on John 3 :16
For God so loved the world - Such a love as that which induced God to give his only begotten son to die for the world could not be described: Jesus Christ does not attempt it. He has put an eternity of meaning in the particle οὑτω, so, and left a subject for everlasting contemplation, wonder, and praise, to angels and to men. The same evangelist uses a similar mode of expression, 1 John 3:1 : Behold, What Manner of love, ποταπην αγαπην, the Father hath bestowed upon us.
From the subject before him, let the reader attend to the following particulars.
First, The world was in a ruinous, condemned state, about to perish everlastingly; and was utterly without power to rescue itself from destruction.
Secondly, That God, through the impulse of his eternal love, provided for its rescue and salvation, by giving his Son to die for it.
Thirdly, That the sacrifice of Jesus was the only mean by which the redemption of man could be effected, and that it is absolutely sufficient to accomplish this gracious design: for it would have been inconsistent with the wisdom of God, to have appointed a sacrifice greater in itself, or less in its merit, than what the urgent necessities of the case required.
Fourthly, That sin must be an indescribable evil, when it required no less a sacrifice, to make atonement for it, than God manifested in the flesh.
Fifthly, That no man is saved through this sacrifice, but he that believes, i.e. who credits what God has spoken concerning Christ, his sacrifice, the end for which it was offered, and the way in which it is to be applied in order to become effectual.
Sixthly, That those who believe receive a double benefit:
1. They are exempted from eternal perdition - that they may not perish.
2. They are brought to eternal glory - that they may have everlasting life. These two benefits point out tacitly the state of man: he is guilty, and therefore exposed to punishment: he is impure, and therefore unfit for glory.
They point out also the two grand operations of grace, by which the salvation of man is effected.
1. Justification, by which the guilt of sin is removed, and consequently the person is no longer obnoxious to perdition.
2. Sanctification, or the purification of his nature, by which he is properly fitted for the kingdom of glory.
on John 3 :16
For God so loved - This does not mean that God approved the conduct of men, but that he had benevolent feelings toward them, or was "earnestly desirous" of their happiness. God hates wickedness, but he still desires the Happiness of those who are sinful. "He hates the sin, but loves the sinner." A parent may love his child and desire his welfare, and yet be strongly opposed to the conduct of that child. When we approve the conduct of another, this is the love of complacency; when we desire simply their happiness, this is the love of benevolence.
The world - All mankind. It does not mean any particular part of the world, but man as man - the race that had rebelled and that deserved to die. See John 6:33; John 17:21. His love for the world, or for all mankind, in giving his Son, was shown by these circumstances:
1. All the world was in ruin, and exposed to the wrath of God.
2. All people were in a hopeless condition.
3. God gave his Son. Man had no claim on him; it was a gift - an undeserved gift.
4. He gave him up to extreme sufferings, even the bitter pains of death on the cross.
5. It was for all the world. He tasted "death for every man," Hebrews 2:9. He "died for all," 2 Corinthians 5:15. "He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world," 1 John 2:2.
That he gave - It was a free and unmerited gift. Man had no claim: and when there was no eye to pity or arm to save, it pleased God to give his Son into the hands of men to die in their stead, Galatians 1:4; Romans 8:32; Luke 22:19. It was the mere movement of love; the expression of eternal compassion, and of a desire, that sinners should not perish forever.
His only-begotten Son - See the notes at John 1:14. This is the highest expression of love of which we can conceive. A parent who should give up his only son to die for others who are guilty if this could or might be done - would show higher love than could be manifested in any other way. So it shows the depth of the love of God, that he was willing. to give his only Son into the hands of sinful men that he might be slain, and thus redeem them from eternal sorrow.
on John 3 :16