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John 3:17

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.


John Owen     Death of Death
A notable or eminent inversion of the word world in this place was before observed; like that of chap. 1:10, "He was in the world," or on the earth, a part of it, "and the world was made by him," the whole would, with all things therein contained, "and the world knew him not," or the most of men living in the world. So here, by the world, in the first place, that part of the world wherein our Saviour conversed hath the name of the whole assigned unto it. In the second, you may take it for all and every one in the world, if you please (though from the text it cannot be enforced); for the prime end of our Saviour's coming was not to condemn any, but to save his own, much less to condemn all and every one in the world, out of which he was to save his elect. In the third place, they only are designed whom God sent his Son on purpose to save, as the words eminently hold out. The saving of them who then are called the world was the very purpose and design of God in sending his Son. Now, that these are not all men, but only believers of Jews and Gentiles throughout the world, is evident:

  1. Because all are not saved, and the Lord hath said "he will do all his pleasure, and his purpose shall stand."

  2. Because the most of men were at the instant actually damned. Did he send his Son that they might be saved?

  3. Because Christ was appointed for the fall of some, Luke 2:34, and, therefore, not that all and every one might be saved. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

  4. The end of Christ's actual exhibition and sending in the flesh is not opposite to any of God's eternal decrees, which were eternally fixed concerning the condemnation of some for their sins. Did he send his Son to save such? Does he act contrary to his own purposes, or fail in his undertakings? The saved world is the people of God scattered abroad throughout the world.