The [REAL] Meaning of John 3:16 NIV KJV - For God so Loved the World
The Meaning of John 3:16 KJV & NIV
This is the essence of Christianity and the most quoted scriptures in the bible. It is a golden verse that is often first introduced to young children when growing up. New believers also get familiar with this special truth in their relationship with God.
This scripture tells us about the endless affection God demonstrated by sacrificing His only begotten son, Jesus for the salvation of mankind, and anyone who believes in His son will not perish but have eternal life.
God planned to sacrifice His only son, for no man was perfect to be used. Romans 6: 23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
It was out of His passion for us that He gave His Son as a sacrifice so that we will not perish but have everlasting life. However, this loving-kindness must not be underrated. There is always joy in heaven whenever a soul repents of his sins and believes in Christ Jesus.
The only requirement to receive the gift of salvation is to believe in Christ Jesus, repent of your sin and you will be saved. John 3:36 states that “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.”
The son of God lay aside His glory to die on the cross of Calvary for you and me. Therefore, we must not allow His death to be in vain.
Table of Contents
- Who wrote John 3:16 and when was it written?
- What is the context of John 3?
- What is the meaning of John 3:16?
- What Does 'For God So Loved the World' Mean?
- What does ‘He gave His only begotten Son’ mean?
- What does ‘whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’ mean?
- Why is John 3:16 so important to us?
- What does John 3:16 teach us about the Gospel?
- What is the difference of biblical translations of John 3:16 (NKJV, NIV & ESV)
- How do you explain John 3:16 to children?
- How is John 3:16 is been misused these days?
- How is John 3:16 used or promoted by companies?
- What is a John 3:16 prayer?
Who wrote John 3:16 and when was it written?
Apostle John wrote the verse on John 3:16. He was one of Jesus’s disciples whom He loved. Some Christian writers suggested that it was written by John in the second century between 60 AD to 100 AD.
What is the context of John 3?
The context of John Chapter 3 is about new birth and the supremacy of the ministry of Jesus over that of John the Baptist.
A certain man who is a ruler of the Jews named Nicodemus had a conversation with Jesus about the miracles Jesus did because no man could perform such except God was with him.
Although, he knew Jesus was a teacher from God and these miracles were proofs of His spiritual mission but he struggled with the spiritual explanation of new birth. Jesus however, explained to him what it means to be ‘born again’.
Being born again means to have a new life in Christ Jesus. It is not entering into your mother’s womb to be birth the second time. Jesus further explained that one must be born with water and Spirit to be able to enter the kingdom of God.
The water here may signify the word of God according to Ephesians 5:26 “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” and water may also mean to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit as seen in John 7:38-39 states that “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
To belong to His kingdom, you must be born into it. This cannot be done in the flesh because our religious and moral activities are not enough to bring us into this kingdom. II Corinthians 5:17 talks about being a new creature “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Without the new birth of the Spirit, our flesh will defile or pollute all our works of righteousness. Jesus went further to explain to Nicodemus using the parable of the wind.
He wanted him to know that he doesn’t have to know everything about new birth before he can encounter it. Just as no one knows where the wind comes from yet, we all see its effect. Jesus went on by saying those who resist ordinary things about God can never receive the profound and spiritual things about Him.
This chapter also talked about the gospel of salvation. How God demonstrated His passion for man by sending His only begotten son to die for the sins of man to bring salvation, hope, and rescue to the world through Jesus, that those who believe in Him will not perish but inherit eternal life. Hence, those who reject Jesus will be damned.
John the Baptist who was a forerunner of Jesus pointed people towards Christ. He wanted people to know where Jesus came from. He is from above, “Heaven” Therefore, He is above all. John knew Jesus would be rejected so He came to testify of the truth but no one received His testimony.
Whosoever that believes in God has set the seal to the testimony of Christ, which is the revelation of the Lord. To reject Christ is to reject the gift of eternal life.
What is the meaning of John 3:16?
John 3:16 is about love and the free gift of salvation to mankind.This talks about the love God has for His creations whereby He gave His only son as a sacrifice to whosoever will believe in Him to have eternal life.
It is through the death and resurrection of His son Jesus that we are rescued, redeemed, and liberated from the power of sin and death.
What Does 'For God So Loved the World' Mean?
'For God So Loved the World' means God loves the world and the people He created therein. He so loved the world that He exhibited this by sacrificing His only Son for the redemption of this sinful world.
Romans 5:8 states “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We deserve God’s judgment due to our sins but Christ suffered and died in our place.
