Four Hidden Truths of John 3:16 | Tomorrow’s World

Four Hidden Truths of John 3:16

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“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Those are some of the best-known words in the Bible—John 3:16—quoted above from the New King James Version. Even many people who aren’t personally familiar with the Bible have likely seen them written on highway-side billboards or on gigantic banners at nationally televised football games. At least two well-known American fast-food chains print those words (and other Bible verses) on their cups and wrappers.

Sadly, the verse remains a mere slogan for far too many, and relatively few people ever come to understand the depths of truth found in those words written by the Apostle John. Why? Because most professing Christians interpret this verse under the influence of centuries of human traditions—often infused with pagan falsehood—instead of seeing it through the lens of Scripture.

Indeed, there are thousands of different interpretations and beliefs, even among professing Christians. The 2001 World Christian Encyclopedia identifies more than 33,000 Christian denominations, and these thousands of denominations disagree among themselves in many of their doctrines, teachings, and beliefs. Surely, they can’t all be right!

Could it even be that many believe in a false Jesus Christ who is not the Jesus of the Bible? Jesus Himself warned us that “false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). Since these thousands of denominations teach such widely varying doctrines, could it be that many unwittingly believe in a counterfeit Christianity?

Understanding John 3:16 can help us answer this question. In this article, we will look briefly at four wonderful truths contained within this powerful and inspiring verse. But we will only scratch the surface of what could be said. To learn even more, you may want to request a free copy of our powerful booklet John 3:16: Hidden Truths of the Golden Verse. You can order a free printed copy or read it online at I’ll be quoting from it throughout this article.

Christians often call John 3:16 “the golden verse.” But, truth be told, it is a verse far more precious than gold. Understanding this one verse will give deeper insight into God’s nature, His justice, the future of humanity, and the fate of the wicked.

Who and What Is God?

There are many differing beliefs concerning the nature and existence of God. So, let’s start at the beginning—the first verse in your Bible. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

How simple! Yet without understanding this verse, it is easy to misunderstand John 3:16. In his informative and inspiring booklet mentioned above, author Gerald E. Weston—my fellow television presenter and the Editor in Chief of this magazine—gives a vital explanation from the very first verse in your Bible: “The first place the term ‘God’ is used in scripture (Genesis 1:1), it comes from the Hebrew Elohim, a plural word. The plurality of God is affirmed in verse 26: ‘Then God [Elohim] said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’” (p. 4).

Notice “Us”—that’s plural. But God is also one. We read in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” And what does your Bible reveal about the relationship of Jesus Christ and God the Father? Jesus stated, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30).

But in what way is God “one”? As Mr. Weston reminds us:

On the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus was on earth, and He prayed to His Father in heaven. Note these clear words about oneness found in this prayer: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one” (John 17:20–21). So we see that He wants us all to be one, but in what way? So “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one; I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one (vv. 21–23)” (pp. 5–6).

How do we become “one” with God the Father and Jesus Christ? God is preparing a Family. Christians will be born again and become fully part of that Family at the First Resurrection. Even now, Christians receive the laying on of hands after baptism to receive God’s Holy Spirit.

We all need the gift of the Holy Spirit of God, the power of God, as Jesus stated in Acts 1:8 and as the Apostle Peter exhorted in Acts 2:38. We thank God that He will give repentant sinners the gift of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of “power and of love and of a sound mind,” as we are told in 2 Timothy 1:7. God is the father “from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Ephesians 3:15). My friends, pray that you also can have God as your Father. Jesus taught us to pray to the Father in Matthew 6:9–13.

We’ve seen that God the Father and Jesus Christ are one. They are the two Beings who are right now in the one God Family, and faithful Christians will join them when they are born again at the resurrection to immortality.

There are many more awesome characteristics of God than we have space to discuss here. We rejoice that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16) as the golden verse emphasizes. God is also the Creator, as stated above (cf. Genesis 1:1). For more inspiring aspects of God’s nature, be sure to request our free study guide The Real God: Proofs and Promises. You can order a free printed copy or read it online at

Is God Fair?

As we come to understand God, we naturally wonder, Is He fair? Some common “mainstream Christian” ideas about God are actually grave misunderstandings that lead many to believe that God is not fair.

 Many professing Christians have a wrong idea that God will burn billions of people in hellfire forever—simply because He allowed them to be born and die without ever hearing the name or the Gospel of Christ. Is that fair? Mr. Weston raises this question in his eye-opening booklet:

The Apostle John taught plainly that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). Here, “the world” is not a reference to planet Earth, but rather to the people who dwell here. And, no matter how you count it, by any reckoning there have always been far more “unsaved” than “saved.” So, if God “loved the world,” how can this be? Is He so weak that He cannot save the majority of His creation? This leads to a question, “Is God fair? Is He a respecter of persons? Has everyone—or will everyone—have a genuine and fair opportunity for salvation?” (p. 15).

Bible students know that salvation comes only through the name of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. As Acts 4:12 tells us, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

God has a plan for those who never heard the name of Jesus Christ. He will not condemn them, as many of the world’s professing Christians believe. Ask your minister or priest this question: If a tribe of people in a remote jungle never heard the name of Jesus Christ, and so never accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, will they be condemned to hellfire when they die? You may be shocked by the answer.

Your Bible reveals that God will give such people an opportunity for salvation in the Second Resurrection to judgment. This judgment takes place after the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth. These are the “rest of the dead” mentioned in Revelation 20:5, who are resurrected in the second, general resurrection from the dead.

