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16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
I put this big chunk of scripture in here because so often we hear John 3:16 in isolation. Verse 16 should always ride with 17 if we want to help people know and serve Jesus more. The rest of the section offers commentary and elaborates on the truth of 16–17. This whole section actually spells out what the Christian life looks like.
Verse 16 spells out the Gospel, whoever believes in Jesus has eternal life.
Verse 17 helps you get to know Jesus. God didn’t send Jesus to condemn, but to save.
Verse 18 gives you a look at the vastness of God’s plan. He already knows how everything is going to play out, but it doesn’t say anything about Him making our decisions for us because …
Verse 19 says plainly that we are predisposed to be rebellious against God. It’s not in our typical nature to submit to Him or love Him.
Verse 20 elaborates on that, showing that we carry shame knowing that our deeds apart from God are not pure and good.
Verse 21 wraps it together by giving us the hope that we can do right once we follow God, and that those good deeds done by His life in us will show off to others what He has done.
From here on, Nicodemus (the guy He was talking to when He said all of this) is not mentioned again until the end. Nicodemus risks his life and his reputation to help bury Jesus in the grave and show Him the final respect that he (thought) he could possibly show Jesus.
We don’t know if it was just this conversation that converted Nicodemus, but it could have been. The correction without condemnation, conversation without conflict, and parables and questions to lead him into a deeper faith were all perfect examples of how Jesus would have us have discussions with people.