John 3:16


It seems right, to me, that this is the most known verse from the New Testament.
The author seems to be stating, as clearly as he possibly can, the way of salvation.

“God so loved the world, that he sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Doesn’t this verse, taken at face value, speak against EU? Isn’t it obvious that God is putting a condition on Eternal life and that condition is belief in His Son?

How can this verse be interpreted?:

  1. EU is wrong
  2. A change to believe can be post-mortem and EU is an option
  3. The verse is solely concerning life in the millennial reign (ie ‘age abiding life’ refers to the millenniasl reign of Christ)

Have I missed some other possibilities? Doesn’t it stretch credulity to the limit to avoid option 1? How do you (as a EUer) interpret this verse?
Any thoughts would be most welcome


Hi Pilgrim,

The way I understand it, no one can have life – either now or into the future – apart from faith in Christ. Until faith comes we are all dead in our sins and trespasses, in our “body of death” – dead to God and alive to Sin, as Paul puts it. I believe everyone must actively exercise faith for salvation, and I see nothing in scripture to indicate that physical death will prevent people from doing so in the future.

Salvation is a person becoming alive to God.
Aionian life is faith in Christ.
Aionian life is to know God, and the one He has sent.
To know God is to do His will.



Hi Pilgrim,
Its an important verse and I think no problem for EU. For starters, “everlasting life” is a duff translation - it should be “eternal life” or “the life of the coming age” which is John’s way of saying the kingdom of God. Its also dangerous to take one verse in isolation. In clarifying and developing 3.16, 3.17 points to EU as the ultimate outcome:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.(TNIV)
Does that help?


Interesting, to compare this as well"

Jhn 3:14ff "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. 'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

Jhn 12:31ff Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me.



Many scriptures, taken alone, can lead you to different places than you would otherwise go. I think a good example is John, I think it is 17:3 where Jesus calls the Father “the only true God”. Based on that verse as a stand alone, Jesus could not be part of a triune Godhead because he excludes himself from the category of “true God”. Standing alone, there is no way around it. Jesus is not the true God. But there are many other scriptures to consider that must be taken together as a tapestry.


Okay, say that you do take other passages into consideration . . . how does that change what Jesus is saying here? You didn’t explain what “you” see him to be saying then.


My purpose wasn’t to explain John 17 - it was to respond to Pilgrim and John 3:16 and the mistake of making theology out of 1 verse.


Oh, no, I understand what you were saying, but how accurate is it if you don’t explain what that passage is “really” saying if it’s not saying that God is the “only” God? I mean, what you said “sounded” well, but it really didn’t explain anything. I’m sorry, putting this in print can sorta create a spin that’s not intended. I don’t mean to come off argumentative, but at the same time, it still left the passage you referred to up in the air.

1These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
2As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
3And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

I don’t discredit what you were saying . . .in fact, you could even take it a step further and say it doesn’t matter whether you give the one verse or the whole context, people still can make it say whatever they want. But when you then chose this passage to state that Jesus was saying God was the only God . . . your argument is that because Jesus himself is God, that he can’t then say that God is the one true God? I’m making an assumption that this is what you’re implying.

That there are what . . three Gods? Jesus, then the Holy Spirit, then God, God?

I seriously don’t mean to sound like I’m splitting hairs, but something struck a chord when I read your post, I was just trying to clarify what platform you were coming from.


Hi Nathan
You make some valid points but you have not given your cut on John 3:16.
How do you interpret the text/title of the thread?


For me, I’m not a supporter of putting the power of the cross into the limited minds of men . . .meaning that I don’t believe God left our eternal destination up to whether or not we say the magic words of asking Christ into our hearts. I think two issues have been balled up into one. I don’t believe the latter part of John 3:16 is dealing with my final destination. I believe we are given everlasting life now . . .not after we die. This realm we live in is governed by the measurment of time. And time leads to death. It ages you. As time goes by here, wrinkles appear . . .things start to sag a bit . . .clarity becomes a haze . . .time does that to us. But the miracle that Christ brings is that in the midst of this cycle of death, we have “eternal” . . .everlasting . . .endless . . .all of those words are depicting that what Christ brings, time can’t affect.

In the spirit, time doesn’t exist. God knows the end from the beginning . . .it’s outside the expanse of time.

For those that believe in hell . .the people they think are going there are still apparently going to live there forever as well . . .and they can’t very well go there in “these” bodies . …so . . .apparently they’re going to be resurrected . .which is not a sign of destruction, but a sign of life in and of itself, so the idea that dead people are going both resurrect “and” go to eternal torment is a bit of an oxymoron. so . … the question then isn’t about eternal life at all . … but “where” are we going to spend it. See how that just took away the truth from the message? We just made it all about fear and darkness when the message is one of light and life.

So that whosoever believeth in him shall have everlasting life . . .take a breath . . .for God didn’t send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved . . .which begs the question . .“Did he accomplish what he set out to do?” Because if we believe there’s a hell where 99% of the population from Adam to me are going to live in eternal damnation, we’d have to then say Jesus FAILED what he attempted to do.

