revelation, noting especially chapters 8 to 19, where we have described the judgments which will yet be poured out from heaven on this earth. Read of the fearful woes, the frightful plagues, the vials of God's wrath, which shall be emptied on the wicked. Finally, read the 20th chapter of the Revelation, the great white throne judgment, and see if you can discover there the slightest trace of love.
But the objector comes back to John 3:16 and says, "World means world". True, but we have show that "the world" does not mean the whole human family. The fact is that "the world" is used in a general way. When the brethren of Christ said, "Shew Thyself to the world" (Joh 7:4), did they mean "shew Thyself to all mankind"? When the Pharisees said, "Behold, the world is gone after Him" (Joh 12:19), did they mean that "all the human family" were flocking after Him? When the apostle wrote, "Your....the whole world" (Rom 1:8), did he mean that the faith of the saints at Rome was the subject of conversation by every man, woman, and child on the earth? When Rev 13:3 informs us that "all the world wondered after the beast", are we to understand that there will be no exceptions? What of the godly Jewish Remnant, who will be slain (Rev 20:4) rather than submit? These, and other passages which might be quoted, show the term "the world" often has a relative rather than an absolute force.
Now the first thing to note in connection with John 3:16 is that our Lord was there speaking to Nicodemus - a man who beleived that God's mercies were confined to his own nation. Christ there announced that God's love in giving His Son had a larger object in view, that it flowed beyond the boundary of Palestine, reaching out to "regions beyond". In other words, this was Christ's announcement that God had a purpose of grace toward Gentiles as well as Jews. "God so loved the world", then, signifies, God's love is international in its scope. But does this mean that God loves every individual among the Gentiles? Not necessarily, for as we have seen, the term "world" is general rather than specific, relative rather than absolute. The term "world" in itself is not conclusive. To ascertain who are the objects of God's love other passages where His love is mentioned, must be consulted.
In 2Pe 2:5 we read of "the world of the ungodly". If then, there is a world of the ungodly there must also be a world of the godly. It is the latter who are in view in the passages we shall now briefly consider. "For....the world" (Joh 6:33). Now mark it well, Christ did not say "offereth life unto the world", but "giveth". What is the difference between the two terms? This: a thing which is "offered" may be refused, but a thing "given" necessarily implies its acceptance. If it is not accepted, it is not "given", it is simply proffered. Here, then, is a scripture that positively states Christ giveth life (spiritual, eternal life) "unto the world." Now He does not give eternal life to the "world of the ungodly" for they will not have it, they do not want it. Hence, we are obliged to understand the reference in Joh 6:33 as being to "the world of the godly", i.e., God's own people.
John Gill Expositor
For God so loved the world. The Persic version reads "men": but not every man in the world is here meant, or all the individuals of human nature; for all are not the objects of God’s special love, which is here designed, as appears from the instance and evidence of it, the gift of his Son: nor is Christ God’s gift to every one; for to whomsoever he gives his Son, he gives all things freely with him; which is not the case of every man. Nor is human nature here intended, in opposition to, and distinction from, the angelic nature; for though God has showed a regard to fallen men, and not to fallen angels, and has provided a Saviour for the one, and not for the other; and Christ has assumed the nature of men, and not angels; yet not for the sake of all men, but the spiritual seed of Abraham; and besides, it will not be easily proved, that human nature is ever called the world: nor is the whole body of the chosen ones, as consisting of Jews and Gentiles, here designed; for though these are called the world, Joh 6:33,51; and are the objects of God’s special love, and to them Christ is given, and they are brought to believe in him, and shall never perish, but shall be saved with an everlasting salvation; yet rather the Gentiles particularly, and God’s elect among them, are meant; who are often called "the world", and "the whole world", and "the nations of the world", as distinct from the Jews; see Rom 11:12,15; 1Jo 2:2 Luk 12:30, compared with Mat 6:32. The Jews had the same distinction we have now, the church and the world; the former they took to themselves, and the latter they gave to all the nations around: hence we often meet with this distinction, Israel, and the nations of the world.
