John 3:16 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.
Verse 16, one of the most treasured bible verses, begins with the word, “For.” It is an explainer verse, whether from the lips of Jesus or the inspired mind of John, it is actually expanding upon the truth that all who believe in ‘the son of man lifted up’ like the snake in the wilderness (v14-15) will have eternal life.
Why do the believers get eternal life? How is it possible? Because of the love of God! Don’t read on. Just take that in. You will not see eternal death because God was motivated by love to ‘give up’ the second person of the Godhead, his unique Son, for you.
The ‘son of man’ has been the object of the preceding verses 13-15, but now there is a shift to the more explicit “first and unique Son” (τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ). This description is further developed as ‘sent by God to save’ (v17), and then “God’s only, first-born and unique Son” (τοῦ μονογενοῦς υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ v18). He comes to save, not to judge.
And yet there is a judgement that becomes self-evident (v19). The actions of the unbeliever reveal their evil: they prefer to hide their sin in the darkness instead of coming to God. They choose separation from God instead of fellowship with God. Ultimately, they get what they chose.
Dear God, enable me to come to you, stumbling out of the darkness into your light, depending on your love alone for forgiveness. Enable me to live by your truth. May my deeds be plainly seen as wrought by you, for your glory. Amen.