Believing in him enables that eternal life to manifest in me NOW. Not belieiving in him merely means that I’ll continue to walk in darkness . . .when light appears, hey . . .just had a thought . . .you ever been in dark room for an extended amount of time and then someone turns on a super bright light??? Not just “a” light . . but a SUPER BRIGHT one. You’re doing MORE than squinting . . .you’re grimacing . . .do you know when light in one person collides with the darkness in another, it causes the one with darkness to experience a gnashing? It’s not about unimaginable torment . . .

When people gnash their teeth at one another, it’s a sign of being “enraged”. Not literally tortured. They did it in Acts even. Stephen delivered a message that the Holy Spirit brought such conviction on them who were IN DARKNESS that THEY GNASHED THEIR TEETH . . .they weren’t thrown into torcher . . .they were thrown into a rage.

Acts 7
53Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
54When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
55But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,

When I believe in God, my faith enables my heart to shine forth his light, but when I reject him, his light will instead cause my mind to become enraged . . .you’ve seen it many times when you watch people going at each other because they disagree with the other’s theology . . . you just didn’t know that it was called “gnashing”. We’ve preserved “that” word for only those who go to hell.


Thanks Nathan.
I’m going away for a couple of days so won’t be able to post, but the responses on this thread have been of help to me and I want to thank you all for your contributions. Sonia, Chris, Andrew, Nathan - thanks. I’ll meditate on these things.
God bless your ministries.


My question is, if every knee bows, and every tongue confesses; then would they not also believe? Belief is not “blind”, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Remember “doubting Thomas”?


So you go for option 2?
You believe that people can acquire faith post-mortem and the best way to convey this is what Jesus said in Jn 3:16?


I believe Option 2 is at least one option, or the best option. Given the way God seems to work; Salvation is always a God-encounter, it never comes apart from God, and so it must be in some effect an encounter with God. It is a basic theme throughout the Bible, and New Testament especially; that those who encountered Christ, and received him, received Salvation (which I believe, is Him, himself). Paul is a prime example, when he was Saul, he had an encounter with God and was thus saved. Not everyone received him, but not everyone new him either. When people have that overwhelming, face to face knowing, as Paul did, they will receive him and bow.

I believe that the time will come, in this life, or the next; that all shall have that encounter with God. It is the encounter which gives birth to true Salvation in us, because that encounter plants the seed of God in our heart to blossom under fire and Spirit.

In order for EU to be wrong, it would require that;

a. The vast majority of the Kosmos for which Jesus died to save; will never have an encounter with God. This goes against the whole grain of what the Bible says in scores of verses.

b. The encounter with God is one which causes evil to remain perpetually, without end, in a person even in the very heart of his presence; or the encounter with God is one in which the goodness and holy presence of God cannot, or do not overcome that evil and end it. Which would necessitate that evil is stronger than God, or that God will abide evil to endlessly exist. All of which goes against the counsel of scripture, and good sense.

c. The encounter with God is one purely of hopeless damnation, or hopeless condemnation. Which goes against the purpose of Christ, and if it goes against the purpose (will) of Christ who came to save the Kosmos, not to condemn it, then that must mean that such a purpose of hopeless damnation, or hopeless condemnation is also against the will of the Father. Unless Christ’s will and the Father’s will are in contrary to one another. That goes against the counsel of scripture.


John 6:44, no one can come unless the Father draw him.

Romans 5:8, God loved us while we were still sinners

Ezekiel 36:26, i will take out your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh…

John 3, as quoted by Sonia above…God loves the world, God will save all who put their faith in me, i will draw all to me if i be lifted up.

that’s how i’d put together this little piece of the jigsaw puzzle. it to me paints a picture of us being helpless in our blind unbelief (lack of trust and love, a state in which we are born), but God has compassion…and through Christ He takes the initiative and draws all unto Him. the process of being drawn, of being wooed cannot help but lead us into faith and trust in His Son, and therefore, into salvation.


You have all given me a lot to consider for which I am grateful but I’m still not convinced regarding the wording of the OP text.
Let me say that I am very aware of other texts which seem to be UR in nature but scripture should be weighed against scripture. Therefore, I am interested in John 3:16 (in context) so that (after meditation) it can be weighed. I don’t want to go off topic by dealing with whether Ezekiel was speaking universally when talking of transformed hearts.

Imagine that you are the author of the fourth Gospel (or even Jesus trying to communicate) and that UR is correct. Would you say “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but…”, which at face value shows a conditional salvation with two groups - the non-believers and the believers, -
or would you say/write “that when you come to believe in Him, you will not perish, but…” ?

I find it difficult how John/Jesus would phrase the statement as such if all are to be believers. It seems an awkward communication if Jesus/John was URer.

P.S. It might seem I am being dismissive of Andrew and Nathan’s point (v17 etc). This is not the case. I see a lot of merit in those words and thoughts to clarify v16. I just don’t want to leave 16 unless there’s no more to be said on it.


Hey John, the thing is that some will perish and the evangelist is trying to talk them out of it with the only way, truth and life. It would be lacking for John to say “for god so loved the world that all of you will eventually have eternal life” because he would be ignoring a key point - that some will perish in hell if they don’t repent. We then ask the question about whether or not hell will last forever. What does it mean to perish? What will that consist of? etc etc. Whether you are pro UR or not there are always 2 groups, the believers and the unbelievers until the very end (then the UR/anti UR differ, or course). As long as you are an unbeliever, you are perishing at this very moment and will suffer aionian punishment in the future. It’s definitely better to avoid perishing!