JOHN CHAPTER 3

I) [Jn 2:23]:

(v. 23) Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs He was doing and believed in His name."

OBSERVATIONS

We can observe from v. 23 that our Lord 'was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast.' Also that the 'Many people [who] saw the miraculous signs He was doing', numbering in the thousands according to the more than a million who annually attended this feast from all over the world, testify that Jesus indeed did work miracles.

And as a result of this testimonial, many 'believed in His name.'

Author John previously defined the phrase 'believed in His name,' in 1:12-13 as that which results in becoming a child of God as a result of being born of God, signifying an eternal relationship with Him in the kingdom.

A) [John 1:12-13]:

(v. 12) "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--

(v. 13) children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."

II) [Jn 2:24-25]:

(v. 24) "But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men.

(v. 25) He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in man."

OBSERVATIONS:

"But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for He knew all men. He did not need man's testimony about man, for He knew what was in man." =

Although many believed in His name unto eternal life as vv. 1:12-13 has already established, Jesus would not entrust Himself to them with respect to their testimony about man relative to His ministry; for He knew what was in man, i.e., He knew of their intrinsic untrustworthiness. Even those who believed in His name unto salvation were untrustworthy relative to their testimony about man.

It is evident that even the testimony of those who believed in His name unto salvation would not be trustworthy because of what was in them. We can conclude from this that man has within him even as a believer an inherently untrustworthy nature.

Contrary to the opinion of some, the phrase "But Jesus would not entrust Himself to them" cannot signify that the many who "saw the miraculous signs He was doing and believed in His name" were not truly saved for this is simply not addressed in this passage. Only the testimony of man is what is in view as not being entrusted to by our Lord. Furthermore, an earlier passage, (Jn 1:12-13), indicates that one is born of God when one believes in His name without any qualification of the verb 'believes' to differentiate the false idea of saving faith in Christ vs. non-saving faith in Christ. Consider that, just as Jesus did not entrust Himself to the disciples throughout His ministry before the cross, so much the more did He not entrust Himself to the many who believed in His name relative to their "testimony about man." Sad to say even today, the testimony of most Christians "about man" cannot be trusted. Nevertheless, all who believe in His name become children of God unto eternal life forever, (Jn 1:12-13).

If a committed lifestyle of faithfulness to Jesus is a requirement in order to be saved, and since Jn 2:25 stipulates "For He [Jesus] knew what was in man" implies that no man is capable of such faithfulness, then no one can be saved and this passage deteriorates into nonsense.

A) LACK OF COMMITTMENT FAITH OR INEFFECTIVE MIRACLE FAITH IS NOT IN VIEW

[Dr. Robert Wilkin states, Grace Evangelical Society,  http://www.faithalone.org/news/y1990/90june2.html]:

'''John 2:23-24 does use the words "faith" and "commitment" back to back. In fact, as you mention, in Greek only one word is used to convey both ideas. The word pisteuo, normally translated "believe," can legitimately sometimes be translated "commit." However, it does not mean commit in the sense of pledging to serve God. Pisteuo is used in verse 24 in the sense of entrusting something to someone. Jesus did not entrust Himself and His mission to new believers. He knew that they were not worthy of such trust at that point in His ministry.

If commitment in the sense of pledging to serve God is synonymous with faith in Christ, we would need to find passages conditioning eternal life upon pledging one's lives to serve God. We find none. In fact, in the Gospel of John, the only book in the Bible whose primary purpose is evangelistic, the word "commit" only occurs twice and neither time in reference to man (John 2:24 refers to Christ and John 5:22 refers to the Father). This is a telling fact. In addition, the word "repent" doesn't occur at all. However, the word "believe in its various forms (noun and verb) occurs 99 times in John's Gospel.'''

The evidence is overwhelming. Belief is not synonymous with commitment in the sense of pledging to do something. (It is, of course, in the sense of entrusting one's eternal destiny in God's hands through His Son.)

[Dr. David R Anderson, Pastor, Faith Community Church, The Woodlands, Texas, adjunct professor at Dallas Theological Seminary in Houston Texas, 'The Nature of Faith', danderson@faithcc.org]:

"God gave the signs to persuade people regarding Jesus (cf Hebrews 2:3-4). Those who advocate Lordship Salvation cannot have their cake and eat it too. They cannot say one on the one hand, that God gave the signs to help people believe in Jesus, while branding the faith resulting from these God-given signs as inadequate. Rather than disparaging faith inspired by seeing His works, Jesus holds those responsible who have seen His works and have not believed:

1) [Compare Jn 10:37-38]:

(v. 37) "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me;

(v. 38) but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me and I in Him."

I) [Jn 3:1]:

"Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council."

OBSERVATIONS

Verses 3:1-2 begin with the word 'now' [Gk = "de"] and by this word we can infer that the passage continues the context of the previous verses, 2:23-25.

Verse 3:1 points to a specific 'man of the Pharisees' named Nicodemus, who is further described as 'a member of the Jewish Ruling Council.' We might infer from this that the Pharisees are an influential and powerful group of which Nicodemus is a member. This is further confirmed since the phrase 'man of the Pharisees' is paralleled in this verse and hence on a par with 'a member of the Jewish Ruling Council.'

A) PHARISEES IN JESUS' TIME BECAME LEGALISTIC, ARROGANT AND UNPRINCIPLED SEPARATISTS; BELIEVING THAT THEIR LIFESTYLE WAS SUPERIOR TO THE REST OF THE WORLD AND FAVORED BY GOD

The word 'Pharisee' means 'separated one' in the sense of being isolated and segregated. During the Maccabean period in the reign of John Hyrcanus, (134 - 104 B.C.), the two great conflicting parties in Judaism came into existence - the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees evolved from a pious group of people called the Hasidim - who stood true to the Law under the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 B.C. But the Pharisees in Jesus' time degenerated into becoming legalistic, arrogant and unprincipled separatists, believing that their lifestyle was superior to the rest of the world and favored by God. They prided themselves on their intellectual capacity and 'superior' knowledge of the Scriptures. Such knowledge, however, was superficial and unbiblical, not being connected to the context and true meaning of God's Word. Nevertheless they used their sanctimonious lifestyle and presentation of false doctrine to maintain their position of political rulership, often at others' expense, (cp Mt 23:13-36 and Lk 11:39-52 ). So here is a Pharisee named Nicodemus, who had such great political position and authority that he was a teacher of teachers of Scripture to the nation Israel, (v. 3:10), and a member of the Jewish Ruling Council, (v. 3:1). He was viewed by others as a prime example of doing good. People thought of him as 'knowing' (Old Testament) Scripture and obeying it so well that few doubted that he was destined to see the kingdom of heaven.Compare Lk 18:26. Note the surprise of the disciples at our Lord's pronouncement of condemnation on the rich young ruler; a man who arrogantly proclaimed to have kept the commandments. Because of a supposed 'faithful' lifestyle people believed the young ruler was blessed by God with wealth. This was a man who had a similar background to many of the Pharisees like Nicodemus.

II) [Jn 3:1-2]:

(v. 1) "Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council."

(v. 2) "He came to Jesus at night and said, 'Rabbi, we know you are a teacher Who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with Him."

OBSERVATIONS

So Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish Ruling Council - a powerful man of state, comes to visit Jesus at night time. The time of his visit suggests that Nicodemus did not want to be observed by others, putting his high position at risk.

The first thing Nicodemus is reported as saying to Jesus begins with the word, 'Rabbi, which means teacher. Evidently, Nicodemus recognized that Jesus was knowledgeable in the [OT] Scriptures sufficiently to be called 'Rabbi' by a man who himself, as a Pharisee and Council Ruler, was a Teacher of teachers of Scriptures to the whole nation Israel, (v. 3:10). Nicodemus continues his statement/question after the word 'Rabbi' with 'we know you are a teacher Who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with Him.'

"We know you are a teacher Who has come from God=

"We know" = "Oidamen" = Although Nicodemus has come alone, he is evidently speaking for and representing others as well as himself who respect our Lord as "Rabbi" and who view Him as One Who has "come from God."

Not only does Nicodemus recognize Jesus as a master teacher of the Scriptures, but he considers that He 'has come from God.'

Nicodemus supports his observation that our Lord 'has come from God' with his next statement, 'For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with Him.' Evidently Nicodemus has in view what many observed as miraculous things that Jesus was doing, (2:23). It is likely he had observed Jesus performing miracles himself.

"We know you are a Teacher Who has come from God, for no one could perform the [miraculous] signs you are doing if God were not with Him" =

"perform" = "poieis, " = "are doing, pres. sing. = are doing" = indicates that our Lord was doing [miraculous] signs over an extended period of time = "semeia".

The signs = "semeia" in this context are miraculous. The non-miraculous type of signs would not be significant enough to identify our Lord as a Man from God.

So the Greek word "semeia" refers to miraculous signs which point to the individual and event as coming from God, especially in the Gospel of John which uses the word exclusively for that purpose:

Nicodemus' question is an inquiry as to Who Jesus is and it includes a personal viewpoint that connects Jesus with God:

"we know you are a teacher Who has come from God" =

The Greek actually positions 'from God' at the beginning of the phrase:

" rabbi  {RABBI,} oidamen  {WE KNOW} oti  {THAT} apo {FROM} qeou {GOD} elhluqaV {THOU HAST COME}

"from God" = "apo Theou" = Nicodemus indicated emphatically due to the position of "from God" in the beginning phrase of verse 2 that the One performing such signs comes from God.

A) NICODEMUS' VIEW OF OUR LORD

Nicodemus knew there was something awesome and supernatural about this Man. So in spite of the negative reaction of fellow rulers to Jesus, Nicodemus risked visiting with Him at night to find out Who He really was. You will note that Nicodemus visited Jesus on more than one occasion at night time, suggesting that he was hesitant to broadcast his interest in our Lord to others, (ref. 3:2; 7:50; 19:39). Nicodemus, a teacher of teachers of Scripture, respectfully calls Jesus, 'Rabbi' which means Teacher and acknowledges the reality of the many, many miracles Jesus was working. 'Surely this Man Jesus has come from God', Nicodemus thought. But our Lord does not immediately respond to Nicodemus' desire to know Who Jesus is]:

III) [Jn 3:3]:

"In reply, Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth; no man can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

OBSERVATIONS

Jesus does not directly tell Nicodemus Who He is. Instead, He tells him how to enter the eternal kingdom of God: 'You must be born again, ["gennethe anothen" = lit. born from above, from heaven - through God] in order to see the kingdom of God.

'If you are not born again - from above, you will not see the "kingdom of God".'

Evidently our Lord connects an understanding of Who He is with an understanding of what a man [enter] the eternal kingdom of God'. Contrary to objectmust do to 'seeors, the phrase 'to see the kingdom of God' here implies actually entering the eternal Kingdom of God rather than being limited to simply perceiving what the Kingdom of God is like in ones mortal life. Certainly becoming born again (from above) provides more than just a temporal perception of God's eternal kingdom. Verses 5 & 6 which follow will corroborate this. For that is how He addressed Nicodemus' statement/question "We know you are a Teacher Who has come from God". Our Lord's answer does not appear to directly address Nicodemus, but consider this:

If Nicodemus had been one of the many in v. 2:23 who 'saw the miraculous signs He was doing and believed in His name'; that is to say, understood Who He was and believed in His capacity to save him from his sins and 'see the kingdom of God'; then Nicodemus would have understood right then and there Who Jesus was. He would not have needed to come to Jesus later on that night and ask his question. To know Who Jesus is to believe on His name and become born again into the family of God. Author John of this Gospel covered this doctrine earlier in chapter one:

1) [Compare Jn 1:12-13]:

(v. 12) "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--

(v. 13) children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."

2) [Compare 1 John 5:1]:

"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves His child as well."

[Notice that if you believe Who Jesus is, i.e., that He is the Christ, the Messiah Who 'by His knowledge... will justify many and He will bear their iniquities' as the OT Scripture promised, (ref Isa 53:1-12), then you are born of God and will see [enter] the eternal kingdom of God]

A) IF ONE IS NOT BORN AGAIN [LIT. 'BORN FROM ABOVE'] ONE WILL NEVER SEE, I.E., BE FOREVER SEPARATED FROM GOD & CONTINUALLY UNDER HIS WRATH & CONDEMNATION

Jesus does not immediately tell Nicodemus Who He is. Instead, He tells him how to go to heaven: "You must be born again.'

'If you are not born again, you will never see the "kingdom of God".'

We know this because both OT and NT Scriptures indicate that there will be only two places that an individual will finally and forever occupy: either the kingdom of God, experiencing God's blessing or the place of eternal punishment experiencing God's wrath and condemnation.

1) [Ps 52]:

(v. 1) "Why do you boast of evil, you might man? Why do you boast all day long, you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?

(v. 2) Your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor, you who practice deceit.

(v. 3) You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth.

(v. 4) You love every harmful word, O you deceitful tongue!

(v. 5) Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin He will snatch you up and tear you from you tent; He will uproot you from the land of the living.

(v. 6) The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at him, saying,

(v. 7) 'Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!'

(v. 8) But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever.

(v. 9) I will praise you forever for what you have done' in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.'

2) [Mt 25:46]:

"[Jesus says] 'Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.' "

3) [2 Thes 1:5-10]:

(v. 5) "All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.

(v. 6) God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you

(v. 7) and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels.

(v. 8) He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey [believe in, (1 Pet 1:17-23 {short description of image})] the gospel of our Lord Jesus.'

(v. 9) They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power

(v. 10) on the day He comes to be glorified in His hoy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.' "

Although God rules everywhere, the phrase, "no one can see the kingdom of God" means that one will be forever separated from God, and thereby under His judgment and wrath - (hell) - an awesome statement to begin His answer to Nicodemus' question of Who Jesus is. Nicodemus was a man familiar with Scripture so he should have comprehended what Jesus was saying. Nicodemus was a man who was confident of his qualifications for entering heaven until he heard what Jesus had to say! But now, Nicodmus began to have a problem with what our Lord was saying:

IV) [Jn 3:4]:

" 'How can a man be born when he is old?', Nicodemus asked. 'Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!' "

OBSERVATIONS

A) NICODEMUS DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT OF BEING BORN AGAIN

" 'How can a man be born when he is old?', Nicodemus asked. 'Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!' " =

By his response, 'Are you suggesting that a grown man can re-enter his mother's womb?', we can observe that Nicodemus did not accept or understand what Jesus was saying. He was evidently disturbed by our Lord's statement about not seeing, i.e., not entering the kingdom of God unless one is born again. He did not yet understand Who Jesus was, nor the concept of being born again, ("gennEthE anOthen" = literally, 'born from above'). This has a direct implications on his eternal destiny. In reply to Nicodemus, our Lord provides more instruction to Nicodemus so that he might understand:

V) [Jn 3:5]:

(v. 5) "Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and spirit."

OBSERVATIONS:

Jesus answers again that no one can enter, i.e., see, the kingdom of God unless he is 'born of water and spirit' or 'spiritual', ('pneumatos' can mean either). And He further explains this with the next verse 'Flesh gives birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit' out of or by water. When we compare verse 6, 'flesh gives birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit' with v. 5's 'born of water' out of the spiritual realm; we are left with water being symbolic of God the Holy Spirit Himself as the only Agent in the spiritual realm or any realm Who can perform a spiritual birth.

Recall that verses 1:12-13 stipulate that one who believes on His [Christ's] name is "born of God" which is also indicated in 3:3 as literally being "born from above". This narrows down the One Who performs regeneration to God Himself = God the Holy Spirit. This operation is outside of the physical realm as stipulated. Hence born of "water" = born of God the Holy Spirit.

So what does He mean?

According to v. 6, it is evidently a spiritual birth our Lord is speaking about which is brought about by God the Holy Spirit = an actual birth in the spiritual realm by the Holy Spirit - excluding anything to do with the flesh, i.e., excluding the physical realm and thus excluding any human doing like water baptism.

Hence 'born of water' in v. 5 cannot mean physical water. It must be something symoblic of the spiritual world.

Let us look at the Greek text in v. 5. We have 'gennEthE ex hudatos kai pneumatos' = 'born out of water and [born out of] spirit or [the] spiritual. One clue as to what the word 'water' means in v. 5 comes from a careful examination of the phrase 'kai pneumatos' = 'and [the] spiritual' which is directed by the verb and preposition 'gennEthE ex' = 'born out of'. The phrase 'kai pneumatos' indicates that one is born out of 'pneumatos' = 'the spiritual', i.e., the spiritual realm out of or by water. Thus when we view verse 6's statement that 'flesh gives birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit' and the statement in v. 5 that we are born again out of the spiritual realm by 'water'; we are left with water being symbolic of God the Holy Spirit Himself.

A) BORN OF WATER AND SPIRIT = A SPIRITUAL BIRTH VIA THE EXCLUSIVE WORK OF GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT

The original text for the first phrase as the apostle John wrote it and under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, (2 Tim 3:16), looks like this transliterated into English:

" ean-me tis ........gennthe ex ......hudatos"

"unless ...anyone be born out of water"

"born out of water" = "gennthe ex hudatos" =

1) [Compare Titus 3:5 from the New Testament perspective]:

[Titus 3:5]:

"ouk ex .......ergon ton ....en dikaiosuen

"not .out of works which in righteousness

 

on ......epoiesamen emeis alla

which practiced ....we ....but

 

kata ...............ton autou eleon ...esosen ....emas

according to .His ...........mercy He saved us

 

dia .........loutrou paliggenesias

through washing again birth (regeneration)

 

kai ...anakainoseos pneumatos agiou"

and ...renewing ......of Spirit .....Holy"

 

a) BEING BORN AGAIN IS NOT VIA WORKS BUT VIA THE "WASHING" WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT - GOD'S WORK OF MERCY NOT OF MERIT FOR ANY HUMAN DOING

So, being born again, i.e., salvation unto eternal life is not achieved by practicing good works. Salvation, on the contrary, is an act of mercy by God upon the individual as it says above. Titus 3:5 parallels Jn 3:5 in that it describes being born again as a washing again birth in the realm of the Holy Spirit. This washing again birth, i.e., regeneration is exclusively the renewing process of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore salvation is portrayed here as concurrent with being born again; even two sides of the same coin. So the exclusive connection between washing & water, the Holy Spirit and regeneration is repeatedly made in God's Word.

i) [Compare Ez 36:24-27 from the Old Testament]

This teaching is also substantiated in the Old Testament, especially in the passage which Jesus was referring to in His conversation with Nicodemus: The scripture which Nicodemus was sure to be familiar with relative to the phrase "born of water" is about how God will sprinkle clean water on the Jewish people...cleansing them from all sin...giving them a new heart...putting a new spirit in them...by putting His Spirit in them. (Ez 36:24-27). John 3:5's "born of water and spirit." This indeed is being born again, from above = indicated right there in the Old Testament:

i cont.) [Ez 36:24-27 cont.]:

(v. 24) "For I will take you [Israel] out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.

(v. 25) I [God] will sprinkle clean water [the Holy Spirit, (v. 27)] on you and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols."

["water" - water here is the symbol for God the Holy Spirit, cp Jn 7:38-39a]:

[Compare Jn 7:38-39a]:

(v. 38) "Whoever believes in Me [Jesus Christ] as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.

(v. 39a) By this He meant the Spirit..."

[Notice that we have the possibility presented in the New Testament that water could be figurative of the Holy Spirit in the context of being born again.

Compare the O.T. passages our Lord was referring to: Isa 43:20; 44:3; 55:1 & especially 12:2-3]:

[Ref Isa 44:3]:

"For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants."

[Ref Isa 55:1]:

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost."

[Notice the reference to waters being symbolic of the Lord]

[Ref. Isa 12:2-3]:

(v. 2) "Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.

(v. 3) With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation."

i cont.) [Ez 36:24-27 cont.]:

(v. 25) "I [God] will sprinkle clean water [the Holy Spirit] on you and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols."

[The clear understanding of the phrase "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean: I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols" has in view something physical water obviously and logically cannot do. Besides that, God is the One doing the sprinkling of clean water on Israel. Why would God be sprinkling actual physical clean water on the nation Israel? This is obviously a figure of speech, not representative of physical water. Verse 26 then continues this context to elaborate what God is going to do to Israel relative to His sprinkling of clean water on Israel, and that is; and only the Holy Spirit can do this]:

(v. 26) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; [a born again spirit, (Jn 3:5)] I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

["I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you" is clearly tied to the sprinkling of clean water in v. 25, which cannot be accomplished by sprinkling of actual physical water. And as verse 26 continues in context, "I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." Clearly all of this together is describing an operation that is in the spiritual realm and not the physical. Thus this excludes the sprinkling of physical water. Finally, verse 27 provides the spiritual reality behind using water as a figure of speech for God the Holy Spirit's operating on the nation Israel in the spiritual realm]:

(v. 27) And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws."

[So the water is tied to an operation by God the Holy Spirit. Any attempt to make water physical flies in the face of the rules of figure of speech when sprinkling of physical water cannot be expected to provide the results stipulated above in verse 27. Clearly this is a description of water as a figure of speech of God the Holy Spirit operating in the spiritual realm in the regeneration of Israel which Nicodemus should have been familiar with and drawn a parallel with what Jesus said in Jn 3:5-6.

