What does it mean that "God so loved the world" in John 3:16?


John 3:16

ESV - 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Clarify Share Report Asked March 17 2021 Mini Anonymous

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
Because of the universal, willing sin of humanity, no person in the world deserves anything from a holy, sinless God except eternal separation from Him. Despite the fact that God would therefore have been totally justified in not allowing anyone to live eternally in His presence, He still loved the earth's inhabitants (since it was He who had originally created them in His own image) to such a degree that He was willing to sacrifice His own only-begotten, sinless Son to make it possible for any of those inhabitants who placed their faith in Him (rather than in their own imperfect righteousness) to have eternal life.

March 17 2021 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Appelt
God so loved the world. That God loved the world so much is a powerful message. However, this is not the way it was intended by John.

The Greek word for ‘so’ in this verse is not used for indicating a degree or intensity of anything. Instead, it consistently means ‘thus’ or ‘in this manner.’ Matthew 1:18 uses the same word to describe how the birth of Jesus took place. In Matthew 6:9, Jesus told in what way or how His disciples should pray. So, this well-known verse can actually be translated, “For, in this manner God loved the world, that He gave...”

This corresponds to John’s other writings. In I John 4:9, he wrote, “In this was the love of God was manifested,” and goes on to explain how He did in sending His Son that we might live through Him. Also, in connection with that, he wrote in I John 4:11, “...if God so loved us…” John is not saying, “if God loved us so much,” but “if God thus loved us...” In that same manner of display of love, we are to show love to His people. 

In Romans 5:8, Paul says much the same thing, “God demonstrated His own love…” The love of God is constant and compassionate. His love is truly so great that He proved it by putting it into action and delivered us from sin through His one and only and unique Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

December 10 2021 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Wp 20141130 002 Kenneth Darling
John 3:16, Possibly the single most popular verse in the Bible, at the very least the most well known. But what does this verse mean exactly?

I kind of have a different approach to this answer and I'd like to share it.

I view the use of the word "world" in the verse not so much as a meaning of quantity, but rather as a meaning of quality. We already know our Lord Jesus Christ died for your sin, for my sin, and for the sin of all who are lost, so maybe John 3:16 is just more rehashing of the same messaging? 

What if by using "world" John was instead describing just how spectacularly conquering God's love is. This world is not so wonderful and great that it is up to God to save it, but instead God's love is so great that it is the only absolute thing that could save such a wretched creation. 

I think more than often we read John 3:16 and come away with the world lifting it's head up high only after being redeemed by God, when in all reality the world had its head raised the whole time before being saved in its pride and arrogance to then having to be broken, leading to the world being ever so humble and grateful.

I got my opinion/answer from what theologian Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield said in his sermon "God's Immeasurable Love" where he concludes with this statement:

"[World] is not here a term of extension so much as a term of intensity. Its primary connotation is ethical, and the point of its employment is not to suggest that the world is so big that it takes a great deal of love to embrace it all, but that the world is so bad that it takes a great kind of love to love it at all, and much more to love it as God has loved it when he gave his Son for it."

December 10 2021 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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