John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
A Mother's LessonClerical AnecdotesJohn 3:16
A Royal GiftJohn 3:16
A Triple Ray of Gospel LightR. Glover.John 3:16
Believe OnlyC. H. Spurgeon.John 3:16
Christ not the Cause But the Manifestation of God's LoveJ. C. Jones, D. D.John 3:16
Christ's Mission a Revelation of God's LoveE. Lewis, B. A.John 3:16
Faith in Christ is Certain SalvationC. H. Spurgeon.John 3:16
God is LoveC. H. Spurgeon.John 3:16
God's Love and its GiftJ. Eadie, D. D.John 3:16
God's Love and Justice in SacrificeS. Coley.John 3:16
God's Love for a Sinning WorldC. G. Finney, D. D.John 3:16
God's Love for ManR. Besser, D. D.John 3:16
God's Love for SinnersS. Coley.John 3:16
God's Love for the WorldA. Beith, D. D.John 3:16
God's Love to the WorldBible Notes and QueriesJohn 3:16
God's Mercy is FreeJohn 3:16
God's Provision of the SacrificeJ. G. Jones, D. D.John 3:16
God's Wonderful LoveR. S. MacArthur, D. D.John 3:16
Immeasurable LoveC. H. Spurgeon.John 3:16
LoveCharles Haddon Spurgeon John 3:16
RedemptionJ. Guiness Rogers, B. A.John 3:16
Redemption Through ChristC. D. Barrows.John 3:16
SalvationJ. Gaskin, M. A.John 3:16
The Christian's CreedR. Glover.John 3:16
The Cost and Cheapness of SalvationW. Baxendale.John 3:16
The Divine LoveJ. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.John 3:16
The EverlastingsJ. C. Jones.John 3:16
The Glory of the GospelD. Thomas, D. D.John 3:16
The GospelMortlock Daniell.John 3:16
The Gospel in BriefC. H. Spurgeon.John 3:16
The Greatness of God's Love to the WorldB. Thomas John 3:16
The Lake and the RiverAlexander MaclarenJohn 3:16
The Love of GodJohn 3:16
The Love of GodR. Newton, D. D.John 3:16
The Love of GodProf. Finney.John 3:16
The Love of GodJ. Flavel.John 3:16
The Love of GodL. O. Thompson.John 3:16
The Love of GodA. J. Morris.John 3:16
The Love of GodJ. Dyke.John 3:16
The Love of GodH. W. Beecher.John 3:16
The Love of GodS. Coley.John 3:16
The Love of God as Seen in the Gift of ChristC. H. Spurgeon.John 3:16
The Love of God in Deed and TruthD. Young John 3:16
The Love of God in the Gift of a SaviourA. Barnes, D. D.John 3:16
The Love of God in the Gift of ChristS. Coley.John 3:16
The Love of God is a Necessity of His Own NatureH. W. Beecher.John 3:16
The Love of God Self-OriginatedJ. C. Jones, D. D.John 3:16
The Morality of the Evangelical FaithR. W. Dale, D. D.John 3:16
The Naturalness of God's LoveS. Coley.John 3:16
The Personal Appropriation of the AtonementA. F. Schauffer.John 3:16
The Power of God's LoveA. J. ParryJohn 3:16
The Power of This Gospel of Love on its First ProclamationA. J. Morris.John 3:16
The Universality of the AtonementC. G. FinneyJohn 3:16
The Word SoC. H. Spurgeon.John 3:16
We Must Believe or PerishR. B. Nichol.John 3:16
What is it to PerishRev. R. Brewin.John 3:16
WhosoeverC. H. Spurgeon.John 3:16
WhosoeverC. H. Spurgeon.John 3:16
WhosoeverD. L. Moody.John 3:16
WhosoeverS. Coley.John 3:16
WhosoeverJohn 3:16
The Gift of GodJ.R. Thomson John 3:16, 17

This is the language either of our Lord himself or of the evangelist. If these are Christ's words, they contain his authoritative testimony to his own declaration. If they are the words of John, we have in them the inspired judgment of one who was in most intimate fellowship with Jesus, and who was peculiarly competent to represent his Master's work in accordance with that Master's own mind. Familiar as this comprehensive and sublime utterance is to all Christians, there is danger lest it should become trite, lest it should fail to impress our minds with its most amazing import. Obvious as are the several aspects of the central truth of Christianity here presented, it may be well to bring them successively before the mind.

I. THE MOTIVE WHICH PROMPTED THE GIFT. This was love, an emotion which some think too human to attribute to the Ruler of the universe. But we are justified in believing that we ourselves are susceptible of love only because God has fashioned us in his own likeness. Love is distinguishable from goodness as having more of the character of personal interest. And the relations between God and man being considered, love here must be understood as involving pity and also sacrifice. And whereas human love is often intense in proportion to its narrowness and concentration, Divine love is all-embracing - includes all mankind. This, indeed, follows from the origination of this love in the Divine mind. It was nothing in mankind except their need and sin and helplessness which called forth the benevolence of the heart of the heavenly Father.

II. THE PRECIOUSNESS OF THE GIFT. Great love found its expression in a great gift, worthy of the generous and munificent Benefactor of mankind. The use of the appellation, "only begotten Son," seems to point to the estimation in which Christ was held by the Father, in whose view none was to be compared with Christ. It is not easy for us to realize the value set upon Christ by the Father; but we can look at this gift from our own side, and can form some judgment of the worth of the Lord Jesus to our humanity. Because he was the Son of man the Friend of sinners, and because he was this in his humiliation, and is this in his glory, therefore he is dear and precious to the hearts of those whose nature he deigned to assume, whose lot he deigned to share. He who withholds no good thing from men, withheld not, spared not his own Son, but gave him up for us all.


1. The aim was one of deliverance, to secure men from impending condemnation and perdition.

2. It was also an aim of highest beneficence, we must understand, not the mere continuance of existence, but the perpetuity of the highest well-being - that life which truly deserves the name, and which, being Divine, is also imperishable.

IV. THE CONDITION UPON WHICH THIS GIFT MAY BE ENJOYED. A moral, spiritual gift cannot be bestowed, as can a material boon, independently of the character and religious position of the beneficiary. The greatest gift of God is conferred, not upon the deserving or open the fortunate, but upon the believing. Concerning this condition of faith, it should be remarked that it is

(1) indispensable upon God's side, for he is honoured by the grateful acceptance of his free and precious gift. And it is further

(2) indispensable upon man's side, for the gift must be accepted and appropriated by those for whom it is intended. He who rejects Christ cannot benefit by Christ; it is faith that links the soul to the Savior.

APPLICATION. The word "whosoever" is here employed in order to point out that, in the Divine compassion there is no limitation, in the Divine offer there is no restriction. There is nothing in the purposes of God, nothing in the condition prescribed by Divine wisdom, which can exclude the meanest or the vilest, if only penitent and believing, from the enjoyment of this incomparable gift. - T.

God so loved the world, that He gave His-only begotten Son.
Pliny declares that Cicero once saw the Iliad of Homer written in so small a character that it could be contained in a nutshell. Peter Bales, a celebrated caligrapher, in the days of Queen Elizabeth, wrote the whole Bible so that it was shut up in a common walnut as its casket. In these days of advanced mechanism even greater marvels in miniature have been achieved, but never has so much meaning been compressed into so small a space as in that famous little word "So," in the text.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The text gives a deeper insight into the Divine character than the heavens which declare God's glory and than those tender mercies of His providence which are over all His works.


1. Its marvellousness. The world is(1) not the wondrously perfect material universe;(2) not the world of unfallen angels;(3) not a world of creatures such as Adam was when pronounced "very good." Then had there been no wonder. But(4) the world the whole of which lieth in wickedness.