So Jesus says in Jn 3:5 that a man must be born spiritually - born again out of the renewing of the Holy Spirit and out of the spiritual realm - otherwise he cannot enter the kingdom of God, of heaven.

b) REGENERATION, I.E., BECOMING BORN AGAIN OCCURS WHEN ONE IS SAVED UNTO ETERNAL LIFE AT THE MOMENT OF FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE

Notice that being born again, i.e., regenerated, in Scripture has been shown to be concurrent with being saved unto eternal life, i.e., entering the eternal kingdom of God, (Jn 3:4-5). Other passages stipulate that this occurs when one believes, (Ac 16:30-31; Jn 3:16). So regeneration, i.e., becoming born again unto eternal life occurs when one is saved unto eternal life at the moment of faith alone in Christ alone.

i) [Compare Jn 1:12-13]:

(v. 12) "Yet to all who received [aorist] him, to those who believed [] in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--

(v. 13) children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."

(Jn 1:13 Greek) "Hoi .ouk ex haimatOn .oude ek thelEmatos sarkos

............................"who not .of .bloods [pl].nor ..of .will ...............of flesh [of humans]

oude ek thelEmatos andros all' .ek Theou egennEthEsan"

nor ..of .will .............of man .but .of .God ...were born [aorist tense ]."

[Notice that those that insist that regeneration precedes faith find themselves refuted when observing the context of Jn 1:12-13:

Verse 12 declares that one who received Christ, (aorist), was given (aorist) the right to become a child of God, (aorist infinitive) - to the ones who are believers in Christ, (dative, present participle = a noun)! Jn 1:13 is a continuation of verse 12. It continues to convey what has occurred to the "as many as received Him," of Jn 1:12a. These individuals are stipulated in Jn 1:13 as those "who - not of blood, nor of a will of flesh, nor of a will of man but - of God were begotten, [born]." In view of the message verses 12 and 13 together conveys, the two verses read best together as follows, 'But as many as received Him - to the ones believing in His name - were born not of the mixing of bloodlines via sexual intercourse, nor of the will of individuals to have sexual intercourse, nor of the will of a man to have children, but born of God to whom He gave authority to become children of God - resulting in an eternal life familial relationship with God. So "as many [individuals of His own creation] as did receive Him... to those believing in His name," (Jn 1:12), "were born of God," (Jn 1:13), to whom God "gave authority to become children of God." These individuals when they believed in His name were born of God hence they evidently were born unto an eternal life familial relationship with God forever because eternal life and being a child of God is 'forever' by definition. Hence believing in His name results in being permanently born of God and being given the authority to become children of God unto an eternal life familial relationship with God.

ii) [Compare 1 John 5:1]:

"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves His child as well."

[Notice that if you believe Who Jesus is, i.e., that He is the Christ, the Messiah Who 'by His knowledge... will justify many and He will bear their iniquities' as the OT Scripture promised for a coming Messiah, ('the Christ', in greek, ref. Isa 53:1-12), then you are born of God and will see [enter] the eternal kingdom of God]

Recall that verses 1:12-13 stipulate that one who believes on His [Christ's] name is "born of God" which is also indicated in 3:3 as literally being "born from above".

c) MAN HAS A SIN PROBLEM WITH GOD WHICH IS RESOLVED BY REGENERATION, I.E., BECOMING BORN AGAIN

Because of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, (Adam in particular as the federal head and representative of the human race), we are all born in sin and spiritually dead, (cp 1 Cor 15:21-22; Eph 2:1; Ro 5:12):

i) [Ro 5:12]:

"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned."

When Adam sinned as the representative of all men, then all men became guilty of sin and are consequently born with a sin nature, (Ro 7:18-24).

So Jesus says that a man must be born spiritually - born again - otherwise he cannot enter the kingdom of God, of heaven.

V) [Jn 3:5 cont.]:

(v. 5) "Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and spirit."

B) "BORN OUT OF WATER" CANNOT REFER TO PHYSICAL BIRTH BECAUSE BABIES WHO ARE 'STILL-BORN OR ABORTED ARE NOT PHYSICALLY BORN ALIVE YET ALL BABIES WHEN THEY DIE DO GO TO HEAVEN

1) THOSE THAT DO NOT HAVE THE CAPACITY TO BELIEVE IN OR REJECT CHRIST AS SAVIOR CANNOT BE CONDEMNED BUT MUST BE SAVED UNTO ETERNAL LIFE

Since God is merciful and gracious and just;

and since God is not willing that any should perish,

(1 Pet 3:9);

and since salvation is given freely only to those who trust alone in Christ alone as Savior, (Eph 2:8-9, Ro 3:21-31);

and since the sole condition of eternal condemnation is to refuse to believe in Christ alone for eternal life, (Jn 3:36, 3:18, 1 Jn 5:1);

then those that have neither the capacity to believe nor the capacity to reject Christ as Savior cannot be condemned and must be saved.

Otherwise God could not be declared a just God.

[Robert P. Lightner states, ("SIN, THE SAVIOR, AND SALVATION", Thomas Nelson Pub., Nashville, Tn., 1991)]:

"By those who can't believe we mean not only infants and young children, but also all who experience physical death before they are capable of making a decision either for or against the Savior. Those individuals who are mentally incompetent or incapacited, and have therefore never been able to believe, are also included. Human life begins at conception. Those who can't believe also include babies aborted naturally or by human instigation." (p. 178).

"There is but one human condition the sinner must meet in order to enter into salvation in Christ. Personal faith - individual trust - is presented many, many times in Scripture as the sole condition for salvation." [Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:5] (p. 180).

"But what about those who can't believe, those who can't consciously receive salvation?....Any attempt to answer the question ...must take into account the fact that these are never called upon by God to believe.

It is always to those capable of believing that the challenge is issued. Would it not be mockery for God to call upon His creatures to do, and to hold them responsible for doing, what they could not do?"

(p. 181).

[A good point to consider. Every salvation verse was always spoken to those who were capable of believing.]

"The Lord is good. (Nah. 1:7)...The Bible does not teach the damnation of those who can't believe.

[In truth it is completely silent on the subject]

It does teach the goodness of God. It is inconsistent with His goodness to believe any who die who can't believe are doomed." (p. 185).

"Not one verse of Scripture which relates in any way to the question at hand can be used to suggest the view that any of those who die without being able to respond to the Savior are doomed to eternity in Hell. What information God has been pleased to give us provides great and gracious promise of eternal salvation for all who can't believe." (p. 191).

Compare David's attitude over his son by Uriah's wife that died (2 Sam. 12-23) and the adult son, Absalom, who died and David was unsure of his salvation

(2 Sam. 18:33).

Then upon getting to the place where they may consciously reject Christ alone as Savior:

Their names are still in the Book of Life but that name is erased upon their death if after consciously having rejected Christ they never accept Him by conscious faith in Him alone. This may fit with the command of Dt. 6:7 to teach the children the faith so that they will never come into a place of having rejected Christ but would go from the position of child-faith to conscious adult faith, having never entered into a lost state. After all, God is not willing for any to perish (2 Peter 3:9) so why would He not make the provision where no one would need to go from being a protected child to a lost adult before becoming a saved adult?

C) "BORN OUT OF WATER" CANNOT REFER TO WATER BAPTISM, IT REFERS TO BEING BORN VIA THE WORK OF GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT

Objectors maintain that "born out of water" is a figure of speech referring to water baptism but this is impossible for a number of reasons:

1) THE CONTEXT WHICH INCLUDES NICODEMUS, A JEW UNDER THE OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES AND THE MOSAIC LAW, DOES NOT HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH ACTUAL WATER IN ORDER TO SEE [ENTER] THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Since our Lord was speaking to Nicodemus who was a Jew under the Old Testamant Scriptures and the Mosaic Law system then the context must have that in view. Our Lord never mentioned John the Baptist's or His disciples' water baptisms in this conversation. But notice our Lord's rebuke of Nicodemus relative to his understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures, so the answer as to what 'born of water' is in the Old Testament Scriptures not in the current water baptisms by John and the Lord's disciples, (Ref. Ez 36:24-27).

a) [Compare Jn 3:7, 10]:

(v. 7) " 'You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' "

(v. 10) " 'You are Israel's teacher,' said Jesus, 'and do you not understand these things?' "

No provision in the Old Testament and under the Law of Moses involving actual water is stipulated as resulting in becoming born again and qualifying one for actually entering the kingdom of God. Ceremonial washings and baptisms with real water under provisions of the Law symbollically represented certain spiritual conditions already attained. So actual water is not in view here in Jn 3:5 which stipulates a requirement of being "born of water and spirit" in order to enter the kingdom of God.

2) NO PROVISION(S) OF THE LAW ENABLED ONE TO BECOME BORN AGAIN

Furthermore, no provision of the Law ever enabled anyone to become "born again". Salvation has always been via a moment of faith alone in Christ alone - before or after Calvary.

a) [Compare Ro 3:19-24]:

(v. 19) "Now we know that whatever the Law says, it says to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.

(v. 20) Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the Law; rather, through the Law we become conscious of sin.

(v. 21) But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.

(v. 22) This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,

(v. 23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

(v. 24) and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."

3) JOHN THE BAPTIST'S WATER BAPTISM WAS SYMBOLLIC OF AN ISRAELITE'S ACCEPTANCE OF JESUS CHRIST AS MESSIAH/SAVIOR BRINGING IN HIS KINGDOM AND PROVIDING HIM ASSURANCE OF ETERNAL LIFE

John the Baptist's water baptism is another possibility to explain the water in Jn 3:5 until passages when closely observed reveal that it was a symbollic action of a Jew having already accepted Christ as Messiah/Savior bringing in His kingdom and providing him assurance of eternal life. Our Lord was "at hand" to take away the sins of the whole world & usher in His kingdom upon national acceptance of Israel of Him as Messiah/Savior. A Jew who trusted in the coming Messiah in order to receive entrance into the kingdom was then baptized in the river Jordan by John the Baptist and our Lord's disciples as a symbollic representation of what had already occurred: having already trusted in the coming Messiah and become identified with the nation Israel which will enter into the kingdom

[]

4) HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM IS THE ONLY ESSENTIAL BAPTISM FOR REGENERATION UNTO ETERNAL LIFE

If there is only one baptism for regeneration unto eternal life, (cp Eph 4:4-5 + 1:13-14),

and if Holy Spirit baptism actually identifies the believer with Christ - into His Body the Church, (cp Ro 6:3 + 1 Cor 12:13) and seals him to eternal life, (cp Eph 1:13-14),

then the baptism which regenerates and saves unto eternal life is Holy Spirit baptism and not water baptism.

Water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism cannot both save since only one is referred to as essential in Eph 4:4-5. So 'born of water' cannot refer to water baptism in any case.

5) A SYLLOGISM RULES OUT WATER BAPTISM

If we consider vv. 14-18 which stipulate only one thing a man must do to have eternal life: believe on the Son, then this rules out water baptism:

If faith alone leads to eternal life [Jn 3:14-18]

[alone = the only thing stipulated]

[eternal life = entering the eternal kingdom of God]

And if being born again leads to entering the eternal kingdom of God [Jn 3:3, 5]

Then faith alone leads to being born again!

[Thus the water in Jn 3:5 is not water baptism]

V) Jn 3:5 cont.]:

(v. 5) Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and spirit."

D) "AND SPIRIT" = "AND OUT OF THE REALM OF THE SPIRIT" WHICH EXCLUDES ANYTHING DONE IN THE PHYSICAL REALM LIKE WATER BAPTISM

"ean-me tis ........gennthe ex ..hudatos

"unless ...anyone be born out of water"

kai ...[*ex]...................................pneumatos", N_GSN

"and [*out of the realm of the] spirit" =

This refers to the whole process of God sprinkling "clean water" on Nicodemus and cleansing him of all idols and putting a new [born again] spirit in him and giving him a "heart of flesh" replacing his "heart of stone" and putting His Spirit in him and moving him to follow God's decrees. And all of this is done NOT in the physical realm but out of the realm of the spiritual:

"kai [*ex] pneumatos" = "and [out of the realm of the] spiritual"

*Notice that the Greek preposition "ex" applies to "pneumatos", N_GSN = "spirit" as well as "hudatos" = "water".

1) [Compare Jn 4:23]:

"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit [pneumati, N_DSN, i.e., in the spiritual realm], and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks."

2) [Compare Mt 5:3]:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit [pneumati, N_DSN, i.e., in the spiritual realm], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

And to clarify this our Lord then makes this distinction between the spiritual realm of being born again and the physical realm of physical birth.

In the matter of spiritual verses physical, we have Jn 3:6 which immediately follows verse 5 and which differentiates between physical birth and spiritual birth. This corroborates Jn 3:5's 'born of water' referring figuratively to the operation of the Holy Spirit as the Agent of regeneration 'out of', i.e., in the spiritual realm.

VI) [Jn 3:5-6]:

(v. 5) Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and spirit.

(v. 6) Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit' ".

OBSERVATIONS:

Jesus answers again that no one can enter, i.e., see, the kingdom of God unless he is 'born of water and spirit' or 'spiritual', ('pneumatos' can mean either). And He further explains this with the next verse 'Flesh gives birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit'.

"Flesh" here cannot mean man's fleshly or sinful nature because it is contrasted as opposite to the spiritual realm. Hence "flesh" here means the physical realm as opposed to the spiritual realm.

So what does He mean?

According to v. 6, it is evidently a spiritual birth our Lord is speaking about which is brought about by God the Holy Spirit = an actual birth in the spiritual realm by the Holy Spirit - excluding anything to do with the flesh, i.e., excluding the physical realm.

Hence 'born of water' in v. 5 cannot mean physical birth or water baptism. It must be something symbolic of the spiritual world.

Let us look at the Greek text in v. 5. We have 'gennEthE ex  hudatos kai pneumatos' = 'born out of water and [born out of] spirit or spiritual.

The phrase 'kai pneumatos' indicates that one is born out of 'pneumatos' = 'the spiritual', i.e., the spiritual realm by water. When we consider verse 6, 'flesh gives birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit'; we are left with water being symbolic of God the Holy Spirit Himself as the only Agent in the spiritual realm or any realm Who can perform a spiritual rebirth.

Recall that John 1:12-13 stipulates that one who believes on His [Christ's] name is "born of God" which is also indicated in 3:3 as literally being "born from above". This operation is in the spiritual realm and not of the physical realm as stipulated. This narrows down the One Who performs regeneration to God Himself = God the Holy Spirit, (OT passages corroborate this).

A) ONE IS BORN AGAIN IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM AS OPPOSED TO THE PHYSICAL REALM

So it requires another birth, one which is out of the renewing work of the Holy Spirit and out of the realm of the spiritual, to become born again. This birth is brought about only by the Spirit, God the Holy Spirit for God is the only Agent Who can regenerate an individual in the spiritual realm or anywhere.

In Jn 3:6, Jesus reiterates His answer to Nicodemus' question of "How can a man be born when he is old." so that Nicodemus will not miss it:

"Flesh gives birth to flesh [the physical birth] but the Spirit [God the Holy Spirit] gives birth to [your dead] spirit in the spiritual realm." There are two distinct realms: One is fallen man, the flesh, and the other is of God, the Holy Spirit, in the spiritual realm. A fallen man cannot regenerate himself, (be reborn), he needs a divine operation in a spiritual realm. Only God the Holy Spirit can regenerate a dead human spirit. Man can do nothing, the words are clear. So such actions as water baptism, committing one's life to Christ, going to church regularly, etc., being in the realm of the flesh will do nothing to effect an action in the spiritual realm, i.e., to become born again with an alive spirit.

[Return to study on Christian water baptism ]

Jesus then begins to explain more to Nicodemus:

VII) [Jn 3:7-8]:

(v. 7) "You should not be surprised at My saying, 'You must be born again.'

(v. 8) The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear it's sound, but you cannot tell from where it comes or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

"You should not be surprised at My saying, 'You must be born again.'" =

OBSERVATIONS:

Our Lord continues to explain to Nicodemus what it means to be 'born again' & 'born of water and spirit' in order to enter the Kingdom of God.

Jesus said "You [Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Jewish Ruling Council, (v. 1)] should not be surprised at My saying, 'You must be born again.' "

Evidently, the terms 'born again' and 'born of water and spirit' to enter the Kingdom of God should have been familiar concepts to Nicodemus. Jesus made it clear in v. 7 that Nicodemus was supposed to be knowledgeable in the [OT] Scriptures. After all he was a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish Ruling Council both positions of which require an expert knowledge of the [OT] Scriptures.

Verse 8 provides further insight into what being 'born again' and 'born of water and spirit' means. It is equated with "gegennEmenos ek tou Pneumatos" = "born of the Spirit". The word "pneuma" means both wind and spirit. Its use in verse 8 indicates that the work of God the Holy Spirit is invisible and unfathomable, like the blowing of the wind. Man controls neither the wind nor the realm of the spirit, nor does man have anything to do with his being born again, nor with his maintaining or keeping his born again status which rules out water baptism or any human doing. It is virtually described as a mystery in the same way that the wind blows wherever it pleases and you cannot tell 'where it comes or where it is going.' Nevertheless the wind is a discernible earthly analogy for being born of the Spirit which Nicodemus should have grasped but did not.

A) NICODEMUS, A TEACHER OF TEACHERS OF SCRIPTURE, SHOULD HAVE KNOWN WHAT OUR LORD WAS SPEAKING OF - INDICATING THAT SCRIPTURE EXPLAINED WHAT OUR LORD WAS REFERRING TO

As an expert of experts in Scripture, (v. 10), Nicodemus should have understood the term 'born again'. For Scripture of his time, (Old Testament), refers to this concept as we have already investigated, (cp Ez 36:24-32; 11:19; 18:31; Jer 31:31-34)

VII cont.) [Jn 3:7-8 cont.]:

(v. 7) "You should not be surprised at My saying, 'You must be born again.'

(v. 8) The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear it's sound, but you cannot tell from where it comes or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear it's sound, but you cannot tell from where it comes or where it is going." =

B) "PNEUMA" MEANS BOTH WIND AND SPIRIT, BOTH UNFATHOMABLE CONCEPTS BEYOND MAN'S COMPREHENSION AND CONTROL

"wind" = "pneuma"

"Spirit" = "Pneuma(tos)"

The word "pneuma" means both wind and spirit. Its use in verse 8 indicates that the work of God the Holy Spirit is invisible and unfathomable, like the blowing of the wind. Man controls neither the wind nor the realm of the spirit, nor does man have anything to do with his being born again, nor with his maintaining or keeping his born again status.

1) [Compare Eccl 11:5]:

"As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things."

C) THE WORK OF GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT IN MAN'S REGENERATION IS INVISIBLE, UNFATHOMABLE, PERFECT, COMPLETE AND PERMANENT

Once a man believes, he is saved, i.e., born again; and he is "marked in Christ with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, Who is a deposit guaranteeing his inheritance of eternal life."

1) [Compare Eph 1:13b-14]:

(v. 13) "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

(v. 14) Who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of His glory."

Notice that first comes believing in the gospel and then the Holy Spirit completes His work of regeneration unto salvation and a myriad of other things.

2) [Compare Eph 4:30]:

[Eph 4:30]:

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

[At this point in the conversation one like Nicodemus might then ask the same question that Nicodemus himself asked]:

VIII) [Jn 3:9]:

" 'How can this be?', Nicodemus asked."

OBSERVATIONS:

Evidently, Nicodemus genuinely does not understand what Jesus is saying about being born again of water and spirit in spite of our Lord's earthly analogies.

A) NICODEMUS EXPRESSES HIS LACK OF UNDERSTANDING RE: BEING BORN AGAIN, I.E., HAVING ETERNAL LIFE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Nicodemus asks how this spiritual birth takes place. And Jesus confronts Nicodemus' lack of understanding because Nicodemus should know, being a teacher of Scripture himself]:

IX) [Jn 3:10]:

" 'You are Israel's teacher' said Jesus, 'and do you not understand these things?"

OBSERVATIONS:

Our Lord reminds Nicodemus that he is Israel's teacher and yet he does not understand 'these things' such as needing to be born again of water and spirit in order to see/enter the kingdom of God. This points to the subject as one which Nicodemus should understand but does not.

Nicodemus remained in ignorance because it is evident he did not believe in our Lord's Identity nor His testimony about having to be born again in order to see/enter the Kingdom of God.

A) OUR LORD CONFRONTS NICODEMUS' LACK OF UNDERSTANDING WITH RESPECT TO HIS POSITION AS ISRAEL'S TEACHER

Jesus answered that Nicodemus, as the master teacher of Israel ought to know about being born again. The Old Testament prophets spoke of the new birth = the New Covenant, i.e. the new beginning through the work of the Spirit, (cp Isa 32:15; Eze 36:25-27; Joel 2:28-29).

Our Lord then continues His answer to Nicodemus' question of "How can this be?":

X) [Jn 3:11]:

"I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony."

OBSERVATIONS:

Notice that our Lord spoke in the plural, referring to others: the testimony of OT Prophets and of messengers of His day who borewitness to Who Jesus was and to what one must do to enter the Kingdom of God.

Jesus and others 'speak of what [they] know and... testify to what [they] have seen' relative to the matter of entering the kingdom of God. And He says, "still you people do not accept our testimony." Evidently, "You people" refers to the people of Israel of which Nicodemus is representative. The people of Israel largely did not believe in the testimony of our Lord and the prophets. They rejected Him the & teaching of what it takes to see the kingdom of God, to be born again, from heaven above.

A) [Compare Jn 1:10-11]:

(v. 10) "He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him.

(v. 11) He came to that which was His own [Israel], but His own did not receive Him."

A) LACK OF FAITH LEADS TO IGNORANCE IN SPIRITUAL MATTERS

Nicodemus and most of the nation of Israel, ("you people"), remained in ignorance because they did not believe in the testimony of our Lord or the prophets before Him.

