Salvation, even in our Condemnation. JOHN 3:17

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
17 οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἵνα κρίνῃ τὸν κόσμον, ἀλλʼ ἵνα σωθῇ ὁ κόσμος διʼ αὐτοῦ.

With γάρ,(Gar, For), this verse links into v. 16. The giving of the Son is wholly an act of love, not of justice and judgment, wholly in order that men should escape judgment and be saved. For God sent not the Son into the world in order to judge the world but in order that the world should be saved through him. The explanation introduced by γάρ extends to details. Thus the giving of the Son is now expressed by the aorist: God “did send”; he gave by sending. The gift is the mission. As being thus sent, Jesus was before Nicodemus at that very moment. The briefer designation “the Son” means the same as the fuller “his Son, the Only-begotten.” With the new verb, the addition “into the world” makes the action of God clearer, whereas with the verb “gave,” such a modifier could not be added. How God “gave” his Son was by “sending him into the world.

We may say that to judge the world, God would not have needed to send (certainly not to give) his Son, and he could have sent another flood, fire, or cataclysm. The verb “to judge” is a vox media; it means simply to pass a decision. However, since the world was lost in sin and unbelief, this could be only a condemnatory decision. Hence the interpretative translation, “to condemn the world,” is not incorrect, although Jesus used only the simple verb “to judge.” Its aorist tense implies a final act of judging.

Nevertheless, God’s purpose was not the judgment of the world, worthy of condemnation though it was, but the salvation of the world; hence he sent a Savior into the world. “Not … but,” or “on the contrary,” forms the most vital kind of an antithesis. The same is true regarding the two ἵνα and the verbs “in order to judge” and “in order to save,” which are made stronger by placing the verbs forward. The effect of the whole is heightened by thrice repeating “the world.”

The passive “should be saved” involves God as the agent, but “through him” shows that God will use a Mediator, namely his own Son, διά here and so often being used regarding mediation, the use of a person or another medium. Like the equivalent adjective and the nouns, the verb itself carries with it the imagery of rescue from the terrible danger referred to in the previous term “perish.” The passive “to be saved” is the opposite of “to perish.” However, the verb always has a strong connotation: to keep sound uninjured, to preserve sound and safe. Thus “to be saved” = “to have life eternal,” to enjoy eternal safety. The aorist matches that of “to judge.” God’s purpose was actual, complete salvation for the world. By combining the negative and the positive, Jesus throws into bold relief the great purpose of God’s love and, at the same time, intensifies the call to faith for Nicodemus. (R.C.H.Lenski, The Interpretation of Saint John’s Gospel.)

The theme of the mission of the Son is common enough in the Synoptics (e.g. Mt. 9:13; 15:24; Mk. 1:38; Lk. 4:18, 43). Here John aims to make a simple point, a clarification of the purpose of that mission, already articulated in v. 16. God’s purpose in sending his Son into the world (a phrase that distinguishes the sending of Jesus from the sending of John the Baptist, 1:6) was not to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (cf. 12:47). The verb rendered ‘to condemn,’ krinō, can mean ‘to judge’; but in this and many other passages in John, the judgment is adverse (since it stands over against ‘to save’), hence ‘to condemn.’ Thus the believer is not condemned (krinō, 3:18) and will not be condemned (5:24, lit. ‘does not come into judgment [krisis]).

Some find it difficult to reconcile this verse with 9:39, where Jesus declares. ‘For judgment (krisis) I have come into this world….’; indeed, John insists that God has given Jesus ‘authority to judge (krinō) because he is the Son of Man’ (5:27). Two factors alleviate the difficulty. First, in these two passages, the meaning of krinō/krisis is neutral. Anyone familiar with Daniel 7:13–14 would not be surprised to learn that the Son of Man has the authority to pronounce judgment and that he came for that purpose. That is rather different from saying he came to pronounce condemnation. Second, and more importantly, the Son of Man came into an already lost and condemned world. He did not come into a neutral world to save some and condemn others; he came into a lost world (for that is the nature of the ‘world,’ 1:9) to save some. That not all of the world will be saved is made clear by the following verses (vv. 18–21), but God’s purpose in the mission of Jesus was to bring salvation to it. Jesus is later called ‘the Saviour of the world’ (4:42; cf. 1 Jn. 4:14). (D.A.Carson, “The Gospel of John)

The pronouncement of judgement is the final phase of our existence. For what lies beyond are the promises of God, and it is our hearts that will be judged and the objectivity we had held on to. Our moral choices had been dictated by our desires and needs rather than the laws outlined in our lives. The boundaries of our moral conscience that gave the standard of life here and to be brought forth in the life after. No matter the justification we present, the outcome is whether we lived according to God’s will in preparation for the Kingdom. A Kingdom free of pain and suffering, and bound in eternity, where sin has disapated out of conscience, and our choices in our free will are pointed in the absolutes of God. There is no temptation in wrongdoings since life after that is engulfed in the freedom of perfection.

Time is a mortal construct bound by the boundaries of mortal existence, and the period of our existence here is the metamorphizing of our sinful nature into the purity of God’s likeness and image. Weigh your choices of immoral pleasures within boundaries of time to the eternity of God’s spiritual oneness and unbounded joy and happiness.

When the transformation from mortal to immortal happens, the memories of our immoral pass will cease since the state of our spiritual being exists without these material desires.


One thought on “Salvation, even in our Condemnation. JOHN 3:17

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s