The Truth of John 3:16

The Truth of John 3:16

The following is a MADE UP STORY:

There once was a tribe of Ancient Mubahgumbins who lived in a far away inaccessible place. They were far from modern civilization and communication and television evangelists. But somehow, they had both a spoken and a written language, although they didn't have Bibles. Not having a bible, naturally they knew nothing of the Hebrew scriptures. But in spite of that they somehow believed that there was a God, although they really didn't know a lot about Him.. Then one day, an airplane appears in the sky over their ancient, inaccessible place, and out of a window of the plane leaflets began to flutter all around them. They begin to pick up the leaflets, and lo and behold, printed in large letters, in the unique script of the Ancient Mubahgumbin language, are these words:

John 3:16 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.

Now remember that the Ancient Mubahgumbins have no bibles, no information super highway and no television evangelists. They somehow believe that there is a God, because they realize that only a fool says in his heart that there is no God. So what are some of the questions they might ask about John 3:16?

1. Who exactly IS this person who is God's Son?

2. What does it mean, "His only begotten Son?”

3. What does it mean that "God gave him?"

4. What does it mean to "believe in Him?"

They surely know what death is, and they would very much desire everlasting life and would want to know about it. What does John 3:16 tell them? So the next day, same time, same place, the airplane comes back and a man jumps out. He lands on the ground, they rush up to him and he takes out a bible. He opens it to the gospel of John and he identifies the son of God as none other than Jesus Christ. He explains the miraculous conception of Christ by the Holy Spirit and the virgin birth and the fact that God  had prophesied long ago that this very thing would happen. Then he tells him that His own people didn't receive him, but that they crucified him, but that He rose from the dead Then he begins to tell them what they most want to know, how to have everlasting life. He says that you have to have faith to have eternal life. He tells them that they have to repent of all their bad things and confess and change their lives. He quotes Acts 2:38

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Then he quotes Matthew 10:

Matthew 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

He throws in verse 22 for good measure:

Matthew 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

So he has given them a message of repentance and water baptism, confession before men and a life of self sacrifice up to the end as the requirements to hopefully, if they hold on and hold out,  be accepted at the end. Now there are many in religion today who honestly believe that the presentation given here is an accurate representation of how to present the salvation message. But let’s go back and start over and tell our story in a different way.

The next day, same time, same place, the airplane comes back and a man jumps out. He lands on the ground, they rush up to him and he takes a bible out. He says, "I see you guys got the leaflets, did you understand what John 3:16 means?" and, of course they don't. It's meaningless to them, since they don't know who the son of God is, what it means that God gave him, or what to believe in Him. So he takes John 3:16 and explains the word of the cross and the salvation by grace only through faith only message of the Apostle Paul. He quotes 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

1 Corinthians 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

He explains that God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners that Christ died for the ungodly and he uses Titus to show how God gave:

Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

He makes sure that they understand that Christ did the work of salvation and that He endured unto the end in their behalf. He explains that God doesn't require a gift from us today, but that instead he gave the gift.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

He makes sure that they understand that works of any kind are refused as the basis for their salvation.

Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

If, according to Romans 11 it is NO MORE OF WORKS, which man preached the right message? The grace preacher is the one with the correct message, right? You see, the other man was basically right, as so many in religion are today. The problem is, they fail to distinguish the difference between the message to Israel in time past, and the message to the church today. But the whole point of this made up story is, that you CAN preach salvation from John 3:16 provided you put WITH the truth of John 3:16 the doctrine committed to Paul, but without it you can't.  The gospel is not John 3:16, but 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Now a person can be confused about John 3:16 and still be saved, so don't be too hard on him until you hear his testimony. He has been taught that the red letters are the words of Jesus and he needs to follow Jesus and John 3:16 is in red letters and the red letters are the REALLY important words. That's why they are in red, right? But even though he might say that the gospel is John 3:16, he could really also believe 1 Corinthians 15. So don't jump to a hasty conclusion. Being saved doesn't consist of understanding doctrine, but of complete trust in the finished work of the cross. Salvation is first, doctrine second. On the other hand, if you intend to show somebody the truth of salvation, you had better know it!