The "we" in verse 11 above refers to our Lord and the prophets who spoke of God's Word before our Lord's incarnation).

1) [Compare Acts 10:43]:

"All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name."

And the greatest prophet of Old Testament times, John the Baptist, did indeed testify to what he knew and could see, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world:

2) [Compare Mt 11:11]:

"I [Jesus] tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

3) [Compare Jn 1:29]:

"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin if the world!' "

By not believing that what Jesus and the prophets before Him were saying was true, Nicodemus and the nation Israel could never understand truths from God's Word. Most of the nation Israel would even reject the testimony of John the Baptist of their our Lord's arrival as the Messiah/Savior of Israel fulfilling prophecy in Scripture in every detail. Nicodemus was ignorant of the realm of spiritual truths of which Jesus spoke. He represented the nation Israel's unbelief and consequent lack of knowledge. Jesus, like the prophets, spoke to the nation Israel on teachings from God's Word, but the Jews rejected His witness, His teachings and His Person as their Messiah. Our Lord goes on to explain to Nicodemus that his not understanding spiritual matters has to do with his lack of belief, as it does with everyone, (1 Cor 2:14):

XI) [Jn 3:12]:

"I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how, then, will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?"

OBSERVATIONS:

Jesus' testimony up to this point was related to earthly things which evidently was not believed. Now our Lord is saying, 'How then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?'

If Nicodemus did not understand as Jesus explained the concept of entering the kingdom of God using earthly analogies, such as being born again/from above and born of water as a symbol of being born of the Holy Spirit; and of the wind to picture the Holy Spirit's working in the regeneration of an individual; 'How then will [Nicodemus] believe if [Jesus] spoke of heavenly things?'

Unlike the 'many people [who] saw the miraculous signs Jesus was doing and believed in His name, (v. 2:23),' Nicodemus lacked faith in Jesus. Hence he still remained excluded from the kingdom of God in a state of willfully not understanding.

A) UNDERSTANDING PROGRESSIVELY MORE DIFFICULT CONCEPTS IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM REQUIRES A GROWING FAITH IN THE TRUTHS OF GOD'S WORD AS THEY ARE REVEALED TO ONE

Since Nicodemus could not grasp the basic teachings of Scripture of Himself as Messiah by all the prophets, especially John the Baptist and of all the practical things that our Lord taught re: His sayings and parables, then it stands to reason that such spiritual concepts as becoming born again which Jesus presented would certainly not be understood. Nicodemus' lack of understanding and ignorance is caused by disbelief. It is a matter of faith - of belief! Without belief there is no understanding. Truths are often presented so well that they are irrefutable. Yet the condition of man is so depraved that most will not accept those truths and they actually place themselves in a state of willful misunderstanding, (cp 2 Thes 2:10-12; 2 Cor 2:14; Ro 8:7-8). Now, our Lord changes the focus to Himself and Who He is]:

XII) [Jn 3:13]:

"No one has ever gone up into heaven except the One Who came from heaven - the Son of Man."

OBSERVATIONS:

Our Lord then gives Nicodemus a heavenly picture with "No one has ever gone into heaven" indicating that no man, even Abraham and any of the saints of old, had ever gone into heaven.

(They remained in Paradise awaiting our Lord's sacrifice for sins at Calvary after which time He would set the captives in Paradise free and bring them into heaven.)

There is one exception:

"The Son of Man, the One Who came from heaven." Just as all Jesus' previous responses have been relevant to Nicodemus' statement/question "We know you are a Teacher Who has come from God"; so this point has to do with Who He is. Jesus is referring to Himself as the 'Son of Man, the One Who came from heaven', indicating that He is more than an average Man; for no man "has ever gone into heaven, except the Son of Man Himself, the One Who came from heaven." The Son of Man is God and Man come down from heaven to save people from their sins and to reign forever.

A) [Compare Jn 1:48-51]:

(v. 48) "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.

[Notice that Jesus is portrayed here as demonstrating the capacity of godly omniscience]

(v. 49) Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.

[Our Lord is named by Nathaniel as the Son of God implying diety and as the King of Israel]

(v. 50) Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that."

(v. 51) He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man [referring to Himself."

Our Lord portrays Himself as the Son of Man Who has authority over the angels in heaven, implying diety.

A) AT THE TIME OF OUR LORD'S ENCOUNTER WITH NICODEMUS NO MAN WAS IN HEAVEN YET - UNTIL OUR LORD PAID THE PENALTY FOR THE SINS OF THE WHOLE WORLD

1) GOD'S JUSTICE MUST BE SATISFIED BEFORE HE CAN PERMIT SINFUL MAN TO BE WITH HIM IN HEAVEN

a) [Ro 3:24-26 NAS]:

(v. 24) "[all] being justified as a gift by His [God’s] grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

(v. 25) Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins [of believers of OT times] previously committed;

(v. 26) for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."

"God presented Him [Jesus Christ] as a sacrifice of atonement' =

God the Father presented, i.e., put forward before the eyes of men, His Son in an act of sacrifice which was done to satisfy God for the sins of the whole world.

i) [Compare 1 Jn 2:2]:

"and He Himself [Jesus Christ] is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."

"propitiation" = "hilasmos" = satisfaction, satisfactory payment for.

a) [Ro 3:24-26 NAS cont.]:

(v. 24) "[all] being justified as a gift by His [God’s] grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

(v. 25) Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins [of believers of OT times] previously committed;

(v. 26) for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."

"forbearance" = "anoche" =

[Vine's Expository Dictionary]:

"a holding back...denotes forbearance, a delay of punishment.... His forbearance is the ground not of His forgiveness, but of His pretermission [suspension of the punishment] of sins, His withholding punishment. It is connected with the passing over of sins in times past.....It is connected with the passing over of sins in times past, previous to the atoning work of Christ, [Cp Heb 9:9-15]."

Those in Old Testament times who trusted alone in God's future provision of salvation through a coming GodMan Messiah had judgment of their sin postponed even after they died. As a matter of fact, O.T. saints went to Paradise in Hades when they died, awaiting transfer to heaven, (Lk 16:19-31).

Once Christ died on the cross, the sins of the whole world being completely paid for, (1 Jn 2:2), having already received as a result of a moment of faith in a coming Messiah through the seed of Abraham, the gift of God's Perfect Righteousness, (Gen 15:6; Ro 4:3),

the Old Testament period believers were immediately brought out of Paradise in Hades into heaven to be with God for the rest of eternity.

"For the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just" =

In the past there was some question as to whether God was a perfectly just and righteous God. Men like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David were justified - accounted righteous - by their faith in God's future plan of salvation and they were received into the Paradise compartment of Hades when they died, (Lk 16:19-31). These men were sinners with their sins not having been paid for as indicated in Scripture:

ii) [Psalm 50:16-23]:

This passage indicates that men were accusing God of overlooking the sins of men which God forgave on credit in the past:

(Ps 50:21) "These things [sins] you [evil men] have done and I [God] kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face."

"you thought I was altogether like you" =

God says to evil men 'You thought I was evil like you because men saw that I forgave some men for trusting in Me but without punishment for those sins which those men were known to have committed. Evil men thought that God was 'winking' at sins and would not really hold men accountable for any wrong doing.

So God's foremost purpose in the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ was to demonstrate to the universe that His justice is satisfied by the atonement with respect to the sins of the past which were forgiven on credit. His holiness - His perfect righteousness - is not impugned for covering the sins of believers in the past until the atonement was completed by Jesus Christ on the cross. God's justice is upheld by His fulfillment to Abraham, (Gen 12:1-3; 15:1-6) - and the world - of a plan of salvation through Abraham's seed, God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Gal 3:16).

2) OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS OCCUPIED HADES - PARADISE - UNTIL OUR LORD PAID THE PRICE FOR SINS, DESCENDED INTO HADES/PARADISE AND BROUGHT THEM WITH HIM TO HEAVEN

a) HADES: A SCRIPTURAL VIEWPOINT

A key term in the biblical understanding of death and the afterlife is the Greek word Hades. This word forms a linguistic bridge which takes us from the Old Testament view of death, often expressed with the word Sheol to the New Testament Hades. The importance of a proper interpretation of this word cannot be overstressed.

In the Septuagint, Hades is found 71 times. It is the Greek equivalent for Sheol 64 times. The other seven times it is found in the Septuagint, it is the translation of other Hebrew words, some of which shed significant light on what Hades meant to the translators of the Septuagint.

In Job 33:22, Hades is the translation of the Hebrew word memeteim, or 'destroying angels [KJV] ... the angels who are commissioned by God to slay the man.' In this sense it refers to disincarnate spirit creatures.

It is also used in Job 38:17 as the translation of the Hebrew, 'the realm of ghosts or shades' (KJV).

It is used for 'the shades of the underworld' in Prov 2:18. This refers to the spirits of the departed in Sheol who are viewed as 'the dwellers in the Kingdom of the dead as in Homer and Virgil and like the Latin word Inferi, it stands for the realm of disembodied souls.'

Not once is Hades the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word for grave (kever). Not once does it mean nonexistence or unconsciousness. The times it is used for words other than Sheol, it clearly means the world of spirits. There is, therefore, no way to escape the conclusion that the translators of the Septuagint clearly understood that Hades referred to the realm of disembodied souls or spirits; and, we must also emphasize, that the translators of the Septuagint did not obtain this concept from Platonic Greek thought but from the Hebrew concept of Sheol itself.

THE LEXICOGRAPHICAL EVIDENCE

When we turn to the lexicographical material, we find that the authors of the Septuagint were correct in their usage of Hades as the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew Sheol.

Arndt and Gingrich... A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament... define Hades as 'the underworld ... the place of the dead' (p. 16). Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon (p. 11) states that Hades comes from two words which joined together [which] mean 'invisible,' or 'unseen.' Thus it refers to 'the common receptacle of disembodied spirits.'

The KJV mistranslated the word Hades in every occurrence just as it did with the word Sheol. It is found ten times in the Greek New Testament. The Greek text underlying the KJV [the Textus Receptus] has it an eleventh time in 1 Cor 15:55, but this is a corrupt reading.

Perhaps the best way to clarify what the New Testament teaches about Hades is to first of all state what Hades does not mean. Once we have cleared away any misconceptions of this word, then we can present its meaning in the New Testament.

First, Hades does not mean death, because the Greek word thanatos is the word for death in the New Testament. Also, Hades and death appear together in such passages as Rev 1:18 where they cannot be viewed as synonyms...

i) [Rev 1:18]:

"I am the Loving One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades."

Second, Hades is not the grave, because the Greek word mneema is the word for grave in the New Testament. Also, all the arguments which demonstrated that Sheol cannot mean the grave apply equally to Hades seeing that Hades is the equivalent for the Hebrew word Sheol. The New Testament's dependence upon the Septuagint demonstrates this point.

Third, Hades is not 'hell,' i.e., the place of final punishment for the wicked, because the Greek word Gehenna is the word for 'hell' in the New Testament.

Fourth, Hades is not 'heaven,' i.e., the place where the soul of the righteous goes at death to await the coming resurrection, because the Greek word ouranos is the word for heaven in the New Testament.

Fifth, Hades is not the place of eternal bliss for the righteous after the resurrection, because the new heavens and the new earth or the everlasting kingdom refer to this place (Matt 24:34; Rev 21:1).

Having clarified what Hades does not mean, we can now state the New Testament meaning of this crucial word.

First, we must once again emphasize the importance of the principle of progressive revelation....

...The New Testament picks up where the Old Testament left off by progressively developing the concept of what happens to the soul of man after death.

ii) [Compare Luke 16:19-31]

The rich man was directly said to be 'in Hades' (v. 23), the phrase 'Abraham's bosom' to which the angels carried Lazarus (vv. 22,23) must be interpreted as the section of Hades reserved for the righteous.....

During the intertestamental period, the Jewish concept of Sheol had progressed to the stage where it was believed that Sheol had two distinct compartments, or sections. One section was a place of torment to which the wicked went while the other was a place of conscious bliss, often called 'Abraham's bosom' or 'paradise,' to which the righteous were carried by angels...."

Compare our Lord's account of Lazarus and the rich man in Hades which testifies to the accuracy of the rabbinic understanding of Sheol:

[Lk 16:19-31]:

(v. 19) "[Jesus said, (v. 15)] Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day.

(v. 20) And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,

(v. 21) and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.

(v. 22) Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom

[Abraham's bosom was an expression which referred to the paradise compartment in Hades, the place where those who had hte faith of Abraham dwelled until they were to occupy the kingdom of heaven]

and the rich man also died and was buried.

(v. 23) And in Hades he lifted up his eyes,

[Notice that our Lord is indicating here in this account that there is a fully functioning consciousness after death, a bliss for those who are declared righteous and torment for those who are not. And the rest of the passages confirms this]:

being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.

(v. 24) And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.'

(v. 25) But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.

(v. 26) And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.' "

Although Old Testament saints did not have as much information about the afterlife as the New Testament revelation provided later on, it does not follow that the word Sheol, the Hebrew O.T. word for the place one resides in the afterlife, referred to something different or less than what the word Hades referred to in the N.T., any more than it does when one refers to one's car at one time as a sedan and a '99 Ford Taurus at another. They both refer to the same thing, one reference being more specific than the other.

Although this passage in Luke shows a characteristic of an O.T. historical account, for the beggar's name was specifically given as a proper name - not a symbollic one: "a certain poor man named Lazarus". And since, the passage refers to yet another O. T. historical individual: "Father Abraham". And since all attempts to treat this as a completely symbollic parable that teaches anything but death or the afterlife end up in farfetched interpretations that violate clear doctrinal passages on these subjects; consider another option which best fits the rest of Scripture and has precedent in the rabbinical literary form of Jesus' day:

[Morey op. cit., pp. 85-87]:

"The rabbinic literature before, during, and after the time of Christ is filled with parables which built imaginative stories around real historical characters. There are multiple examples in the Talmud and Midrash of parables in which Abraham had dialogues with people such as Nimrod, with whom he could never have spoken literally. Everyone understood that these parables and dialogues did not literally take place.

[Yet what was being taught by the fictitious account was indeed literal]

It was understood that the rabbis used imaginative stories and dialogues as a teaching method. It was understood by all that these dialogues never took place...

...Christ used a rabbinic story and dialogue in Luke 16:19-31 which was not 'true' or 'real' in the sense of being literal [in a historical sense, but literal indeed in what it is teaching]. It is obvious that Lazarus did not literally sit in Abraham's literal bosom. The rich man did not have literal lips which literal water could quench.

What is important for us to grasp is that Christ used the mental images conjured up by this rabbinic parable to teach that, in the hereafter, the wicked experience torment and the righteous bliss. This is clear from the rabbinic sources from which he drew this parable.

Since the dialogue between the rich man and Abraham was a teaching tool used by the rabbis before Christ, it is obvious that Christ was not trying to teach that we will talk with the wicked in the hereafter. He was merely using the dialogue method to get across the concept that there is no escape from torment, no second chance, and we must believe the Scriptures in this life unto salvation."

[Morey, cont.]:

"Before Christ's ascension, believers as well as unbelievers were said to enter Sheol or Hades. After Christ's ascension, the New Testament pictures believers after death as entering heaven to be with Christ...(Phil 1:23), which is far better than Hades.

iii) [Compare Jn 3:13]:
"No one has ever gone into heaven except the One Who came from heaven - the Son of Man."

Notice that "No one has ever gone into heaven"= No Old Testament saint had as yet occupied heaven after they died, yet there is evidence in Scripture that O.T. saints did occupy some place after they did die. After the cross, Scripture indicates that believers occupied heaven:
 

iv) [Phil 1:23-24]:

(v. 23) "I [Paul] am torn between the two: [duty on earth or going to be with the Lord in heaven, (vv. 21-22)]: I desire to depart and be with Christ [Who is at this moment in heaven], which is better by far;

(v. 24) but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body."

[Morey, cont.]:
"[So believers] are present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:6-8), worshipping with the angelic hosts of heaven (Heb 12:22, 23) at the altar of God (Rev 6:9-11). Thus believers do not now enter Hades but ascend immediately to the throne of God....

[ on the believer's immediate destiny in heaven when he dies]

...That Christ went to Hades, i.e., the world beyond death, is clear from Acts 2:31."

v) [Compare Acts 2:31]:

"He [David, (v. 29) looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades ["hadou" = Hades], nor did His flesh see decay.

[Notice that this indicates that our Lord did go to Hades]

To Jews at that time it was on the 4th day that corruption set in thus revealing most unequivocally that our Savior’s human soul was in Hades while His body lay in the sepulcher, He ascending out of Hades to receive His body instead of descending down from heaven. Ephesians 4:8-10 vividly describes the descension of our Lord "into the lower parts of the earth," which never could mean the sepulcher or grave in which He was deposited. It is not in the lower parts of the earth, but on the surface, excavated out of a great rock in the mountain side, and entered horizontally. No grave is in the "lower parts of the earth," much less our Savior’s sepulcher.

Furthermore, Paradise was not in heaven before the cross, for Jesus testified to the women on the morning He was resurrected that He had not yet gone up to His Father, (Jn 20:15-18), whereas He had met the thief in Paradise on the preceding Wednesday."

vi) [Compare Jn 20:15-18]:
(v. 15) ''' "[Jesus said] 'Woman,' He said, 'why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?' Thinking He was the gardener, she [Mary Magdalene] said, 'Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.'
(v. 16) Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned toward Him and cried out in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher).
(v. 17) Jesus said, 'Do not hold on to Me, for I have not yet returned to the Father [in heaven]. Go instead to My brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.' " '''


(Note: our Lord was crucified on the Passover Sabbath Wednesday:.. on the crucifixion/resurrection chronology)"

vii) [Compare Luke 23:43]:

"Jesus answered him [the thief on the cross, (v. 40)], 'I tell you the truth, today [Wednesday the Passover Sabbath] you will be with Me in paradise.' "

[Morey, cont.]: )
"While 'paradise' in the gospel account (Luke 23:43) referred to the section of Hades reserved for the righteous [before the cross], by the time Paul wrote 2 Cor 12:2-4 paradise had been taken out of Hades and was now placed in the third heaven.


viii) [Compare 2 Cor 12:2-4]:
(v. 2) "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know that this man - whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows -
(v. 4) was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.

[Morey, cont.]:
"According to the post-resurrection teaching in the New Testament, the believer now goes to heaven at death to await the coming resurrection and the eternal state. But, what of the wicked? The wicked at death descend into Hades which is a place of temporary torment while they await the coming resurrection and their eternal punishment.

First, it is clear that the souls of the wicked are in torment during the intermediate state in Hades. The Apostle Peter stated this in language which could not be clearer:

ix) [2 Pet 2:9]:

"Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment."

First, Peter says that the wicked are 'kept' unto the day of judgment. This word ['kept'] is in the present, active, infinitive form, which means that the wicked are being held captive continuously. If the wicked merely pass into nonexistence at death, there would be nothing left to be 'kept' unto the day of judgment. Obviously, Peter is grammatically picturing the wicked as being guarded like prisoners in a jail until the day of final judgment.

Second, Peter says that the wicked are 'being tormented.' This word is in the present, passive, participle form and means that the wicked are continuously being tormented as an on-going activity.

If Peter wanted to teach that the wicked receive their full punishment at death by passing into nonexistence, then he would have used the aorist tense. Instead, he uses those Greek tenses which were the only ones available to him in the Greek language to express conscious, continuous torment. The grammar of the text irrefutably establishes that the wicked are in torment while they await their final day of judgment.

When the day of judgment arrives, Hades will be emptied of its inhabitants, and the wicked will stand before God for their final sentence....

x) [Rev 20:13-15]:

(v. 13) "The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.

(v. 14) Then death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is the second death.

(v. 15) If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire."

Thus, we conclude that Hades is the temporary intermediate state between death and the resurrection where the wicked are in conscious torment. Hades without Paradise, i.e., without the O.T. saints will thus be emptied into the Lake of Fire at the resurrection of all unbelievers, and then the wicked will be cast into 'hell' (Gehenna).

b) PARADISE

i) PARADISE IN HADES
i_a) [Lk 16:19-31]:

(v. 19) "[Jesus said, (v. 15)] Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day.

(v. 20) And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,

(v. 21) and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.

(v. 22) Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom.

[Abraham's bosom was an expression which referred to the paradise compartment in Hades, the place where those who had the faith of Abraham dwelled until they were to occupy the kingdom of heaven]; and the rich man also died and was buried.

(v. 23) And in Hades he lifted up his eyes,

[Notice that our Lord is indicating here in this account that there is a fully functioning consciousness after death, a bliss for those who are declared righteous and torment for those who are not. And the rest of the passages confirms this]:

being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.

(v. 24) And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.'

(v. 25) But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.

(v. 26) And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.' "

What is important for us to grasp is that Christ used the mental images conjured up by this rabbinic parable to teach that, in the hereafter, the wicked experience torment and the righteous bliss. This is clear from the rabbinic sources from which he drew this parable.

Since the dialogue between the rich man and Abraham was a teaching tool used by the rabbis before Christ, it is obvious that Christ was not trying to teach that we will talk with the wicked in the hereafter. He was merely using the dialogue method to get across the concept that there is no escape from torment, no second chance, and we must believe the Scriptures in this life unto salvation."

[Morey, cont.]:

"Before Christ's ascension, believers as well as unbelievers were said to enter Sheol or Hades. After Christ's ascension, the New Testament pictures believers after death as entering heaven to be with Christ...(Phil 1:23), which is far better than Hades.

i_b) [Compare Jn 3:13]:
"No one has ever gone into heaven except the One Who came from heaven - the Son of Man."