that he gave his only begotten son; to, and for them, as well as for the Jews; to be a covenant of the people, the Gentiles, the Saviour of them, and a sacrifice for them; a gift which is a sufficient evidence of his love to them; it being a large and comprehensive one, an irreversible and unspeakable one; no other than his own Son by nature, of the same essence, perfections, and glory with him; begotten by him in a way inconceivable and expressible by mortals; and his only begotten one; the object of his love and delight, and in whom he is ever well pleased; and yet, such is his love to the Gentiles, as well as Jews, that he has given him, in human nature, up, into the hands of men, and of justice, and to death itself:
that whosoever believeth in him, whether Jew or Gentile,
should not perish, but have everlasting life; see below
Joh 3:15: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
That whosoever believeth in him. Whether Jew or Gentile, a greater, or a lesser sinner, and of whatsoever state and condition, age or sex; and though ever so weak a believer, provided his faith, is of the right kind: not an historical or temporary one, a mere assent to the truth of things respecting his person, office, and work; but such a faith, by which a soul sees a glory, fullness, and suitableness in him as a Saviour; goes to him, ventures on him, commits itself to him, lays hold on him, and receives him, leans and relies upon him, and trusts in him, and lives upon him; and which is the faith of God’s elect; a gift of his grace, and the operation of his Spirit; and which works by love, and is attended with the fruits of righteousness: now the end of Christ’s crucifixion and death is, that such an one
should not perish; though he is in a lost and perishing condition in Adam, and by nature, and sees himself to be so, and comes to Christ as such; and though his frames and comforts are perishing, and he sometimes fears he shall be utterly lost; and though he is subject to slips and falls, and great spiritual decays; and shall perish as to the outward man by death; yet he shall never perish eternally, or be punished with everlasting destruction, as the wicked will:
but have eternal life; not by his works, but as the gift of God: and which he that truly believes; has already in the covenant of grace, in Christ his head, in faith and hope; and has the earnest and pledge of it, the Spirit of God; and the beginning of it, which is the knowledge of God in Christ; and shall hereafter possess it fully, and in person, to all eternity: even a life of perfect holiness and knowledge; a life of never ending pleasure; a life free from all the sorrows, distresses, and imperfections of this; and which will always continue.
Matthew J Slick
If predestination is true, then why does this verse state "whoever believes" will be saved? The Bible says that faith is a gift from God (Rom 12:3); that it is God who grants belief (Phi 1:29); it is God who produces belief in a person (Joh 6:29); and only those appointed to eternal life by God are the ones who believe (Act 13:48). Also, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17). In order for someone to believe, they must hear the gospel of Jesus (1Co 15:1-4) because the gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16). There is no other name under heaven besides Jesus by which ayone may be saved (Act 4:12). And, one must receive Jesus (Joh 1:12) in order to be saved.
Since these things are true, then how can the "whoever" of Joh 3:16 apply to those who never heard the Word of God? There are multitudes who never heard the gospel at all, who never had the chance. Consider the Aborigines, the Bushmen, the Eskimos, or the American Indians, who died before the time of Christ, or who even lived before the time of Christ. Yet they NEVER heard ANYTHING about Christianity, the atonement, the resurrection, the holy scriptures, or the gospel. It was never preached to them at all. How, then, can the "whoever" apply to them when they have no chance of hearing the Word of God concerning Jesus and salvation? From what I know of scripture, they cannot.
To answer this question some say that those who never heard the gospel will not be judged the same way as those who have. But that answer contradicts the scriptures that clearly say no one gets to the Father but through Jesus (Joh 14:6); that it is the gospel that saves (Rom 1:16); the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection for sins (1Co 15:1-4); and, there is no other name under heaven besides Jesus by which anyone may be saved (Act 4:12).
This is the most common verse cited as a contradiction to "Election." Let's look at John 3:16:
"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 sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
You’ll notice that the verse says “whosoever”, or plainly stated “whoever.” It does not address who has the capacity to believe and it definitely does not state anyone can believe in Jesus Christ. To hold the belief that this verse means anybody can choose to believe in Jesus Christ is not biblically sound. It would contradict several areas of Holy Scripture. If you refer to the verses, which deal with man’s spiritual depravity, you will find that Scripture teaches that there is no one who seeks God. In fact, Scripture teaches that man in his natural state is incapable of understanding and accepting the Gospel message, because it is a spiritual matter. It is for this reason that Jesus teaches that no one can come to Him unless the Father “draws” or "gives" that person to Jesus (John 6:65). Also for these reasons, Scripture flatly proclaims in Ephesians 2:8
"For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God"
The verse John 3:16, forms the basis for the much proclaimed belief in free-will salvation. It is interpreted to mean that man can freely choose to believe in Jesus Christ. We have seen that the Bible, in Eph 2:8, proclaims otherwise. Additionally, other areas of Scripture disprove the contention of 'free-will' salvation.
"So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. "(KJV)
" So it depends not upon man's will or exertion, but upon God's mercy." Romans 9:16(RSV)
"But as many as received Him, He gave to them authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name, who were born, not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but were born of God. " John 1:12-13
"He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, "Titus 3:5
"Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. "James 1:8
The Bible proclaims that belief in Jesus Christ, and thereby salvation, is by the Will and action of God, not that of man.
"-God chose (picked out, selected) what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God." (1Co 1:27-29)