2. Its universality.(1) Salvation is as common as sunshine, yet if a man will close his eyes the sun is of no use to him. So while salvation is for all many put it away from them.(2) It was originally meant to be so. The Jews denied it because "they erred, not knowing the Scripture." The promise to Abraham and renewed to Isaac and repeated by Isaiah was a universal one.(3) Salvation extends to the most ignorant and the very worst.

II. The Divine Gift. He could give nothing dearer or greater. Some may excel others in kindness; but God's love is such that in its manifestation it cannot possibly be exceeded. Christ is His unspeakable gift. He gave His Son.

1. To a humbling incarnation.

2. To a laborious servitude.

3. To an ignominious and sacrificial death.


1. What God wants to do.

(1)To save all men from perishing —

(2)To give all everlasting life.

2. The condition upon which He will do it. Faith in His Son.

(Mortlock Daniell.)

Here are three great testimonies like the three primary colours which make one white beam.


1. God loves. The Indian or Chinese will not let you say God loves. It is an impeachment of His dignity and argues need. In a profound sense, however, of yearning for protection, of appreciating the souls of men, of finding a necessity for seeing them blessed, in the sense of pity, mercy, self-effacement, God loves. Had we said this it would have been a marvellous testimony; much more so had Paul or John said it. But love on the lips of Christ has a thousandfold more meaning.

2. God loves the world, the unregenerate world, as a mother loves her wayward no less than her worthy child, though the love be broken-hearted grief. So God loves the rebellious.

3. God loves the world with a distributive affection reaching the "whosoerers."

4. God loves it with an affection so deep, self-effacing, self-sacrificing, as to give His only begotten Son. Love is ever giving, and the love of God says not of aught it possesses that it is its own. He keeps not His child. See, then, here in the first line of the Gospel that —

(1)It reveals the heart of God.

(2)His habit of sacrifice.

(3)His compassion for every soul.

(4)His desire to save all.

II. LIGHT UPON CHRIST. What a problem has Christ been! The generations have never been able to forget Him. Men have never given Him a small name. The estimates of foes have betrayed their sense of His greatness, and the adoration of friends has lost itself in the endeavour to express it. Who is He? The ages have been a wrestling Jacob whose question has been, What is Thy name? Ask Himself.

1. The only begotten Son of God. The Son is of the nature of the Father — Divine in a sense no other being is. All the Divine fulness of the Godhead is in Him. And His life matches His name.

2. The gift of God: the property of each soul of man. There is no tie which has knit Him to our hearts that He has not knit. He takes our nature, conditions, duties, temptations, sorrows, curse, death. Ours —

(1)By evident gift.

(2)By obvious sympathies.

(3)Ours so that all He has and is, the merits of His life, the atonement of His death, is ours.

3. The Saviour. Only Christ has borne this great name. Mohammed is prophet; Buddha is teacher only; Jesus is Saviour. A name

(1)written on the consciousness of every redeemed soul, and

(2)writ large in history.

III. LIGHT ON MAN. Low views of God go together with low views of man. You cannot lose your faith in God without losing your faith in man. Here we see —

1. God loves each man, therefore each man is lovable; no heart without a beauty in it that charms the eye of God; no life without some possibility of glory in it which attracts His love.

2. We are capable of faith. There is a Divine dignity in man which lets him lift himself up to God and entrust himself into His arms, and put himself wholly under His guidance and in His power.

3. We are capable of everlasting life. Philosophy as we know it today is a theory of the graveyard only. If we cast away the Lord of life we have to believe in a destiny that is only a tomb. Christ has come that we might have everlasting life.

(R. Glover.)


1. object. The world: man in his corrupt and miserable state (John 5:19).

2. The act.. The love of God is —

(1)The love of benevolence (Titus 3:4).

(2)Of complacency (Psalm 11:7; John 16:27).

3. The degree — "So." We are not told how much. It is to be conceived rather than spoken of; admired rather than conceived.Observe from all this —

1. That love is at the bottom of all. We may give a reason for other things, but not for this love (Deuteronomy 7:7, 8; Matthew 11:26).

2. Love is visible in the progress and perfection of our salvation in Christ (Romans 5:8). Light is not more conspicuous in the sun.

3. If there were any other cause it must be either(1) in the merit of Christ; but this was the manifestation not the cause of God s love (1 John 3:16), or(2) in our worthiness; but this cannot be (1 John 4:10; Colossians 1:24).The uses of all this.

1. To confute all misapprehensions of God. Satan tempts us to view God as unlovely or to entertain unworthy thoughts of His mercy. But this shows us that He is fuller of love than the sea is of water.

2. To quicken our admiration of the love of God in Christ. Three things commend any favour done us.

(1)The good will of the giver.

(2)The greatness of the gift.

(3)The unworthiness of the recipient. All concur here.

3. To exhort us —

(1)To improve this love. It is an invitation to seek after God.

(2)To answer it with a corresponding love.

(3)As love was at the bottom of all grace, so let it be of all duty.

II. THE WAY GOD TOOK TO EXPRESS HIS LOVE. There is a twofold giving of Christ.

1. For us (Romans 8:32). This mightily bespeaks God's love and care for our salvation. In creation God made us after His own image; in redemption Christ was made after ours. This was the most convenient way to bring about His purposes of grace —(1) That our faith might be more certain.

(a)By His humanity He taught men by doctrine and example.

(b)By His dying He satisfied the justice of God, and so made a way for the course of His mercy to us (Romans 3:25, 26).

(c)By His resurrection, which was a visible satisfaction to the world that His sacrifice was accepted (Romans 4:25).

(d)By His ascension the truth of eternal life was more confirmed.(2) That our hope might be confirmed, being built upon Christ's example and promises (1 Peter 1:3; 1 John 2:25; 12:26).(3) That our love to God may be more fervent.(4) That our obedience may be more ready (Hebrews 5:8, 9).

2. To us.(1) Without Christ there is no recovery of what we lost, viz.,

(a)The image of God. This is restored by Christ, who is the pattern (2 Corinthians 3:18) and author (Titus 3:5, 6). Till we are in Him we have not this great benefit (2 Corinthians 5:17).

(b)The favour of God which Christ died to recover (2 Corinthians 5:17).

(c)Fellowship with God (Genesis 3:24; el. Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:16).(2) Without Christ there is no removal of our mlsery — the death and curse, involved in sin. Christ finds us where Adam left us (John 3:18).(3) Without Christ there is no obtaining our proper happiness. Man was made for God, and cannot be happy without Him (John 14:6; 1 John 5:11).The use of all this is —

1. To confute the world's opinion who measure God's love by outward things.

2. To excite us to bless God for Jesus Christ (Romans 7:25; 1 Corinthians 15:57).


1. The connection of our duty and privilege. We believe: God gives.

2. The universality of the proposal.

3. The condition.

4. The benefits negatively and positively considered.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

What subject can be so interesting as this? The gospel in general is a record of the love of God, but there the only begotten Son from the bosom of the Father gives us an epitome of the whole.

I. ITS OBJECT. If God so loved the world, then —

1. He loved those who deserved no such love.

2. He loved those who could do nothing to purchase or to procure it.

3. He loved those by whom it was unsolicited and undesired.

4. He must manifest it in a way worthy of Himself.(1) Was such a love verbal? There is a great deal of such which says, "Be ye warmed," etc. Was it sentimental? There are a good many so exquisite in their sensibilities as not to be able to endure a case of woe. Had God's love been such we had never been redeemed.(2) God's love was practical, bountiful, efficient.

II. ITS MANNER. He loved in a way worthy of Himself, and bestowed a gift which proved its greatness.

1. The supreme dignity and worth of the gift — "His Son" in a sense in which no other being is. Angels are sons because God has created them; Christians because God has adopted them. But Christ is God's Son by eternal generation; Son in such a sense that He can say of the Father, "I and My Father are one," and that the Father can say of Him, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever."