Notice that 'No one has ever gone into heaven' = Since this statement was made by our Lord at the tiem of His three year ministry on earth, we can conclude that no Old Testament saint had as yet occupied heaven after they died.
 

[Morey, cont.]:

"That Christ went to Hades, i.e., the world beyond death, is clear from Acts 2:31."
 

i_c) [Compare Acts 2:31]:

"He [David, (v. 29) looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades ["hadou" = Hades], nor did His flesh see decay.

[Notice that this indicates that our Lord did go to Hades]

To Jews at that time it was on the 4th day that corruption set in thus revealing most unequivocally that our Savior’s human soul was in Hades while His body lay in the sepulcher, He ascending out of Hades to receive His body instead of descending down from heaven. Ephesians 4:8-10 vividly describes the descension of our Lord "into the lower parts of the earth," which never could mean the sepulcher or grave in which He was deposited. It is not in the lower parts of the earth, but on the surface, excavated out of a great rock in the mountain side, and entered horizontally. No grave is in the "lower parts of the earth," much less our Savior’s sepulcher.

Furthermore, paradise was not in heaven before the cross, for Jesus testified to the women on the morning He was resurrected that He had not yet gone up to His Father, (Jn 20:15-18), whereas He had met the thief in Paradise on the preceding Wednesday."

i_d) [Compare Luke 23:43]:

"Jesus answered him [the thief on the cross, (v. 40)], 'I tell you the truth, today [Wednesday the Passover Sabbath] you will be with Me in paradise.' "


[Note: our Lord was crucified on the Passover Sabbath Wednesday:.. on the crucifixion/resurrection chronology]
 

i_e) [Compare Jn 20:15-18]:
(v. 15) ''' "[Jesus said] 'Woman,' He said, 'why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?' Thinking He was the gardener, she [Mary Magdalene] said, 'Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.'
(v. 16) Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned toward Him and cried out in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher).
(v. 17) Jesus said, 'Do not hold on to Me, for I have not yet returned to the Father [in heaven]. Go instead to My brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.' " '''


[Morey, cont.]:
"While 'paradise' in the gospel account (Luke 23:43) referred to the section of Hades reserved for the righteous [before the cross], by the time Paul wrote 2 Cor 12:2-4 paradise had been taken out of Hades and was now placed in the third bn heaven.


i_f) [Compare 2 Cor 12:2-4]:
(v. 2) "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know that this man - whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows -
(v. 4) was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.

[Morey, cont.]:
"According to the post-resurrection teaching in the New Testament, the believer now goes to heaven at death to await the coming resurrection and the eternal state.

i_g) [Phil 1:23-24]:

(v. 23) "I [Paul] am torn between the two: [duty on earth or going to be with the Lord in heaven, (vv. 21-22)]: I desire to depart and be with Christ [Who is at this moment in heaven], which is better by far;

(v. 24) but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

[Morey, cont.]:
[So believers] are present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:6-8), worshipping with the angelic hosts of heaven (Heb 12:22, 23) at the altar of God (Rev 6:9-11). Thus believers do not now enter Hades but ascend immediately to the throne of God....

[ on the believer's immediate destiny in heaven when he dies]

c) OUR LORD DESCENDED TO HADES INTO PARADISE AND BROUGHT THE OLD TESTAMENT TIME BELIEVERS TO HEAVEN WITH HIM

i) [Ps 68:17-18 NAS]:

(v. 17) "The chariots of God are myriads, thousands upon thousands; The LORD is among them as at Sinai, in holiness.

[NIV: The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; the LORD has come from Sinai into His sanctuary]

(v. 18) Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captive Thy captives; Thou hast received gifts among men, even among the rebellious also, that the LORD God may dwell there."

ii) [Compare Eph 4:7-10]:

(v. 7) "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.

(v. 8) Therefore it says, [cf. Ps 68:18]

'When He ascended on high [to heaven],

He led captive a host of captives,

[O.T. saints were held 'captive' in the Paradise compartment in Hades who were saved on credit, (Ro 3:25-26). They were held 'captive' there awaiting our Lord's atonement for them so that He could then lead them 'captive', i.e., in a group, into heaven]

And He gave gifts to men.

[Refers to spiritual gifts, (ref. Eph 4:11-14)]

(v. 9) (What does 'He ascended' mean except that He also descended to the lower, earthly regions"

['descended to the lower, earthly regions' = descended to where Hades/Paradise is located - in order to take 'captive' the O.T. saints held their in 'captivity' until our Lord came for them to ascend with them to heaven]:

(v. 10) He Who descended is the very One Who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe).

"He led captive a host of captives" = lit. "He led captive captivity", i.e., he went to those in Hades/Paradise who were captive in the sense of being restricted to Paradise and led them in a captive group to heaven with Him. Since the verb in the Greek, "EchmalOteusen" = [str. # 162] = led captive, [Pershbacher] then this is best interpreted as an actual leading of a specific group of individuals who were already in captivity in a captive group from one destination to another. This is preferred to the concept of interpreting it as the setting free [different verb] of all mankind from Satan's captivity by redeeming them from the slave market of sin. (Although Scripture indeed teaches the latter as a truth, it is not in view here in Eph 4:7-10).

Paul reflects on Psalm 68 of which verses 17-18 are quoted above - which passage indicates that a military victor such as the LORD God over His and Israel's enemies, gives gifts to those who are identified with him in His victory. This time it is about our Lord's victory over sin through His redemptive work on the cross as a result of which He set the specific captives free in Paradise/Hades by redeeming them from the slave market of sin and then leading them in a captive group to heaven where He ascended to. The parenthetical statement in verses 9 & 10 indicate our Lord's descent into the depths of the earth, i.e., Hades/Paradise where He led them captive to Heaven. The OT saints from Paradise were captive in the sense of being confined there under the promise of Abraham of eternal life until they could be released for entrance into heaven when that promise was fulfulled through the Seed of Abraham via our Lord's sacrificial atonement for the sins of the whole world. So our Lord ascended with the 'captives' into heaven, having fulfilled the promise.

iii) [Compare Mt 8:11]:

"I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."

Notice that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all OT saints who occupied Paradise/Hades after they died, are destined for the kingdom of heaven.

iv) [Compare Rev 20:14-15]:

(v. 14) "Then death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is the second death.

(v. 15) If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire."

[The Ages Digital LIberary Holiness Commentary on the New Testament Vol 2 Hebrews - Jude

By Rev W. B. Godbey, A.M. B o o k s F o r T h e A g e s AGES Software, Albany, OR USA Version 1.0 © 1997, pp. 196-7]:

"On Sunday morning begins that wonderful ascension (Ephesians 4:8-10), in which He leads captive all the occupants of Abraham’s Bosom, now that the Abramic covenant has been verified, and sealed with His blood, thus opening heaven to all the blood-washed. Wonderful is the rapture of that triumphant ascension, accompanied by all the Old Testament saints. He comes up to the sepulcher and receives His body on the third morn. As this mighty host of Old Testament saints were all disembodied, of course they were invisible to mortal eyes. Jesus, the only one seen, because He only had His body. Meanwhile this mighty host accompany Him in His abiding forty days with His disciples, and constitute His triumphal procession when from Mount Olivet He ascended up to the glorified home of His Father in heaven. Jesus must be the first fruits of them that slept. His glorified body, the eternal confirmation of the redemptive scheme, must first of all enter heaven. Though a number of others were raised from the dead before Christ, we have no evidence that their bodies were transfigured. Hence Jesus was the first one to raise from the dead, receiving the resurrection body. It was pertinent that all the Old Testament saints should be detained in that Intermediate Paradise till the plan of salvation was literally consummated by the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. David (Psalms 24) catches a prophetic vision of this wonderful ascension. Having risen from Mount Olivet with the velocity of lightning, they sweep through ethereal space, passing rolling worlds, glittering sphere, luminous comets and flaming suns, till now the celestial metropolis, in its ineffable glory, bursts upon their enraptured vision.

v) [Ps. 24:7-10]:

(v. 7) "Lift up your heads, O you gates;

be lifted up you ancient doors,

that the King of glory may come in.

(v. 8) Who is this King of glory?

The LORD strong and mighty,

the LORD mighty in battle.

(v. 9) Lift up your heads O ye gates,

lift them up, you ancient doors,

that the King of glory may come in.

(v. 10) Who is He, this King of glory?

The LORD Almighty - He is the King of glory."

The celestial portals all open wide, while millions of angels pour out to greet them with loud shouts: "Welcome home, ye blood-washed." Now the King of glory entered amid the enraptured songs of the seraphim, the thrilling paeans of the cherubim, the golden harps of the archangel and the tremendous hallelujahs of the heavenly hosts, accompanied by the innumerable procession of the Old Testament saints, on and on they sweep around the clarion jubilations of countless millions, till halting before the effulgent throne, the Son salutes the Father: "Behold, I and the children whom Thou hast given me." Such a testimony meeting as heaven has never seen now follows. Father Abraham leads the way, followed by Job, Moses, Joshua, Daniel, the prophets, patriarchs, saints and martyrs, to the ravishing delight of the angels."

d) ENOCH AND ELIJAH ARE NOT EXCEPTIONS TO JN 3:13 - NO MAN WAS IN HEAVEN UNTIL OUR LORD ASCENDED IN HIS RESURRECTION

i) [Gen 5:21-24]:

(v. 21) When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah.

(v. 22) And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters.

(v. 23) Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years.

(v. 24) Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away."

ii) [Heb 11:5]:

"By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God."

iii) [2 Kings 2:11]:

"As they [Elijah and Elisha] were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind."

[Godbey, cont.]

"But, beside the fact of these examples being out of the common order, it does not follow of course that because Enoch was taken to God, he was translated into the highest heaven. For the word "Heaven" is very wide in its signification. The same observation applies to Elijah.

"heaven" = "shamayim" Strong's 08064

1) heaven, heavens, sky

a) visible heavens, sky

1) as abode of the stars

2) as the visible universe, the sky, atmosphere, etc

b) Heaven (as the abode of God)

Notice that both Enoch and Elijah were translated into the visible heavens but not necessarily to the abode of God, especially since their sins were not paid for yet, so God would not be justified in doing this. So their destination like all the saints before the cross: Paradise in Hades.

iv) [1 Cor 15:20]:

"Christ is now become the first fruits of them that slept."

This would not appear to be correct, if Enoch and Elijah ascended into the highest Heaven, clothed in bodies endued with immortality."

v) [Compare Jn 3:13]:

"No one has ever gone into heaven except the One Who came from heaven - the Son of Man."

[This was spoken by our Lord at the time of His 3 year ministry on earth, indicating that no man had as yet gone to heaven]

e) PARADISE IN HEAVEN

While Paul lay dead under the shower of stones at Lystra, he ascended up to the third heaven, (i.e., to heaven proper, as the firmament is the first heaven, astronomical worlds the second, and the home of the glorified the third). This third heaven is also Paradise [2 Corinthians 12:2-4]. Of course the thief did not go to this Paradise, but to Abraham’s Bosom, the Intermediate Paradise.

f) CONCLUSION

Since OT saints are to occupy the kingdom of heaven,

and since the OT saints did go to Paradise/Hades when they died,

then the OT saints will be taken from Paradise/Hades to the kingdom before Hades is thrown into the Lake of Fire.

Since our Lord's sacrifice for sins has paved the way for OT saints to be taken to heaven,

and since NT saints themselves go immediately to be with the Lord in heaven,

and since our Lord descended to Paradise on Wednesday when He died on the cross and did not ascend to heaven until after that

then there is strong reason to believe that our Lord Himself took the O.T. saints from Hades to heaven with Him at His resurrection.

B) "THE SON OF MAN" = GOD THE SON IN HIS ROLE AS THE REPRESENTATIVE MAN WITH RESPECT TO HIS MISSION WHICH INCLUDES PAYING FOR THE SINS OF THE WHOLE WORLD AND HAVING EVERLASTING DOMINION OVER THE WORLD

"The Son of Man" = The term Son of Man occurs in numerous passages and is used in Scripture meaning God the Son in His role as the representative Man with respect to His mission, (cp Mt 11:19; Lk 19:10); His death and resurrection, (cp Mt 12:40; 20:18; 26:2); and Second Coming, (cp Mt 24:37-44; Lk 12:4).

C.I. Scofield states in footnote #4 in the Oxford NIV Scofield Study Bible, C. I. Scoffield, Editor, Oxford University Press, 1984, p. 819:

"The expression 'son of man' is a common Semitic way of indicating an individual man (Ps. 4:2; 57;4; 58:1; 144:3; Jer 49:18, 33; 50:40; 51:43). God addresses Ezekial about ninety times by this title [but without the definite article specifying the unique Son of Man]. In Dan. 7:13 the term [also with the definite article] is used to show that an actual Man [Who is at the same time God] will come in the clouds of heaven to receive a worldwide kingdom. From this use in Daniel it came to refer to the glorious Messiah [Who is defined in Scripture as God Himself], and in such a sense Jesus utilized it calling Himself 'the Son of man eighty times in the Gospels."

["The Son of man" = Notice: Son singular + the definite article THE = THE unique - one and only - Son of man singular, indicating Diety]

1) [Compare Jn 9:35-38]:

(v. 35) "Jesus heard that they had put him

["him" = the blind man who was healed by Jesus]

(v. 35 cont.) "Jesus heard that they had put him out [of the Temple]; and finding him, He said, 'Do you believe in the Son of Man?

(v. 36) He answered and said, 'And Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?

(v. 37) Jesus said to him, 'You have both seen Him, and He is the One Who is talking with you.'

(v. 38) And he said, 'Lord, I believe.' And he worshipped Him.' "

Here in this passage Jesus claims outright to be the Son of Man. So the man who was given sight recognized that the One Who claims to be the Son of Man is to be worshipped. And the blind man who was Jewish knew full well that only God is to be worshipped.

A passage in Daniel confirms this:

2) [Compare Dan 7:13-14]:

(v. 13) "In my [Daniel's] vision at night I looked and there before me was One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence......

["clouds" = angels, cp Ps 104:1-4.

"Ancient of Days" = A special name for God referring to His eternality. In this context: God the Father, cp Dan 7:9]

"He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into into His presence..." = so God the Son, Who is God and Man at the same time, appears in heaven in Daniel's vision of future in His glorified human body. He is thusly led by angels into the throne room and the presence of God the Father before hosts of angelic beings and believers of ages past, (vv9-12)]

(v. 14) He [the Son of Man] was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."

["worshipped" = indicates our Lord's Diety for only God is to be worshipped, (Dt 6:13; Mt 4:10)

"everlasting dominion" = since only God Himself is eternal, then One Who reigns over an everlasting kingdom and Who gives eternal life - the Son of Man - must be God Himself, (cp Jn 10:28). It is in the name of the Son of Man in which universal judgment is committed to Him, (Jn 5:22,27); and in Him is fulfilled the Old Testament foreview, (the picture beforehand), of blessing and salvation through a coming Man, (Gen 1:26; 3:15; 12:3; Ps 8:4; 80:17; Isa 7:14; 9:6-7; 32:2). All of this is a function of God - and God alone! So Whoever bears the title of the Son of Man is God. Jesus Christ claimed and fulfilled that title. Jesus Christ is God - God the Son - the Son of Man. Many other passages affirm that Jesus Christ is the One God: Col 1:14-17; 2:9; Jn 1:1-4; Rev 1:8; Isa 9:6; Jn 8:58; Phil 2:6-7; Heb 1:3.

So herein lies a mystery which author John is teaching:

There is ONE God with three distinct Personalities:

God the Father - God the Son - God the Holy Spirit

Objectors to the truth of the Trinity might consider that God created water which exists in three states, (personalities if you will): liquid, vapor and ice. All three personalties are distinct from one another and yet exist as water. Light is another good illustration of this point: visible light is made up of seven basic colors - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. These colors all function together in a unity.......

(as the Personalities of God function in a unity in a much greater, infinite sense),

.....these colors all function together in a unity in a way that is not fully understood to bring us visible white light. Yet that light consists of all seven colors! At times, one or more of the seven colors functions separately, as in a rainbow or a sunset, and it is then made clear that light is a unity which consists of more than one component - or more than one personality if you will. So just as light and water which were created by God have more than one personality and is not understood in all of its aspects, so too can God have more than one Personality and not be understood in all the ways He exists and functions. Surely if this is possible, then the Creator of water and light and of all things could likewise exist as a Triune God - one God with three Personalities. So it is a matter of examining the Scriptures to see if they support the doctrine of the Trinity.

XIII) [Jn 3:14]:

(v. 14) "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in` the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up"

OBSERVATIONS

A) THE O.T. ILLUSTRATION OF MOSES LIFTING UP THE BRONZE SNAKE IS USED TO SHOW THAT THE LOOK UPON THE SNAKE IS WHAT SAVED ONE FROM DYING FROM A POISONOUS SNAKE BITE WHICH IS PARALLELED, I.E., EQUATED WITH BELIEVING IN THE SON OF MAN [JESUS CHRIST] BEING LIFTED UP [ON THE CROSS TO PAY FOR SINS] TO PROVIDE ETERNAL LIFE FOR ONE, I.E., BE SAVED UNTO ETERNAL LIFE

(v. 14) "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, (v. 15) that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life." =

Our Lord provides Nicodemus with an Old Testament reference about Moses lifting up the bronze snake on a pole in the desert so that everyone who was bitten by a deadly poisonous snake could look upon it and be healed of the deadly venom, (Num 21:6-9).

The O.T. illustration of Moses lifting up the bronze snake is used to show that the look upon the snake is what saved one from dying from a poisonous snake bite which is paralleled, i.e., equated with believing in the Son of Man [Jesus Christ] being lifted up [on the cross to pay for sins] to provide eternal life for one, i.e., saved unto eternal life.

Our Lord refers to the Old Testament passage in Numbers 21:6-9 in order to bring home the significance of the sacrifice He will soon make on the cross for the sins of the whole world as the Son of Man Himself, (1 Jn 2:2). The passage He refers to is the account of Moses and the bronze snake with which Nicodemus was familiar:

1) [Num 21:6-9]:

(v. 6) "Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.

(v. 7) The people came to Moses and said, 'We sinned when we spoke against the Lord, and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.'

(v. 8) So Moses prayed for the people. The Lord said to Moses, 'Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.'

(v. 9) So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake, and looked at the bronze snake, he lived."

Due to the people's speaking bitterly against God and Moses, the Lord sent poisonous snakes. The Israelites thereupon urged Moses to intercede before God for them, which he did. Moses then relayed instruction from the Lord that all those bitten could look on a bronze snake which he, Moses, constructed and placed high on a pole. Those who looked at the snake were healed; those who did not and died. A look of faith was the key to living on physically. This is the point that our Lord was making to Nicodemus: a response of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Son of Man Himself, Who would be lifted up on the cross to die for our sins, is the key to eternal life in heaven.

So in the next verse, (v. 15), Jesus tells Nicodemus the details of how to be born again, i.e., have eternal life by paralleling it to the look of faith that it took to be healed of the snake bite.

B) HUMAN EFFORT TO TRAVEL TO A POINT WHERE ONE CAN VIEW THE SNAKE AT MOSES' TENT AND THEN MAKE AN EFFORT TO LOOK UP TO THE BRONZE SNAKE IS NOT THE ISSUE BEING MADE IN THE VERSE - A LOOK OF FAITH IS

(v. 14) "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, (v. 15) that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life." =

Author John's illustration using the snake on the pole was that the "look" saved, emphasizing not the effort the individual made, but the trust in God to heal one. A parallel is then made between the look upon the snake and a moment of belief that Christ was lifted up for the one believing in that to receive eternal life. Hence the "look" illustrates only what defines believing in order to be saved unto eternal life.

To focus on anything else as if that were the point the author was making is not being willing to accept what the author is saying.

An objector who insists on human effort to search out the location of the bronze snake standing at Moses' tent amongst all the tents of Israel in the wilderness and then human effort to raise up one's head to look at that snake as what this passage is stipulating to be saved is missing the point and adding something to God's Word. There is a total absence of any human vow, committment to obey, or any good deed by the human; only a trust that God would save one from dying from the poison.

Furthermore, in the parallel unto eternal life, there is no opportunity to find and look upon Jesus on the cross, He has risen.

Finally, the belief together with the look cannot be construed as a work as it is paralleled with a moment of faith alone in the Son of Man being lifted up which faith includes no work by definition. One might then term this look as a look of faith, not a look of work.

Believing and looking are not portrayed as two different things. For it was the eyes of faith that looked at the snake on the pole in order to be saved from physical death.

So just as it was a look of faith alone that saved the Hebrew who was bitten, so it is a moment of faith alone in Christ alone that will save one unto eternal life.

C) ALL OF THOSE WHO WERE BITTEN BY POISONOUS SNAKES, NOT JUST A CHOSEN FEW IS IN VIEW HAVING PROVISION MADE TO BE SAVED FROM PHYSICAL DEATH THROUGH A LOOK OF FAITH AT THE BRONZE SNAKE; IN THE SAME WAY EVERYONE IN THE WORLD, NOT JUST A CHOSEN FEW, HAVE PROVISION MADE FOR THEM THROUGH THE SON OF MAN THROUGH BELIEVING IN HIM AND BE SAVED UNTO ETERNAL LIFE

(v. 14) "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, (v. 15) that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life." =

Verse 14 portrays all of those who were bitten by poisonous snakes, not just a chosen few. So provision was made for all of them to be saved from physical death through looking at the bronze snake on the pole.

