17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
The topics of eternal life and condemnation are discussed in verses 17 through 21. The crucial issue is that God sent His Son to save those condemned to hell. Verse 17 states the purpose of the Father sending His Son. He also explains what sending His Son was not.
Verse 17 explains, further to verse 16, the purpose of why God “sent” His Son into the world.
God did not send His Son into the world
God’s purpose in sending His Son from the eternal state was to save souls. That was the Son’s commission and delegated authority from the Father. His desire is that everyone become a believer (Jn 12:47; Lu 19:10; 1 Ti 2:4; 2 Pe 3:9).
to condemn the world,
God’s original purpose in sending His Son was not to “condemn the world.” Christ’s mission was solely to save the world; it was never His purpose to condemn the world.
Jesus did not come into the world to pronounce condemnation. He came to a world that was already lost and separated from God. Salvation necessarily implies judgment—two sides of the same coin.
but that the world through Him might be saved.
In contrast to condemning the world, God’s purpose was to save the world. The apostle repeated the word “world” in this verse three times to show that no one is excluded from God’s promise. Jesus is God’s means to save sinners. God’s purpose for sending His Son into the world was not to condemn mankind but to save some who would believe.
God has a positive purpose toward man.
God sees judgment as radically modified in the light of Christ’s coming and death on the cross.
God has a positive purpose for mankind. The purpose of Christ’s first coming was to offer the kingdom to Israel. Israel rejected Christ as the Messiah. Jesus then turned to saving the world from their sin. The purpose of Christ’s second coming will be to once again offer the kingdom to Israel, where He will establish a worldwide kingdom.
This verse does not teach that if a person does not believe, he will be lost. No, the idea is if that person does not believe, he is already lost. If people are lost, it is because they reject God’s initiative toward them. God gave the crux of belief and unbelief and gave the effects of each.
Christ’s coming to earth did not add any further guilt or condemnation on man; man was already in a state of unbelief. His coming is redemptive rather than punitive. God’s purpose was to redeem and not condemn people.