John 3:16-18= "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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
I agree that this passage indicates God’s love for all humanity and that He does seek to give everyone a chance at eternal life. The term “whoever” or “whosoever” would indicate this in my opinion. In other words, the chance for eternal life is not limited to a select few but is open to all. However, what humanity does with that opportunity, through the exercise of free will, is an entirely different matter.
“...that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
I find it interesting to note the term “shall not” in the NIV version, compared to “should not” in the others. A more obvious distinction is found in the New American Bible where it is translated “might not”.
The more liberal protestant denominations would conclude the use of “shall not” as being a definitive statement. The interpretation being that as long as there is faith, then salvation is assured. Nothing else is required. Denominations that tend to be more orthodox would adhere to the use of “should” or “might”. With this interpretation, it seems the door is open to conclude that faith alone is not sufficient for salvation.
The last sentence is one that I find troubling and is basically the same in all versions. I interpret it to mean that unless there is belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, then there is condemnation. This, in one sentence, is why many other religions consider Christianity to be egotistically exclusive.
Are there other interpretations? I believe there are. One could examine the word “condemnation” and view it as the Greek root of the word which would imply “judgment” and not necessarily as criticism or pronouncement of guilt. In that case, those who do not accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God will be “judged”. How will they be judged and when? I’m not sure, that’s God’s business.
So what about the uninformed, those who lived and died in this world never hearing anything about Christianity and Jesus Christ. It doesn’t seem fair to condemn these people. I don’t believe a righteous God would condemn them, but they would still be judged by Jesus Christ and I believe there are hints in Scripture that address this.
(NIV) Romans 2:14-16 (14)Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, (15)since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. (16)This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
As I read John 3 there is no transition in John 3:12-13. Up until line 14 Jesus is still speaking to Nicodemus about man's relationship with GOD.
There is nothing before line 15 related to belief in Jesus.
I would agree that 12-13 does not seem to be a transition, but then neither does 15.
I do see a transition at 16, but I'm not sure whether verses 16-21 is a direct communication between Jesus and Nicodemus or the authors comment on Jesus's words. It appears to be the later, but I could see arguments for the former.
He's also talking about individual salvation, so within that context is seems that when Jesus uses Son of man he's using it in the most prosaic sense. He's saying you can't get lifted up on your own. Somebody else has to do the lifting. And that's GOD.
So then it is your opinion that Jesus is not referring to himself but to God as the Son of Man?
So, if John 3:15 is a continuation of line 14 and Jesus is speaking in the first person, does the word "him" in John 3:15 refer to Jesus or someone else? If it is still in first person, why wouldn't Jesus say "... believe in me ..." instead of "... believe in him ...?
Nope. At that point I think, if we assume a continuation of the conversation, that Jesus is using Son of man to mean just plain folk.
Ok, but let's close our previous thought regarding John 3:15 before we get into the meaning of the Son of Man. I don't believe Jesus is speaking in the first person in 14. I believe the switch occured after 12. It seems to me that 15 is a continuation of the thoughts expressed in 13 and 14. Here are all three:
13: And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
14: And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
In 13 note the phrase “...but he that came down...” referring to the Son of Man. Then in 14, the continuation of the Son of Man reference, stating that the Son of Man must be lifted up as was the serpent by Moses. Followed by “...believeth in him” in 15, again referring to the Son of Man. I believe the use of “him” in 15 is consistent with 13 and 14 and in particular with the use of "he" in 13.
Edited for grammer
This message has been edited by MyMonkey, 03-15-2005 01:49 PM
Regardless of exactly where it occurs, it seems pretty clear that John 3:16 is NOT Jesus speaking but editorial comment.
Do you see any other way to interpret it?
As I posted up thread, I don't know if verses 16-21 are a direct communication between Jesus and Nicodemus or the author’s comments on Jesus’ words. I’m sure we will get to arguments that support your assertion, Jar, and I assume those assertions are more substantive than noting that the narrative has changed from first to third person.
So then where is the discussion? The way I see it we have discussed John 3:13-15 and concluded that it could be and most likely is, part of the dialog between Jesus and Nicodemus despite the switch from first to third person. Please feel free to dispute this if it is not settled.
Now on to 3:16 which I have already noted is a transition from the previous dialog between Jesus and Nicodemus. I call it a transition not because of the change from first to third person. That had already begun at verse 13.
No, I note a transition because I find the words of 16-21 to be majestic and sweeping in its summation of Christianity which is quite different than the preceding verses. Does that mean that a different author redacted the passage at a later date far removed from the original author? I don’t think so. I say it is the author, carried by the Spirit, which allows the passage to flow with such grace and eloquence.
On the other hand, I also see no reason why these words could not have come from Jesus himself.
This I would disagree with. I know there are Christian denominations that discourage private biblical interpretations by the clergy. Roman Catholics are an example. Your church may hold this doctrine as well.
But there are many other Christian denominations who not only allow it but encourage it.
I base this on several things. One is the major change in narrative style. Second, there is a major change in content and emphasis. Third, the section between John 3:13 and John 3:16 simply does not fit within the context of what came before. Fourth, as we proceed...
While I look forward to your fourth reason, I would like to comment on the first three. You use several phrases; “change in narrative style”, “change in content and emphasis”, “does not fit”, and you use them as 3 different reasons to support your thesis. But to me, they are all basically the same.
Verses 13-15 are different from the preceding verses, which I have noted. The chief difference being the switch from first to third person. I could also acknowledge some minor incongruity with the preceding passages. But I don’t see how that in itself is significant. I don’t see the connection to redaction.
If this were the only place in John where this occurs, perhaps we would be in agreement. But you could use all of these adjective phrases to compare John 1:1-18 to the balance of chapter 1 and the succeeding chapter 2. Would these verses be a redaction as well?
Maybe we shouldn’t get bogged down in this, rather, agree to disagree, and move on.
Just to try to make my position clear, I absolutely see John (the whole Gospel) as a Reactionary book that was intended to "Correct" and "Redirect" was seen as major shortcomings in the other three Gospels.
John itself is IMHO a complete redaction of Christianity as a whole. I personally have a very low opinion of John as inspired Christian Scripture.
Ah, now that makes sense to me. I'm not saying I agree, but I can certainly understand your position.
Many people have the same view. It is clear that most of the book of John stands in stark contrast to the other three Gospels.
I am aware of a few. I suspect that most of our literalists posters would not be allowed anything but the church's interpretation. I wonder what the stats would be? I suspect that they are unavailable and that if one wandered to far in many church's you might not be welcome.
"...posters would not be allowed..." might be a strong phrase. But that brings to mind an interesting topic. "What is your Church's doctrine on Bible interpretations. How strict is it?"