John 3:16 has got to be the verse on which believers are most surefooted about salvation. Exactly how surefooted only appears when one connects its so with as and so in verse 14.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, John 3:14 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:15
The writer says “For God thus loved…” or “Because (for) this is how God loved…”
So = thus = in this way = like this, (oυτω, HOO-toe). It is an adverb; it modifies a verb, defines the action under the miscoscope. God loved the world like this, in this way.
What way? Like how Moses elevated the serpent in the desert. Fact check on how.
Moses elevated the serpent
- for a people saved at the Red Sea (Exo 14:13)
- for a saved people on their way to Canaan (Num. 21:5-9
This is why John can write
- he who keeps believing (πιστευων, present tense believing)
- may keep possession of life (εχη, present tense having)
One look does it for snakebite, one confession and one belief (Rom 10:10-11) saves from lostness and condemnation. Jn316 is definitely about saved people looking to Christ for relief, not about people who are believing for the first time, that is, unsaved people. It is a perplexity for those who claim to be in compliance with God’s will while denying that snake-bite happens and while denying that believers need the elevated Christ for maintenence of the gift of life. Without this grace we are hopping back and forth between saved and lost, dead or alive, or we find ourselves making claims that leave nothing to hope for.
What remedy can there possibly be for fatal afflictions other than the Son of Man himself? Christ who started us on our journey by giving his life on the Cross, now lives forever to save us (Heb. 7:25).
Nicodemus, though he sneaked in a nocturnal audience with the Saviour, was a man who needed maintenance salvation. He was a Jewish leader, an unwitting believer, who tried to get answers about how salvation works. This would have been a prime occasion for the Lord Yeshua to drive home the Jewish tradition – covenants and prophets, and kings – but no, he steered Nicodemus smack into believe and keep your life.
It is amazing how one little word – so, oυτω – hidden from view by careless translators and commentators, comes to the light up this layer of our great salvation.
This journeying layer of salvation often gets, regrettably, attached to things, virtues and non-virtues, but John 3:16 connects God’s love for the pilgrim with a one-on-one with the Elevated Saviour.
Again he convinces us that our need – to have a good journey in the new life – is met fully in His Inimitable Majesty Yeshua Elevated Son of Man.
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