1 Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

So let’s talk a little about the red letters that you find in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and a few other verses in the bible. For some1900 years there were no red letters in the bible. It has only been less the past one hundred years or so that printers have had the ability to print a book in two colors. Before that, there were no red letters, in John 3:16 or any other verse in the bible. All the print was in one color. It was all in black, for the most part, although there were a few exceptions where some expensive bibles might have a fancy title page. The 1880's began a period of time which historians refer to as the "Industrial Revolution." Remember that from history class?  Mechanized equipment began to be invented and we moved into this modern mechanized society we live in today. There was the steam engine, the cotton gin, the automobile, giant steel processing plants, automatic woodworking equipment.....and printing presses. So during the 1880's into the early 1900's, all these things came into existence.

It was about that time, a German born magazine publisher named Louis Klopsch got the idea to publish a magazine article in a publication called The Christian Herald and to print the words of Christ he quoted from the bible in the article, in red ink. That's the source of the red letters in your modern day red letter bible. Printers could now print in more than one color at the same time, meaning that the printing cost was economically possible, and red letter bibles began to be published.

Now all of that background information leads up to this: The RED LETTER WORDS of John 3:16 were probably NOT spoken by Jesus during his earthly ministry to Israel, but instead, are simply a continuation of John's commentary. In other words, the words ARE INSPIRED bible words, written by John, inspired by the Holy Ghost, but not the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, as most people assume.

You see the red letters in red letter bibles came as the result of an idea by a magazine publisher in the early 1900's. MEN decided which words should be printed in red. Most of the "red letter" new testaments have the words of Jesus beginning in John chapter three, verse 3, and ending at verse 21. BUT, that is the opinion of MEN. It is the opinion of the editors and publishers of books. There is no such indication in any bible before the red letter bibles were first published in the 1900's and there is NO Greek manuscript with any such thing. So, the point is, the red letters were a MAN MADE idea. And in the minds of some people, the red letters are given more importance than the black letters simply because they are in red.

Now that is totally contrary to what the bible actually SAYS about itself. It says that the “words of the Lord are pure words.” It says that “ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God.” Paul says that what he writes are the “commandments of the Lord.” Peter says “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” and on and on. So bible editors and publishers using red letters have published their opinion. Many competent bible teachers END the spoken words of Jesus at the end of verse 12 of John chapter three and not all the way down to verse 21. They believe that from verse 12 on is John's commentary, and not the words of Jesus.
I believe that the end of the words of Jesus in John chapter three is verse 12:

John 3:12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

Notice that Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus, who came to him at night after seeing all the miracles that Jesus did. Notice that he speaks of himself, and that it is the first person singular pronoun, the word "I". Notice that he says, in verse three: "Verily, verily I say unto thee." Notice verse five: "Verily, verily I say unto thee." And verse 11: "Verily, verily I say unto thee." And then verse 12: "I have told you earthly things." Now watch verse 13:

John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

Notice how it changes from the first person singular to the third person singular, "he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven.?"  Now that phrase, "son of Man" is used many times in the bible, 30 times in the gospel of Matthew alone. It is always a reference to Jesus in his humanity. Well, when could that reference be used? ONLY after he was born. So if Jesus has now been born into the world, where does the verse say he IS? In Heaven. When could the Son of man be in heaven? Only AFTER he was raised from the dead. So if, as the verse says, the Son of man is in Heaven, what would that mean? It would have to be a comment that was written AFTER Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven. That being the case, a MAN made an error when he put the words in red. Now the text of the bible has no errors. The words of the Lord are pure words. But the red letters are not a part of the text.

In the passage, every reference to Jesus, from verse 13, all the way down to verse 21, is in the third person: HE. The rest of the verses always say HE or HIM. They never say I or ME. So to me, it is altogether possible, and probable, that all of John chapter three, from the end of verse 12 to verse 21, are the words of John, inspired by the Holy Ghost, and not the words of Jesus. That would include John 3:16.

