Five Eternal Gifts from God - Christ 3
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, ESV)
John 3:16 is undoubtedly, or at least arguably, the most familiar verse in the Bible. It is prevalent on throws, wall hangings, placards at sporting events and even automobile license plates. The reference may be found on an athlete’s uniform, wrist bands or even on his cheeks. For many, it is the scroll text on their computer screen savor. It is preached, recited, memorized and claimed by many as their life’s verse.
However, what is the context of John 3:16? What should believers and students of the Bible immediately observe about John 3:16? Of the many answers given about the content of the particular text, and there are many, one observation that should stand out in our minds is that John 3:16 is the sixteenth verse in the third chapter of the Gospel of John. This means that there are fifteen verses that precede verse sixteen. What then is the content of those fifteen preceding verses which make such an important impact upon the sixteenth verse?
The context of the third chapter of John, and hence the sixteenth verse of the chapter, is a discussion Jesus is having with a man who visits Jesus at night. The name of the visitor is Nicodemas.
Verse one indicates that Nicodemas was a member of both the Jewish ruling authority (Sanhedrin) and the conservative religious authorities (Pharisees). When Nicodemas visits Jesus, he acknowledges that Jesus is from God because of the miracles Jesus has done and is doing. This understanding belongs not only to Nicodemas but also his colleagues. (Vs. 2).
However, before Nicodemas can ask Jesus even a single question, supposing that is why he came to see Jesus, Jesus tells this man that if he is going to become a child of God, he must have a new birth from God. He must be born again. (Vs. 3).
Even though Nicodemas was a religious teacher and leader, he does not understand what Jesus is saying. He confuses spiritual birth with a physical birth. (Vs. 4). It is at this time that Jesus reprimands Nicodemas for not understanding the need for a new birth especially since Nicodemas is a respected teacher and leader of Jewish people in understanding the Old Testament Scriptures. (Vs. 9-13).
The Old Testament teaching of a new spiritual birth and a new covenant is found in Psalm 51:10, Ezekiel 11:19-21; 18:30-32; 36, 37 and Jeremiah 31: 31-34.