Church Education Resource Ministries  

www.cerm.info

HOME PAGE    


John 3:16

Literary and Contextual analysis. Who wrote John, when and to whom? What is the purpose of John? Where does this passage fit in John 3 and in John as a whole? What genre would you classify this passage as?

The disciple John wrote this gospel with the help of an Amanensis at Ephesus probably anywhere from AD 60-90 and to the lost. The main purposes of this gospel is said in John 20:30-31 which is an evangelistic purpose. I believe that John 3:16 fits in many different ways. First, we know that some of the main themes of John is symbolism explained with plenty of metaphors and similes. In John 3, Jesus is using water baptism metaphor allegory. Spiritual water cleans you, and verse 16 is said after Jesus brings in the Moses illustration. In that story the people who did look at the snake on the pole lived, and did not die of the deadly Pit Viper poison. Just as we are all dying of deadly poison, we need to look up to Christ to live, and this is the reason that the son of man has come into the world. This passage fits perfectly into this gospel, as the main purpose is evangelistic. The genre of this passage probably is Chreia since Jesus is displaying some wisdom in his conversation with the Jewish Rabbi.

Lexical analysis

Compare translations. Select at least three English translations. Are they the same or different? In what ways?


NIV
- 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.

KJV- 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.

Living Bible- For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

It looks like all three versions are explaining the verse with different words, but the main themes of the verse remains the same. I can read these three versions of this verse, and will come to the same conclusion on what the verse means, but I may learn it with different words.

Word Studies

Love= Yes this is mentioned numerous times in the book of John. I bet that the meaning of Love at least in John 3:16 and most of John would be the Greek verb agapo. This verb occurs much throughout the NT, and the noun agape occurs sometimes as well.

World= Well according to the Vine Expository Dictionary of New Testament words, I believe that the Greek word used in this passage would be KOSMOS. However, according to my sources the word World is used 176 times in the NT, and 56 times in the book of John. There are different meanings of the word World, but in John 3:16, Kosmos fits the term.

Send= There would be no better Greek word than APOSTELLO. Yes Jesus was sent by God the father to save the world through him, and this Greek word means exactly that.

Gave= The Greek word DIDOMI is the word in this passage of John 3:16, at least in the NIV translation, which is what I use. Most of the New Testament uses this Greek word.

Only-begotten= The only logical word for this in the Greek would be MONOGENES. This Greek word is used five times in the writing of John at least in the KJV. I could not locate this word in the NIV.

Believe= Probably the Greek word PISTOS in the active sense. It is also used throughout the NT in the passive sense. However, the passive sense of the word is probably referring to Christians who believe that God will help them.

Perish= After looking at many of the Greek words, I came to the conclusion that meaning in John 3:16, has to be the Greek word APOLLUMI. This word is used in Matt 5:29-30 and these verses there is some Hyperoble being used. I suppose that the meaning in John 3:16 has to the same meaning. Because in Matt 5:29-30, Jesus says that if our right hand causes us to sin, it needs to be destroyed. So in John 3:16 Jesus I saying that those who do not believe in Jesus will be destroyed and thrown into hell. Same meaning as in Matt 5:29-30, just a different context.

Eternal life= It has to be AIONIOS. This word is used to define things that are endless. Joh 3:16 uses a word that is endless. I believe that this Greek word is used nearly everytime the English word appears throughout the New testament Canon. It appears 42 times in the NIV translation.

 

Syntactical Analysis. How does this verse fit with the previous verse? What are the connecting words (correlative conjunctions, subordinate conjunctions, etc.)? How do the connecting words relate the clauses in the verse relate to one another (i.e. what is the main clause, what subordinate clauses are there, are statements joined as similar or as contrasts)? How does this verse fit with the following verse?

It fits in because in verse 15 Jesus states that whoever believes in him will have eternal life. Therefore, in verse 16 Jesus states the bigger picture. However, it is verse 16 and 17 where the author explains why Jesus was sent to earth by God the father. Yes Jesus obeyed his father. The members of the trinity are equal in essence, but not in function.

Correlative Conjunctions- For and that in verse 16. The subordinate junctions I think are in verse 16. The main clause us for God so loved the World. The subject in this sentence is God, and the verb is so-loved. The subordinate conjunctions is But.

 

CONCLUSION

Based on my understanding of this verse, it appears that Jesus calls for a new birth. Nicodemus had a kind of belief that was not saving, as he saw the miracles that Jesus had performed and was amazed by them, and knew Jesus came from God (MacArthur 1988, 44). In addition, I believe that John 3:16 is not an easy believisim that so many assume when reading John 3:16. No, Jesus was challenging the Jewish leader to give up everything he had to follow Christ and convert to the better cause, and it is apparent from other verses in John that this is what Nicodemus did. Yes Jesus challenged everything of this Jewish Rabbi, including his works based religion, and his self-righteousness that the Pharisees so upheld. This sect viewed the poor as sinners not worthy of anything, and the rich as worthy of much respect. This is how western culture views the rich and the poor but not as extreme as Jesus culture. However, I think that Jesus is confirming to Nicodemus that he is God and the only was to salvation, as the text did say in 2:23-25 that Jesus knew all men, and knew what was inside each one. Jesus is omniscient, and proves this by reading the heart of the Jewish Rabbi. I have to say that I do not think that 3:16 is all that is important in this passage. It is best to also look at 3:14-15, as Jesus gives the example of Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness, so that all who got bitten by the deadly snakes could be saved by putting their trust in the serpent on the pole. As far as the Greek words that are in this verse, I know that many of the words in this verse are also used in the New Testament canon. For example, the word world is used in the New Testament Canon many times and in the Greek too. The Greek word for the English word Perish is also used a lot in the Canon.

 

Bibliography
VINES EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT WORDS. Iowa Falls, Riverside Book and Bible House, 1952.
THE NIV EXHAUSTIVE CONCORDANCE. Grand Rapids, Zondervan Corporation, 1990
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS. Grand Rapids, Zondervan Corporation, 1988

Church Education Resource Ministries

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in anyway other than to correct minor spelling and grammar errors. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. And exceptions to the above must be explicitly approved by Church Education Resource Ministries.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Wolf Church Education Resource Ministries. Website www.cerm.info. Email: johnw@cerm.info.