John 15:13 buttressed on this statement saying “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.” God the Father demonstrated His perfect love to us so much that He willingly gave us His Son to be our friend. There is no greater love than this.
What does ‘He gave His only begotten Son’ mean?
‘He gave His only begotten Son’ mean God gave His only uniquely born Son, one that “His birth is of a kind” to die for our sins. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” God was in existence from the beginning. He was the word and nothing was created without His knowledge (John 1:3).
Jesus’s birth and conception were one of its kind. It was unique, yet not a created being, neither was He made. His kind of birth had never occurred and will never happen.
John 1:14 mentioned how unique He is “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.” He only became flesh to save us.
The above verses depict that Jesus is God in the flesh. He was given to proffer salvation to the world.
What does ‘whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’ mean?
‘Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’ means anyone who believes in Jesus will have access to the kingdom of God. You cannot get the Father’s attention if you don’t believe in the Son. We must believe, trust, obey and follow Him wholeheartedly.
He has promised that we will not perish or die but have life everlasting. God’s gift of salvation can only be realized through faith, we must receive Him and believe in His death and resurrection.
Why is John 3:16 so important to us?
John 3:16 is so important to us because it is the foundation to knowing Jesus Christ as our personal savior and the expression of His love towards us.
As Christians, it expresses the undying passion God has for all who believe in Him, the sacrifice He made for us through His Son, and the access to eternal life. God demonstrated His love to us and He desires us to show the same towards one another.
What does John 3:16 teach us about the Gospel?
John 3: 16 teaches us about divine love and the free gift of salvation. Jesus paid it all on the cross. He paid the price for our sins. Hence, making salvation available to those who believe in Him. Jesus was sent to save the world from destruction.
The good news is that the gospel is available to all who believe in His death and resurrection. Those who have confessed Him as their Lord and personal Saviour (Romans 10:9).
The gospel of John 3:16 is rooted in divine love for all humanity because it is God’s desire for all men to be saved as stated in I Timothy 2:4 “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Therefore, God’s reward for salvation is eternal life. Eternal life can be in heaven or hell. The choice is ours to make. Those that are saved have eternal life in heaven while those who are not saved will perish, that is, they will miss heaven.
Where would you spend eternity? In heaven or hell? Receive and believe Christ as your Lord and Saviour and you will be saved. Choose Jesus today.
What is the difference of biblical translations of John 3:16 (NKJV, NIV & ESV)
John 3:16 NKJV biblical translation says:
“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.”
John 3:16 NIV biblical translation says:
“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.”
John 3:16 ESV biblical translation says:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
The difference between the three translations is that NKJV mentions “Only begotten Son” NIV states “One and only Son” while ESV says, “His only Son”
“Only Begotten” used in NKJV is an English translation of a Greek word called Monogenes used to describe a child’s uniqueness with his parents.
You will agree with me that Jesus’s conception and birth was one of its kind, unique in nature. While “One and only Son” and “His only Son” used in both NIV and ESV respectively, means only one of His class, none else. However, the three translations have the same meaning.
How do you explain John 3:16 to children?
John 3:16 can be explained to children as the whole of the bible which is “good news.” It is Christianity in a nutshell which also means the foundation of the Gospel. This solid foundation should be explained to our children as they are growing up.
It makes them understand the primary basis of salvation early enough and appreciate God’s special attention to humans. God’s desire for His children is to know Him by believing in His Son Jesus and repent of our sins.
There is a consequence for sin which leads to death. The book of Romans 6:23 confirms this “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This is not the physical death, it is about missing heaven. Whosoever does not believe in Him will end up in hell. They will also be able to understand the consequences of sin and can choose to live a sanctified life.
You can simply ask them, how many of them will be happy with you if you give them out as a sacrifice to be slain for the sins they had committed? No matter how heady you have been to them as a child, I’m sure no one will be happy to give himself out. Let them know this is exactly what God did for us.
He loves us so much that He willingly gave His only begotten son out to die for the whole world in this case for the sin He did not even commit so that He can bridge the gap between humanity and the divine. This is a definite affection from God.
We should make them understand that God desires we share the same love towards one another. We must demonstrate love to God and our neighbors and believe in the name of His son Jesus Christ.
How is John 3:16 is been misused these days?
John 3:16 has been misused these days by some people. They think God loves us so much that He gave His only Son to die in our place because God cannot do anything without us. This is not the case! They focus on “For God so love the world” as if God could not do anything without us. Jesus’s love and death gave us our worth, it wasn’t our worth that brought down Jesus.
The scriptures say in Acts 17: 24-25 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.”
