For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
— John 3:16 —
John 3:16 is a glorious diamond, but it only one jewel in the crown of John 3.
Many times we quote, hear, and share John 3:16 without its context in John’s Gospel. This is not a bad thing. A single diamond is beautiful, but set in an engagement ring or on a king’s crown, the placement makes the diamond better. The same is true when we put John 3:16 back into the Bible and see what comes around it.
In what follows, I outline ten things about John 3:1–21 to help us better understand this whole section of John’s Gospel.
1. The flow of John 2–4 moves from light to darkness.
It is well recognized that John’s Gospel turns on the themes of light and darkness. Already in John 1:9 we heard John say, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” Later, Jesus will say, “I am the light of the world” (8:12). But what about in between? Is there a theme of light dawning in chapters 2–8? I believe there is, or at least we see a progression of light in John 2–4. Consider this outline: Continue reading