John 3:16 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.

Now here is another sure thing you need to remember. If John ever knew the gospel of Christ, he got it from Paul. The why of the cross was not revealed to John. It was revealed to Paul. That fact that Christ had died on the cross FOR OUR SINS was not known by Peter, James or John in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, nor in the preaching of Peter in the book of Acts. It was only made known to them when the Lord sent Paul at the time of Acts chapter 15 to communicate that fact to them. As in:

Galatians 2:2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

So the fact is that John wrote the account of the events of John chapter three, and for that matter, the account of the events written in the entire book of John some time AFTER they had occurred.  John wrote the entire book of John after the fact, not during. So IF John 3:16 IS the gospel, then John could only have known it AFTER Paul communicated it to him in Acts 15. BUT is John 3:16 the gospel?

In our made up story, we have shown that you CAN preach the gospel of Christ, the gospel of your salvation, using John 3:16, not as the gospel, but as a springboard TO the gospel. But you can also use it to preach ANOTHER gospel. That "other gospel" Paul was talking about in Galatians 1:6 that the Galatians were being removed other words the Jewish gospel of the Kingdom.

Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

So what does John 3:16 REALLY say? Let’s study and see what we can learn from the verse:

John 3:16 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.

1. It speaks of God's love, God so loved.
2. God's love is worldwide in scope. The world.
3. It shows the sacrifice of Christ: That he gave His only begotten Son.
4. The love and the giving is for everyone: That whosoever.
5. It shows that faith is necessary: Believeth in Him.
6. It shows the penalty for unbelief: Perish.
7. And it shows the inheritance for believers. Everlasting life.

So the verse is used as THE GOSPEL. It is also used as a proof text that all gospels are the same good news. Therefore, THEY SAY, the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the Twelve, is no different than the gospel of the grace of God preached by Paul. It is all one great big happy meal. It's all the same thing from beginning to end. The everlasting covenant, the everlasting gospel, some say.

Now, strangely enough, it was during the same period of time in which red letters first began to appear in bibles,that two Anglican ministers, by the names of Wescott and Hort, decided to REVISE the written word of God. They succeeded in forming a translation committee, and over a period of time, fed to the translators piecemeal, a text based on manuscripts that had been totally rejected for their worthlessness by the translators of the English bible, the King James bible. The men who translated the King James Bible KNEW about Wescott and Hort’s manuscripts, they had access to them, but they rejected them out of hand because of their errors. The result of the activities of Wescott and Hort was the REVISED version of the bible. It was first published in England, and later, about the turn of the century, it was released in the American version. All of your modern bible translations, in one way or another, are based on, and can be traced back to, the corrupt text provided by Wescott and Hort.

Not long after that the modern day Pentecostal movement was born. In early 1901 a woman named Agnes Osmond in Topeka, Kansas claimed that she had the "baptism of the Holy Ghost, with the evidence of speaking in tongues." She was a student at the bible school of a man named Charles F. Parham. From that day, Parham began to teach that speaking in tongues was the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Another one of his students, W.J. Seymour, migrated to California, and for three years, held the Azusa Street meetings in an old warehouse in Los Angles. And so began the modern day charismatic-pentecostal movement of so-called miracles, signs and wonders and “speaking in tongues.”

Now I am not saying that all these things are connected, but it's fascinating that all of these things seem to play a part in the religious confusion in the world today. The mechanized, high speed printing presses have spewed out literally HUNDREDS of different bible translations that, if you read them, are almost totally unrecognizable from the text of the King James Bible, and even with each other.

We study the bible. In other words we study the bible as if it were the WORDS OF GOD, because that's what it is. And we believe the words. We believe that the words mean what they say, as they say it, where they say it. We don't believe that ALL good news is the same good news. We don't believe that all gospels are the same gospel any more than you believe that all news in the newspaper is the same news. Things that are different are not the same.

