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Commentary on John 3:16, Part 1

February 3, 2010

One of my favorite Writers wrote a commentary on John’s Gospel some years back. Why share this? Because there is alot more to John 3:16 than just being a verse you memorize in Sunday School.

From D.A. Carson’s “The Gospel According to John”

As the new birth, the acquisition of eternal life, has been grounded in the ‘lifting up’ of the Son (vv. 14–15), so also that ‘lifting up’, the climax of the Son’s mission, is itself grounded in the love of God. The mission of the Son and its consequences is the theme of this paragraph, but John begins by insisting that the Son’s mission was itself the consequence of God’s love. The Greek construction behind so loved that he gave his one and only Son (houtōs plus hōste plus the indicative instead of the infinitive) emphasizes the intensity of the love, and insists that the envisaged consequence really did ensue;16 the words ‘his one and only Son’ (cf. notes on 1:14) stress the greatness of the gift. The Father gave his best, his unique and beloved Son (cf. Rom. 8:32). Both the verb ‘to love’ (agapaō) and the noun ‘love’ (agapē) occur much more frequently in chs. 13–17 than anywhere else in the Fourth Gospel, reflecting the fact that John devotes special attention to the love relationships amongst the Father, the Son and the disciples. The Father loves the Son (3:35; 10:17; 15:9–10; 17:23–24, 26; using another verb, 5:20), the Son loves the Father (14:31); Jesus loves his own, his true disciples (11:5; 13:1, 33, 34; 14:21; 15:9–10, 12; 21:7, 20), and they must love him (14:15, 21 23f., 28; 21:15–26). They must also love one another (13:34–35; 15:12–13, 17; 17:26). Sometimes John speaks of the Father’s love for the disciples (14:21, 23; 17:23), but more frequently the Father’s love for the disciples is mediated through his Son. The world, fallen and rebellious human beings in general, does not and cannot love God (3:19; 5:42; 8:42).

Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (204–206). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.


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