In the same way, verse 15 is paralleled to the bronze snake miracles, ("Just as.... so"). It portrays everyone in the world, not just a chosen few, to have provision made for them through the Son of Man to be saved unto eternal life. All any individual in the whole world had to do was to believe in Him making this provision and he would be saved forever unto eternal life. This is forever, because eternal life is forever in duration once received by definition at the commencement of believing.

The manner of being lifted up will be corroborated later as our Lord going to the cross at Calvary to die for the sins of the whole world. This context is continued in the next verse:

Our Lord provides Nicodemus with an Old Testament reference about Moses lifting up the bronze snake on a pole in the desert so that everyone who was bitten by a deadly poisonous snake could look upon it and be healed of the deadly venom. The picture of believing that a look upon Moses' bronze snake lifted up in the desert to save ones physical life is compared to believing in Jesus Christ, the Son of Man Himself, being lifted up [on the cross] to provide eternal life for all who believe in Him.

Verse 14 portrays all of those who were bitten by poisonous snakes, not just a chosen few. So provision was made for all of them to be saved from physical death through looking at the bronze snake on the pole.

A) THE LIFTING UP OF THE SNAKE IN THE DESERT TO SAVE THE LIVES OF THOSE BITTEN BY POISONOUS SNAKES WHO LOOK UPON THAT SNAKE IS PARALLELED TO OUR LORD BEING LIFTED UP ON THE CROSS TO SAVE UNTO ETERNAL LIFE ALL THOSE WHO LOOK UPON HIM, I.E., BELIEVE ON HIM AS SAVIOR

"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert" =

Our Lord refers to the Old Testament passage in Numbers 21:6-9 in order to bring home the significance of the sacrifice He will soon make on the cross for the sins of the whole world as the Son of Man Himself, (1 Jn 2:2). The passage He refers to is the account of Moses and the bronze snake with which Nicodemus was familiar:

1) [Num 21:6-9]:

(v. 6) "Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.

(v. 7) The people came to Moses and said, 'We sinned when we spoke against the Lord, and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.'

(v. 8) So Moses prayed for the people. The Lord said to Moses, 'Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.'

(v. 9) So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake, and looked at the bronze snake, he lived."

Due to the people's speaking bitterly against God and Moses, the Lord sent poisonous snakes. The Israelites thereupon urged Moses to intercede before God for them, which he did. Moses then relayed instruction from the Lord that all those bitten could look on a bronze snake which he, Moses, constructed and placed high on a pole. Those who looked at the snake were healed; those who believed that this act would effect nothing of value to them did not look and therefore died. An act of faith was the key here to living on physically. This is the point that our Lord was making to Nicodemus: an act of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Son of Man Himself, Who would be lifted up on the cross to die for our sins, is the key to eternal life in heaven:

So in the next verse, (v. 15), Jesus tells Nicodemus the details of how to be born again, i.e., have eternal life:

XIV) [Jn 3:14-15]:

(v. 14) "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,

(v. 15) that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life."

OBSERVATIONS

Our Lord provides Nicodemus with an Old Testament reference about Moses lifting up the bronze snake on a pole in the desert so that everyone who was bitten by a deadly poisonous snake could look upon it and be healed of the deadly venom. The picture of believing that a look upon Moses' bronze snake lifted up in the desert to save ones physical life is compared to believing in Jesus Christ, the Son of Man Himself, being lifted up [on the cross] to provide eternal life for all who believe in Him.

Verse 14 portrays all of those who were bitten by poisonous snakes, not just a chosen few. So provision was made for all of them to be saved from physical death through looking at the bronze snake on the pole.

In the same way, verse 15 is paralleled to the bronze snake miracles, ("Just as.... so"). It portrays everyone in the world, not just a chosen few, to have provision made for them through the Son of Man to be saved unto eternal life. All any individual in the whole world had to do was to believe in Him making this provision and he would be saved forever unto eternal life. This is forever, because eternal life is forever in duration by definition once received at the commencement of believing.

The manner of being lifted up will be corroborated later as our Lord going to the cross at Calvary to die for the sins of the whole world. This context is continued in the next verse:

A) SALVATION UNTO ETERNAL LIFE RESULTS FROM FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE BEING LIFTED UP

The terms of salvation are herein expressed by our Lord: faith alone in Christ alone being lifted up! Notice that God's complete provision for the saving of an Israelites physical life in the time of Moses who has been bitten by a deadly snake through a simple look of faith at the bronze snake mounted on a pole is closely paralled in God's Word to God's complete provision for the saving of one's eternal life again through a simple moment of faith, this time in the Son of Man being lifted up - which we find clarified further in other verses as the Lord Jesus Christ being lifted up on the cross to die paying the penalty for the sins of the whole world:

1) [1 Jn 2:2]:

"He [Christ, (v. 1)] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."

2) [Mt 20:18-19]:

(v. 18) "[Jesus said] We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. They will condemn Him to death.

(v. 19) and will turn Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!"

In the next verse, (v. 16), Jesus further explains to Nicodemus the purpose and reason behind His mission to the world, reiterating the terms of salvation unto eternal life in the same precise way - with His being lifted up being in view in order to provide for man's salvation unto eternal life when they simply trust in Him]:

XV) [Jn 3:14-16]:

(v. 14) "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,

(v. 15) that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.

(v. 16) 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."

OBSERVATIONS:

"For" at the beginning of v. 16 continues the thought from vv. 14 & 15 which has everyone of the whole world in view not just a chosen few.

After "For" comes "[For] God so loved the world" which provides the motivation for God's provision of eternal life for everyone in the world, not just a chosen few: His love.

Then we have the phrase, "That He gave His one and only Son", ("monogEne" = "one and only"), which parallels verse 15's "The Son of Man must be lifted up" both picturing the Son of Man/Son of God being lifted up/given to pay the penalty for the sins of every individual in the whole world.

The phrase "[God] gave His one and only Son" is in the historical past tense, meaning that our Lord was speaking to Nicodemus before He was crucified as if Calvary had already taken place. Note that v. 15 corroborates this by portraying this same event as future.

The term 'the Son of God' is a technical term as established in other passages in Scripture for One Who has the attributes of God, hence God the Son was given once for all time, (completed action verb), for the sins of the whole world by God the Father.

Following this is the phrase, "That whoever believes in Him", literally 'whoever is the believing one', i.e., whoever is a believer in the Son of God being given for one's sins which takes only a moment in time of faith.

"God so loved the world...whoever..." = The word "whoever" cannot be limited to a few chosen individuals for it would be tantamount to saying that God so loved the world of only a chosen few who will believe, not the rest; and that whoever of this chosen group would believe should have eternal life. This is nonsensical since all of God's chosen would believe anyway; so why make this statement at all? In truth, "whoever" refers to the whole world's population wherein everyone has a chance and a free choice to believe in the Son and receive eternal life.

Finally, the phrase, "Should not perish but [should] have everlasting life" has in view the immediate sure result of never perishing in hell, (completed action verb); and immediate, (present tense), possession, of everlasting life forever, (because it is everlasting by definition).
From the first moment of becoming the believing one in the Son of God being given for one, one is eternally secure in everlasting life.

The word "should" has in view the capacity and willingness of God to provide eternal life which considering His sovereignty and power is emphatically a sure thing the moment one believes in the Son of God!

A) "ONE AND ONLY SON" REFERS TO OUR LORD BEING THE UNIQUE, ONE AND ONLY SON OF GOD

"One and Only Son" - Our Lord here refers to Himself as the One and only Son of God.

Since there is only One Who is "the Son of God" then "One and Only Son" refers to our Lord and Him alone.

1) "ONLY BEGOTTEN" IN THE KJV SHOULD BE RENDERED "ONE AND ONLY", I.E., UNIQUE ACCORDING TO THE ORIGINAL TEXT

The phrase "only begotten" appears in John 3:16 of the King James Version as follows:

a) [Jn 3:16 KJV]:

"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."

"only begotten" - "monogenous". The Greek word "monogenous" is translated "only begotten" in the KJV. However it should be rendered "only" or "unique" and not "only begotten". Monogenous consists of the Greek prefix "mono" -"one" and the Greek verb = "genous" -"One Who is". So "monogenous"-"the only One Who is: The Greek verb form "genous", which is part of the word "monogenous" is derrived from the main Greek verb, (the infinitive), "ginomai" which meansto cause to be. Notice: only one "n" occurs in the verb "ginomai" and only one "n" occurs in the form of this verb which the Apostle John uses in this verse: "genous".

"genous" is not derived from the Greek verb "gennao" - to procreate, beget. Notice the two "n"'s in this verb. This will help to distinguish between these two different words in the Greek. One verb, meaning to cause to be, (unique), has one "n" and the other, meaning to beget has two. So the word "m on og en ous" means "the only One Who is" or "the unique One" Further support for this corrected translation is found in Hebrews 11:17:

i) [Heb 11:17]:

"By faith Abraham, when God tested Him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son"

"one and only" = "monogeno"

This is the same verb, ("monogeno"), used in John 3:16. Isaac was not Abraham's only begotten son for Abraham had another son, Ishmael, before Isaac and other sons after Isaac, (Gen 25:1-4). What this passage in Hebrews is saying when it uses the same verb that John uses in Jn 3:16 is that Isaac was Abraham's one and only - unique - son of the promise of God that through him the nation of Israel would be born. Through Isaac our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would become flesh, adding humanity to His diety to become the Savior of the world. So this passage in Hebrews 11:17 and the passage in John 3:16 do not refer to the begetting of human offspring but rather refer to the uniqueness of a particular son of Abraham and of the uniqueness of the Son of God.

2) THE PHRASE "ONE AND ONLY SON" OF GOD IMPLIES DIETY = THE UNIQUE SON OF GOD WHO IS GOD HIMSELF

The phrase 'Son of God' requires contextual examination to determine its meaning:

a) THE PHRASE "SON OF..." OFTEN IMPLIES POSSESSION OF CERTAIN SPECIFIED CHARACTERISTICS

The term 'son of' in Scripture often signifies identity or similarity with certain specified characteristics that are presented in the context of the passage. For example:

i) [Isa 57:1-4]:

(v. 1) "The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart;

And devout men are taken away, while no one understands.

For the righteous man is taken away from evil,

(v. 2) He enters into peace;

They rest in their beds,

Each one who walked in his upright way.

(v. 3) 'But come here, you sons of a sorceress,

Offspring of an adulterer and a prostitute.

(v. 4) 'Against whom do you jest?

Against whom do you open wide your mouth

And stick out your tongue?

Are you not children of rebellion,

Offspring of deceit?"

This does not indicate that all men who are evil are naturally born sons of a sorceress or a prostitute but that they behave in an evil manner, taking on the evil characteristics the likes of a sorceress or a prostitute or an adulterer. They are in effect sons of rebellion and deceit.

ii) [Isa 14:11-12]:

(v. 11) " 'Your pomp and the music of your harps Have been brought down to Sheol;

Maggots are spread out as your bed beneath you, And worms are your covering.

(v. 12) How you have fallen from heaven,

O star of the morning, son of the dawn!' "

Obviously, Satan was not procreated by the dawn but he did take on the characteristics of the beauty of the first light of dawn.

iii) [Jer 49:33]:

"And Hazor will become a haunt of jackals,

A desolation forever;

No one will live there,

Nor will a son of man reside in it."

["a son of man" refers to humanity as opposed to other types of lifeforms. So when our Lord refers to Himself as the Son of God, He is stating that He has the characteristics of Almighty God - He is stating therefore that He is God. "The Son of God" is a technical term which refers to God Himself - the second Person of the Triune God]

b) "THE SON OF GOD" IS IDENTIFIED AS DIETY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

i) [Compare Pr 30:4]:

"Who has gone up to heaven and come down?

["Who" = literally: "Who are the Holy Ones Who"]

"Who has gone up to heaven and come down?

Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of His hands?

Who has wrapped up the waters in His cloak?

Who has established all the ends of the earth?

What is His name [God the Father] and the name of His Son [God the Son]?"

In the Hebrew the word "Who" is literally translated, "Who are the Holy Ones Who" = plural. So God the Father and God the Son have gone up to heaven and come down, gathered up the wind, wrapped up the waters and established the ends of the earth. Here right in the Old Testament we find a clear statement that there is more than one Personality in the Godhead! We have two of the Personalities of the Godhead specifically referred to: God the Father and God the Son. So when our Lord refers to Himself as the Son of God the Jews understood Him completely, i.e., He meant diety, that He was God, God the Son.

So the term 'son' in the ancient Hebrew and Greek languages often meant identity, i.e., having the characteristics of, rather than human offspring or subordination.

ii) [Compare Dan 3:25, 28 NAS]:

(v. 25) "He [Nebuchadnezzar] answered and said, 'Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!' "

[The fourth man appeared, Nebuchadnezzar said, like a son of the pagan gods that the Babylonians and Nebuchadnezzar himself worshipped. What Nebuchadnezzar meant was that the fourth person, later referred to as a messanger, ("angel"), of the gods, had the characteristics - the appearance - of a god]:

(v. 28) "Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, 'Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego [the three Jews who were put into the blazing furnace to die and yet survived] Who has sent His angel [who was earlier described as being like a son of the god's] and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him..."

c) THE NEW TESTAMENT CONFIRMS THE O.T. TEACHING THAT THE TERM "THE SON OF GOD" IS DIETY

So when the Jews used the word 'son' in ancient days they often used it to describe likeness of nature. Jesus Christ claimed that God was His Father in the sense of being like or equal to God:

i) [Compare Jn 10:30-33, 36b; 39]:

(v. 30) ''' "I and the Father are one."

(v. 31) The Jews took up stones again to stone Him.

(v. 32) Jesus answered them, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?"

(v. 33) The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."

[Jesus then says to the Jews]:

(v. 36b) "do you say of Him, [meaning Himself] Whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming'; because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? " '''

(v. 39) Again they tried to seize Him, but He escaped their grasp."

The indispensable step in correctly interpreting God's Word must not be sidestepped: that of letting the words in Scripture say what they meant to those in ancient times - to whom they were originally written. So if Scripture says that the Jews 2000 years ago interpreted the phrase 'the Son of God' to indicate that "You ....make Yourself out to be God", (Jn 10:33b), then that is what the term 'the Son of God' means. The Jews were so convinced of the meaning of that phrase that they were preparing to kill our Lord for referring to Himself as God.

ii) [Compare Jn 5:17-18]:

(v. 17) "But He [Jesus] answered them, 'My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.'

(v. 18) For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because [they determined] He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God."

So when our Lord called God His Father He was saying that He was just like God. And His enemies had no doubt in their minds that Jesus Christ was claiming to be God.

Dr John Danish states, (Pastor, Berean Memorial Church, Berean Tape Ministry, Irving, Tx)]:

"The Lord Jesus claimed to be God and His enemies knew it.....The term 'Son of God' [when it refers to Jesus] actually means Deity. [It] does not mean simply son of God the way we may say that every human being is a son of god because God created him............

...This term ['Son of God' however] does not mean [in the context that Jesus used the term to refer to Himself] that [our Lord had] been adopted in salvation.......When this term was applied to Him it had a specific different technical meaning...........

iii) [Compare Mt 26:63-66]:

(v. 63) "But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, 'I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.' "

[.............'Now [Dr Danish goes on to say] here [in Mt 26:63] these terms Christ and Son of God were equated in this fashion:

The Christ is equal to the Son of God.

And again, both of these terms indicate deity. So the high priest said, 'All right, we are putting it point blank to You, guilty or not guilty, are You the Son of God?' Now what did He mean when he was asking Jesus, 'Are You the Son of God?' He didn't mean, 'Are You created by God?'.....[or]....'Have You received eternal life...?' He meant, 'Are You saying that You are Deity?'...that You have the essence of Deity? That's what the term 'Son of God' meant in the mouth of the high priest. Now we know this from the verses which follow....]

(v. 64) "Jesus said to him, 'You have said it yourself; ............"]

[Dr Danish, cont.]:

"And when He [Jesus] said "You have said it yourself" He is saying in the affirmative: 'Yes, I am the Son of God', which is the same as saying, 'Yes, I am God' "

[Mt 26:63-64]:

(v. 63 cont.) "But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, 'I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.' "

(v. 64) "Jesus said to him, 'You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.'

"the Son of Man" = The technical term for God in His humanity when it is applied to Jesus Christ in the context of the unique Son of Man Who is God and also will have an everlasting dominion over the earth - no one else like Him. Compare Dan 7:13-14 previously examined]

[Dr Danish, cont.]:

"Now the Lord Jesus not only said to him, 'Yes, I am God' but He said...'I am ...[the]...GodMan...and someday you will see Me sitting at the right hand of God the Father in all the power and majesty of Diety"

This was such a loathsome statement for an unbelieving Jew to hear that the high priest tore at his robes in order to express a reaction of utter horror at what he thought was blasphemy against God.

(v. 65) "Then the high priest tore his robes saying, 'He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy;

(v. 66) what do you think?' They answered and said, 'He is deserving of death!' "

[So Dr. Danish goes on to say]:

"The term 'Son of God' as it applies to Jesus Christ refers to His Diety. It is a technical word used in a specialized way and the Sanhedrin which was trying Him understood it very very well. So Jesus claimed both the titles: He claimed the title, 'The Christ', He claimed the title, 'The Son of God', both of which are equated to diety. [as well as the phrase 'the Son of Man']"

iv) [Compare Jn 19:7]:

"The Jews answered Him, 'We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.'"

[Dr Danish, cont.]:

"Now what did they mean? Should He die because He claimed salvation? No! Should He die because He had been adopted into the family of God [By saying He was a son of God] No! They were saying He should die because He made Himself the Son of God because that meant He made Himself God."

XV cont.) [Jn 3:14-16 cont.]:

(v. 16) "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."

B) GRAMMATICAL CONSTRUCTION = MAIN & SUBORDINATE CLAUSES OF JN 3:16

According to Greek grammar rules, this verse contains a main clause:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son..."

and a subordinate one:

"that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

This is evident in English too.

Furthermore, Greek grammar rules require that the subordinate clause which is begun by hina = "so that" to have its verb(s) in the subjunctive mood, a mood of objective possibility.

There is no rule of Greek grammar, however, that insists that every subordinate clause be interpreted as having its action indefinite, remaining objectively possible and never actual. Objective possibility can and often does result in actual action depending upon the context.

As a matter of fact, the context determines the outcome of the action in most subordinate clauses to be actual especially when the sovereignty of God is behind the purpose of the action in the main clause that controls what happens in the subordinate clause as in Jn 3:16. So when an individual does believe in God's Son being given for him he can be sure that God will at that moment provide him with everlasting life.

[] on Greek grammar

C) MAIN CLAUSE OF JN 3:16 = "FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON..."

"houtOs gar EgapEsen ho .Theos ton kosmon hOste ton Huion

"So ........for .loved ........the God ...the world ...that ...the Son

Hautou ton monogenE edOken"

His ......the .unique ......He gave"

1) PHRASE #1 = "For God so loved the world" =

a) "FOR" = "gar" = introduces a reason for the thing previously said, because.

The conjunction "For" = because, ties what is previously presented in vv. 1-15, especially vv. 3, 5-6 and 14-15, directly into v. 16; namely being spiritually born from above in the realm of the spiritual resulting in eternal life in the kingdom of God through faith in the Son of Man's sacrifice for sin while being lifted up on the cross.

Let's take a look at these verses again to verify this context:

i) [Jn 3:3]:

"In reply, Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.' [lit: born from above]"

ii) [Jn 3:5-6]:

(v. 5) "Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water [the Holy Spirit] and [out of the realm of the] spirit."

(v. 6) Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the [realm of the] spirit gives birth to spirit."

iii) [Jn 3:14-16]:

(v. 14) "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,

(v. 15) that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.

(v. 16) For [= because] God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."

b) "GOD" = The Triune God as presented throughout the Bible, more specifically, God the Father as the verse has God Who gave His one and only Son in view

[ on the Trinity]

c)"SO LOVED THE WORLD" = "houtOs gar EgapEsen ho .Theos

........................................................."so .........for .loved ........the God

ton kosmon"

the world"

i) "SO" = "houtos" = Str. # 3779, thus, in such a manner, so. Due to it's first position in the verse, even preceding the connecting preposition "gar" = "for" which one might expect to be the first word in this verse, which first position is a highly emphatic one, "houtos" because of this position in the verse emphasizes the particular view of God's love for the world as exceptional, remarkable. And certainly it is an exceptional love considering God's giving of His Son for the sins of the world.

ii) "LOVED" = "EgapEsen" = verb, aorist, active, indicative mood [= statement of fact], 3 pers. singular. The aorist indicative denotes a simple act motivated by God's love occurring and completed in past time.

Considering the context and the punctilear action of the aorist tense this clause portrays a completed action in the historical past. It refers to God's giving of His Son for the world once in the historical past for all time. This clearly refers to that specific love which God expressed when He sent His Son in the world to die for us on the cross. It is in the historical past because our Lord was speaking at the time of this event before He was crucified as if it had already taken place.

iii) "THE WORLD" = "ton kosmon" = all mankind.

The world has available to it a number of meanings which are to be considered for application here, with all but the correct one being ruled out as the context is considered.

1 ) A particular world of geographical connotation including non-human life and inorganic objects.

2) All mankind living at the time these words were penned.

3 ) All mankind who ever lived and who ever will live.