So we, as bible believers, not bible collectors or bible correctors, but bible believers, KNOW that Paul preached a different message than the one in the red letters. Paul’s message is also different from that of Peter in the book of Acts. And the message Peter preached in the book of Acts is the same message he writes about in 1 and 2 Peter and when you compare scripture with scripture, spiritual things with spiritual, you SEE the difference. Just for example, Peter believes, and teaches, that his message is to a "royal priesthood and a holy nation:"

1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

Nowhere in Paul's writings, in the books of Romans through Philemon will you find anything at all about a priesthood. Paul never calls himself, or you, a priest. The doctrine of the "priesthood of the believer" is totally ABSENT from anything Paul ever said.

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

Peter is part of a HOLY NATION, yet I find Paul saying that in the body of Christ there is NO NATIONALITY.

Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Colossians 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Now if those verses mean any thing at all, they mean that Peter is writing a different message to a different group of people. It means there was a CHANGE of both ministry and message from the time of the early part of the book of Acts to the time of Paul's preaching and Paul's writing what we just read about the body of Christ. So where does John 3:16 fit in all that? Paul says in 1 Corinthians that a "dispensation of the gospel" is committed to me,” and he says that the "dispensation of the grace of God was given to me, for you Gentiles." He says that his gospel is “the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began.” And he says that he preaches “the unsearchable riches of Christ,” and a message which was “hid in God,” and was revealed to him.

Galatians 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

Galatians 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

Ephesians 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

Now that is in stark contrast to what Peter says:

Acts 3:24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.

So there are quite a few things to consider in the truth of John 3:16. One of those we have already discussed, and that is the possibility and strong probability that Jesus didn't speak the words of John 3:16 but it was John's commentary. John 3:16 is for sure INSPIRED WORDS, but not the words of Jesus. In the gospel of John, there are numerous places where it is difficult to discern where the spoken words of Jesus end and the inspired commentary of John begins. John chapter three is a very good example of it.

Now some believe that John 3:16 is a part of John's inspired writing, which was done many years AFTER the Lord revealed the WHY of the cross to Paul and Paul went to Jerusalem, as in Galatians chapter two and Acts chapter fifteen to communicate that message to the apostles at Jerusalem. In other words, John, now knowing Paul's message, has incorporated it into the gospel of John. If that were true, it would make bible truth much more palatable to covenant theologians and Acts Two Dispensationalists alike. That would be a simply "why don't we all just get along" explanation. But I don't believe it for one second.

Number one, why would John be inspired to preach Paul's grace message in the gospel of John and at the same time inspired to write a tribulation message to seven churches in Asia, Jewish assemblies, and a message with the same "endure to the end" content as Matthew 24 and Hebrews, James and 1 and 2 Peter? The result of that is to have a blended, compromised and confused doctrine and that is the condition of most of religion today. Consider that Peter, near the end of his life, writes 2 Peter. In 2 Peter chapter three he is still preaching the second coming of Christ and the fulfillment of prophecy:

2 Peter 3:1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:

2 Peter 3:2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

2 Peter 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

2 Peter 3:4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

And then he turns his attention to something else:

That is totally consistent with the endure to the end, tribulation message of Matthew 24, Acts chapter two, three, four, five, and so on, of the Hebrew who can fall away, and of the Hebrew who is a partaker of Christ IF he endures to the end, and it is consistent with the book of James preaching the coming of the Lord:

James 5:8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

James 5:9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.

It is also consistent with John's preaching concerning  the coming of the anti christ:

1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

John also wrote the book of Revelation which is in one accord with an end time tribulation message and stands in stark contrast to the preaching of Paul. Those who believe Paul’s message are justified freely by grace, complete in Christ, sealed unto redemption, not appointed to wrath, and the Rapture of the church is their blessed hope, not tribulation.

