36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
There are only two options about the Father’s sending His Son to earth: to believe in His Son or reject Him as the Savior. This last verse in chapter 3 emphatically restates 3:18.
Verse 36 is a climax to chapter 3. It is a striking application of what was said above. The apostle laid out two mutually exclusive alternatives to enter eternal life: believe or disbelieve.
36 He who believes in the Son
Faith in the Son as God’s envoy to earth is the only way to possess eternal life. The use of the word “Son” shows the uniqueness of the relationship of Jesus to the Father.
has everlasting life;
The one who believes in the Son has and holds eternal life. In other words, the moment a person believes, he already has eternal life. Eternal life begins at the point of salvation (1 Jn 5:9-12).
The Greek word “has” indicates that eternal life is a present possession of those who believe in Christ. The person who believes has undergone a decisive experience of passing from eternal death to eternal life. This means that the one who believes passes through the portal of eternal death to eternal life at the point of salvation. We can have eternal life while we are physically alive on earth.
and he who does not believe [rejects] the Son
Unbelief in the Son has an implication—that person will never possess eternal life. It is important to see the literal meaning of “does not believe”; the Greek word for this phrase means to disobey or reject the Son.
“Not believe” is not the usual word for believing in the gospel of John. The idea here is to “obey not.” This word carries the idea of refusal to submit, to revolt against the message.
shall not see life,
Revolt against the Son’s message cuts one off from eternal life at the point one dies. Not only will the unbeliever never have eternal life, he will not even “see” it.
but the wrath of God
This is the only use of the Greek word for “wrath” in the gospel of John. This word does not mean a sudden burst of temper. Rather, it conveys the idea of settled displeasure. God has a predetermined attitude toward those who reject Christ as Savior because He cannot violate His own nature.
abides on him.”
The person who rejects the Son will spend eternity in hell. Hell will “abide” on the person who does not believe in the Son. He is under the eternal sentence of death.
This verse is the only place where God’s wrath is mentioned in the gospel of John. A person does not have to do anything to become lost. He is lost at the point of his birth. Hell begins at birth, not when we die. The person who does not believe has the wrath of God on him while he lives; he will receive unalterable wrath from God for eternity in hell.
Hell abides on the person who does not believe in the Son. That sentence to a Christless eternity is only removed when a person trusts Christ as Savior.
God’s wrath rests on those who do not believe.
God does not give people the option of straddling the fence when it comes to Christ and His work. There must be a clear, unequivocal decision to believe on Him. Unbelievers are already under God’s condemnation. There must be a way to get out from under this state. God cannot tolerate anything that is inconsistent with His absolute nature.
People do not have to do anything to become lost. They do not have to commit a “gross” sin or a pattern of sinning. They are in a state of being lost from the beginning. The beauty of this situation is that God Himself provides the solution. He sent His one and only Son to die on the cross for those sins. It is our option to accept it or not.
There is no neutral ground when it comes to making a decision about Christ. Either we pass judgment on ourselves as unbelievers or we accept Christ by believing who He is and what He did. Every person on earth is at the crossroads of making this decision about Christ. Our attitude toward Christ is what matters to God.
For a critique of Lordship Salvation on this verse, go here: https://versebyversecommentary.com/articles/problem-passages/john-336-critique-of-lordship-salvation-tom-stegall/