4 ) Conclusion re: "world" = "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him" =

The text is presenting something that God has done because of His love for the world - with no stipulated restriction of time or place. Furthermore, "whoever believes" can only refer to human beings because they are the only beings in view who are capable of believing certainly animals or mountains cannot trust in Christ as Savior. Therefore, every human being who ever lived is in view.

d) SUMMARY: "FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD" =

This first part of the main clause of Jn 3:16 continues a train of thought from the previous verses due to "For" and has God the Father in view demonstrating His great love in a particular event which He is to have performed for every one who will ever live.

C cont.) MAIN CLAUSE OF JN 3:16 = "FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON..."

2) PHRASE #2 = "THAT HE GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON"

hOste ton Huion Hautou ton monogenE edOken"

that ...the son......His .......the unique .......He gave"

a) "THAT" = "hOste" = introduces the one time completed action produced as a result of God having so loved the world.

b) "HE GAVE" = "edOken" = Verb, aorist active indicative, 3rd person singular paralleling the aorist verb, "loved" = "EgapEsen" and pointing to a completed action by God, in the historical past = a future event spoken of as if it has already occurred of the Son being given for the whole world.

This is a once for all time event due to the aorist tense and context of the Son being given for the whole world to resolve the problem between man and God, i.e., since man has a sin problem the context points to the sins of the whole world being paid for on the cross. This is an event that does not need to be repeated as the verse's verbs and context both indicate.

Since the context of the passage of Jn chapter 3 identifies Jesus Christ as "the one and only Son of God,

and since the passage portrays a conversation between Nicodemus and our Lord, set in the time before our Lord was given for the whole world,

it is concluded that the phrase "He gave His one and only Son" is set in the historical past tense portraying the future event as having occurred of God giving His one and only Son for the world.

The use of the past tense to relay events that will happen in history in the future is used in modern English today:

Someone asks you to take care of their home while they are away next month. You respond in the present: "It is done"

Here is an example from the bible:

i) [Eph 2:6-7]:

(v. 6) "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus

[Notice what is in view: believers 1) who have been saved, 2) who are physically alive at the time and 3) who are declared as having already been raised up with Christ in resurrection and seated with Christ in heaven, Yet number 3 has not occurred yet]

(v. 7) in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus."

Notice that the future is presented here - in the future God w+ill 'show the incomparable riches of His grace' as a result of having 'raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus'. Yet in verse 6 this is presented to us in the past tense as if it has already happened - while the believers being addressed were still physically alive in their mortal bodies.

ii) [Compare Jn 3:14-15]:

(v. 14) "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up [on the cross to pay for sins, 1 Jn 2:2; Heb 9:27-28],

(v. 15) that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life."

The point of the yet future event in Jn 3:16 of God giving His one and only Son is established by the context of the previous two verses which refer to the Son of Man being lifted up [on the cross] which was yet future at the time of the conversation between Nicodemus and our Lord in John chapter 3.

Notice that the exact same phrase appears in verses 15 and 16: "that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life" with the exception that in verse 16 the phrase "shall not perish but" is inserted in the middle.

This ties the two events together as one: the Son of Man being lifted up [on the cross] with God giving His one and only Son.

The Son of Man being lifted up so that all who believe in Him [being lifted up to provide for eternal life] should have eternal life is tied directly to the bronze snake which provided for the physical salvation of life of those Israelites who were bitten by a deadly poisonous snake which the Son of Man being lifted up provides for the eternal life of whoever believes in the Son of Man:

"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For [because] God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son [to be lifted up on the cross] that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life"

So the context of the previous two verses, (14-15), refers to believing in our Lord being lifted up as on a cross to pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world such that one is then born again (lit. from above) and will thus see the kingdom of God and have eternal life, (vv. 3 & 5-6):

iii) [Compare 1 Jn 2:2]:

(v. 2) He [Jesus Christ, (v. 1)] is the atoning sacrifice - the propitiation [= the satisfaction] for our [all believers', (v. 2:1)] sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."

iv) [Heb 9:27-28]:

(v. 27) "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment [notice: a once for all time context which is to be further applied]:

(v. 28) so [in the same once for all way] Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people...[the whole world = many]....

2 cont.) PHRASE #2 = "THAT HE GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON"

c) "HIS ONE AND ONLY SON" =

...."ton Huion Hautou ton monogenE" =

...."the Son.....His........the unique, i.e., one and only"

i) "The Son of God"

The term 'the Son of God' is a technical term established in other passages in Scripture for the Being Who has the attributes of God and therefore must be God, hence God the Son Who is God was given once for all time for the world by God the Father Who is God.

This was previously examined in detail [{short description of image}]

ii) "monogEne" = "unique" = "one and only" =

"monogEne" is an accusative, singular, masculine adjective consisting of the Greek prefix "mono" = "one" and "genE" from the Greek verb infinitive "ginomai" which means to cause to be. The stem of this word "monogEne" is "gEne" = "One Who is". So "monogEne" = the only one who is, i.e., the "one and only".

Notice: only one "n" occurs in the verb "ginomai" and only one "n" occurs in the form of this verb which the Apostle John uses in this verse: "genE". "GenE" is not derived from the Greek verb "gennao" - to procreate, beget. Notice the two "n"'s in this verb. One verb, meaning to cause to be, (unique), has one "n" and the other, meaning to beget has two. So the word "monogenE" means "the only One Who is" or "the unique One"

d) THE INCARNATION OF OUR LORD IS NOT IN VIEW

i) THE INCARNATION OF OUR LORD BEGAN IN THE PAST BUT IS EVERLASTING AND WOULD NOT BE PORTRAYED ONLY AS AN ACTION THAT WAS COMPLETED IN THE PAST

The event of giving in Jn 3:16 is not portrayed as ongoing as is the Incarnation but an event in a specific period of time that has a beginning and an end which the aorist tense portrays in that verse.

Furthermore, the related action in the previous verses of Christ being lifted up, (vv. 14-15), which is paralleled to God giving His one and only Son is not recognizably attributable to the Incarnation but to the Cross - an event with a beginning and an end.

So the Incarnation cannot be what is being referred to here by the phrase, "He gave His one and only Son", (aorist tense = completed action) since the Incarnation is an everlasting condition of our Lord that will never cease. Christ is the GodMan forever.

ii) SCRIPTURE NEVER PORTRAYS BELIEVING IN THE INCARNATION AS SUFFICIENT IN ORDER TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE

Nor is the Incarnation portrayed in Scripture as sufficient in and of itself for men to believe in, in order to resolve the problem of sin between God and man so that an individual can have eternal life. But the payment for sins, i.e., redemption through Jesus Christ is, (Ro 3:21-26).

iii) SCRIPTURE NEVER PORTRAYS THE INCARNATION AS GOD GIVING UP HIS SON

One would not describe the event in Jn 3:16 as God giving up His Son to add to Himself humanity, i.e., the Incarnation. It is at the cross where giving up is in view when "God made Him Who had no sin to be sin for us" (2 Cor 5:21a) at which time God forsook His Son in His humanity: "About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mt 27:46).

iv) THE INCARNATION COULD NOT BE IN VIEW IN JN 3:14-16 BECAUSE IT IS NEVER REFERRED TO IN SCRIPTURE AS "THE SON OF MAN SHALL BE LIFTED UP"

Note that this could not refer simply to the incarnation since the incarnation of the Son of God is not referred in Scripture as a lifting up, (v. 14). Nor could it refer to a completed action since the incarnation is an ongoing forever existence of our Lord as the GodMan.

e) SUMMARY: "That He gave His one and only Son" =

In view is a once for all time completed event of the one and only Son of God being given due to the aorist tense (= completed action) and indicative mood, (= statement of fact) of a completed once for all time action of the Son being given for the whole world (= those who will ever live).

D) SUBORDINATE PURPOSE CLAUSE OF JN 3:16 = "THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT SHOULD HAVE ETERNAL LIFE."

"hina pas ........................ho ..pisteuOn .....eis ..auton mE

"that everyone [who is] the..believing one on .Him ..not

apolEtai .........all' .echE ............zOEn aiOnion"

should perish..but .should have .life ....eternal"

1) PHRASE #1 = "THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM"

"hina pas ..........................ho ..pisteuOn ......eis .auton"

"that .everyone who .[is] the. believing one on .Him"

a) "THAT" = introduces the subordinate purpose clause: God gave His one and only Son [for the purpose] "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but should have everlasting life."

[The Language of the New Testament, Eugene Van Ness Goetchius, Chas. Scribner's Sons, N.Y., 1965, pp. 96, 270-271];

[pp. 270-271]:

"The subjunctive is used in subordinate clauses [such as in Jn 3:16] introduced by hina, opos and me, and sometimes in clauses introduced by eos, achri(s), andmechri(s)...

...Hina means that, in order that, so that. Clauses introduced by hina usually indicate the purpose of the action expressed in the main clause, but may indicate its result or content...."

b) "WHOEVER BELIEVES" = nominative present participle = "pas ho pisteuon" = "everyone who [is] thebelieving one" = "whoever is the believer"

i) "WHOEVER BELIEVES" IS A NOMINATIVE PRESENT PARTICIPLE = A SINGLE MOMENT OF BELIEVING AND NOT A CONTINUOUS ONE

i_a) "PAS HO PISTEUON" = "WHOEVER BELIEVES" IS A NOMINATIVE PRESENT PARTICIPLE

The phrase "whoever believes" in Jn 3:16 = "pas ho pisteuon" = relative pronoun "pas" = "everyone who" with a definite article "the" = "ho" + the present participle verb functioning as a noun, lit. "everyone who is the believing one".

["Syntax of New Testament Greek", Brooks & Winbery, 1979, University Press, Lanham, Md, pp. 144]:

"The Substantival Participle

The participle, like an adjective, may be used in the place of a noun or other substantive. The participle itself then functions as a noun. Its case, gender, and number are determined by its use in the sentence. It may be used in most of the ways in which a noun is used, e.g. as a subject nominative, as a dative of indirect object, as an accusative of direct object, etc. It may be used with or without an article. It always stands in the attributive position [following the article]."

[The Language of the New Testament, Eugene Van Ness Goetchius, Chas. Scribner's Sons, N.Y., 1965, p. 173]:

"Present participles may be used substantively [as a noun]... In the translation of such constructions into English one must usually resort to paraphrases of the types illustrated... Ro 12:7 o didaskon the teaching one (= 'the one teaching, the one who is teaching, the one who teaches")

i_a_mk6v14) [Compare Mk 6:14]:

'''King Herod heard about this, for Jesus' name had become well known. Some were saying, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.'''

"John the Baptist" = "iOannEs ho baptizOn" =

"ho baptizOn" = "the baptizing one" = present, active, participle as a noun = "the Baptist"

Just as John the Baptist was still considered the Baptist even while he was in jail, (Mt 14:8), and the one who baptizes, even after he was beheaded, (Mk 6:14);

and just as Paul referred to the Corinthians as "sanctified in Christ Jesus", (v. 1:2), "in Christ", (v. 3:1) yet they were not acting continuously faithfully at all, (3:3),

so a believer is a believer from the moment he trusts in Christ for eternal life.

[Dr. Robert Wilkin states, The Grace Report, Monthly Report of the Grace Evangelical Society, Irving, Tx. ges@faithalone.org, Mar 1999, Notes and Letters, p. 4]:

'''The articular participle (=the article "the" [='ho'] plus a participle [ex. pisteuon = believing] functions as a verbal noun. Thus ['ho pisteuon' =] 'the one who believes' does not mean ''he who keeps on believing and believing and believing' but means 'the believer.' [i.e., one who at some time exercised a single moment of faith alone in Christ alone]. Anyone who comes to faith in Christ is from that moment forward 'the believer.' '''

In other words, the nominative present participle has in view one who at some moment in present time exercised a single moment of faith in whatever is specified, in this case, trusting that God gave His one and only Son for one as a believer.

So "pas ho pisteuon" in Jn 3:16 = "everyone who is the believing one", i.e, everyone who is the believer at the moment one begins believing.

Thus a believer is legitimately referred to as a believer from the moment he trusts in Christ for eternal life, at which moment he receives possession - continuous and forever - of eternal life because possession of eternal life is forever.

The nominative present participle is thus referring more to the person than the act of believing, and therefore it is clear that the focus is on momentary action rather than continuity.

i_b) "PAS HO PISTEUON" = "WHOEVER BELIEVES" DOES NOT CONVEY CONTINUOUS ACTION

The phrase "whoever believes" in Jn 3:16 is not a simple present tense as some contend in order to demand that one maintain a constant state of believing so that one will continue to possess eternal life otherwise lose it; rather, as previously indicated, it is the relative pronoun "whoever" with the definite article "ho" = "the" and the present, active nominative participle verb "pisteuon" = "pas ho pisteuon"= "everyone who is the believing one" = a noun.

If I were to say, "In the morning I get on a bus, pay my fare with a bus pass, and get off where I work;" does the phrase 'pay my fare' mean I continually pay the fare until the ride ends, or is it in a moment of present time until the end is achieved, i.e., about 1 second to swipe the pass through the slot on top of the fare box? Same with 'I get on the bus' is not continual nor is 'get off'. Present tense is simply a present moment of action until the context determines when the action ceases. This is true in the koine Greek also.

Consider the individuals who are found guilty of various offenses before a magistrate in a court in the times of the ancient Roman Empire - New Testament times. The magistrate declares before the group of guilty people in koine Greek, the language of the New Testament, in a statement that directly parallels the second half of Jn 3:16, 'Whoever pays his fine shall not perish in jail, but have freedom to go, with his life.' Does the present tense of 'Whoever pays' demand continuous - uninterrupted payment of the fine in order for an individual to 'have freedom to go, with his life?' The answer is obvious, the present tense does not always demand continuous uninterrupted action in the present. Just as the payment of the Magistrate's fine was to be done once in present time such that it results in freedom - the payment not having to be continuous; so the believing in Christ as Savior, when it begins in present time, immediately results in the aorist tense completed action of never perishing and the present tense reception of eternal life such that the believing need not continue in order to keep the result of never perishing and possession of eternal life continuous because the never perishing is a completed action and the eternal life by its very nature once received is continuously eternal.

Furthermore, even if the simple present tense were the verb in the original Greek text - and it is not - a special context and/or additional words such as "diapantos" = continually, must be inserted into the text in order to convey the idea of continuous believing. The Greek present tense by itself does not convey such an idea - nor does its counterpart in English. Simple present tense action in the absence of qualifiers demands a singular action in the present moment without requiring that it continue into later moments in any language. No first century Greek reader or hearer was likely to get a meaning such as 'continue to believe' without the necessary additional qualifiers to the simple present tense.

[Compare Hebrews 13:15]:

"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name."

"anapherOmen ..thusian .aineseOs diapantos"

"we should offer sacrifice of praise continually"

Notice that "anapherOmen" = "we should offer" is present tense. Yet in order to emphasize continual action the word "diapantos" = "continually" must be inserted. For more cross references and an indepth study of the articular present participle:

In addition to this, the appeal to force the simple present tense to mean continuous action would lead to havoc in many passages in the New Testament. For example, 1 John 1:8 reads, "If we [born again believers] say that we have no sin [="ouk echomen" = present tense] we deceive ourselves". If this verse is rendered in the continuous mode, it would be read, "If we say that we do not continuously have sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." This indicates that in spite of becoming born again believers there is no time in the believer's life that he can claim not to be living a lifestyle of continuous, unadulterated sin - no time for anything else!!!

Since eternal life is immediately received at the first instant of believing according to numerous salvation passages whereupon it is also established - often stipulated, that a believer has an absolute assurance of his eternal destiny in heaven, (ref. 1 Jn 5:9-13);

and since eternal life once received by definition is continuous and everlasting for that individual believer without interruption or cessation from then on no matter what,

then to insist that continuous believing is thereupon required in order to continue to have eternal life is nonsensical, contradicts normative rules of language and violates the doctrine of assurance, i.e., eternal security.

In the final analysis "whoever believes" = "pas ho pisteuon" in the Greek, the form of the verb to believe in Jn 3:16, is not a simple present tense form at all; but it is actually a nominative, singular, masculine, present active participle, i.e., a participle acting as a noun indicating "one who believes" [in Christ as Savior], i.e., a believer. The participle acting as a noun does not require a perfection of continuous action such as continuous believing in order for an individual to be qualified as a believer.

ii) A CONTINUOUS STATE OF BELIEVING IN CHRIST IS NOT POSSIBLE WITH MAN

According to Scripture, a continuous and perfect state of believing in Christ is not possible with man which would necessitate sinless perfection. For any sin a believer commits reflects a degree of unbelief and no one can claim to be without sin, nor maintain a perfect state of continuous faith:

ii_a) [1 Jn 1:8, 10]:

(v. 8) "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

(v. 10) If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives."

No believer can claim to maintain a perfect, uninterrupted record of faith in Christ as he is bound to commit acts of unbelief throughout his life.

ii_b) [Compare 1 Jn 4:7-12]:

(v. 7) "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

(v. 8) Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."

[Notice that "whoever does not love does not know God" in the sense of being out of fellowship with Him for the moment, acting as one who does not know God, an unbeliever. Since sin is an act of not loving, and since all believers sin, then at those moments they do sin, they do 'not know God', i.e., their faith in Him is imperfect]

Can an individual express saving faith in Christ as Savior continuously - without any interruption all his life even during moments when he is asleep - completely in unconscious sleep?

Suppose while in a deep sleep with your active mind unconscious, you no longer are continuously maintaining faith in Christ as Savior, you die in your sleep and then because of this unconscious lapse, wake up in Hell - after a long life of faithful service to God!!!!

Can an individual maintain perfect, uninterrupted saving faith in Christ as Savior throughout his waking day? Consider an accountant who is in deep concentration, keying in figures on a spread sheet making sure of his accuracy. Can he also be maintaining a deep concentration on trusting in Christ as Savior without interruption?

Have you ever lost your salvation during the moment when you are considering what to have for lunch instead of continuing to believe in Christ to save you - as your thoughts are not for the moment on Jesus Christ but on the Tuna Melt sandwich on the menu?

What do you then need to do to get it back? Is it really eternal life if you keep losing it every time your mind wanders to some other subject? Wouldn't it be better to call it 'For the Moment Life' rather than eternal life? And how do you get eternal life back after your momentary lapse?

D cont.) SUBORDINATE PURPOSE CLAUSE OF JN 3:16 = "THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT SHOULD HAVE ETERNAL LIFE."

iii) IF THE PHRASE "WHOEVER BELIEVES" WERE PRESENT TENSE, (AND IT IS NOT - IT IS A NOUN), THE CONTEXT WOULD DEMAND THAT IT BE IN THE AORISTIC PRESENT IN VIEW OF THE AORIST TENSES OF "GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD", "THAT HE GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON", AND "SHOULD NOT PERISH"

The aoristic present tense presents the action as a simple event or as a present fact without any reference to its progress.

The phrase "should not perish" in Jn 3:16 is in the aorist tense providing a completed state of never perishing at the moment in the present one becomes the believer.

This is all as a result of the aoristic future tense in both verses of God having so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son. Since all of the above actions are completed action moments, the aoristic present "whoever believes" would be in view if "whoever believes" in Jn 3:16 were in the present tense.

BELIEF, FAITH & TRUST DEFINED AS MENTAL ASSENT

iii_a) ENGLISH DICTIONARY DEFINITION OF FAITH

[Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary]:

ftp://ftp.uga.edu/pub/misc/webster/

faith \Faith\, n.

1. Belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting solely and implicitly on his authority and veracity; reliance on testimony. 2. The assent of the mind to the statement or proposition of another, on the ground of the manifest truth of what he utters; firm and earnest belief, on probable evidence of any kind, especially in regard to important moral truth. Faith, that is, fidelity, -- the fealty of the finite will and understanding to the reason. believe

\Be*lieve"

\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Believed; p. pr. & vb. n. Believing.]

To exercise belief in; to credit upon the authority or testimony of another; to be persuaded of the truth of, upon evidence furnished by reasons, arguments, and deductions of the mind, or by circumstances other than personal knowledge; to regard or accept as true; to place confidence in; to think; to consider; as, to believe a person, a statement, or a doctrine. "

trust \Trust\, v. t.

1. To place confidence in; to rely on, to confide, or repose faith, in; as, we can not trust those who have deceived us. I will never trust his word after. --Shak. He that trusts every one without reserve will at last be deceived. --Johnson. 2. To give credence to; to believe; to credit. Trust me, you look well. --Shak. 3. To hope confidently; to believe; -- usually with a phrase or infinitive clause as the object. I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face. --2 John 12. We trust we have a good conscience. --Heb. xiii. 18. 4. to show confidence in a person by intrusting (him) with something. Syn: Confidence; belief; faith; hope; expectation"

iv_b) NT GREEK DICTIONARY DEFINITION OF FAITH

The New Analytical Greek Lexicon which is a dictionary of the koine Greek language of the Bible, (Wesley J. Perschbacher, Editor, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Ma; 1992, p. 329), states as the meaning of the word pisteuo which is translated believe in the English Bible translations as follows:

"(4100)... [pisteuo] 1 pers. sg. pres. act. indic., fut... [pisteuso] ...to believe, give credit to, Mark 1:15; 16:13; Luke 24:25; intrns. to believe, have a mental persuasion, Matt. 8:13; 9:28; James 2:19; to believe, be of opinion, Rom. 14:2; in N.T. [pisteuein en, eis] to believe in or on, Matt. 18:6; 27:42; John 3:15, 16, 18; absol. to believe, be a believer in the religion of Christ, Acts 2:44; 4:4, 32; 13:48; trans. to intrust, commit to the charge or power of, Luke 16:11; John 2:24; pass. to be intrusted with, Rom. 3:2; 1 Cor. 9:17"

Note that the Greek word used in the Bible which is translated into forms of the verb 'to believe' is also defined according to the Greek dictionary to mean a trust in the information presented, i.e., a mental assent - devoid of additional actions on the part of an individual other than the moment of mental agreement.