We need to understand the divine principal of revelation. That is, each writer of the New Testament, so called, was moved by the Holy Ghost to write scripture which was consistent with the people and program to which they belonged. The 12 apostles, and that includes the apostle John, wrote a kingdom message to the Jewish Kingdom church. That church was composed of believing Jews. The 12 being the founding fathers, then 3,000 in Acts two, 5,000 in Acts four, many thousands in Acts 21, and those who were joined to them as a part of that believing remnant, as the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 and Cornelius, the Roman Centurian in Acts chapter ten. Those heard and believed the Jewish Kingdom testimony concerning Christ, remission of sins and that they SHALL BE saved when Christ comes again.

So all of the Kingdom apostles were taught, and wrote, a message consistent with what? Prophecy. That which was spoken by Israel's prophets about Israel. They were all looking for the imminent return of Christ and Peter warns them about scoffers. He talks about the longsuffering, in other words, the delay in the Lord's coming. He says that it MUST have something to do with Paul's ministry.

2 Peter 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

Notice he says that Paul wrote according to the wisdom GIVEN UNTO HIM. Peter, James and John wrote according to the wisdom GIVEN UNTO THEM. As one man said, people love their "fuzzy little verses," but no matter how fuzzy and how comfortable sounding the verse is, you cannot blend the message. If you mix prophecy with mystery you are not rightly dividing the word of truth, but wrongly compromising and confusing it.

Now, whether you believe that the red letters of John 3:16 were spoken by Christ, or whether they are John's commentary, printed in red by the mistake of a book publisher, they definitely have meaning. But I hope you will see, that this in no way indicates that John preached the gospel of the grace of God committed to Paul. What I hope to show is that John 3:16 is very significant, and has a very special place in the prophetic program for Israel and the Gentiles too. In order to do that, let's examine the words, as they say it, where they say it:

John 3:16 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.

God is love. And since God is God and God never changes, love is central to His character throughout all ages and eternity to come. The world includes Gentiles who are blessed through Israel's rise, and here is the prophecy:

Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.

Isaiah 60:2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

Isaiah 60:3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Isaiah 60:4 Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.

All Israel shall be saved as it is written, says Paul in Romans 11:25-27. When he says “as it is written,” he is referring to what the prophets wrote about Israel in the Old Testament. At the end of the tribulation, Christ, who is Israel’s light in the above passage, will come again, and the Gentiles will come to Israel's light. The light being the glory of the Son of man when he comes in all his glory as in Matthew 25. He will fulfill all of God’s promises to Israel in prophecy. God's prophetic program to Israel and through Israel began in Genesis with Abram in chapter 12:

Genesis 12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

Genesis 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

The promise continues in Genesis 15:

Genesis 15:5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

And in Genesis 17:

Genesis 17:5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

And in Genesis 22:

Genesis 22:17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

Genesis 22:18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

So it is THE WORLD which is in view. That would be all families of the earth. Now let's stop just a minute and take a reality check. We don't want to be mixed up as to where we, you and I, figure into the picture:

Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

Colossians 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

So our affection is above. We have an inheritance in Heaven. But SOMEBODY inherits the earth. And the theme of a great nation and a great blessing and THE WORLD, God so loved the WORLD, all families of the earth....the theme continues in the prophets:

Isaiah 56:6 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;

Isaiah 56:7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

And in the book of Zechariah:

Zechariah 8:13 And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.

Zechariah 8:23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

God so loved the world, and through the multiplied seed of Abraham, which is all of SAVED Israel, the world will be blessed and it carries right over into the four gospels:

Matthew 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

Mark 7:26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.

Mark 7:27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.

Mark 7:28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs.

The Lord acknowledged that statement by the Gentile woman and he granted the woman’s request and healed her daughter. By the way this is ONE of only TWO Gentiles the Lord has any dealings with in his earthly ministry. Why? Because at that time he was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and Paul says in Romans:

Romans 15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:

Notice the promises of a great nation, the multiplied physical descendents of Abraham, and the world, all nations being blessed through them, through the RISE of Israel. Remember what the Lord told the woman at the well:

John 4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

Now when the Lord was crucified they didn't know why. But he was buried and rose from the dead, and Peter said in Acts chapter two that Christ was raised to sit on David's throne, the heir of the throne of David the King of Israel. In other words, Peter said, Christ is coming again, Israel will be saved and THE WORLD, all families of the earth will be blessed, through Israel.