The nature of God’s love is selfless, boundless, and compassionate. It was not because God needed us that’s why He loved us, it’s because we need Him and He desires to glorify the Son. The father glorifies the Son whom He loves through the redemption of Jesus’s death and resurrection.
Other people believe ’will perish “means they will die a physical death. It simply means such a person will miss heaven. Nevertheless, you don’t have to die physically before you miss heaven. Our heaven begins right here on earth. It is often said that a life without Christ is a life full of crisis.
All that Jesus died for will not be accessed by the person. Revelations 5: 12 says, “saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. To receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” These are the seven redemptive packages Jesus’ death brought us. Misuse of this verse can bring about darkness on our path and we will lose our inheritance in Christ Jesus. Let’s share the illuminated word of love with others because Jesus loved us first.
John 3:16 was also used at sporting events in the ’70s and 80’s such as football games and baseball games. Someone like Rollen Stewart, nicknamed ‘rainbow man’ and ‘Rock and Rollen’ who wore a rainbow coloroured wig was seen dancing around the goal post with his John 3:16 T-Shirt. This idea later became noticeable to people and it was posted in most articles even till today. He was notorious on television as well into the ’80s and is credited with popularizing John 3:16.
Tim Tebow was another person who loved football. It was weeks away from competing in the National Championship football game when God led him to write John 3:16 under his eyes for the world to see while he played. The game was won and he realized that during the game 94 million people had Googled John 3:16.
John 3: 16 is not about sports, but sport is nothing without it. It is about Hope, Hope inexplainable yet undeniable. It is a Hope far above just winning a game. It is our confidence for living a triumphant life here and in eternity with Christ.
How is John 3:16 used or promoted by companies?
Some Christian companies are living the biblical virtues. These companies range from fast food, clothing brand, to craft stores. They are not only into providing products but also live the message of the Gospel. Some went as far as displaying bible verses on their products to inspire people. Below are the names of the Christian companies that place bible verses on their products.
Forever 21 is a clothing brand founded by devoted Christians. They moved to America from Korea to expand their business, they printed John 3:16 at the bottom of every bag in which most people are not aware of.
It reads "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."
In-N-Out Burger is another Christian company with rich faith history. It is one of the well-known brands that have scripture on its products. This company has John 3:16 on the bottom of their cups and wrappers. The founder of this company is a born-again Christian who decided to use his company to share his beliefs with others.
Another Christian company that has a bible verse on their product is Goldhen Eggs sold by Aldi stores. They have an inspiring bible verse under each carton of eggs. The text is Psalms 118:24 which reads “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
The founder of the company by the name David W. Rust came about by the bible verse which he held onto throughout his life. He had it placed on each Rose Acre Farms carton of egg in the ’80s which has remained to date. It was an inspiring message of Hope to his customers.
Cook-Out is another company another fast-food company that used scripture references to inspire people. Allen Brooks who is the founder and also a Christian used their family scripture reference they liked most on their cups and bags and they played Christian music in some of their locations.
Hobby Lobby is an art and craft store with 41 stores in the United States. David Green is the founder and he stood firm on his religious belief.
The company’s mission statement “Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles," and ends with "We believe that it is by God's grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured. He has been faithful in the past, we trust Him for our future." He believes Christians must stand up for their religious freedom.
What is a John 3:16 prayer?
John 3:16 prayer is about the prayer of Salvation. It is a prayer every unbeliever needs to confess with their mouth and believe in their heart so that they can be saved.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Your son Jesus to die in my place. Forgive me my sins and wash me with Your blood. I believe You died for me and on the third day, You were raised so that I might be sanctified and justified. Come into my life and be my Lord and saviour. Write my name in the book of life.
Help me to spend the rest of my life showing God’s love to the dying world and people around me in Christ's name I pray. AMEN
This is the conclusion of the matter, John 3:16 is not a mere verse to be memorized, it is a verse to live fully. God wants us to be like Him, so He created us in His image and likeness. We must continue to strive to be like Him, loving, compassionate, merciful, and giving, just to mention a few.
It is not sufficient to love only your family, you must love people outside your family and people He brings your way. God expressed His love by His action, by so doing, we are expected to do the same. As children of God, it is through our actions and characters, our act of loving kindness that we can express our love towards them.
God is a giver, He gave us the most treasured gift He had, Jesus. We must also be a giver. What is that precious thing to you that you hold so dearly? Is it your resources, time, friends, or job? Can you trust God with them when He asks you to let go or lay at His feet? Trust God, He is faithful, He cannot deny Himself.