16 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.
Today we come to one of the most beloved Scriptures in the Bible. The reason is that it states the gospel in simple and clear terms.
Jesus now expanded His presentation to Nicodemus about the nature of the gospel. Verse 16 is a statement about God sending His Son to save those who would believe. Verse 17 shows God’s purpose in doing this. Verse 18 points to judgment for those who reject this message.
There are two choices of belief systems from verse 16 running to the end of the chapter. Some will choose eternal life and others will choose eternal death.
The word “for” gives the reason for God giving eternal life referenced in verse 15. Having made a statement about death, Jesus picked up this idea in this verse to show how God executed His saving plan around the death of Christ. Jesus was the Agent of the Father’s salvation plan. Jesus would now explain the universal application of His lesson to Nicodemus.
It is important to understand that salvation revolves around God as the source of salvation. “God” here is the Father (definite article before “God”).
The word “so” indicates the way God loves and emphasizes manner rather than the degree of love. God is showing the way He loved men—His love was by sacrifice.
“Loved” is emphatic in the Greek. This is the first of 36 uses of this word in the gospel. A central motivation of God is love. He loves the “world.” This is not saccharine, superficial love but a love of sacrifice. God is the initiator of salvation (1 Jn 4:9-10). The entire idea of salvation comes from God’s love.
The “world” here stands for all humanity, not just the elect (1 Jn 2:2; 2 Co 5:19,20). Nothing in the context indicates that the “world” here is the world of the elect; it is the world of men. There is no class of people, no nation that He excludes from His love. God loves even mankind in its fallen state. All people are the objects of His unconditional love. God’s love is indiscriminate.
Our salvation has its origin in God, not us.
Salvation of the world has its origin in God, not man. It is a work of God from the start.
The character of His love is unconditional. God loves us no matter who or what we are. This is the manner of His love. It is not a simple matter of God’s intense love for the world. God does love us extensively and infinitely, but this is seen in other passages (Jer 31:3). As we will see in the next study, His love was sacrificial. God sacrificed something for us.