Acts 3:25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

Acts 3:26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

So from all this bible evidence, what do we see? We see that the idea that ANYONE could be blessed apart from God's favored, chosen nation, the nation of Israel, is totally absent, it is totally foreign to anything written in the prophetic scriptures. Blessing apart from the multiplied seed of Abraham, the nation of Israel, is alien to Hebrew thought. Paul was the first to proclaim Gentile blessing and Gentile salvation through the disobedience, the unbelief, through the blindness, through the fall of Israel:

Romans 11:11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

So what is John 3:16 really saying?

John 3:16 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.

How can anyone possibly read that verse and NOT think of the cross of Christ? If EVER a salvation message has been preached since Paul, it must be about the cross of Christ. If a person is to be saved he must believe that Christ died on the cross, for our sins. There is no salvation without the cross of Christ. But when you read the words of John 3:16, "he gave his only begotten Son," and you take that to mean Christ’s death on the cross, you are making an APPLICATION. You are using information that was not available, it was not known at the time of John chapter three, and for that matter, not written in the entire book of John. John was a Kingdom apostle. He preached the gospel of the Kingdom and he wrote about the Kingdom. As we said before, if he ever knew the gospel of Christ he got it from Paul. Paul was the man who received the gospel of Christ and he got it directly from the risen Lord Jesus Christ. So what does it mean, "He gave?" It has to match what the Prophet Isaiah said:

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah prophesied of the virgin birth in Isaiah chapter seven. He prophesied that the child would be given to Israel as God's own Son. He would rule over THAT NATION as King. In other words, He is the heir to the throne of David, the King of Israel:

Isaiah 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

So when Christ prophesied in the upper room of His own death and the blood of the New Testament to Israel, he said:

Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Now remember that even though he did this at the supper and he said these words, they didn't understand. All through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the cross of Christ was not known. They didn't even believe that he was going to die, and after the resurrection, with all the trips back and forth to the tomb they didn't even understand that he was raised from the dead until he began to appear to them. Notice he said his blood would be shed for MANY, not ALL. Now ALL can include, it can be MANY, but many is not the same as all. The fact that Christ died for all sins of all men was not prophesied. It was never spoken. That fact was only revealed to Paul:

1 Timothy 2:6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

1 Timothy 2:7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

John 3:16 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.

But believe WHAT in Him? Faith IN Christ is the common salvation of all men. Without faith in Christ there is no salvation. But faith IN Christ is common both to Israel's Kingdom saints and to the body of Christ. But before Paul, there was a DIFFERENT understanding of faith IN Christ. The gospel of the Kingdom centered in the PERSON of Christ, the identity of Christ. Later on, when Paul began to preach the gospel of grace, it centered in the CROSS OF CHRIST. The gospel of John is about JESUS: Jehovah-Saviour. It was written to IDENTIFY Christ. All through the book of John you see that it is written about His identity:

John 1:34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

John 1:49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

John 3:18 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.

John 3:36 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.

John 5:23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

John 6:69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

John 10:36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

John 11:27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

John 18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

John 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

So the entire book of John shows that it identifies Christ. It identifies Israel’s Messiah. It tells who he is. They were to believe in Him, in His name. That he is who he claimed to be. He is Israel's Messiah. He is the Christ, the son of God. Eternal life was totally wrapped up in believing that Jesus is who he said he was, the Son of God:

John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

Paul confirms the Kingdom message as he talks about Israel in the book of Romans:

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

So what was required of Kingdom saints before the cross was to believe IN THE NAME of the only begotten Son of God. After the cross they must believe that he was raised from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and was coming again to BLOT OUT Israel's sins. That was Peter's message:

Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

Acts 3:20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

Before the cross they had no knowledge of Christ's death on the cross for their sins, because they didn't even understand that he was going to die, as you can see here in the gospel of Luke:

Luke 18:31 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.

