John 3:16,17 and Waldenström’s Commentary
[Dr. Paul Peter Waldenström based his comments on a Greek New Testament text which he translated into Swedish. Tommy Carlson has translated both the Biblical text and Waldenström’s comments from the Swedish text, 2nd Edition, 1902. — Ed.]
Verse 16 — Because God so1 loved2 the world3 that He gave4 His only begotten son5 so that each and everyone6 that believes in Him7 shall not vanish8 but have9 eternal life. See Romans 5:8 and I John 4:9.
1. Meaning so much, to the degree that… Compare Galations 3:3 and Hebrews 12:21. The original Greek word, like the Swedish word, means partly the manner in which, and partly the degree to which, God loved.
2. This refers to the time when God sent his son. That God still loves the world is naturally not denied. God is love.
3. Meaning all of mankind. On these words every teaching that claims God selected certain people fails. His love and salvation is for all of humanity without exception.
4. The word gave is saying more than the word sent in the next verse. The latter explains only the way the giving happened. Giving not only includes the Son’s giving of his life, it also expresses, that God gave him personally as savior to the world. ( 1 John 4:14 ). This meaning is the only comprehensible way one can understand the word give. In every work and in every quality, in His degradation and His elevation, Jesus was and is the one that God gave as a Savior to the world.
5. In this word, the degree of love is even more strongly emphasized; it was His only Son He gave. Compare Romans 8:32 and Hebrews 11:17.
6. Note the universality of God’s salvation plan: nobody is especially selected, but includes each and everyone who believes. But note also how salvation depends on the individual’s relationship to the savior who God gave to the world. To believe in the Son is to be with Him with the whole heart.
7. Verbatim: into Him.
8. In the Messianic judgement, which one day will come upon the world.
9. Not only receive in the future, but already now have eternal life (see v. 36). This is quite opposite to eternal death, which at the time of the Messianic judgement shall be upon the unbeliever. Note how God’s whole salvation plan is described in this verse when it is explained, 1) how God loved the world; 2) what He has done in the name of this love, for the salvation of the world, namely giving His only Son; 3) how the world shall be saved through the Son, namely through belief; 4) how salvation from the very beginning, comes the moment a person becomes a believer, and so begins to live the eternal life.
Verse 17 — Because God did not send His son to the world, that He should judge1 the world, but rather that the world may be saved2 through Him3. See John 12:47 and I John 4:14
1. Judge is used here in contrast to salvation, thereby expressing that God’s sending his son is not a judgement to damnation. At another time the Lord shall return to judge (chapter 5:22 and 27; Acts 17:31).
2. Note again the universality of God’s salvation plan: his intention is that, the world shall be saved.
3. Because salvation can only happen through Christ and because mankind’s relationship to Him is dependent on themselves, it is never God’s fault that someone should perish. His intention is that all should be saved. Some have said to the contrary: “If this is God’s intention, it must also be fulfilled, otherwise God is not perfect,” but that is a wrong conclusion refuted by all experiences. To clarify this, one only needs to point to the following. When God allows the Gospel to be preached, it is His intention that all should immediately obey it. But it is very clear that His intention is not followed by all. This is not because of any imperfection in God, but because of mankind’s freedom, which is from God. In this freedom lies the basis for the possibility of both salvation and damnation.