John 3:16 Is Not An “Offer” For “All Mankind”…
I’ve posted the same before but it’s a frequent topic of debate so I figured I’d add it here again as well. This is another example where the grammar and the context prove vital…
FIRST: Note the very clear (same) grammatical pattern…
Matthew 5:28 “But I say unto you, That WHOSOEVER LOOKETH [πᾶς ὁ βλέπων; pas ho blepon; literally — “ALL THE [ones] LOOKING”] on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH [πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων; pas ho pisteuon; literally, “ALL THE [ones] BELIEVING”] in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16 is no more an OFFER to BELIEVE and NOT PERISH than Matthew 5:28 is an OFFER to LOOK and COMMIT ADULTERY.
Both are simply statements of fact, blessed statements, but statements of fact nonetheless — not offers. The Lord is simply stating that “God, IN THIS MANNER, loved the [orderly creation of mankind, as considered in general, organically], that He gave his only begotten Son, that ALL THE ONES BELIEVING INTO HIM [i.e. CHRIST] should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
However, to rightly understand John 3:16, you must read John 3:14-15 in light of Numbers 21:4-9. In Numbers 21:4-9, though the whole world was under sin, and subject to hell, the focus was on the Israelites during the Exodus. They were the “congregation of God” at the time, the body of believers, both Jew and gentile (since believing “strangers” left with them). There was a great sin (murmuring) and God sent fiery serpents — a type of judgment again them. Please note… ***LARGE NUMBERS OF THEM DIED*** without any hope of remedy. Some, being *brought to repentance,* cried out, and God commanded Moses to make and raise the brazen serpent.
There was no OFFER to look, only a statement of fact that those who looked were saved. There was no offer for all mankind to be saved, or for all of the Israelites to be saved (since so many had already died from the fiery serpents, and at other parts of the Exodus), but only for the remnant who were *led to repent* and look at the brazen serpent — only they were saved. This is the OT TYPE and John 3:16 refers to the NT ANTITYPE — the pattern is the same, hence the reference back to Numbers 21. Christ wasn’t lifted up for all mankind, or even for all in the “visible church” who have perished in unbelief (the antitype of the Israelites in the wilderness), but only for those who were led to cry out for forgiveness, only for those for whom Christ prayed, and only for those who were GIVEN to look upon Him, having received the gifts of repentance and faith, gifts only accompanying a new heart, spirit, and indwelling Holy Spirit. How do we know that faith and repentance are gifts? Consider the following:
Acts 11:18 “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles GRANTED [didōmi / to give, bestow, bring forth, deliver (up), grant, etc.] REPENTANCE unto life.”
Acts 5:31 “Him hath God exalted with his right hand [to be] a Prince and a Saviour, for TO GIVE [again, didōmi / to give, bestow, bring forth, deliver (up), grant, etc.] REPENTANCE to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”
2 Timothy 2:25 “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will GIVE [again, didōmi / to give, bestow, bring forth, deliver (up), grant, etc.] THEM REPENTANCE to the acknowledging of the truth…”
Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace are ye saved through FAITH; and that NOT OF YOURSELVES: [IT IS] THE GIFT of God:
Romans 2:4 “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God LEADETH [agō / to drive, lead, bring, lead by laying hold of, etc.] THEE TO REPENTANCE?”
Ezekiel 36:25-27 “25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and CAUSE YOU TO WALK [NOTE: tied into repentance] in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them].”
True repentance and faith stem from the heart/mind as understood by the Hebrew and Greek believers of old… God only gives the gifts of faith and repentance when He gives the gifts of a new heart, a new spirit, and the indwelling Holy Spirit, through which that repentance/faith is granted and worked.