when i hear John 3:16 today, i want to shake my head. it is so misused. few preachers read what comes before or after, and even fewer read the whole passage…when in the assembly of believers. we have many within the church that have learned pieces of a conversation from God to the world….and so have been mislead or left in ignorance to the whole message of the gospel.
Many speakers often fail to tell you:
- the New Testament was not written in chapter and verse- understanding a complete section is as important as understanding the parts- John 3: 16 is a part of a part of a section
- How important it is to follow the complete dialogue between Nicodemus and Jesus in order to understand the complete conversation
- It is important that the reader have a prior knowledge and understanding of the history of Moses and the children of Israel in the wilderness when they rebelled against God and God sent a judgement…and a method of deliverance
- Jesus does give us information on how to enter the kingdom of God, but is not the whole message you get later
- John 3 and the first part of Acts should be read together when you really want to understand “being born again.”
Now, to the section, which lasts from John 3:1 to John 3:21…
A running dialogue:
Nicodemus, a Pharisee, a member of the Jewish ruling council: We know you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs you do, except that God be with him.
Jesus: Unless (except) one is born from above, he cannot be seeing the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus: How can a man be born if he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb and be born again.
Jesus: I tell you the truth, unless a man is born of water and the spirit he cannot be entering the kingdom of God. The thing having been born of the flesh is flesh, and the thing having been born of the spirit is spirit. Don’t marvel- be so surprised- because I told you it is necessary for you to be born from above. The wind blows where it wishes, and the sound of it you hear, but you do not know from where it comes nor where it goes- so it is for everyone having been born of the spirit.
OK, here already Jesus has given us the methodology to be saved- it comes from being “born of water” and “born of the spirit.”
Later, Jesus states, before John 3:16, that “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.”
If one goes back to the story of Moses and the disobedient children of Israel, Moses raised a staff with a snake on it to save the people who looked upon the snake- they chose to look upon the snake if they chose to follow God. Likewise, the ones following after God must look upon the Christ on the cross- looking up to him.
Then, the overused scripture is presented…but not until long after Jesus gives us a healthy explanation on part of the plan for saving the world.
So, as you see, John 3:16 would do much better in relation to everything that comes before it.
Jesus came first from the desert temptation saying: Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is near.” This is the “baptism” in the Father, repenting from sin. With it goes baptism in water- dying with Christ and being raised with Christ. Then, as the scriptures say, one can immediately be given the gift- baptism- of the Holy Spirit, which is evidenced by the speaking of different tongues/languages. In John 3, we get a sample preview, but not a whole picture…