What I imagine you'll find in near unanimity of current usage and no one asking the question.
But please remember this is only the first step, bringing up the question. I don't believe it can be resolved until we move on to look at John 3:16 within context. And I also believe that must be done in an orderly, step my step method or we will end up running in circles.
For those reasons, I'm not looking to resolve the question right now, only to establish that there are at least two ways the single line can be interpreted when seen isolated, out of context. Unless we can get that established I see little hope of progress.
I'm not looking to resolve the question right now, only to establish that there are at least two ways the single line can be interpreted when seen isolated, out of context. Unless we can get that established I see little hope of progress.
As a Christian who is 70% literalist, I say that ...believes in Him means Jesus, because Jesus is the only way to God. Jesu Himself says that no one comes to the Father except through Him. This is the exclusionist Christian view, but if you eliminate Jesus as the necessary door, you arrive at relativistic spirituality that is based on the works of a "good" heart and the philosophies of man. Sorry, but I am at odds with that belief because it is impossible to accomplish.
Very good points and your observation of John 3:18 will become particularly important as we move along.
John 3 is pretty short and we'll be returning again and again to it so here it is in its entirety.
1: There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3: Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4: Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5: Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6: That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7: Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8: The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9: Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10: Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12: If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 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. 16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17: For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18: He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19: And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20: For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21: But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. 22: After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. 23: And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. 24: For John was not yet cast into prison. 25: Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. 26: And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. 27: John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. 28: Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29: He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30: He must increase, but I must decrease. 31: He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. 32: And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. 33: He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. 34: For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. 35: The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36: He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
I would like to ask all of you to look closely at John 3:15-18in relation to what comes before.
Are there any difference in construction between those four lines and what leads up to them?
It seems to me that John 3:1-14 is a pretty straight forward recitation of Jesus teachings. He's speaking to Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees. Nic had some questions and as Jesus often did, he answers Nic's questions with a series of examples. In the conversation Jeus is clearly talking about man's relationship with GOD.
The passage ends logically at the end of line 14.
Then the whole construction changes, the speaker changes, and we move from a discussion between Jesus and Nicodemus to an outside commentator.
IMO, our anti-Jewish author was trying to make Jesus different than the past kings who were called "son of God."
Nobody can be a member of the family until and unless all imperfection is out of them. We are all not related to God in a familial sense because we have tainted blood. Only a virgin birth and sinless blood could qualify. The Jews did not reject Christ because of superior theology or even uncertain meaning. They were unwilling to lay their tradition and intellect at the foot of the man who was the path for them. He seemed so common.
The transition at 12 and 13 shows my point that not just anyone can be called a son of God because none of us came from heaven! I see no disruption in the flow. Jesus is introducing Himself to Nicodemus. If you view Jesus as a human philosopher, then I can see your point. Some of us believe that He was no human philosopher. To be born again involves surrender of any human wisdom and philosophy when it differs from the living Spirit of God.
IMO, making belief in Jesus as a deity an additional requirement was a way to keep most Jews out of the club.
OK, I see your point that Jesus complicated a belief in God...but Jesus addressed this when He declared that knowing Him was as knowing the Father. Jews were never kept out of the club...they simply were too proud to join. Human nature, again. I'm not picking on Jews either. Intellectuals and religious folk today have the same problem.
This message has been edited by Phatboy, 03-15-2005 06:35 AM
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.