A Look At John 3:16

When you begin to look at the passages of Scripture every child and every adult should know, John 3:16 rises to the head of the list. This passage of Scripture shows us the purpose of God for the world. We immediately begin to see why Jesus came and what He came to do.

“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” (John 3:16).

These words of Jesus show us the heart of God and point us to God’s eternal purpose for our lives. John 3:16 describes God’s infinite love.

First, notice the character of this love. The “so loved” means God loved us to an infinite degree. God’s love is one great act beginning in eternity and coming to fulfillment in Bethlehem and Calvary.

Second, notice its author. To understand just a little of who God is, begin with human virtues and raise them as high as you can in your mind. Even then you only see through a glass darkly at the picture of God’s love. God’s love means that He has your eternal best interest at heart. He desires your best for all eternity.

Third, notice the object of God’s love. The word “world” describes sin-filled humanity in need of a savior. The context seems to really mean the “world,” not just Jews but people from every language, nation, people, and tribe.

Fourth, notice the gift emanating from God’s love. God gave His Son, the one and only. “Gave” means that he did not spare His Son but gave Him as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world.

Fifth, notice the purpose of God’s love. God’s plan is that no one should perish, be lost, or miss God’s purpose. “Perish” means more than physical death or annihilation. It means to be separated from God’s love for eternity. God does not want anyone to miss His love.

The opposite of perish is eternal or everlasting life. Everlasting life describes a life rich in quality and eternal in nature. The wonderful joy of eternal life is that it begins when you put your faith in Christ.

Finally, notice that you must believe, that is, put your faith in God. Jesus said, “you must be born again” (John 3:3-7). You must allow God to perform His life-changing work in you. This means you will begin life anew with a different reason for living and a desire to please Him.


  1. Ed Matthew
    Apr 22, 2012

    John 3:16 is indeed a good beginning for dialog. As my favorite teacher said and continues to say: look for context to find purpose and meaning. Therein is found discovery; the big picture that John 3:16 paints contains many, innumerable, little pictures.

    John 3: 21 is later expounded by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:1-21 and a number of other places as does James, Peter and most of the rest of Holy Scripture for the one who has been sensitized to the message. It is a message of interdependence that extends not just between the individual, the Creator, Redeemer and the Holy Spirit. It involves every other member of the Body.
    The now Sec. of State H. Clinton got plenty of traction out of an old phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Sadly such truths found in Scripture are too easily replaced in the minds of those who should know better. For it does take a “village” concept to raise a child that goes one better. It takes The CHURCH! What does John 3: 21 say? In the NIV it reads: But whosoever lives by the Truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. Doesn’t that sound like a Purpose Driven Life?

    While some interpreters end the quotation at the end of John 3:15, it is evident this problem, not recognizing that we (if you are a part of the Body & are of the Bride of Christ) are “our brother’s keeper,” is a continuing problem that many interpreters find consistent with the cause of Christ and that too few take to the Lordship of Christ level. What an adventure it has been and continues to be!

    Thank you Dr. Bailey for tending the Garden where Good Fruit might Grow to Prosper in His Pleasure from eternity to eternity. AMEN.

  2. Bobby Sanderson
    Apr 23, 2012

    Thanks once agian for your practical, insightful take on scripture. I filed this one away to use in teaching. You make a difference! Don’t be weary in well doing.

    • Waylon
      Apr 23, 2012

      Thank you. I appreciate your encouragement, especially the “don’t be weary” part.

  3. Sandy Morris
    Apr 24, 2012

    Amazing how a short Scripture has such a deep, intense, meaningful message.

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I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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Verse of the Day

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. — Isaiah 53:5-6 (NIV)