2. The relation in which the gift stood to the Giver. He was one in whom the Father delighted, not as in a creature with a limited affection, but with a boundless complacency.

3. Does not this teach us that a less valuable gift could not expiate human crime, and that no other price could have been accepted. Had Christ's teaching, example, etc., been sufficient His blood would not have been shed. But "without shedding of blood is no remission."

4. The only begotten Son so loved the world that He gave Himself. The allegation that if Christ suffered under compulsion it were unjust is true. But Christ was Divine, and therefore independent, and consequently cannot be compelled to suffer. Hence He says, "I delight to do Thy will." "No man taketh My life from Me."

III. ITS END. It was glorious and justified the means — the salvation of the world. But this great benefit is not dispensed indiscriminately. There must be a cordial acceptance of God's plan. Two ideas:

1. That of credence. Jesus must be believed to be what the record declares Him to be.

2. But such credence of this testimony that it is accepted by us, and that there is a personal reliance on Christ for salvation. It is with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.

3. Nor is this one act merely; it is an act repeated till a habit is formed, a habit which gives a distinctive denomination to the person — "believer."

4. This salvation through faith is negative and positive.In conclusion:

1. "God so loved the world." Then

(1)He has so loved mankind as He has not loved other orders of creatures.

(2)He has carried this attribute m this manifestation to its utmost intensity. This cannot be said of His wisdom or His power.

(3)It was so vast, amazing, rich as to pay down a price that defies all the powers of human or angelic calculation.

2. Has God so loved the world as to give, etc.? Then —

(1)Let us cherish views of the Divine character worthy of Him whose we are and whom we serve.

(2)How vital to salvation is faith!

(3)Have we the love of God?

(4)We ought to love one another.

(R. Newton, D. D.)


1. If God so loved this guilty world, then what an unplumbed depth of grace must have been in His heart! For the object of His love is not the world in its first condition when He pronounced it "very good," but the world ruined by sin and condemned for apostasy. There would have been no wonder had the world been drowned. Yet without any change in our claims or character He loved us. And this love is not a mere relenting which might lead to a respite, or simple regret which might end in a sigh. There is no merit in loving what is lovely. There is nothing about man but his misery to attract the Divine attachment. Man's sin is not his misfortune, but his fault. And the marvel is there is nothing God hates so much as sin, and yet no one He loved so much as the sinner.

2. If God so loved this little world, then surely His love is disinterested. This orb is truly a "little one," yet it has called out emotion, which mightier spheres had failed to elicit.

3. If God loved this fallen world and not the world of fallen angels His love must be sovereign. "Be not high minded, but fear." God spared not the angels that sinned, and if thou art spared thou hast no reason to boast.

4. The fervour and mightiness of this love arrest our attention — "so."

II. THE GIFT OF GOD'S LOVE. We estimate the value of a gift by various criteria.

1. The resources of the giver. Our Lord declared that the poor widow gave truly more than the wealthy worshippers.

2. The motives of the giver. One may heap favours on a fallen foe to wound his pride.

3. The manner. If it be withheld until wrung out, or if it be offered in a surly spirit, it sinks at once in importance below the lesser boon offered in frank and spontaneous sympathy.

4. The condition of the recipient — whether rich or needy, and in what degree of need, and the extent to which the gift is adapted to him.Now let the love of God be tested by these criteria.

1. The resources of the Giver are infinite; but in the donation of Christ you see the limits of possibility. If Christ be God what gift superior can be presented? or if He be the Son of God what richer love could be exhibited?

2. God's motives were perfectly unselfish.

3. His gift is the only one that could have profited us.

4. What adaptation there is in it to man's dire need I


1. To rescue man from perishing.

2. To confer upon man the boon of everlasting life.

3. To do this for all who believe:

(1)of every character;




(J. Eadie, D. D.)

I. THE OBJECT OF THIS LOVE. The world — not a part of it. The same reasons upon which His love of individuals is justified will justify His love to all.


1. Negatively.

(1)Not a delight in the character of men. For an infinite being to sympathize with wicked natures He must be infinitely wicked.

(2)Not a mere emotion, for emotions do not influence the life without the will.

(3)Not fondness for particular persons. There was nothing in any man to warrant this fondness.

(4)Not an involuntary love as is manifest in what it did.

(5)Not an unreasonable state of mind which so often gives rise to a false affection.

2. Positively.

(1)It was the only kind of love that could have been important to man.

(2)It was a reasonable affection.

(3)It was good-will or benevolence.

(4)It was an unselfish kind of love.

(5)God did the good for the sake of the intrinsic and infinite value of the soul. Men had no claim upon Him, but there were infinite reasons why He should not destroy them.

(6)It was disinterested.

(7)It was a love of amazing strength. Here was a world of enemies at war with Him, yet He spared not His own Son.

(8)It was not for a single Christian as such, but for a world of sinners.

(9)It was forbearing.

(10)It was universal.

(11)It was holy.

III. THE REASON FOR THIS WONDERFUL MEASURE OF THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT. Mankind had resisted this government. If God had seemed to connive at this, all other beings might have denied the justice of the law and disobeyed it also. What must be done? God's relation to the universe demanded of Him either to execute the law or to make demonstration of His estimation of the law. It is easy to see that the honour of the law might be fully sustained by God Himself if He should show before the whole universe His approbation of the law. If God would take upon Himself human nature, and in this nature would stand right out before the universe, and obey the law and suffer its penalty, the law would be perfectly honoured. This was what was done in Christ.

(Prof. Finney.)


1. By His designation and appointment unto death (Acts 2:23; Isaiah 42:1).

2. In parting with Him and setting Him at some distance from Himself for a time (John 16:28; Psalm 22:1, 2).

3. In delivering Him into the hands of justice to be punished (Romans 8:32).

4. In the application of Him with all the purchases of His blood, and settling all this upon us as an inheritance (John 6:32, 33; John 4:10).


1. How near and dear Christ was to the Father (Colossians 1:13).

2. To what He gave Him (Luke 22:22).

3. That in giving Christ He gave the richest jewel in His cabinet.

4. On whom the gift was bestowed.

(1)Not on angels; not on human friends, but

(2)upon enemies (Romans 5:8-10).

5. The freeness of the gift (1 John 4:19).Corollaries.

1. The exceeding preciousness of souls (1 Peter 1:18; Matthew 16:26).

2. Those for whom God gave His own Son may warrantably expect any other mercy from Him (Romans 8:32; 1 Corinthians 3:20, 21).

(1)No other mercy can be so dear to God as Jesus is.

(2)As Jesus was nearer the heart of God than all, so Jesus is in Himself much more excellent than all of them (Romans 9:5).

(3)There is no other mercy you want but you are entitled to it by the gift of Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Timothy 6:17).

(4)If God has given you Christ when enemies it is not imaginable He should deny you an inferior mercy now you are reconciled (Romans 5:8-10).

3. If the greatest love hath been manifested in the gift of Christ, then the greatest evil and wickedness is manifested in rejecting Him (Hebrews 2:2-4).

(J. Flavel.)


1. It is singular. He first loved.

2. It is personal.

3. It is compassionate. He pities the souls that sin has ruined.

4. It is comprehensive. It extends to all mankind.


1. In the gift. This includes

(1)the birth of Christ;

(2)His matchless life and example; and

(3)His sacrifice.

III. ITS RESULTS. It is implied —

1. That all are lost.

2. That none need perish; and

3. That whosoever believeth in Him hath everlasting life.

IV. WE LIVE IN THE GLORIOUS DAY OF SALVATION! This should be the tidings of great joy to all people. The return of Christmas should revive our hope and rekindle our zeal to spend and be spent in the Master's service.

(L. O. Thompson.)


1. God can love and does love. We must beware of making God only an infinite man; yet love in Him must be the same in kind as love in us.

