The Berean Expositor
Volume 54 - Page 44 of 210
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Professor F. F. Bruce writes "with verse 15 Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus
probably comes to an end (cf. R.S.V.); in verses 16-21 we have the application to the
reader of the significance of that conversation", and with this we agree.
"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 . . . . . Whoever believes in Him is
not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already, because he has
not believed in the Name of God's one and only Son" (3: 16-18).
Professor Bruce's further comment on verse 16 is to the point:
"It is not the Evangelist's intention to gratify our curiosity about Nicodemus's
response to Jesus' words; readers may draw their own conclusions from Nicodemus's
two further appearances in this Gospel (7: 50; 19: 39). His intention is rather to set
forth in terms of universal applicability the lesson that Nicodemus was taught. If there is
one sentence more than another which sums up the message of the Fourth Gospel, it is
this. The love of God is limitless; it embraces all mankind. No sacrifice was too great to
bring its unmeasured intensity home to men and women; the best that God had to give,
He gave--His only Son, His well-beloved. Nor was it for one nation or group that He
was given: He was given so that all, without distinction or exception, who repose their
faith in Him . . . . . might be rescued from destruction and blessed with their life that is
life indeed" (The Gospel of John, pp. 89, 90).
In verse 16 we have possibly the simplest and clearest expression of the gospel of
salvation and it is no wonder that more have found the way of eternal life through this
verse than through any other Biblical text. Every word should be weighed over so that its
clarity and wonder may not be missed. What is the force of the little word "so"? Some
may read it as meaning God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, but
hontos is demonstrative and means God loved the world like this, He gave His only Son.
God demonstrated His love for mankind, a love that was always constant, and therefore
not subject to gradients of intensity, by giving His Son; and what else could He give that
was extra to this?
Did not the Saviour Himself say:
"Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15: 13).
One may give generously in many ways to show one's love, but the greatest
expression of all is to give one's life for the person loved, for in doing this, one gives
one's all. It is of the very nature of love to give. Words by themselves, however
beautiful, are not sufficient. And the wonder of it all is that the love of God did not wait
for our response. Christ died for His enemies:
"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ
died for us" (Rom. 5: 8).
The apostle John in his first epistle expands what he writes in his Gospel:
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us" (I John 3: 16).
"This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the
world that we might live through Him" (I John 4: 9).