Why John 3:16 is a Lie in Its Biblical Context

Compare this famous evangelical Gospel tract verse as cited in the late Gospel of John with both the older Bible traditions themselves as well as the New Testament itself.

First the verse from John 3: 16:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Deception 1:For God so loved the world,…” but 1 John 2:15 believers that God wants them NOT to love the world: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Thus, on the one hand we are told God loves the world in John’s Gospel only to be again told in John’s Epistle for Christians NOT to love the world. Since - in both cases - the Greek for word here is κόσμον, one is totally fed a flat out contradiction in these two New Testament books.

Secondly, if God really loves the world, he would not have destroyed it in the Flood of Noah. (Love and destruction are totally antonyms!)

Deception 2: “…that He gave His only begotten Son,…” Yet in Genesis 6:2 we are clearly told: “that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.” Just as the Hebrew plainly states: בְנֵי־הָאֱלֹהִים וַיִּרְאוּ God already had “sons” plural! So one must wondered: Even if the Hellenistic Greek writer of the Gospel of John did not understand the Hebrew text, he surely had the LXX which clearly again states “οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ θεοῦ”.

This same Hebrew syntax is also found again in Job 1:6 האלהים בני which also supports Genesis 6:2 in that God already had male children. However, in the LXX this verse is changed to: …“ἰδοὺ ἦλθον οἱ ἄγγελοι τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆναι ἐνώπιον τοῦ κυρίου καὶ διάβολος ἦλθεν μετ' αὐτῶν”. Thus, by the mid-third century BCE, בני (sons) has become οἱ ἄγγελοι (angles) and השטן (the accuser) has become διάβολος (the devil).

While Christians get all choked up about God giving his only son, Jesus; they need to read and believe their Bibles more! With all the effort by Christian apologists to make Jesus’ birth special and totally different from God’s other sons found in Genesis 6:2 and Job 1:6 by pointing out that Jesus was God’s “only begotten son” (μονογενῆ / monogenē), this “mono” (one / only) + “gene” (generation) is also used as the suffix that gives the book of Gene-sis it name. But this enforces the lie by not taking the fact that God already had fathered sons much earlier making them just as divine / semi-divine as Jesus was himself. While Greek authors love New Testament to quote the LXX for proof texts to prove Jesus was divine, sometimes the Old Testament can be a source of embarrassment as in the case of God’s own sexual philandering!

Deception 3: “…that whoever believes in Him shall not perish,…” The problem posed here is the fact that orthodox Christian dogma states, as based on both Jesus and the New Testament, that the soul of the non-believer will suffer for eternity in the fires of torment (see: Mark 9: 44 - 48). However, the Greek word used here is “ἀπόληται” which clearly means “to destroy fully (reflexively, to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively -- destroy, die, lose, perish”. So just which part of the New Testament contains the lie? According to atheists and John 3: 16, all the non-believing humans who die are simply destroyed; meaning they have at death no eternal soul (Also the Belief of Jehovah Witnesses). Fact is, we could say that John 3:16 supports the atheist view of life!

Deception 4: “…but have eternal life…” The propaganda sold in this verse is to an ancient world which has its Sitz im Leben (Life Situation) in an ancient society where the average person making it to the age of 30 was considered old and a time when a simple abscessed tooth could mean certain death! The promise sold in John 3: 16 is that the average person to be just like the Egyptian Pharaohs or a Roman Caesars (working miracles and never dying spiritually or having an eternal after life). Thus, Christianity now offered the poor masses that they to though belief in Jesus could achieve godhood themselves! To argue that “ζωὴν αἰώνιον” (life eternal) simply means that the dead believer lives forever with a theos / god in some heaven is reading much later Christian dogma into verse.

Secondly, when one considers the older Hebrew eternal life in the stories of Enoch, Moses and Elijah (along with the Greek story of the miracle worker Apollinus of Tyana who also is claimed also to have worked miracles and to have never died); the claim of eternal life in John 3:16 was given even far more credence than it was accorded as it was preached to the superstitious and mostly literate masses of the Greco-Roman empire in order to gain fast converts in a ancient world that swam in a sea of competing religions which also offered promises of hope. In the end, it was Christianity which out sold its fellow rival religions with a godhood / miracles and eternal life for all who believed.

With verses like John 3:16, which promised one could live eternally like any god, coupled with wonders ) working miracles (τέρατα Acts 2:19), signs (σημεῖον Matt. 12:38), and mighty works (δυνάμεσιν Acts 2:22), the Christian sale pitch was on for converts. After all, this god status of working miracles was even promised to fateful believers by Jesus himself in the same Gospel: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. John 14: 12.

Conclusion: With regards to John 3:16, we must understand that hope need not be true (as this verse certainly is not when place in both its Biblical and historical doctrinal context). It only needs to be a sales pitch of hope! Thus, as with the old circus con-game: Everybody who plays (Who believes); is Everybody is a winner! (Has Eternal life (meaning godhood itself)).

2nd revision by Harry McCall