2. Love is more than a Divine attribute. It is as light of which all the attributes are colours.

3. How near this brings Him to our hearts. We admire other qualities; we only love the loving.

4. The Scripture represents everywhere this love as the fountain of redemption.

II. LOVE IN ITS PUREST FORM. It had nothing to attract it and everything to repel it.

1. The world was perishing; it was therefore not complacent, but compassionating love. It is one thing to help the happy and prosperous and another to succour the needy and miserable.

2. The world was guilty. It is harder to love those who add unworthiness to distress. Moral excellence may attract compassion to the wretched, but moral vileness disgusts. But "God commendeth His love," etc.

3. The world was at enmity with God. That love is purest which withstands provocations and does good to the injurious. "When we were enemies we were reconciled," etc.

4. The world's misery and peril were caused by itself. It is always a sore strain on mercy when solicited for the wilful. How natural the reply: "It serves you right"! God says, "Thou hast destroyed thyself, but in Me is thy help."

III. Love IN ITS GREATEST STRENGTH That is a poor philanthropy which can pity without helping: but "the philanthropy of God appeared" in action. Love is as deeds, not words, desires, or feelings.

1. The love of God was practical in the most costly way. The test of love is sacrifice; the criterion of its strength is the measure of the sacrifice. The Cross was the self-denial of God.

2. Of all sacrifices the chief are those of persons. The highest sphere of value is in persons, not things, although the latter may be very precious.

3. God sacrificed the highest of all persons.

IV. Love IN ITS LOFTIEST PURPOSE. No purpose could be greater. We know the worth of life. "All that a man hath will he give for his life." It is the condition of all else that is prized. Salvation is life, not in figure, but in fact. There is a life of the flesh, of the soul, and of the spirit. This life in all its perfection is the end of God. Beginning in the finest portion of our nature it will spread and strengthen until it possesses the whole of it. Man redeemed and renewed is to live to the utmost of his capacity of life. This life is "everlasting." Sin brought death and separated from the tree of life: Christ restored access to it.

V. LOVE IN ITS WIDEST SPHERE. The "world" is not here used in a restrictive sense. It would be difficult to believe, did not facts prove it, that any could be so blinded as to make "the world" signify the Church. For the fact is, whenever the "world" is applied to a portion of mankind it always means the wicked. Wherever there is a man in the way to perish, there is the world God loved. There is nothing in the love or sacrifice of the Father and the Son to prevent the whole world being saved. God loved without limit of nation or condition. Conclusion:

1. You have here a pattern and spring of love. "Be imitators of God as dear children." "If God loved us," etc.

2. What a gospel — good news — is here! God loves you now in spite of all your sins and follies. The only title to love is to be "perishing"; the only condition of its blessings is to "believe."

3. The subject casts a shadow by its very brightness on your unbelief, state, prospects.

(A. J. Morris.)

This affectionate compassion is set forth —

I. BY COMPARISON OF THE PARTIES LOVING AND LOVED. God most high and holy loved the base and wicked world.

II. BY THE MEASURE OF IT. He so loved, that is, so infinitely, so transcendently, so incomprehensibly (Hebrews 12:3). Such as cannot be sufficiently expressed or conceived (1 John 3:1).

III. BY THE FRUIT OF HIS LOVE. It was no lip love, but a giving love. Yea, but some things are not worth the giving, therefore —

IV. BY THE WORTHINESS OF THE EXIT — His only begotten Son. And that to stand in our stead, and to die on the cross for us (ver. 14). Yea, but though never so excellent a gift be given, yet if it be not of use and profit to whom it is given, it doth not so testify love. Therefore —


1. Not perishing.

2. Having eternal life. But perhaps though this gift brings so great profit, yet they to whom it is given must take some great and extraordinary pains to get it, and then God's love is not so great. Therefore —

VI. It is set forth BY THE EASINESS OF THE MEANS whereby we are possessed of the profit of this gift, "That whosoever believeth." Yet if this so worthy a gift, of such invaluable worth to the enjoyer, had been restrained to some few sorts of men, the matter had not been so much. Therefore —

VII. It is set forth BY THE UNIVERSALITY, that whosoever, be he what he will, so he will but reach forth his hand to take this gift, he shall have it, and all the comfort of it.

(J. Dyke.)

I. IN ITS SOURCE. God loved the world.

1. In its guilt, therefore His love was a love of benevolence. He could not take delight in it, but He did wish it well.

2. In its depravity. Therefore His love is self-moved — the world not as made by God, but as ruined by the devil; consequently there was nothing in it to attract the Divine love.

3. The world, not hell, consequently His love was sovereign-free as opposed to necessary. He could have loved fallen angels had such been His pleasure. But "He took not hold on angels, but the seed of Abraham." Why? "Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight."


1. The birth or incarnation of Jesus Christ (1 John 4:9). This did not engender or excite His love, it only manifested it.

2. In His death or atonement (1 John 4:10). The Divine love is not the effect, but the cause. The gods of heathenism received but never gave sacrifices.

3. In the Person of the only begotten Son of God.


1. It has in view the salvation of every individual.

2. It offers to every individual the supremest, most precious blessing God Himself can bestow.

(1)Endless life.

(2)The very life of God Himself.

3. It offers the supremest blessings on the easiest, cheapest terms. God the Father had a great deal to do, and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; but man has nothing to do but to believe.

(J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)

I. IN THE GIFT. Men who love much will give much. Little love forgets to bring water for the feet, but great love breaks its box of alabaster. Consider —

1. What this gift was. The Father's other self. What more could He give? Could you fathers give your sons to die for your enemy?

2. How God gave it: not as you, to some honourable pursuit in which you would not be deprived altogether of your son's company, but as an exile to be born in a manger, to toil as a carpenter, and to die as a felon.

3. When He gave: for there is love in the time.(1) Jesus was always the gift of God. The promise was made as soon as Adam fell. Throughout the ages the Father stood to His gift. Every sacrifice was a renewal of the gift of grace. The whole system of types betokened that in the fulness of time God would give His Son. Admire the pertinacity of this love. Many a man in a moment of generous excitement can perform a supreme act of benevolence and yet could not bear to look at it calmly from year to year.(2) It includes all the ages afterwards. God still gives.

II. IN THE PLAN OF SALVATION. What is it to believe in Jesus?

1. To give your firm and cordial assent to the truth of the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ.

2. To accept this for yourself. In Adam's sin you did not sin personally, but by committing personal transgression you laid your hand upon it and made it your own. In like manner you must accept and appropriate the atonement of Jesus.

3. Personal trust.

III. IN THE PERSONS FOR WHOM THIS PLAN IS AVAILABLE. God did not so love the world that any man that does not believe in Jesus shall be saved. "Whosoever believeth."

1. From the moralist to the utterly vile; from the grey. headed sinner to the boy or maiden.

2. It encircles all degrees of faith.

IV. IN THE DELIVERANCE. Whosoever believes shall not perish, though he is ready to perish. To perish is to lose all hope in Christ, all trust in God, all light in life, all peace in death, all joy.

V. In THE POSSESSION. God gives to every man that believes in Christ everlasting life.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)


1. The essence of His nature.

2. All His attributes are modifications and manifestations of His love.

3. His law, the order of creation, the arrangement of His providence are expressions of His love.

4. Love is the ground of His perfect happiness.


1. The origin of Christ's mission was the love of God.

2. God gave His Son.

(1)In the councils of eternity.

(2)In His birth in time.

(3)In His death.

3. The relationship between the Father and the Son is the measure of the Divine love.

(1)Not an exalted creature.

(2)Not merely a Son.

(3)Not His Son only by incarnation.

(4)But His only begotten, well beloved, and everlasting Son.


1. Not the "elect" world, which God loves with the love of complacency.

2. But the sinful world, which He loves with the love of compassion.


1. To prevent dreadful evil.

2. To bestow unspeakable good.

(A. Beith, D. D.)