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God” (Revelation 20:11–12). If the dead are standing before God, they have been resurrected. You can find a description of this resurrection to physical life in Ezekiel 37, when life comes to the valley of dry bones.

In Revelation 20:12, we read that “books were opened.” The original Greek word for books is biblia, from which we derive the word “Bible.” Continuing, we read, “And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works” (vv. 12–13). In the White Throne Judgment, billions of people who never heard the name of Christ will have their first genuine opportunity for salvation. That resurrection to judgment may include friends and relatives you may have thought were lost forever!

Many Christian denominations base their beliefs more on tradition than on the Bible. They do not believe the plain statements of your Bible, even though it is the source of genuine Christianity.

What Does It Mean to Perish?

Many people alive today assume that they will never perish, believing the pagan doctrine according to which their so-called immortal soul will not perish at death. But Mr. Weston writes on page 43 of his informative booklet:

Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines perish as: “To be destroyed; to pass away; to become nothing… to die” (“Perish,” We know what it means when food perishes. We speak of people perishing in a plane crash. So, when it comes to the biblical matters, why do people push other, incorrect meanings onto perish? The Bible consistently and unambiguously agrees with the standard dictionary definition of perish! It clearly teaches that life and death are opposites! Nowhere does Scripture ever describe human life as being inherently immortal. As we have already seen, even the soul—whatever one may think it is—can die (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). God’s word reveals that immortality is not something we already have, but rather that it is something we must seek (Romans 2:6–7) and “must put on” (1 Corinthians 15:53–54).

The Bible plainly reveals that only God has immortality (1 Timothy 6:16) and that immortality is something we must put on in the future (1 Corinthians 15:53). God’s purpose is to save us from eternal death, to save us from perishing. But Scripture tells us that those who seal their character with evil will perish in the lake of fire: “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:7).

The incorrigibly wicked will perish in a lake of fire. They will be punished with the second death from which there is no resurrection. That’s the punishment of eternal death. As Paul wrote, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). We don’t already have immortality. Eternal life is a gift of God.

Thus, we see the contrast between today’s traditional “Christianity” and truly biblical Christianity. Traditional “Christianity” teaches that we have an immortal soul that will always live and never perish, never cease to exist. Biblical Christianity teaches that unrepentant sinners will perish in a lake of fire, experience the second death—eternal death—and cease to exist.

But the good news is that those who truly believe on the Jesus Christ of the Bible, who repent and are baptized as Acts 2:38 states and remain faithful, will not perish—they will be given the gift of eternal life. Our Savior revealed that Christians who genuinely live by John 3:16 shall “not perish but have everlasting life.”

You Must Be Born Again

But how can you and I have everlasting life? John 3:3 teaches us that we must be born again, but what does that mean? Many have a mistaken idea.

Most professing Christians are familiar with the story of Nicodemus the Pharisee, who came to Jesus by night and admitted that Jesus was sent from God. Jesus told him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). The common belief is that if you accept Jesus in your heart as your Savior, you are at that moment “born again.”

But what did Jesus tell the dumbfounded Pharisee? “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5–6).

One simply needs to ask the question, “Am I spirit or am I flesh?” Physical Christians will be changed and become Spirit beings at the resurrection. Read what Paul wrote about the miraculous change at the first general resurrection:

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:50–54).

That is the time Jesus referred to in John 3 when He said, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” We must understand, as in the human begettal and birth process, the difference between the words “begotten” and “born.” Mr. Weston writes on page 28 of his booklet:

Why does this matter generate such confusion? In this passage of Scripture, the word translated as “born” is the Greek word gennao. Translators, knowing Greek but not understanding the doctrinal implications, variously render this unusual word into English as “born,” “beget,” “begot,” or “conceive.” This seemingly small detail can lead to confusion and result in significant misunderstandings, especially about the concept of being “born again.”

When we receive God’s Holy Spirit at baptism, we become His begotten child. Despite the translators’ doctrinal bias, the word gennao is correctly translated where we read: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Our Father in heaven begets us as His children, and as such, we love all of God’s begotten children. To be born again at the first general resurrection, we must first be begotten again at baptism.

God’s Great Love for Us

God’s awesome act of love, sacrificing His Son so that we can be forgiven of our sins, also required the love of the Savior who gave His life for us. Remember John the Baptist’s testimony: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29). Our Lord became the Passover sacrifice for sinners. “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

Mr. Weston writes extensively on the greatest love in our free study guide John 3:16: Hidden Truths of the Golden Verse. He concludes:

John records these words of Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:12–14). John 3:16 reminds us that God the Father loved us so much that He voluntarily gave His Son to be our Friend—to empty Himself of His divine privileges that we might escape death and have eternal life. Could there be any greater love in all the universe than what was expressed on that Passover Day nearly 2,000 years ago? (p. 14).

Dear reader, you can be forgiven of your sins and receive the grace of God. On the day of Pentecost in AD 31, the Apostle Peter addressed a large audience who had supported Christ’s crucifixion. He stated in Acts 2:

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (vv. 36–39).

If you feel that God is moving you toward repentance and biblical baptism, please contact one of our regional representatives at the office nearest you (listed on page 4 of this magazine). With the Holy Spirit working in you as a faithful baptized Christian, you can begin to experience for yourself the hidden truths of John 3:16!


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