© Rosemary Bardsley 2022

‘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.’ [John 3:16]

[In this outline we work through John 3:16 concept by concept.]


For = because:

The reason why ‘the Son of Man must be lifted up’ just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness. [Ref to Numbers 21]


God –

The Creator – who created us for his glory – a role that we rejected

The Holy One – who is of purer of eyes than to look at iniquity and from whom our sin separates us

The Judge of all the earth – whose justice we have offended and whose judgement on our sin is ‘death’

The Almighty Lord – to whom every human being is accountable


So = in this way, in this manner …


1:7-8 – in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding

1:18 - the riches of his glorious inheritance

1:19 – his incomparably great power for us who believe

2:4 – But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy …

2:7 – the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus

3:8 – the unsearchable riches of Christ

‘This is how God showed his love among us. He sent his won and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins’ [1 John 4:9-10]


Loved – egapesen - Aorist indicative: a decisive action in the past.

At some point – God made a decision to love and put that decision into action.

When was that time? When did God make this amazing, decisive choice to love?

– before the foundation of the world [Revelation 13:8; 1 Peter 1:20; Ephesians 1:4; Matthew 25:34]

Even before he created the world God had made the decision to love, and to love in this amazing way.

Even before he created the first human being … a human being who would sin and need saving …

Even before he created the first rocks and soil out of which the hill called Calvary was formed

Even before he created the first tree … from whose genes the wood of the cross would be made …

Even before he created the first iron ore from which man would one day make the nails …

Before all of this God made this amazing decision to love …

The hill that bore him was by the Father made
The tree that held him his handiwork displayed …

I wonder how they felt, my Christ and He …
Creating the first hill … and tree.


What is this love? ‘…the deep and constant love and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects …’ [Vine]


‘the world’ – the whole human race, not just the Jews

The world:

Does not know Christ [John 1:10]
Hates Christ [John 7:7]
Its works are evil [John 7:7]
Is in darkness [John 8:12]
Is under judgment [John 9:39]
Under the rule of Satan [John 12:31]
Cannot receive the Spirit of truth [John 14:17]
Rejoices at the crucifixion of Christ [John 16:20]
Doesn’t know God [John 17:25]
Alienated from God [2 Cor 5:19]
Evil [Galatians 1:4]
Polluted [2 Peter 2:20]
Wicked [1 John 5:19]
Deceived [Revelation 12:9]

This is the ‘world’ that God so loved … before he created it, before we sinned and brought this corruption upon ourselves … knowing what we would do … knowing we would reject him …

So that …

What follows is the result or consequence of God loving
His love is not a love that just sits around and does nothing

He gave … [Aorist – once for all, one-off, decisive, pin point action]

[1] by sending his Son into the world
[2] on the cross as a sacrificial offering for sin

His one and only Son – his only begotten Son

The Son of God
Divine – wholly God
By whom he created all that exists
For whom everything exists
[Begotten – not created – therefore of the same ‘stuff’]
The Holy One of God

That – in order that … with this purpose, with this intention …

Whoever believes
Present participle – all who are believing

In him … eis auton … into him
Not just believes what he says but casts oneself upon him in personal trust.

Morris: ‘Faith is an activity which takes men right out of themselves and makes them one with Christ’.

It is to commit oneself to him in self-abandonment, totally trusting that he is the One he claimed to be:

Matthew 16:15-16 – Who do you say that I am?
John 1:12 – believed in his name
John 8:24 – unless you believe that I am who I am …

Shall not perish … appollumi – to utterly destroy (Aorist subjunctive)
The dreadful fate awaiting all who do not believe

Eternal separation from God

But – strong but, contrasting with what was said before – the opposite of ‘perish’

Have –
Present subjunctive - a permanent present possession

Eternal life –

The opposite of ‘perish’ – verse 16
The opposite of condemnation and the equivalent of salvation – verse 17,18;
The opposite of darkness – verse 20

Totally dependent on Jesus Christ and always associated with him

Life/existence outside of time – not time stretched out, but timelessness

A present possession of those who believe:

John 3:36 - ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.’

John 5:24 – ‘I tell you the truth, who ever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life’.

1 John 5:12 – ‘He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life’.

What is this ‘eternal life’?

John 3:3-7 – it is being regenerated by the Holy Spirit

John 4:14 – it is being sustained by Jesus Christ the living water: ‘Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’

John 6:35 – it is being constantly and permanently sustained by Jesus Christ the bread of life: ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’

John 8:12 – it is living constantly in the light of Jesus Christ the Light of the world – it is to know God: ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’

John 10:9,10 – it is to have life to the full through Jesus Christ: ‘I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. … I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’.

John 10:11, 27, 28 – it is total assurance because of the cross work of Christ: ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.’

John 11:25,26 – it is life beyond the touch of physical death: ‘I am the resurrection and the life …’

John 14:6 – it is knowledge of and access to God: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me’

John 15:5 – it is a union with and a total dependence on Jesus Christ in which we have ceased to trust in ourselves and trust only in him:

‘I am the vine, you are the branches’.
‘You are complete in him’ - Colossians 2:10
‘I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me’–Gal 2:20.