Bible Notes and Queries.
This verse is one of the gems of the Bible, a star of the first magnitude. Observe three things.


1. Who is God? The God of the Bible.

2. What is the cosmos? The world of human life.

3. How they stood affected.

(1)Originally, in harmony.

(2)Latterly, in enmity.

(3)Now, through Christ, in harmony once more: without Christ, still at enmity.

4. New and Divine revelation: God is love.


1. What He gave — His Son.

(1)Only begotten.

(2)Well beloved.

2. How He gave.





1. Negatively: that man might not loose himself utterly from God, duty, happiness. Thus was the pity of God manifested.

2. Positively: that man may have life, age during life.

(Bible Notes and Queries.)

These words express the substance of the gospel. No speaker ever had the power of condensing great principles into so narrow a compass as the Lord Jesus.


1. The idea that God is loving has been doubted or denied.(1) By those who contend that the world ought to have been made happy and pure. To them the fact that He provides remedies is no proof of His goodness.(2) By those who suppose that the Bible represents God as originally a stern and inexorable Being placated by Christ, and that now He is only mild and benignant to a few.

2. The text teaches that God was originally disposed to show mercy.(1) No change has been wrought in His character by the plan of salvation. He was just as worthy of love and confidence before as after the atonement.(2) God was originally so full of mercy that He was willing to stoop to any sacrifice except that of truth and justice in order to save man.(3) The plan of salvation was not merely to save man, but to save the name, character, and government of God. This could only be done by allowing His Son to be treated as if He was a sinner, in order to treat the really guilty as if they were righteous, and so to identify the one with the other.


1. Such a gift as that of His only begotten Son is the highest conceivable gift, and this Christ intends to convey. The Bible represents God as having the attributes of a kind and tender Father. He loves when He says He loves, and is no cold creation of the imagination. When a man bids his son go into the tented field with every prospect of his dying for the welfare of his country, it is the highest expression of his attachment for that country.

2. But no man has ever manifested such a love as God's. In a few instances a man has sacrificed his life for his friend, and not a few fathers and mothers endangered their lives for their children. But who has ever given the life of his child for an enemy? But "God commendeth," etc.

(A. Barnes, D. D.)

I. LOVE IN ITS HIGHEST FORM. Love is a generic term and includes a large number of specific affections. There is a love of friendship, brotherly love, parental love, conjugal love, a love of country or patriotism, and a love of God, or religion. Love is a redeeming quality among the many miseries of our fallen state. It is like the silver ray of sun-light which gleams through the dark cloud when the storm is brewing in the sky. It is like an oasis in the desert, which is a scene of beauty and a home of life amid arid plains doomed to perpetual barrenness. It is like the wood which Moses took and placed in the bitter waters of Mara. It sweetens the cup of human experience. It is the only lasting bond of human society — the only guarantee of the perpetual bliss of heaven, and the only attribute in fallen man which is made an emblem of God, "God is love." If love in human form and in a fallen world be so Divine, what must it be in God Himself? Love in man is but a ray from the sun; a drop from the ocean.

II. LOVE IN ITS SUBLIMEST MANIFESTATION. The object of my text is not general, but special. It is to assure us that while the love of God may be traced in every object in nature, and read on every page of Providence, as the colours of the rainbow may be found in every ray of silvery sun-light, yet the brightest and the fullest manifestation of it is in the mission of Jesus into the world to save sinners. In considering this subject, we must carefully bear in mind that Jesus Christ was not a mere man, but God who assumed a human form and nature. Few men in the time of the Saviour's advent had any idea of the love of God. Man's true happiness must ever be found in God, and in other beings only as they are Godlike. But to find happiness in such a god as that of which the highest conception is realized in the mythology of Greece, the idolatry of Moab, or the dogmas of the Pharisees is out of the question. Jesus, however, came to overturn these errors and fearful misrepresentations of the Deity, and save the world by proving that God was kind and loving, just and faithful, and therefore deserving of men's love and trust. It is most interesting to study the character of God according to the teaching of Jesus. He represented the Divine Being as a Father who yearned for the return of his prodigal child, welcomed him home, receiving him with open arms and open heart, bidding all his household help him to tell the world his joy, "Rejoice with me, for this my son was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found." He represented God as the Good Shepherd, who goes after the lost one until it is found, and bears it to His home upon His shoulders with rejoicing. He represented God as the Good Samaritan who saw men lying in their wounds, robbed by sin of hope and heaven, upon the point of death, and came to save them at his own expense.

III. LOVE IN ITS WIDEST FIELD OF OPERATION. This widest field is the world, for "God so loved the world." It is evident that the text cannot mean merely to assert that God loved and admired the material world or the things of the world, as these need no salvation, and are not capable of being saved, and the love of God to the world, in the text, is said to have special reference to its salvation. As the pious Jew of old rambled among the ruins of his glorious temple, turning over with affection its broken columns, cherishing the very dust and stone thereof; so God in Christ, with His loving heart overflowing with sympathy and affection, seeks to gather the broken fragments of humanity together, and rebuild upon a surer basis the temple of man. As mother, sister, or wife walks in the field of blood after the day of dreadful slaughter, with tears of affection flowing from her eyes, the sigh of sorrow rising from her wounded heart and floating upwards to tell its grief to God, and with tenderness of touch turns over the forms of the dead, that she may press once more to her heart, now broken, the object of her warm affection; so God is represented as amid the carnage which sin has made of us, inspired by the love of which my text is speaking, toiling and labouring and suffering, having come to seek and to save those who were lost. "God so loved the world!" This is the source from which all our blessings flow.


1. The sad condition of those whom it proposes to affects" should not perish." The objects of His love are perishing — perishing, not in body but in soul.

2. The glorious state to which the love of God proposes to raise all He found in this sad condition, "but have everlasting life." Life, even of a temporal character, is of so much value that men toil and labour and manifest the deepest concern, in order, not to perpetuate it, but merely to prolong it for a few years.

3. The simple way in which we may become eternally benefited by this saving work of God, "whosoever believeth in Him." What an awful curse is unbelief!

4. The impartial manner in which these blessings are offered, "whosoever." Were man to make a feast, his invitations would not be to every one, for his ability to provide would have a limit. The richest man could not make a feast for all. But God is not man that He should be deficient.

(E. Lewis, B. A.)


1. It is the violation of an infinitely important law — a law designed and adapted to secure the highest good of the universe.

2. As sin is this it cannot be treated lightly. The entire welfare of a government and its subjects turns upon obedience.

3. The law of God must not be dishonoured by anything He shall do. He must stand by it to retrieve its honour.

4. Hence the expense. Either the law must be executed at the expense of the race, or God must suffer the worse results of disrespect to His law, or a substitute be provided who shall both save the sinner and honour the law.

II. HOW SHALL THE EXPENSE BE MET? Who shall head the subscription? The Father made the first donation.

1. He gave His Son to make the atonement due to law.

2. He gave His Spirit to take charge of this work.

III. FOR WHOM WAS THE GREAT DONATION MADE? By the "world" cannot be meant any particular part. The Bible and the nature of the case shows that the atonement must have been made for the whole. Otherwise no man could be sure that it was made for himself.

IV. WHAT PROMPTED GOD TO MAKE IT? Love. This love is —

1. Not complacency, or it would have been infinitely disgraceful to Himself.

2. Not mere feeling, as in those who are carried away by strong emotion. But —

3. Disinterested: for He had nothing to hope or fear; no profit to make out of the saved.

4. Zealous.

5. Most self-denying.

6. Universal because particular. God loved each, therefore all.

7. Most patient.

V. THE GIFT OF GOD MUST BE RECEIVED BY FAITH. This is the only possible way, God's government is moral because the Saviour is a moral agent. Therefore God cannot influence us unless we give Him our confidence. Lessons:

1. Sinners may place themselves beyond the reach of mercy.

2. This involves them in the greatest responsibility.

3. This responsibility can only be discharged and the sinner saved by accepting the donation of Christ.

4. Accepting that donation let us give it to others.

(C. G. Finney, D. D.)


