EVERY WORD IN THE BIBLE IS INTENTIONAL...CHANGING THE MEANING OF ANY WORD FOR CONVENIENCE WILL GET YOU NOWHERE !!!
One of the most quoted verses from the Bible is John 3:16 but, we will include verse 3:17 in this examination of the two statements. They really should be thought of as one promise that complement each other rather than two separate verses.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 3:17 “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
Obviously, these are incredibly strong statements and it is easy to understand why 3:16 is so widely admired and quoted. However, we must remember that every word written in the Bible was chosen by God for understanding of His intent. Each word was used not randomly but for good reason. So, if we look more closely at these statements, we find that they are not guarantees of salvation but an explanation to everyone for the opportunity of everlasting life.
First, we discover that Jesus is the only true Son of God and that all we can hope for is to become adopted by God as His sons, but we have discussed this aspect before. But, adoption gives us the same benefits as a legitimate offspring and so it is of no consequence. It does, however, validate the fact that we are not all children of God, merely His creations.
The next sentence is interesting because according to all biblical doctrine, none of us will ever perish but have everlasting life. The question is where we will spend eternity but, the meaning here is clearly meant to indicate salvation and paradise. The condition however, is that we believe in him, and that means a lot more than just believing that He existed. It means that we believe that He was the son of God, and that everything that He tells us we should believe and try to live as He explains which is an indication of that belief and trust His actions and lessons that are given to us in order to achieve the result for which we hope. Believing is one thing but, faith in the lessons and requirement for our behavior is the indicator of the commitment to that belief. We can believe anything that we want, but acting in faith to that belief is the proof of our belief…
We should notice the choice of the word “should” in the sentence …should not perish… and understand that should does not mean will not perish. One can argue all day long about this aspect but, there is no getting around the fact that “should” is not the same as “will”. Truly God is offering us the most incredible gift that ever was or will be, but it does not come by saying a few words or a simple belief. We must prove ourselves worthy of obtaining this gift through faith and commitment to the lessons and actions of Jesus as the examples of believing in Him and attempting to behave as He shows us with His life. If all it takes is belief that He existed, then there is no reason to go any further with the description of His actions and life on earth, "through him" means exactly that. We must learn through His lessons and actions the correct path to take...
Further evidence of the proper understanding of these statement comes in 3:17 when God tells us that He sent His son that the world “might” be saved. Again we see that this is not a guarantee but an offer with a condition. The condition is what we discover in 3:16 and then God tells that there is no reason that we should fail as long as we believe in His Son as we should.We can have the same argument about the word “might” but, “might” does not mean “will” no matter how one looks at it…
God has offered to us a gift that is beyond our comprehension and He tells us of this offer in these two verses. But we should never forget that every word has meaning and we should not misunderstand the meaning of any single word in order to gain the correct intent of every statement made in the Bible. The Bible is perfect but, we are not. We have a tendency to view things in a way that make things easier for us to accomplish, so we must read every word and use the proper meaning for every word because if we do not, we are merely interpreting the words of God and not getting the understanding that will lead us through that gate that very few will pass through !!!