In the case of Jn 3:16, one is to trust in the information that God gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

Objectors who insist that the word believe relative to salvation takes on more than the normative meaning must consider here in this conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus in John chapter 3 that our Lord did not redefine or specially define the word rendered believe relative to salvation here in His conversation with Nicodemus; and that certainly would have been the most opportune time, the Son of God knowing that this would be the verse most often quoted and memorized - and which is an instruction on how to have eternal life.

D cont.) SUBORDINATE PURPOSE CLAUSE OF JN 3:16 = "THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT SHOULD HAVE ETERNAL LIFE."

2) PHRASE #2 OF THE SUBORDINATE CLAUSE = "SHOULD NOT PERISH"

"should not perish" = "me apoletai" = aorist tense, 3rd pers. singular, subjunctive mood, middle voice = The believer receives a state of completed action of not ever perishing if God's purpose is fulfilled - and God being absolutely capable and sovereign, it will be fulfilled.

a) THE AORIST TENSE AND THE SUBJUNCTIVE MOOD

i) [SYNTAX OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK, James A. Brooks, Carlton L. Winbery, University Press of America, Lanham, Md., 1988, pp. 98, 118-120, 111-112]:

[p. 98]

"The aorist tense expresses punctiliar action. Indeed the word aoristos [aorist] means without limit, unqualified, undefined - which of course is the significance of punticiliar action. Only in the indicative mood [as in both verbs in Jn 3:16 main clause] does the aorist also indicate past time."

It often corresponds to the English perfect (I have loosed).

So the aorist is said to be "simple occurrence" or "summary occurrence", without regard for the amount of time taken to accomplish the action. This tense is also often referred to as the 'punctiliar' tense. 'Punctiliar' in this sense means 'viewed as a single, collective whole,' a "one-point-in-time" action in which from an external point of view the action is completed - no longer requiring further time to elapse, although it may actually have taken place over a period of time. In the indicative mood the aorist tense denotes action that occurred in the past time, often translated like the English simple past tense.

[p. 118]

"The subjunctive expresses action or a state of being which is objectively possible."

ii) THE LANGUAGE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

[The Language of the New Testament, Eugene Van Ness Goetchius, Chas. Scribner's Sons, N.Y., 1965, pp. 96, 270-271]:

[p. 96]:

"The Greek aorist very frequently refers to action which has been completed in the past..."

[pp. 270-271]:

"The subjunctive is used in subordinate clauses [such as in Jn 3:16] introduced by hina, opos and me, and sometimes in clauses introduced by eos, achri(s), andmechri(s)...

...Hina means that, in order that, so that. Clauses introduced by hina usually indicate the purpose of the action expressed in the main clause, but may indicate its result or content...."

Consider the following passage which has a subordinate clause introduced by hina with a verb in the subjunctive mood just as Jn 3:16 does

ii_a)[Compare Phil 2:27]:

"Indeed he [Epaphroditus] was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy upon him...and me, in order that I [Paul] might not have sorrow upon sorrow."

Notice that this in fact came true yet the subordinate clause's verb is in the subjunctive mood. God's sovereign mercy did prevail and the resulting action was that Paul did not have sorrow upon sorrow - he was left not with objective possibiltity and thus continued sorrow upon sorrows but with the opposite: great joy that Epaphroditus lived to serve with Paul. So the subjunctive mood does not necessarily signify that the action stipulated as indefinite or remaining potential and never actual. The outcome of whether or not the action is actual depends largely upon the context of the passage.

On the other hand if one maintains in Jn 3:16 that a state of never perishing and having eternal life is still potential and in question as having been attained for "one who is believing", i.e., a believer as stipulated in that verse then one must be consistent and say that Paul did not avoid having sorrow upon sorrow even though God did have mercy and healed Epaphroditus.

iii) WUEST'S WORD STUDIES

[Kenneth S. Wuest states, (Wuest's Word Studies, Vol. 3, 'Great Truths To Live By, Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich., 1992, p. 67)]:

[So, relative to Jn 3:16]:

"In the words, 'should not perish, but have everlasting life,' there is a radical change in tenses, from the aorist which speaks of a once-for-all act to the present subjunctive which speaks of a continuous state. The contrast is one between the final utter ruin and lost estate of the unbeliever, and the possession of eternal life as an enduring experience on the part of the believer"

2 cont.) PHRASE #2 OF THE SUBORDINATE CLAUSE = "SHOULD NOT PERISH"

b) COMPLETED ACTION OF NEVER PERISHING = POSSESSION OF ETERNAL LIFE

THE AORIST TENSE "SHOULD NOT PERISH" PROVIDES AN INDIVIDUAL WITH A STATE OF NEVER PERISHING AT THE MOMENT HE BECOMES A BELIEVER. IT IS NOT AFFECTED BY WHETHER OR NOT THE BELIEVING CONTINUES ON AFTER THAT

Notice that "should not perish" is in the aorist tense providing a completed state of never perishing at the moment one becomes the believer. A completed action of never perishing is thus not effected by whether or not the believing continues on after that. Furthermore, a completed action of never perishing is another way of saying one is in a state of having eternal life which immediately follows in parallel in Jn 3:16 after the connective word, "but" = "whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life". The two are inseparable, you are never perishing when you have eternal life.

One would then ask the question, 'Why would a continuous state of believing be necessary if a completed action of the aorist tense of 'never perishing' resulted at the moment one becomes a believer?' Answer: it is not necessary.

If continuous believing were necessary to provide one with a state of not perishing then Jn 3:16 must be changed to read "whoever continuously believes in Him will [future] not perish but will [future] have eternal life."

c) SUMMARY OF PHRASE #2 = "SHOULD NOT PERISH"

Considering the use of the aorist tense twice in the main clause of v. 16 to indicate with the context: God's completed action of love in His giving His one and only Son once for all time completed action of paying for the sins of the whole world, we can therefore conclude that the aorist tense in "me apoletai" means a completed action resulting in a condition of never perishing as a result of the application of God's once for all time giving of His one and only Son upon the one who believes, the believer. Since this action of God is a completed action and has been appropriated by the individual at the moment he became "ho pisteuon" = "the believer", then we may conclude that the state of the believer not perishing is permanent. Thus the subjunctive mood of the verb "me apoletai" in this clause expresses action which is objectively possible for the whole world and which becomes a reality for the "pas ho pisteuon" = the one who is believing, i.e., the believer considering the context and especially considering the unfailing capacity and sovereignty of God in fulfilling His declared purposes. The subjunctive mood allows for the assumption that there is some doubt as to the outcome depending upon the reliablity of the One acting for the purpose stipulated. Since God is absolutely reliable then the outcome in the subordinate clause for the believer is actual and not potential.

[]TO GRAMMATICAL CONSTRUCTION OF JN 3:16

[] TO "LOVED" = "EgapEsen" = verb, aorist

3) PHRASE #3 OF THE SUBORDINATE CLAUSE = "BUT SHOULD HAVE ETERNAL LIFE"

"but should have life .....eternal"

"all' .echE ...........zOEn aiOnion"

a) "BUT" = "all' " sets Action #2 in opposition to Action #1: from the condition of once for all never perishing opposite to Action #2: the once for all condition of having eternal life forever.

b) "SHOULD HAVE" = "eche" = lit., may be having, present tense, 3 pers sing., .subjunctive mood = objective possibility, active voice. The active voice of the verb "eche" = "may be having" indicates that the individual directly causes the results of his commencing to having eternal life as a result of his believing in the Son being given for him when he becomes a believer, i.e., "one who is believing".

[Dr. Robert Wilkin states, Grace Evangelical Society, Irving, Tx. ges@faithalone.org]:

"The verb 'echo', to have, only occurs in the NT in the middle passive in participles. It has two active uses, transitive and intransitive. Transitive uses deal with having something. Intransitive uses aren't even translated as 'have,' but convey the idea of being or being in a certain situation. This use is transitive. That is, it takes an object, eternal life. 'Having eternal life' refers to something someone who meets the condition possesses. In order to find out how they came into possession of it, you must go back to the condition, not the voice.

Let's say the sentence read, 'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever follows His selfless example and lives a godly life should not perish but have everlasting life.'

In that case the having would require active effort on the part of the person obtaining the life. In this case, the condition is merely 'believing in Him,' which is passive reception. Thus while the verb is active voice (as are all NT uses of echo except in the participle), the means of having eternal life is clearly passive."

This second action, "but should have eternal life" has already been touched upon and it works similarly to Action #1:

i) THE BELIEVER WILL ASSUREDLY RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE FOREVER

Because of the absolute sovereignty, trustworthiness and capacity of God the believer receives a guaranteed present tense = immediate possession of eternal life as the fulfilled purpose of God at the point he became "the believing one", i.e., a believer, (Ref. Eph 1:13-14). So the objective possibility of the sujunctive mood indicated by "should have" becomes a certainty because God is absolutely sovereign, capable and trustworthy and will fulfill His promise of providing eternal life at the instant one expresses a moment of believing in the Son being given for him. This is established in the previous two verses as well:

i_a) [Compare Jn 3:14-15]:

(v. 14) "Just as Moses lifted up the [bronze] snake in the desert [on the pole], so the Son of Man must be lifted up [on the cross],

(v. 15) [so] that everyone who believes in Him["pas ho pisteuon = everyone who is a believer in Him] may have eternal life."

So to review verses 14 & 15, once an Israelite is bitten by the snake and then makes one single look of faith at the bronze snake on the pole then that Israelite is saved from physical death from that particular snake bite.

This is paralleled in Jn 3:15 to the concept that once one becomes a believer by a moment of faith in the Son being given for him unto eternal life then one has eternal life, becoming born again in order to enter the kingdom of God once for all time, (v. 3, 5-6).

ii) AN UNCERTAIN OUTCOME CANNOT BE IN VIEW UNLESS ONE CHANGES THE ORIGINAL TEXT

An uncertain outcome cannot be in view without changing the original text of John 3:16 considering the absolute capacity and sovereignty of God the Provider of eternal life to deliver on the promise of present tense possession of eternal life to the one who believes in His Son.

iii) SINCE A MOMENT OF FAITH IS THE ONLY REQUIREMENT IN VIEW, OTHER REQUIREMENTS CANNOT BE ADDED INTO THIS VERSE TO MAKE ETERNAL LIFE DEPENDENT UPON OTHER THINGS BESIDES A MOMENT OF FAITH

Since faith in the Son being given is the only requirement in view in this passage which says that God provides eternal life the moment that that requirement is begun to be met,

then modifying words cannot be inserted in order to stipulate that God's decision to give eternal life is dependent upon something else in addition to a moment of faith in the Son being given for one. This cannot be done and still maintain the integrity of God's Word.

iv) THE AORIST SUBJUNCTIVE VERB "SHOULD NOT PERISH" IN THE PREVIOUS PHRASE CONVEYS CERTAINTY SINCE GOD, THE PROVIDER OF THE ACTION, IS ABSOLUTELY TRUSTWORTHY AND CAPABLE OF DELIVERING ON HIS PROMISES

The aorist subjunctive verb "should not perish" = "me apoletai" cannot be changed to some other form of the verb to portray something uncertain. As it stands, the phrase conveys the certain-completed-action of not perishing since God is absolutely trustworthy and capable of following through on His promises and provide the believer with a state of never perishing and present possession of eternal life forever. Notice that once the individual becomes a believer with the aorist tense and God as Provider, no further requirement or time is needed to fulfill the promise of never perishing and having eternal life forever.

v) THE PRESENT TENSE VERB "SHOULD HAVE ETERNAL LIFE" CONVEYS CERTAIN PRESENT POSSESSION OF ETERNAL LIFE FOREVER SINCE GOD THE PROVIDER OF THE ACTION IS RELIABLE, AND ETERNAL LIFE IS FOREVER

The change of the present tense verb "should have eternal life" = "echEzOEn aiOnion" cannot be made to some other form of the verb to portray something uncertain. As it stands the phrase "should have eternal life" conveys the certain present tense possession of the believer at the moment he becomes a believer for the duration of that possession which is eternal as stipulated in the phrase "zOEn aiOnion" = "eternal life"

vi) GOD MUST BE PORTRAYED AS UNFAITHFUL AND UNJUST IF THE CONTEXT IS TO FIT UNCERTAINTY IN JN 3:16

If the context of Jn 3:16 is to be changed to one of uncertain results for the believer, then a completely different picture of God must be portrayed from the one John portrays as One Who so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him is given eternal life...

to a God Who may decide to give eternal life and then again He may not for anyone who believes in His Son being given for them. This is a different picture of the God of the Bible - a different God Who is whimsical in His giving of eternal life to some and cruel in His holding back of eternal life from others despite the fact that all of those in view have trusted God's promise to provide eternal life for them when they believed. But some just don't get it - for no reason stipulated in this passage, and some do.

3 cont.) PHRASE #3 OF THE SUBORDINATE CLAUSE = "but have eternal life"

c) "ETERNAL LIFE" ONCE RECEIVED IS FOREVER

"Eternal life" = "zOEn aiOnion" = lit., 'life forever' = When an individual expresses a moment of belief in the Son being given for him, according to Jn 3:16, he receives possession of life with God forever.

Since eternal life has a unique characteristic about it of being everlasting in duration; then such a life will not cease once it has begun to be the possession of the individual at the beginning moment of faith when he became "ho pisteuon eis auton" = the believer in the Son of God being given up for him. Otherwise eternal life would not be called eternal life, it would be called 10 year life or 10 minute life as the case may be. So if the believer does not maintain a continuous state of believing in the Son after that first moment of faith, the duration of the believing will not have an effect on the duration of the eternal life since the latter has begun to be the forever possession of the believer.

d) ETERNAL LIFE ONCE RECEIVED IS AN INTRINSIC PART OF AN INDIVIDUAL WHICH CAN NEVER BE LOST

i) LIFE IS AN INTRINSIC PART OF AN INDIVIDUAL

[Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary [G & C Merriam Co., Springfield, Mass, 1980]:

Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines life as "a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings; an animating and shaping force or principle." Hence, this principle is inherent in the individual, an intrinsic part that animates every part of ones being.

ii) ETERNAL LIFE CANNOT EXIST SEPARATELY FROM THE INDIVIDUAL - BEING ETERNAL, ONE THUS WILL NEVER LOSE IT

In the same way, eternal life once received becomes an intrinsic part of the individual when he believes in the Son of God and receives it.

[Jn 3:16]:

"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."

Notice that eternal life becomes the present possession of the individual the moment he expresses believing in the Son being given for him.

[Compare Jn 6:53-54]:

(v. 53) '''Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no [eternal] life in you.

[Notice that the word life refers to eternal life, (v. 58), and the context leading up to v. 53. This eternal life once received is described here as "in you", implying an intrinsic part of you]

(v. 54) Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

Since eternal life once received is "in you" inferring an intrinsic part of you for eternity, then it is not portrayed in the Bible as occupying space in a particular part of your anatomy such that it can be removed and lost from within you and then recovered again.

Furthermore, the concept of eternal life existing outside of an individual is comparing apples and oranges. The concept of something cannot be compared to the possession of it. The concept of eternal life is one which is forever, everlasting, without end, of course; but the eternal life of a particular individual does not exist until he believes, at which time the eternal life cannot go out of existence because of some infraction and must by definition be an intrinsic part of that individual's existence forever. An individual's eternal life cannot be measured apart from the individual any more than an individual's physical life can be measured apart from the individual's physical existence. The concept of life can be discussed in general but that discussion does not apply to an individual who does not yet possess physical life or eternal life.

Finally, even if it could somehow be lost, it could not be described as eternal life - but life for the duration of time that it was an intrinsic part of that individual. Thus eternal life is eternally secure because it is defined as an intrinsic part of the individual for the duration of eternity.

But let's do a hypothetical test of this, assuming one can lose one's salvation, repent and recover it again:

A man lost his salvation ten years after he got saved. Later on he repented and regained eternal life, (if that were possible and it is not), at which time he dies. Hence is the length of his eternal life one eternity + ten years!?!

Consider that once physical life begins an individual exists. Once it leaves an individual, the individual ceases to exist as he originally began to exist, hence he is destroyed. Portions of that creation may and do continue to exist, but in a totally different format wherein the physical body is a mass of matter, dead, lifeless no longer containing a soul or spirit which the latter entities occupy other space. The context of the argument does not permit entering into this any more than you can say that water can lose its oxygen. Just as the oxygen is intrinsic to the existence of the water and losing it would destroy the water, albeit change it into something else which no longer functions as water, so taking away physical life from an individual destroys that individual such that he no longer exists as originally created. In the same way, once eternal life is received the individual is a new creation that cannot exist without that eternal life, it being an intrinsic part of that individual forever by definition. So it is not a viable argument to say one can lose something intrinsic as eternal life as if the individual would not be destroyed, no longer in existence and go back to the point he did not have eternal life as part of his intrinsic makeup. Recall that one is forever intrinisically in Christ, intrinsically part of His indestructible body at the point of faith in the gospel, sealed by the intrinsically indwelling Holy Spirit, (Eph 1:13-14). So how can one lose the life in Christ apart from destroying Christ? How can the eternal body of Christ be lost? How can the permanently indwelling Holy Spirit in one be destroyed?

Further details on eternal life is an intrinsic part of the believer {short description of image}

e) OTHER PASSAGES STIPULATE A MOMENT OF FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE UNTO ETERNAL LIFE FOREVER IN VERB FORMS THAT CORROBORATE A MOMENT OF FAITH IN JN 3:16

i) [Mk 16:16]:

"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

"believes" = "ho pistEusas" = the one believing, nom, sg, m. aor. active participle. "whoever does not believe" = "ho de apistEsas" = nom, sg, m. aor. active participle [Notice: aorist tense signifying a punctilear moment of faith in order to be saved]

ii) [Jn 3:18]:

"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."

"ho .........pisteuOn eis auton ou .krinetai ....................ho ........de ..mE pisteuOn

"The one believing in .Him ..not is condemned ...........the one but .not believing

.................V_PAPNSM ................V_PPI3S ..............................................V_PAPNSM

Pres. Active Part nom sing masc .Pres. Passive Indic 3rd Sing ..............ditto 1st verb

EdE ......kekritai .....................hoti ......mE pepisteuken .....eis .to ..onoma tou

already has been condemned because not he has believed in ..the name ..of the

..............V_XPI3S .........................................V_XAI3S

...............perfect pass indicative 3rd sing ....perfect active indicative 3rd sing

monogenous ....huiou tou theou

unique...............Son ..........of God.

one and only

"Whoever believes" = "ho pistEuOn" = nom. sing. masc. pres. act. part. is identical to the phrase rendered "whoever believes" in v. 16 and portrays an individual who expresses a moment of belief in the Son being given for one, (v. 16), whereupon he is declared as the believing one, who is not condemned as well as having possession of eternal life, (v. 16), at the moment he becomes the believing one which possession of eternal life is forever by definition and which individual also begins a permanent state of no condemnation - permanent because the permanent possession of eternal life is mutually exclusive of condemnation by definition.

"But whoever does not believe" = "ho.de mE pisteuOn", lit., "the same form as the first verb in 18a with the negative "mE" = "not": a nominative participle = a noun, portraying an individual who has not yet expressed a moment of belief in the Son being given for one, which may be rendered 'But whoever is the unbeliever'.

"But whoever does not believe stands condemned already" = "EdE kekritai" = lit.,"already has been condemned", perfect tense portraying a completed condition in the past of being condemned with ongoing present results of being condemned because of the primary clause in this phrase, "But whoever does not believe", i.e., "whoever is not the believer", or whoever has not expressed a moment of belief in the Son to become the believer. So one who has never expressed a moment of belief in the Son has been condemned from the beginning, implying such a condition from conception, and stands condemned until he expresses a moment of belief in the Son being given in order to become the believer.

"Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already [lit., already has been condemned] because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God" =

"hoti mE pepisteuken", perfect tense portraying a completed condition in the past of not having ever believed with an ongoing present condition of continually choosing not to express a moment of belief in the name of the Son of God which causes one to be in a completed action state of condemnation from the beginning with ongoing present results of continually under condemnaiton until such time as the individual expresses a moment of belief in the name of the Son of God.

On the other hand the reverse is not true. One cannot say, "Just as continued unbelief in the Son of God results in continued condemnation and lack of possession of eternal life, so continued belief in the Son of God results in a continued state of not being condemned and continues possession of eternal life. Nor can one say that any interruption in continuous belief will cause interruption in the possession of eternal life, causing a return to the state of condemnation. It is false conjecture and incorrect logic to maintain that since a negative is true, then the reverse/positive must also be true. So the reverse of 18b namely "Whoever has believed has eternal life" portraying a completed action of believing with ongoing believing in the present in order to have possession of eternal life is not true, nor present anywhere in Scripture. Finally, the idea of maintaining an ongoing faith in the Son in order to continue a possession of eternal life is falsified by virtue of the contexts of vv. 16 and 18. The practical impossibility of man to maintain ongoing faith in the Son of God corroborates this.

Parallel, practical, temporal example:

Whoever satisfactorily answers the complaint on his property that the back taxes were not paid will not have his property condemned, but whoever does not satisfactorily answer such complaint, his property is condemned already because he has not answered the complaint.