1. Eternal: "loved." Who can tell when it began?

2. Compassionate: "the world."

3. Unspeakable: "so"


1. Condescending.

2. Sacrificial.

3. Exhaustive.


1. Broad: "whosoever."

2. Limited: "believeth."

3. Blessed.

(1)Negative: "should not perish."

(2)Positive: "have everlasting life."

(R. S. MacArthur, D. D.)

The ocean is always moving, but it is not self-moving. The cause of its movements is outside itself, in the moon, and in the wind. Did the wind and the moon let it alone, the Atlantic would for ever be a pacific ocean, quiet, restful, pellucid as an inland lake; it has no power to heave itself. But as for the shoreless sea of the Divine Love, it has the power to move itself; and it did move itself. It rolled in a grand irresistible current towards the shores of our world. Like the Divine Essence, the Divine Love possesses the power of self-determination.

(J. C. Jones, D. D.)

I remember the case of a young man who was afflicted with a frightfully loathsome disease. He had to be kept out of sight. But was he neglected? No. I need not tell you who looked after him. There was not a morning but his loving mother bathed his wounds and swathed his limbs, and not an evening that she wearied in her toil. Do you think she had not natural sensitiveness? I knew her to be as sensitive as any lady; but by so much more as she felt the loathsomeness of her work do you see the love that constantly upheld her in doing it. But oh! what is the loathsomeness of cankered wounds compared with the loathsomeness of sin to God? There is but one thing that God hates, and that is sin. Yet with all His hatred of sin how He hangs over the sinner!

(S. Coley.)

We often hear of counter currents, but was there ever such a counter current as is implied here! One of the most important and wonderful ocean currents is the Gulf Stream. It takes its rise in the Gulf of Mexico and sweeps across through the heart of the mighty Atlantic to the Arctic Seas; and by its strong currents, more rapid than that of the Mississippi, it engulfs every other ocean stream that comes athwart its course, making it tributary to its own grand mission of washing the shores and ameliorating the climate of the sea-bound countries of Europe. "So God loved the world." His love is a mighty stream of warm, generous commiseration sweeping with mighty force towards that moral Arctic Sea sin has made of our world. And such was the strength of the current that it swept into its own bosom the mighty stream of God's love of complacency towards His only begotten Son, so that He was borne on its bosom into this world, where, by suffering and death, He became "the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him."

(A. J. Parry)

In human governments, justice is central, and love incidental. In the Divine government, love is the central element, and justice only incidental. God wishes to exhaust all means of kindness before His hand takes hold on justice. When the waves of penalty begin to come in in fearful tides, then He banks up against them. His goodness is the levee between justice and the sinful soul.

(H. W. Beecher.)

God is love, and there is a something about love which always wins love. When love puts on her own golden armour, and bears her sword bright with her own unselfish. ness, she goeth on conquering and to conquer. Let a man once apprehend that God is love, that this is God's very essence, and he must at once love God.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Plutarch, the Greek historian, tells a story to this effect: " An ancient king once gave a present of a large sum of money to a personal friend, and was gently taken to task for his generosity. 'What!' was his astonished exclamation, 'would you not have me be liberal? Let the world know that when the king gives he gives generously, like a king.' "Upon this, he made a second present of equal value.

We lately read in the papers an illustration of the way of salvation. A man had been condemned in a Spanish court to be shot, but being an American citizen and also of English birth, the consuls of the two countries interposed, and declared that the Spanish authorities had no power to put him to death. What did they do to secure his life when their protest was not sufficient? They wrapped him up in their flags, they covered him with the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack, and defied the executioners. "Now fire a shot if you dare, for if you do so, you defy the nations represented by those flags, and you will bring the powers of those two great empires upon you." There stood the man, and before him the soldiery, and though a single shot might have ended his life, yet he was as invulnerable as though encased in triple steel. Even so Jesus Christ has taken my poor guilty soul ever since I believed in Him, and has wrapped around me the blood-red flag of His atoning sacrifice, and before God can destroy me or any other soul that is wrapped in the atonement, He must insult His Son and dishonour His sacrifice, and that He will never do, blessed be His name.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

It is said that some years ago a vessel sailing on the northern coast of the South American continent, was observed to make signals of distress. When hailed by another vessel, they reported themselves as "Dying for water!" "Dip it up then," was the response, "you are in the mouth of the Amazon river." There was fresh water all around them, they had nothing to do but to dip it up, and yet they were dying of thirst, because they thought themselves to be surrounded by the salt sea. How often are men ignorant of their mercies? How sad that they should perish for lack of knowledge! Jesus is near the seeker even when he is tossed upon oceans of doubt. The sinner has but to stoop down and drink and live.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

When a shipwrecked sailor, left to the mercy of the waves, has no help within reach or view but a spar or mast, how will he cling to it, how firmly he will clasp it — he will hold it as life itself. If a passing billow sweep him from it, with all his might he will make for it again, and grasp it faster than ever. To part is to perish; and so he clings — and how anxiously! So the awakened sinner feels. The ocean of wrath surrounds him; its billows and its waves go over him. Hell yawns beneath to engulf him. The vessel is an utter wreck. All its floating timbers are very rottenness. Oh, how he strains his eye searching for a mast, a plank, a spar! His eye rests on the only hope, the only rock in the wide ocean of wrath, the Rock of Ages, the Lord Jesus. He makes for the Saviour — he clasps Him — he cleaves to Him. Every terror of sin and of unworthiness that strives to loosen his hold only makes him grasp with more terrible and death-like tenacity, for he knows that to part company is to perish.

(R. B. Nichol.)

"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son," etc. The life and death of Christ was but the working out of the love of God. The affection and the yearning of heart towards His erring creatures was just the same in God before Christ came, that Christ showed it to be while He was on earth. It is just the same still. There is no change in God, or in His love. Man nor woman need fear disappointment there. It has been the custom of some, a custom too much prevailing, to represent God as being under no manner of obligation to do anything for His creatures after they had broken His law. The trouble with this statement is that there is a great deal of truth in it; and yet it has been made in such a manner as to give a very wrong impression. In God's own nature there is a necessity for His efforts for man's redemption.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Come, ye surveyors, bring your chains, and try to make a survey of this word "so." Nay, that is not enough. Come hither, ye that make our national surveys, and lay down charts for all nations. Come ye, who map the sea and land, and make a chart of this word "so." Nay, I must go further. Come hither, ye astronomers, that with your optic glasses spy out spaces before which imagination staggers, come hither and encounter calculations worthy of all your powers! When you have measured between the horns of space, here is a task that will defy you — "God so loved the world." If you enter into that, you will know that all this love is to you — that while Jehovah loves the world, yet He loves you as much as if there were nobody else in all the world to love.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

It is not like a banquet, accommodated to the tastes and wants of so many and no more. Like a masterpiece of music, its virtues are independent of numbers.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Let me tell thee that the mercy of God flows freely. It wants no money and no price from thee, no fitness of frames and feelings, no preparation of good works or penitence. Free as the brook which leaps from the mountain side, at which every weary traveller may drink, so free is the mercy of God. Free as the sun that shineth, and gilds the mountain's brow, and makes glad the valleys without fee or reward, so free is the mercy of God to every needy sinner. Free as the air which belts the earth and penetrates the peasant's cottage as well as the royal palace without purchase or premium, so free is the mercy of God in Christ. It tarrieth not for thee: it cometh to thee as thou art. It way layeth thee in love; it meeteth thee in tenderness. Ask not how thou shalt get it. Thou needst not climb to heaven, nor descend to hell for it; the word is nigh thee; on thy lip, and in thy heart if thou believest on the Lord Jesus with thy heart, and with thy mouth makest confession of Him, thou shalt be saved.

