About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Meaning Of John 3:16
John 3:16 is a
well-known Bible verse, but do we understand it as John intended?
"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."
If you understand the
word "believes" in John 3:16 to be mentally acknowledging the
validity of something, as the word "believes" is commonly
understood today, you will have misunderstood John 3:16.
John was not saying that whoever mentally acknowledges that Jesus
is the divine Son of God will not perish but have eternal life.
That understanding imposes our twenty-first century, western-world,
concept of the word "believes" onto John 3:16, a first-century,
Greek text. That is problematic.
The Greek word
translated as "believes" in John 3:16, as it is throughout the
New Testament, is "pisteuo."
This word has little to do with mentally acknowledging who Jesus
is. Pisteuo meant "to
trust," not give mental assent to something or someone.
Because this Greek word is a present Greek active participle, John
was saying that whoever has become a present-day, trusting-one, in Jesus,
will not perish but have eternal life.
The verb tense of the word "pisteuo" emphasizes one who
trusts his life with Jesus because of who he has become, and that is a
trusting one. The emphasis in
John 3:16 is not simply on the action of trusting, but trusting because
one has become a trusting-one. The
action of trusting, or believing, is a product of one, by virtue of his
new nature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) becoming a believer.
One becomes a trusting one, a believer, when he receives the Holy
Spirit into his life, making him that new creation. 2
Corinthians 5:17, in the CSB, reads:
anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and
see, the new has come!"
that Jesus is the divine Son of God saves no one.
What saves a person is when the Holy Spirit comes into that
person's life, making him a new person in Christ, or, a present-day
believer. This, at least in
part, is the meaning
to John 3:16.