Luke 18:32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:

Luke 18:33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.

Luke 18:34 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.

Now the gospel of the Kingdom required faith. All salvation is by faith. But not all salvation is by grace through faith. Those people had to believe in the NAME of Christ, but it also required water baptism, which is a work, and it required enduring to the end. The end would be either the end of their lives, or the end of the tribulation the Lord taught them about in Matthew 24 which is to be followed by the second coming of Christ:

Matthew 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

It was not until Paul that salvation by grace alone through faith alone was preached. It was Paul who received and who preached “not by works of righteousness.” According to Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15 and 15 he is the first and also the pattern of that salvation. Once Paul was saved he gave up his religion:

Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Now John 3:16 refers to faith in Christ, and that those who have faith in Christ should not perish:

John 3:16 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.

The phrase SHOULD NOT PERISH is a reference to Hell. Eternal damnation is in store for anyone who rejects Christ as their Saviour. But it has to do with the prophecy by David in Psalms:

Psalms 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

After the Lord was raised from the dead, they fully understood that even though they might die a martyrs death, Hell would not be able to prevail against them. The Lord had gone down into Hell and was raised, making the way and the means for THEM to rise from death. So we see that it's a prophecy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and Peter quotes from it as he preaches to the Jews in Acts chapter two:

Acts 2:25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:

Acts 2:26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

So in Matthew 16, the Lord asks the apostles who men said that he was. Again it is all about THE NAME. And Peter answered:

Matthew 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Matthew 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

So you see the reference to the gates of Hell. Hell, in the heart of the earth, has Gates, it has locks. But our verse says SHOULD NOT PERISH, and that's the idea here. The confinement of Hell cannot prevail against that church. That is, the Lord would be crucified, he would be buried, and for three days and three nights he would be in Hell, in the heart of the earth. But because HE would rise from the dead, making a way for THEM to rise from the dead, there was no fear of death for them. They were martyrs. They loved not their lives unto death, knowing that since Christ had been raised from the dead, they would not perish, the gates of Hell would not prevail against them, and they too would rise from the dead, to go into the Kingdom. That's regeneration. Born of the Spirit, or BORN AGAIN.

John 3:16 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.

They were assured, by the words of Christ, and by the resurrection of Christ, of everlasting life. And that is not only duration, but also quality:

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Sometimes we overlook passages like this, but that tells us a great deal about the Kingdom of Heaven upon the earth, the Millennial Kingdom of Christ on earth.

Luke 18:28 Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee.

Luke 18:29 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake,

Luke 18:30 Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.

So life everlasting is what they inherit in the "world to come," in the Kingdom age. Jesus Christ, the heir to the throne of David, will be seated on the throne of His glory, in Jerusalem, and the twelve apostles seated upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. So we see then that "entering" eternal life is equated with entering the Kingdom and that Kingdom includes the glorious reign of Christ according to the New Covenant, which goes into effect at the second coming. They will have all the blessings that go along with it, including the blotting out of ALL sins, the life of Christ, and the presence of Christ.

Ezekiel 36:24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.

Ezekiel 36:25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Ezekiel 36:28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Now as members of the body of Christ, we don’t expect to inherit the land and the earthly Kingdom. We have the benefit of ALL spiritual blessings the moment we believe. The righteousness of God is PUT to our account. All trespasses are forgiven and we are complete in Christ the moment we believe. Enduring to the end is what Christ did in our behalf.

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Ephesians 1:8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

Ephesians 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

After looking at all this, it is important for us to understand that although John 3:16 is a favorite passage in the religious system, it simply does not contain the WHY of the cross as it was later revealed to Paul. You can use John 3:16 as a “springboard” to the truth of the gospel, but that is only found in Paul’s epistles, in Romans through Philemon.

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