He that believeth - As stated before on John 3:16.
Is not condemned - For past sin, that being forgiven on his believing in Christ.
But he that believeth not - When the Gospel is preached to him, and the way of salvation made plain.
Is condemned already - Continues under the condemnation which Divine justice has passed upon all sinners; and has this superadded, He hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God, and therefore is guilty of the grossest insult to the Divine majesty, in neglecting, slighting, and despising the salvation which the infinite mercy of God had provided for him.
He that believeth - He that has confidence in him; that relies on him; that trusts to his merits and promises for salvation. To believe on him is to feel and act according to truth that is, to go as lost sinners, and act toward him as a Saviour from sins; relying on him, and looking to him “only” for salvation. See the notes at Mark 16:16.
Is not condemned - God pardons sin, and delivers us from deserved punishment, because we believe on him. Jesus died in our stead; he suffered for us, and by his sufferings our sins are expiated, and it is consistent for God to forgive. When a stoner, therefore, believes on Jesus, he trusts in him as having died in his place, and God having accepted the offering which Christ made in our stead, as being an equivalent for our sufferings in hell, there is now no further condemnation, Romans 8:1.
He that believeth not - All who do not believe, whether the gospel has come to them or not. All people by nature.
Is condemned already - By conscience, by law, and in the judgment of God. God disapproves of their character, and this feeling of disapprobation, and the expression of it, is the condemnation. There is no condemnation so terrible as this - that God disapproves our conduct, and that he will express his disapprobation. He will judge according to truth, and woe to that man whose conduct God cannot approve.
Because - This word does not imply that the ground or reason of their condemnation is that they have not believed, or that they are condemned because they do not believe on him, for there are millions of sinners who have never heard of him; but the meaning is this: There is but one way by which men can be freed from condemnation. All people without the gospel are condemned. They who do not believe are still under this condemnation, not having embraced the only way by which they can be delivered from it. The verse may be thus paraphrased: “All people are by nature condemned. There is but one way of being delivered from this state by believing on the Son of God. They who do not believe or remain in that state are still condemned, for they have not embraced the only way in which they can be freed from it. Nevertheless, those to whom the gospel comes greatly heighten their guilt and condemnation by rejecting the offers of mercy, and trampling under foot the blood of the Son of God, Luke 12:47; Matthew 11:23; Hebrews 10:29; Proverbs 1:24-30. And there are thousands going to eternity under this “double” condemnation:
1.for positive, open sin; and,
2.for rejecting God‘s mercy, and despising the gospel of his Son. This it is which will make the doom of sinners in Christian lands so terrible.
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 »
Nicodemus sought an interview with Jesus at night, saying, “Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him.” All this was true, as far as it went; but what said Jesus? He “answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Here was a man in a high position of trust, a man who was looked up to as one educated in Jewish customs, one whose mind was stored with wisdom. He was indeed in possession of talents of no ordinary character. He would not go to Jesus by day, for this would make him a subject of remark. It would be too humiliating for a ruler of the Jews to acknowledge himself in sympathy with the despised Nazarene. Nicodemus thinks, I will ascertain for myself the mission and claims of this Teacher, whether He is indeed the Light to lighten the Gentiles, and the Glory of Israel. TM 367.1
Jesus virtually says to Nicodemus: It is not controversy that will help your case: it is not arguments that will bring light to the soul. You must have a new heart, or you cannot discern the kingdom of heaven It is not greater evidence that will bring you into a right position, but new purposes, new springs of action. You must be born again. Until this change takes place, making all things new, the strongest evidences that could be presented would be useless. The want is in your own heart; everything must be changed, or you cannot see the kingdom of God. TM 368.1Read in context »
Never did Christ deviate from loyalty to the principles of God's law. Never did He do anything contrary to the will of His Father. Before angels, men, and demons He could speak words that from any other lips would have been blasphemy: “I do always those things that please Him.” John 8:29. Day by day for three years His enemies followed Him, trying to find some stain in His character. Satan, with all his confederacy of evil, sought to overcome Him; but they found nothing in Him by which to gain advantage. Even the devils were forced to confess: “Thou art the Holy One of God.” 8T 208.1
What language could so forcibly express God's love for the human family as it is expressed by the gift of His only-begotten Son for our redemption? The Innocent bore the chastisement of the guilty. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.” John 3:16-18. 8T 208.2Read in context »