For God so loved the world - Such a love as that which induced God to give his only begotten son to die for the world could not be described: Jesus Christ does not attempt it. He has put an eternity of meaning in the particle οὑτω, so, and left a subject for everlasting contemplation, wonder, and praise, to angels and to men. The same evangelist uses a similar mode of expression, 1 John 3:1; : Behold, What Manner of love, ποταπην αγαπην, the Father hath bestowed upon us.
From the subject before him, let the reader attend to the following particulars.
Secondly, That God, through the impulse of his eternal love, provided for its rescue and salvation, by giving his Son to die for it.
Thirdly, That the sacrifice of Jesus was the only mean by which the redemption of man could be effected, and that it is absolutely sufficient to accomplish this gracious design: for it would have been inconsistent with the wisdom of God, to have appointed a sacrifice greater in itself, or less in its merit, than what the urgent necessities of the case required.
Fourthly, That sin must be an indescribable evil, when it required no less a sacrifice, to make atonement for it, than God manifested in the flesh.
Fifthly, That no man is saved through this sacrifice, but he that believes, i.e. who credits what God has spoken concerning Christ, his sacrifice, the end for which it was offered, and the way in which it is to be applied in order to become effectual.
Sixthly, That those who believe receive a double benefit:
2. They are brought to eternal glory - that they may have everlasting life. These two benefits point out tacitly the state of man: he is guilty, and therefore exposed to punishment: he is impure, and therefore unfit for glory.
They point out also the two grand operations of grace, by which the salvation of man is effected.
2. Sanctification, or the purification of his nature, by which he is properly fitted for the kingdom of glory.
For God so loved - This does not mean that God approved the conduct of men, but that he had benevolent feelings toward them, or was “earnestly desirous” of their happiness. God hates wickedness, but he still desires the Happiness of those who are sinful. “He hates the sin, but loves the sinner.” A parent may love his child and desire his welfare, and yet be strongly opposed to the conduct of that child. When we approve the conduct of another, this is the love of complacency; when we desire simply their happiness, this is the love of benevolence.
The world - All mankind. It does not mean any particular part of the world, but man as man - the race that had rebelled and that deserved to die. See John 6:33; John 17:21. His love for the world, or for all mankind, in giving his Son, was shown by these circumstances:
1.All the world was in ruin, and exposed to the wrath of God.
2.All people were in a hopeless condition.
3.God gave his Son. Man had no claim on him; it was a gift - an undeserved gift.
4.He gave him up to extreme sufferings, even the bitter pains of death on the cross.
That he gave - It was a free and unmerited gift. Man had no claim: and when there was no eye to pity or arm to save, it pleased God to give his Son into the hands of men to die in their stead, Galatians 1:4; Romans 8:32; Luke 22:19. It was the mere movement of love; the expression of eternal compassion, and of a desire, that sinners should not perish forever.
His only-begotten Son - See the notes at John 1:14. This is the highest expression of love of which we can conceive. A parent who should give up his only son to die for others who are guilty if this could or might be done - would show higher love than could be manifested in any other way. So it shows the depth of the love of God, that he was willing. to give his only Son into the hands of sinful men that he might be slain, and thus redeem them from eternal sorrow.
At this time of peril Nicodemus came forward in fearless avowal of his faith in the crucified Saviour. Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin and with others had been stirred by the teaching of Jesus. As he had witnessed Christ's wonderful works, the conviction had fastened itself upon his mind that this was the Sent of God. Too proud openly to acknowledge himself in sympathy with the Galilean Teacher, he had sought a secret interview. In this interview Jesus had unfolded to him the plan of salvation and His mission to the world, yet still Nicodemus had hesitated. He hid the truth in his heart, and for three years there was little apparent fruit. But while Nicodemus had not publicly acknowledged Christ, he had in the Sanhedrin council repeatedly thwarted the schemes of the priests to destroy Him. When at last Christ had been lifted up on the cross, Nicodemus remembered the words that He had spoken to him in the night interview on the Mount of Olives, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” (John 3:14); and he saw in Jesus the world's Redeemer. AA 104.1
With Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus had borne the expense of the burial of Jesus. The disciples had been afraid to show themselves openly as Christ's followers, but Nicodemus and Joseph had come boldly to their aid. The help of these rich and honored men was greatly needed in that hour of darkness. They had been able to do for their dead Master what it would have been impossible for the poor disciples to do; and their wealth and influence had protected them, in a great measure, from the malice of the priests and rulers. AA 104.2
Now, when the Jews were trying to destroy the infant church, Nicodemus came forward in its defense. No longer cautious and questioning, he encouraged the faith of the disciples and used his wealth in helping to sustain the church at Jerusalem and in advancing the work of the gospel. Those who in other days had paid him reverence, now scorned and persecuted him, and he became poor in this world's goods; yet he faltered not in the defense of his faith. AA 105.1Read in context »
This chapter is based on John 3:1-17.
Nicodemus held a high position of trust in the Jewish nation. He was highly educated, and possessed talents of no ordinary character, and he was an honored member of the national council. With others, he had been stirred by the teaching of Jesus. Though rich, learned, and honored, he had been strangely attracted by the humble Nazarene. The lessons that had fallen from the Saviour's lips had greatly impressed him, and he desired to learn more of these wonderful truths. DA 167.1Read in context »
The power to discriminate between right and wrong we can possess only through individual dependence upon God. Each for himself is to learn from Him through His word. Our reasoning powers were given us for use, and God desires them to be exercised. “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18), He invites us. In reliance upon Him we may have wisdom to “refuse the evil, and choose the good.” Isaiah 7:15; James 1:5. Ed 231.1
In all true teaching the personal element is essential. Christ in His teaching dealt with men individually. It was by personal contact and association that He trained the Twelve. It was in private, often to but one listener, that He gave His most precious instruction. To the honored rabbi at the night conference on the Mount of Olives, to the despised woman at the well of Sychar, He opened His richest treasures; for in these hearers He discerned the impressible heart, the open mind, the receptive spirit. Even the crowd that so often thronged His steps was not to Christ an indiscriminate mass of human beings. He spoke directly to every mind and appealed to every heart. He watched the faces of His hearers, marked the lighting up of the countenance, the quick, responsive glance, which told that truth had reached the soul; and there vibrated in His heart the answering chord of sympathetic joy. Ed 231.2Read in context »
16. Rescued From Error—“Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” My words are in perfect harmony with the Old Testament Scriptures, and with the law spoken from Sinai. I am not preaching a new doctrine. I am presenting old truths rescued from the framework of error, and placed in a new setting (Manuscript 33, 1911). 5BC 1136.2
41, 50-52. Priests and Rulers Deceived—[John 7:51 quoted.] The lesson that Christ had given to Nicodemus had not been in vain. Conviction had fastened upon his mind, and in his heart he had accepted Jesus. Since his interview with the Saviour, he had earnestly searched the Old Testament Scriptures, and he had seen truth placed in the true setting of the gospel. 5BC 1136.3Read in context »