What is it to perish? It is to die in our sins, without bright angels to smile upon us as they wait to carry us away from earth; to die without the Saviour's glorious presence to cheer us in the valley of the shadow of death. It is to be turned away from the shut door of our Father's mercy, because, like the foolish virgins, we are not ready when the bridegroom comes. To perish is to lose the smile of God, the company of the redeemed, the society of angels, the glories of the heavenly world, and, with no ray of comfort or gleam of hope, to be driven away into outer darkness, into misery and woe, without deliverance and without end. The thought of this awful perdition made Jesus weep over Jerusalem and say, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem: thou that killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not."

(Rev. R. Brewin.)

— "Whosoever" has a finger for babes, and an arm for old men; it has an eye for the quick, and a smile for the dull. Young men and maidens, whosoever offers its embrace to you! Good and bad, honourable or disreputable, this "whosoever" speaks to you all with equal truth! Kings and queens may find room in it; and so may thieves and beggars. Peers and paupers sit on one seat in this word. "Whosoever" has a special voice for you, my hearer! Do you answer, "But I am an oddity"? "Whosoever" includes all the oddities. I always have a warm side towards odd, eccentric, out-of-the-way people, because I am one myself, at least so I am often said to be. I am deeply thankful for this blessed text; for if I am a lot unmentioned in any other catalogue, I know that this includes me: I am beyond all question under the shade of "whosoever." No end of odd people come to the Tabernacle, or read my sermons; but they are all within the range of "whosoever."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

When the great mutiny in India had been brought to a close, and peace was being made between the government and the rebels, the Queen caused a proclamation to be made throughout the rebel provinces that all who should lay down their arms, and come to certain appointed places by a fixed day, should receive forgiveness, with some exceptions. Ah! these exceptions. The poor fellows who knew they could not be forgiven, but must be put to death, never came. The love of God knows no exceptions; whosoever will ,nay come.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Somebody said he would rather read "Whosoever" than see his own name, because he should be afraid it might refer to some other man who might have the same name. This was well brought out in a prison the other day, when the chaplain said to me, "I want to describe a scene that occurred here some time ago. Our Commissioners went to the Governor of the State and got him to give his consent to grant pardons to five men on account of their good behaviour. The Governor said the record was to be kept secret; the men were to know nothing about it; and at the end of six months the criminals were brought out, the roll was called, and the President of the Commission came up and spoke to them; then putting his hand in his pocket he drew out the papers and said to those 1,100 convicts, 'I hold in my hand pardons for five men.' I never witnessed anything like it. Every man held his breath, and was as silent as death. Then the Commissioner went on to tell how they obtained these pardons; that it was the Governor who granted them," and the chaplain said the suspense was so great that he spoke to the Commissioner and asked him to first read out the names of those who were pardoned before he spoke further, and the first name was given out thus, "Reuben Johnson will come out and get his pardon." He held out the papers but no one came. He looked all around, expecting to see a man spring forward at once; still no one arose, and he turned to the officer of the prison and said, "Are all the convicts here?" "Yes," was the reply. "Then, Reuben Johnson will come and get his pardon." The real Reuben Johnson was all this time looking around to see where Reuben was; and the chaplain beckoned to him, and he turned and looked around and behind him, thinking some other man must be meant. A second time he beckoned to Reuben, and called to him, and the second time the man looked around to see where Reuben was, until at last the chaplain said to him, "You are the man, Reuben;" and he rose up out of his seat and sank back again, thinking it could not be true. He had been there for nineteen years, having been placed there for life; and when he came up and took his pardon he could hardly believe his eyes, and he went back to his seat and wept like a child: and then, when the convicts were marched back to their cells, Reuben had been so long in the habit of falling into line and taking the lock step with the rest that he fell into his place, and the chaplain had to say, "Reuben, come out; you are a free man."

(D. L. Moody.)

When William Knibb had been preaching from this text in Jamaica, returning home he came up with an old black woman, and he said to her, "What do you think of the great love of God?" Simplicity is often allied to sublimity. "Think, massa!" she replied; "Me think it be just like Him." So it is. St. Peter says, "According to His abundant mercy He hath begotten us again." It is just like Him. It is as a father pitieth his children.

(S. Coley.)

The law of gravitation existed from the foundation of the world, it daily exerted its influence, keeping the stars in their orbits, and swinging them around their respective centres. The mysterious force, however, was unknown until discovered by Sir Isaac Newton, and published in his writings. It existed from the first; only a century or two ago was it made manifest. In like manner the love of God existed from eternity, from days of old. It burnt as hot in the days of Noah and of Abraham, as on the Incarnation morn or the Atonement eve. All through the ages it governed the world with a view to its final redemption. But in the Incarnation and Propitiation was it revealed, only then did it force itself upon the obtuse vision of the world. "Ye have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from — out of — the Father, and am come into the world." Not only He came from God, but He came out of God. John the Baptist came from God.

(J. C. Jones, D. D.)

A story has been often told of the fondness of parents for their children; how in a famine in the East a father and mother were reduced to absolute starvation, and the only possibility of preserving the life of the family was to sell one of the children into slavery. So they considered it. The pinch of hunger became unbearable, and their children pleading for bread tugged so painfully at their heart-strings, that they must entertain the idea of selling one to save the lives of the rest. They had four sons. Who of these should be sold? It must not be the first: how could they spare their firstborn? The second was so strangely like his father that he seemed a reproduction of him, and the mother said that she would never part with him. The third was so singularly like the mother that the father said he would sooner die than that this dear boy should go into bondage; and as for the fourth, he was their Benjamin, their last, their darling, and they could not part with him. They concluded that it were better for them all to die together than willingly to part with any one of their children. Do you not sympathize with them? I see you do. Yet God so loved us that, to put it very strongly, He seemed to love us better than His only Son, and did not spare Him that He might spare us. He permitted His Son to perish from among men "that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

When Jesus looked at the poor widow He found a new rule of arithmetic. When she dropped in her two mites He said that she had given more than they all. What new rule was this? Many had given much, but the Lord looked at what they had left. This woman had given all. Try God by His own rule. He had but one Son — His only begotten. If He had taken every star from the sky, and manipulated those stars, and moulded them all into a gigantic body of which every star was an atom; and then if He had taken every seraph from His throne and made a mighty amalgam of all souls into one, and had put that giant mind into that gigantic body, and given that body and soul for man, it would have been as nothing to this. A word of His could have restored the dismantled heavens; but God Himself cannot make an only-begotten Son.

(S. Coley.)

Transport yourselves in imagination to Athens or Rome; observe closely the images of the gods, in motley crowds on either hand of you; see the rivers of red blood flowing towards them. No marvel that "Paul's spirit was stirred within him as he saw the city wholly given to idolatry." Come with me again to Jerusalem. Behold the image of the invisible God lifted up on Calvary. Does blood flow towards it No: blood flows from it. Here, then, we have hit upon the radical difference between paganism and Christianity. Blood to the image: that is' the essence of paganism. Blood from the image: that is the essence of Christianity. The heathen gods demand a sacrifice, but never provide it; the gospel God both demands it and provides it. "He gave His only-begotten Son."

(J. G. Jones, D. D.)

King Zeleueus decreed that whosoever committed a particular offence should lose his eyes; and the first person found guilty was his own son. What a company would be gathered, and what an anxious inquiry there would be! What will the king do? Will he set aside the law because the offender is royal? Amid the hush of that gathered company the officer sternly commanded to do his duty dashed out one of the prince's eyes. "Stop," said the king, "take the other from me." This was done. This will show that the love of the king was seen all the more from the justice of his administration.

(S. Coley.)