Notice that a continual answer to the complaint is not in view, a one time answer of paying the back taxes is. Furthermore, the negative perfect tense phrase, "because he has not answered the complaint," represents a completed action of not having paid the back taxes resulting in an ongoing condemnation of ones property until such time that the back taxes are paid, i.e., ongoing condemnation in the present. In the same way, the negative perfect tense phrase in Jn 3:18 , "because he has not believed," represents a completed action of being condemned with ongoing condition of condemnation until such time that one expresses a moment of faith to become the believing one. So the loss of eternal life is not in view when one has interrupted ones faith with the negative perfect tense phrase; but the continued lack of it until one believes is.

If one pays the back taxes, a completed action of relief of the condemnation with ongoing results in the present will result without the necessity of an ongoing effort of paying the back taxes over and over. In the same manner, from the moment of belief in the name of God's one and only Son the result will be a completed action of removal of condemnation with ongoing present results in the present without the necessity of providing an ongoing faith.

iii) [Acts 16:29-31]:

(v. 29) "The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.

(v. 30) He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

(v. 31) They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household."

[Eternal Life, By John W. White

http://www.gracebiblechurch.us/tracts/eternal.html]:

'''In Acts 16:30, 31 is the only place in the Bible where saved is in the question and saved is in the answer.

"... Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."

Paul used the aorist tense of the verb 'believe' and not the present tense. The aorist tense is graphed by using a dot, an event. The present tense is graphed by using a line, which expresses continuous action. You believe one time and you are saved and you do not have to continue to believe to stay saved, as would be the case if the present tense of the verb 'believe' were used.'''

D cont.) SUBORDINATE PURPOSE CLAUSE OF JN 3:16 = "THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT SHOULD HAVE ETERNAL LIFE."

4) SUMMARY OF SUBORDINATE PURPOSE CLAUSE: "THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT SHOULD HAVE ETERNAL LIFE."

Not only has eternal life begun within the individual at the instant that he believes in the Son of God being given up for Him, but the verb "me apoletai" = "should not perish" in the previous clause is in the aorist tense which speaks of a once for all time exclusion from perishing in the Lake of Fire; which condition is also begun at the moment of believing - as God is sovereign and will deliver on His promises.

XV) [Jn 3:14-16 cont.]:

(v. 16) "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."

E) CONCLUSION

So our Lord's answer to Nicodemus' question of "How can this be?" [that one must be born again in order to have eternal life?, (v.9)] must have taken Nicodemus by surprise. For it simply states that the love of God motivated Him to complete the plan for His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for the sin of the whole world, so that whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross, would not perish, i.e., burn forever in Hell, but have eternal life with God in heaven. So it was not Nicodemus' Jewish heritage nor his good deeds nor any ritual which brought him salvation, but a plain, simple and undivided trust in Christ...just a mental assent that Christ is to pay the price for his sin, a simple acceptance of this wonderful free gift, which God calls His grace, (cp Eph 2:8-9).

To make sure Nicodemus gets the message, our Lord repeats this point several times in verses 17 & 18. Notice in these next two verses that it is a simple trust that is required for eternal life and that is all. If one adds some confidence of one's own to pay for one's salvation, one's trust is divided and not completely in Christ. It becomes contaminated by unworthy effort and therefore is unacceptable to God. One thereby has not yet received God's precious free grace gift of eternal life.

XVI) [Jn 3:17]:

(v. 17) "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him."

OBSERVATIONS:

"For" continues the context of vv. 14-15 which has in view everyone in the whole world who will ever live. It is not limited to a chosen few. Verse 16 has God's love for the whole world in view that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Verse 17 then continues to say that God's purpose for sending His Son into the world was not to condemn the world but to save it through His Son.

The word "world" therefore cannot be limited to the world of a few chosen individuals since all individuals occupy the same world that God's Son was sent into to save and not condemn according to v. 17.

Furthermore, if God sent His Son into the world to provide for the salvation of only a chosen few, then He also would have been sent to condemn the rest of the world without such provision who are not so chosen. But this contradicts the clear message of verse 17, for there is no condemnation in view here at all.

Whether everyone will choose to be saved is not determined here, but the universal availability of eternal life through Jesus Christ for all mankind of the whole world that God's Son was sent into is.

A) GOD'S PLAN WAS TO SAVE THE WORLD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST NOT AS A PERFECT EXAMPLE FOR ONE TO FOLLOW BUT HE WAS THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB THROUGH WHOM ALL WHO TRUST ALONE IN HIS SACRIFICE FOR THEM WILL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE

God's plan was to save the world through Jesus Christ! Our Lord was not just a perfect example of how to live; He was the sacrificial Lamb through Whom all who trust in Him and Him alone will have eternal life, (Jn 1:29). So, in verse 18, our Lord specifically defines the terms of salvation - when you have it and when you don't]:

XVII) [JN 3:18]:

(v. 18) 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."

OBSERVATIONS:

"Whoever" continues to have in view everyone in the world that God sent His Son into (v. 17); not just a chosen few. Condemnation is indicated as opposite to being saved unto eternal life through faith in the Son of God, (vv. 16-17). Hence not being condemned in v. 18 has in view being saved unto eternal life in this passage. "Whoever believes" is literally 'whoever is the one who believes' which does not mean ''he who keeps on believing and believing and believing' but means 'the believer.', i.e., one who at some time exercised a single moment of faith alone in Christ alone which results in no condemnation, i.e., being saved unto eternal life forever.

The opposite is also true: whoever has not yet believed stands condemned already because he has not become the believer. All it takes is a moment of faith alone in God's one and only Son alone + nothing else stipulated and you will never be condemned, i.e., you will have eternal life forever.

Note that 'believes in Him' is equated with 'believed in the name of God's one and only Son.' There is no distinction made here, both result in a moment of time in never any condemnation.

Notice also that all mankind is in a state of condemnation until each one believes - saving one at a time.

Verse 18 makes it evident that eternal life is made available to all mankind. It continues the context established in verses 14-17. If theword "whoever" was limited to a chosen few, the verse would sound redundant and contradictory:

'Whoever [of a chosen few] believes in Him is not condemned...

It is contradictory to imply that some of the chosen will not believe since none of the chosen will fail to believe.

A) A MOMENT OF FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE PROVIDES A PERMANENT STATE OF NEVER BEING CONDEMNED; AND NEVER HAVING BELIEVED KEEPS ONE UNDER GOD'S WRATH UNTIL THE MOMENT ONE DOES BELIEVE

[Jn 3:18]:

"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."

"ho .........pisteuOn eis auton ou .krinetai ....................ho ........de ..mE pisteuOn

"The one believing in .Him ..not is condemned ...........the one but .not believing

.................V_PAPNSM ................V_PPI3S ..............................................V_PAPNSM

Pres. Active Part nom sing masc .Pres. Passive Indic 3rd Sing ..............ditto 1st verb

EdE ......kekritai .....................hoti ......mE pepisteuken .....eis .to ..onoma tou

already has been condemned because not he has believed in ..the name ..of the

..............V_XPI3S .........................................V_XAI3S

...............perfect pass indicative 3rd sing ....perfect active indicative 3rd sing

monogenous ....huiou tou theou

unique...............Son ..........of God.

one and only

"Whoever believes" = "ho pistEuOn" = nom. sing. masc. pres. act. part. is identical to the phrase rendered "whoever believes" in v. 16 and portrays an individual who expresses a moment of belief in the Son being given for one, (v. 16), whereupon he is declared as the believing one, who is not condemned as well as having possession of eternal life, (v. 16), at the moment he becomes the believing one which possession of eternal life is forever by definition and which individual also begins a permanent state of no condemnation - permanent because the permanent possession of eternal life is mutually exclusive of condemnation by definition.

"But whoever does not believe" = "ho.de mE pisteuOn", lit., "the same form as the first verb in 18a with the negative "mE" = "not": a nominative participle = a noun, portraying an individual who has not yet expressed a moment of belief in the Son being given for one, which may be rendered 'But whoever is the unbeliever'.

"But whoever does not believe stands condemned already" = "EdE kekritai" = lit.,"already has been condemned", perfect tense portraying a completed condition in the past of being condemned with ongoing present results of being condemned because of the primary clause in this phrase, "But whoever does not believe", i.e., "whoever is not the believer", or whoever has not expressed a moment of belief in the Son to become the believer. So one who has never expressed a moment of belief in the Son has been condemned from the beginning, implying such a condition from conception, and stands condemned until he expresses a moment of belief in the Son being given in order to become the believer.

"Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already [lit., already has been condemned] because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God" =

"hoti mE pepisteuken", perfect tense portraying a completed condition in the past of not having ever believed with an ongoing present condition of continually choosing not to express a moment of belief in the name of the Son of God which causes one to be in a completed action state of condemnation from the beginning with ongoing present results of continually under condemnaiton until such time as the individual expresses a moment of belief in the name of the Son of God.

On the other hand the reverse is not true. One cannot say, "Just as continued unbelief in the Son of God results in continued condemnation and lack of possession of eternal life, so continued belief in the Son of God results in a continued state of not being condemned and continues possession of eternal life. Nor can one say that any interruption in continuous belief will cause interruption in the possession of eternal life, causing a return to the state of condemnation. It is false conjecture and incorrect logic to maintain that since a negative is true, then the reverse/positive must also be true. So the reverse of 18b namely "Whoever has believed has eternal life" portraying a completed action of believing with ongoing believing in the present in order to have possession of eternal life is not true, nor present anywhere in Scripture. Finally, the idea of maintaining an ongoing faith in the Son in order to continue a possession of eternal life is falsified by virtue of the contexts of vv. 16 and 18. The practical impossibility of man to maintain ongoing faith in the Son of God corroborates this.

Parallel, practical, temporal example:

Whoever satisfactorily answers the complaint on his property that the back taxes were not paid will not have his property condemned, but whoever does not satisfactorily answer such complaint, his property is condemned already because he has not answered the complaint.

Notice that a continual answer to the complaint is not in view, a one time answer of paying the back taxes is. Furthermore, the negative perfect tense phrase, "because he has not answered the complaint," represents a completed action of not having paid the back taxes resulting in an ongoing condemnation of ones property until such time that the back taxes are paid, i.e., ongoing condemnation in the present. In the same way, the negative perfect tense phrase in Jn 3:18 , "because he has not believed," represents a completed action of being condemned with ongoing condition of condemnation until such time that one expresses a moment of faith to become the believing one. So the loss of eternal life is not in view when one has interrupted ones faith with the negative perfect tense phrase; but the continued lack of it until one believes is.

If one pays the back taxes, a completed action of relief of the condemnation with ongoing results in the present will result without the necessity of an ongoing effort of paying the back taxes over and over. In the same manner, from the moment of belief in the name of God's one and only Son the result will be a completed action of removal of condemnation with ongoing present results in the present without the necessity of providing an ongoing faith.

Notice that it is belief alone which provides for an individual a state of no condemnation; and verse 18 states that it is not ever having believed which gives one such a tragic status of being destined for the Lake of Fire.

Dr. Robert Wilkin states, [The Grace Report, Monthly Report of the Grace Evangelical Society, Irving, Tx. ges@faithalone.org, Mar 1999, Notes and Letters, p. 4]:

'''Look at John 3:18. The Greek has articular participles in both cases:

"ho pisteuon eis auton"

"he that believes on Him'

lit: "the believing one in Him"

and

"ho me pisteuon eis auton"

"he that does not believe on Him'

lit: "the not believing one on Him"

The articular participle (=the article "the" [='ho'] plus a participle [ex. pisteuon = believing] functions as a verbal noun. Thus ['ho pisteuon' =] 'the one who believes' does not mean ''he who keeps on believing and believing and believing' but means 'the believer.' [i.e., one who at some time exercised a single moment of faith alone in Christ alone]. Anyone who comes to faith in Christ is from that moment forward 'the believer.' Oppositely, ['ho me pisteuon' =] 'the one who does not believe' refers to 'the unbeliever,' someone who has never believed in Christ." '''

XVIII) [Jn 3:19]:

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil."

OBSERVATIONS:

Verse 19 declares that 'Light has come into the world,' and that this light is rejected by people who loved darkness. Here the word 'world' clearly refers to the entire creation. Thus the word "world" in John chapter 3 is further supported as universal.

"Light has come into the world" parallels "the Son of Man Who came down from heaven" [into the world], (v. 13); and the Son of God, Who was sent by God "into the world", (v. 17). In the light of the absence of any restriction, none of these parallels can be limited to a chosen population in the world. They are all speaking of Jesus Christ Who has made provision for the sins of everyone in the whole world who will ever live and the light of His message of the gospel which has been proclaimed throughout the ages to all mankind.

A) MEN LOVE DARKNESS BECAUSE IT HIDES THEIR EVIL

[The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament Edition, Walvoord & Zuck Eds, Victor Books, USA, 1988, p. 282]:

"3:19. Men love darkness not for its own sake but because of what it hides. They want to continue undisturbed in their evil (ponera, wicked; cf v. 20 which has a different word for evil) deeds. A believer is also a sinner (though a redeemed one)...

In the ultimate sense, man's love of darkness rather than God the Light (John 1:5, 10-11; 1 John 1:5) is his love for idols. He worships and serves 'created things rather than the Creator' (Rom 1:25)

XIX) [Jn 3:20]:

"Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."

OBSERVATIONS:

Since everyone does evil at some time, then "Everyone" in v. 20 continues the context of considering everyone in the whole world.

"Everyone who does evil hates the light" =

It is presented here that at the moment one does evil, which is true at some time with all men who will ever live, that it is true that at that moment one hates the Light and will not come into the light which will expose his deeds as evil for fear that his dees will be exposed.

Light here implies the message and Person of Jesus Christ.

XX) CONCLUSION RE: JN 3:1-20

A) JOHN 3:1-20 IS A FAVORITE PASSAGE ON SALVATION BECAUSE ONE CAN IDENTIFY WITH NICODEMUS AS THE LORD SPEAKS TO HIM ABOUT EVERLASTING LIFE

There are many other verses which reiterate the terms of salvation, but the verses of John 3:1-20 are among the most favored because many individuals identify with Nicodemus as if the Lord were right there speaking with them about eternal life.

B) MANY OTHER PASSAGES VERIFY THE TERMS OF SALVATION UNTO ETERNAL LIFE BEING FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE

There are many other passages in God's Word which teach faith alone in Christ alone as the only way to eternal life, some of which follow:

1) [Eph 2:8-9]:

(v. 8) "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith - and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God -

(v. 9) not by works, so that no one can boast."

Ephesians 2:8-9 quoted above states that one is not permitted to contribute anything toward one's salvation. This includes water baptism, Lord's supper, joining a church and leading a sinless life; which things a believer is commanded to do in his walk with the Lord now that he is saved - but not in order to be saved. If an individual were obligated to contribute something toward his salvation, even to prove out that he was saved in the first place, then his salvation could not be a gift. It would not be of God's grace as it clearly states in Eph 2:8-9 quoted above. And in Ro 5:10, 15 below:

2) [Ro 5:10, 15]:

(v. 10) "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!

(v. 15) But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, [Adam] how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!" ["free gift" = "charisma"]

Grace means unmerited favor - something which an individual does nothing to merit receiving but which God provides nonetheless. An individual cannot pay God anything for the gift of His Son. A gift is a gift - it is by grace, FREE! If our Lord's suffering and death is instrumental in providing everything necessary for an individual to have eternal life, (and it is - cp 1 Jn 2:2); then for an individual to attempt to contribute toward his own salvation is tantamount to insulting Christ by saying that He did not do enough suffering on the cross to completely provide for one's salvation.

Objectors to free grace salvation based on faith alone in Christ alone often insist that one has to finish the work that Christ 'began' by doing some works of their own, such as water baptism, joining a church, Lord's supper, showing evidence of being saved, not being an overt sinner or not sinning at all, committing to Christ's Lordship, etc. etc. But Scripture clearly does NOT teach this. The Bible unequivocally states that it is either grace or works. The two are mutually exclusive - they cannot be mixed:

3) [Ro 11:6]:

"And if [salvation is] by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were [by works then] grace would no longer be grace."

Many other salvation passages teaching faith alone in Christ alone occur in Scripture. There are no passages which teach otherwise. Compare Jn 3:36; 5:24; 6:26; 6:47; 11:25-26; 20:31; I Jn 5:9-13; Gal 3:22; Ro 3:21-24; Ro chapter 4; Heb chapter 11; Jas 1:17-18.

C) A WORD OF CAUTION: NO WHERE DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ANYTHING BUT A SINGLE MOMENT OF FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE UNTO ETERNAL LIFE

God's Word is clear. However, objectors who resent the idea that God would simply give an individual the free grace gift of eternal life when he believes in Christ will point to passages that they claim contradict what Jesus told Nicodemus. But a careful examination of these passages shows this not to be the case.

D) THE BASIC TRUTH'S OF THE BIBLE

A proper study of Scripture inevitably brings one back to the basic truths which are reiterated throughout the Bible:

1) THE STORY OF MAN'S RECONCILIATION TO GOD

a) MAN IS TOTALLY DEPRAVED AND HOPELESSLY LOST; ANYTHING HE DOES TO APPEASE GOD IS AS FILTHY RAGS AND NOT ACCEPTABLE TO GOD:

i) [Ps 51:5]:

"Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me."

ii) [Eccl 7:20]:

"There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins."

iii) [Isa 64:6]:

"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away."

"all our righteous acts are like filthy rags" = all of the human good deeds that men do are as filthy menstral rags to God, coming out of their inherent sin nature.

iv) [Ro 3:10]:

"As it is written: 'There is no one righteous, not even one..."

v) [Ro 3:23]:

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"

b) THE WORK OF JESUS CHRIST ON THE CROSS IS COMPLETE, IN AND OF ITSELF, TO SAVE YOU ONCE YOU HAVE TRUSTED IN HIM. NO WORK IS REQUIRED OF ANYONE IN ORDER TO SAVE AN INDIVIDUAL OR KEEP HIM SAVED

The work of Jesus Christ on the cross is complete, in and of itself, to save you once you have trusted in Him. No work is required of anyone in order to save an individual or keep him saved.

i) [1 Jn 2:2]:

"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of whole world."

ii) [Col 2:13-14]:

(v. 13) "When you were dead in your sins and in uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,

(v. 14) having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us, He took it away, nailing it to the cross."

iii) [Eph 2:8-9]:

(v. 8) "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -

(v. 9) not by works, so that no one can boast."

c) ONCE YOU ARE SAVED, YOU REMAIN SAVED

i) [Eph 1:13-14]:

(v. 13) "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

(v. 14) Who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance [of eternal life] until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of His glory."

["a seal...guaranteeing our inheritance" (of eternal life) = upon believing an individual is permanently sealed by God the Holy Spirit unto eternal life]

ii) [Ro 8:1]:

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,"

["those who are in Christ Jesus" are those who believed in the gospel of their salvation, i.e., they trusted alone in Christ alone, (cp Eph 1:13)]

iii) [Ro 8:38-39]:

(v. 38) "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,

(v. 39) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us [believers, (v. 8:1)] from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

iv) [Jn 5:24]:

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him Who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."

v) [2 Tim 2:10-13]:

(v. 10) "Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

(v. 11) Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with Him, we will also live with Him;

["If we died with Him, we will also live with Him," = If, by faith, we become sharers in the death of Christ, then we will also share in His eternal life, (Ro 3:21-24; 6:1-26)]

(v. 12) if we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown [disinherit] us;

["if we endure, we will also reign with Him" = If we endure in our faithful walk with Him, then we will not only have eternal life because of our one time expression of faith in Him but we will now co-rule with Him and receive unimaginably glorious rewards.

"If we disown Him, He will also disown (disinherit) us," = If we believers disown, i.e., disavow Christ's ownership of us by acting in thought, word and deed in disobedience and unfaithfulness, (1 Cor 6:19-20), then Christ will disown our ownership, i.e., our inheritance of eternal rewards and co-rulership with Him, (Col 1:10-12; 3:23-24; Eph 5:5; Gal 5:21)]

(v. 13) if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself."

["if we (believers) are faithless. He [Jesus Christ] will remain faithful [to His promise that] "if we died with Him, we will also live with Him," (v.11).

Verse 13 is saying, 'If we believers are faithless toward our Lord, He will nevertheless remain faithful to His promise of eternal life to all who have trusted in Him no matter what, (Jn 3:16; Eph 1:14), because He cannot disown, i.e., disinherit Himself - His Body - the Body of believers whom He indwells and has promised eternal life, (Col 1:24)']

d) ONE CAN HAVE AN ABSOLUTE ASSURANCE THAT ONE HAS ETERNAL LIFE

So remember these words from Scripture which assure the believer that he can know NOW that he has eternal life no matter what:

i) [1 Jn 5:9-13]:

(v. 9) "We accept man's testimony but God's testimony is greater, because it is the testimony of God which He has given about His Son.

(v. 10) Anyone who believes [at some point in his life] in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about His Son. (v. 11) And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

["and this life is in His Son" - eternal life, God is saying, is exclusively in and through His Son, not in anything you do nor in anyone else]

(v. 12) He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

["He who has the Son has life" - "Anyone who believes in the Son of God[v. 10]" - He who at some point trusted alone in Christ alone for eternal life now possesses eternal life, forever, never to lose it]

(v. 13) I [John] write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know [now] that you have eternal life."

["so that you may know [NOW] that you have eternal life." = John is telling his readers that he is writing to them so that they who have exercised their faith in the Son can be fully assured right now that they are going to go to heaven when they die, no matter what!]