I. ITS ORIGIN IN THE LOVE OF GOD, which will appear after we consider that —

1. Man by nature is in a state of degradation and spiritual death by reason of sin.

2. The essential means of salvation is the free gift of God.


1. The gift.

2. The faithfulness of the Father in this transaction.

3. The part which the Son took in this stupendous work.

4. The necessity of this gift.


1. There must be repentance.

2. There must be faith.

(J. Gaskin, M. A.)

A preacher had gone down into a coal mine during the noon-hour to tell the miners of the glad tidings of salvation. Meeting the foreman on his way back to the shaft he asked him what he thought of God's manner of saving men. "Oh, it is too cheap, I cannot believe in such a religion as that." Without an immediate reply to his remark the preacher asked, "How do you get out of this place?" "Simply by getting into the cage," was the reply. "And does it take long to get to the top?" "Oh, no; only a few seconds." "Well, that certainly is very easy and simple. But do you not need help to raise yourself?" said the preacher. "Of course not," replied the miner, "As I have said, you have nothing to do but to get into the cage." "But what about the people who sunk the shaft, and perfected all this arrangement? Was there much labour or expense about it?" "Yes, indeed; that was a laborious and expensive work. The shaft is a thousand feet deep, and it was sunk at great cost to the proprietors; but it is our way out, and without it we should never be able to get to the surface." "Just so," and when God's Word tells you that whosoever believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life, you say, "Too cheap," forgetting that God's work to bring you and others out of the pit of destruction was accomplished at a vast cost, the price being the death of His only-begotten Son.

(W. Baxendale.)





(C. D. Barrows.)

I. THE DOCTRINE. "God so loved," etc.

1. The first cause of redemption — the love of God to man. Christ died not that God might, but because He did love us.(1) This is a doctrine distinctive of the Bible. You find it nowhere else. Men talk about the mercy of God, but if we give up the ideas of God obtained from the Scriptures how do we know that He is a God of love? What is there in nature to suggest it? There we see the reign of law: sin and suffer.(2) The presence of such a truth in the Bible forms one of the most powerful vindications of its authority. If it contained nothing different from other books we might reasonably question its Divine origin.(3) But familiarity has deadened the force and beauty of this great Bible truth in those who have heard it so often.(4) Here, however, is the marvel of marvels — standing alone in the universe — that God loves a race that has defied and insulted Him.

2. The mode of human redemption. God's love could not be a powerless thing dealing in fine sentiment and words of pity. It had a great end in view which could only be secured by an unparalleled sacrifice. "He gave His only begotten Son."(1) The designation of the Redeemer is peculiar and significant. Unlike other sons, He has a position of His own, and His name is an incidental but most powerful proof of His Divinity.(2) The Redeemer was "given," not to be a mere teacher or example, but to be the propitiation for sin.

3. The extent of human redemption. It would not be easy to find language more free and comprehensive than "the world .... whosoever." All are not saved, but none need be unpardoned. An universal need is here universally provided for.

II. THE DUTY. God has lavished the love of His heart on us and requires the trust and love of ours. Nothing can be simpler or more common than trust, the child's first lesson and act. This is illustrated in the miracles of Christ. Only believe that Jesus has the will and the power to save and your confidence will not be disappointed.

1. Faith is different from knowledge. Yet there must be some knowledge. But there may be little knowledge and strong faith, and much knowledge and no faith. There are many well-instructed people who shrink from the thought of infidelity. Yet infidelity is the want of trust in God and Christ. Faith is the soul's own rest in Jesus as its own Redeemer.

2. The text makes no distinction in the kind or degree of faith. It is doubtless better to have a firm than a weak faith. Still, if a man have faith at all he will be saved.

III. THE PROMISE. "Eternal life."

1. A present realization.

2. "More abundantly" hereafter. Of this the unbeliever is deprived in time and eternity. He that believeth not is dead already.

(J. Guiness Rogers, B. A.)

I. Its first article is — GOD LOVES THE WORLD. Easy to say, impossible to realize in all its augustness. The great question is, What does God feel? Agnostics do not know whether He is force or Father. But when they cannot tell what you yearn to know Jesus comes, and there is light over all the darkness and despair of life. On any lips this would be a wonderful word, but in the lips of Christ "love" meant all that was in His own heart. Himself the embodiment of love, He lifts our eyes to heaven and says, God loves, not made, rules, judges, but loves; and not the Church, but the world, and every individual in it. Mankind is not a larger family for God to love than is yours for you.

II. Its second article is — GOD HAS GIVEN US HIS SON. Love is ever giving. It gives its best. Our best earthly gifts are our friends, and God gives us the best friend. And He is ours absolutely, individually, and for ever — all He is and all He has. Value the gift which cost God so much.

III. The third article is — WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN CHRIST, etc. The condition upon which we are to receive salvation is universally practicable. If there were any other it would shut some one out. All our training in this world is a training for faith. All the joys of life are joys of trust. It is not a question whether faith shall be the condition of salvation. It is a necessity in the nature of things. If you suspect any you shrink from them. Doubt is the great gulf fixed between you and God, but faith is the link which binds us to Him. All that is needed, therefore, is the entrustment of the heart to God. Conclusion: That is our creed.

1. Repent of treating it so negligently.

2. Be not ashamed of it.

3. Fear not its future. Man will want no new one until all that wakes up our need of Christ is destroyed.

(R. Glover.)

I.The everlasting FATHER.

II.The everlasting SON.

III.The everlasting LOVE.

IV.The everlasting LIFE.

(J. C. Jones.)

I. In these words I find my religion, theology, ethics, and politics, politics being one of the chief branches of ethics.

1. The Divine love for mankind.

2. The mission of the love of God for salvation.

3. Faith in the Son of God the condition of salvation.

4. Eternal life the gift of Divine love to all who believe in Christ.

II. Evangelical Christians have claimed one of these truths as pre-eminently their own. Faith in Christ as the condition of salvation is the very heart of the Gospel. Whitefield the Calvinist and Wesley the Arminian differed on many points, but when a man asked, "What must I do to be saved?" each gave the same answer.

III. Luther maintained that justification by faith was the test of a standing or a falling Church. We go further. It is as necessary to preach that men are sanctified by faith. Faith is the root of morality as well as the condition of pardon. Hebrews 11., which illustrates the triumphs of faith, is an unfinished fragment. You must add to it the story of the saintliness, heroism, righteousness, and charity of sixty generations; even then it remains a fragment still.

IV. To believe in Christ — what is it? Not the mere acceptance, however cordial, of the Christian creed. It is to have confidence in Christ, unreserved, unqualified, unmeasured. Whatever dignity Christ claims, faith reverently acknowledges. Whatever relations He assumes to God and to man, it concedes. Whatever authority He asserts, it submits to. When He teaches, faith admits His teaching as absolute truth. When He commands, faith accepts His precepts as the perfect law of life. When He promises, faith relies on Him to fulfil. To admit some of Christ's claims and to reject the rest; to listen to His declarations that His blood is shed for the remission of sins; to refuse to listen, or to listen incredulously, when He speaks as the moral ruler of the race, this is inconsistent with faith in Him.

(R. W. Dale, D. D.)

If we could but hear the words for the first time, and without prepossessions either of Pharisaic error or logical orthodoxy, hear them with nothing but consciousness of sin and thirst for life, before the love of God had been hardened into doctrine, and the only begotten Son has become a quarrel for the schools. "Do your gods love you?" asked a missionary of some Indians. "The gods never think of loving," was the cheerless answer. The text before us was read. "Read it again," asked the arrested pagan. "That is large light, read it again." A third time the blessed words were repeated; and with this emphatic response, "That is true, I feel it." On one occasion a missionary was dictating to a native amanuensis the translation of the First Epistle, and when he reached the passage, "Now are we the sons of God," the poor child of heathenism burst into tears, and exclaimed, " It is too much, it is too much; let me put it, Now are we permitted to kiss His feet."

(A. J. Morris.)

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