For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Read Chapter 3
Alcuin of York
Truly through the Son of God shall the world have life; for no other cause came He into the world, except to save the world. God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
He who believes in Him, and cleaves to Him as a member to the head, will not be condemned.
He then gives the reason why he who believes not is condemned, viz. because he believes not in the name of the only begotten Son of God. For in this name alone is there salvation. God has not many sons who can save; He by whom He saves is the Only Begotten.
For why is He called the Savior of the world, but because He saves the world? The physician, so far as his will is concerned, heals the sick. If the sick despises or will not observe the directions of the physician, he destroys himself.
What did you expect Him to say of him who believed not, except that heis condemned. Yet mark His words: He that believes not is condemned already. The Judgment has not appeared, but it is already given. For the Lord knows who are His; who are awaiting the crown, and who the fire.
Where then do we place baptized children? Amongst those who believe? This is acquired for them by the virtue of the Sacrament, and the pledges of the sponsors. And by this same rule we reckon those who are not baptized, among those who believe not.
Note here, that the same which he before said of the Son of man, lifted up on the cross, he repeats of the only begotten Son of God: viz. That whosoever believes in Him For the same our Maker and Redeemer, who was Son of God before the world was, was made at the end of the world the Son of man; so that He who by the power of His Godhead had created us to enjoy the happiness of an endless life, the same restored us to the life we have lost by taking our human frailty upon Him.
For God so loved, &c. This is said by way of anticipation, lest Nicodemus should object, "If thou art the Son of God, how will God suffer Thee to be suspended and exalted upon the cross?"
Christ meets this by implying that God will permit it in order to show forth His burning love to men, which was typified by the serpent of brass, which is called in Hebrew saraph, which means fiery, and setting on fire. So S. Chrysostom and Theophylact.
Observe that every word of Christ in this sentence has a great and special emphasis, in order to magnify to the utmost the love of God. For (i.) He says, Song of Solomon , with such vehemence, such excess of love2. Not a king, or an angel, loved, but God3. Loved, i e, first and as it were gratuitously; without merit, yea, even without desire on our part4. The world, His enemy, and under the sentence of damnation5. Gave not another Prayer of Manasseh , not a. angel, not another world, but His Son; and that not an adopted Song of Solomon , but His own ...
He desireth to shew openly herein, that He is God by Nature, since one must needs deem that He Who came forth from God the Father, is surely God also, not having the honour from without, as we have, but being in truth what He is believed to be. With exceeding skill does He say this, having joined therewith the love of God the Father to us, well and opportunely coming to discourse thereon. For He shames the unbelieving Nicodemus, yea rather, He shews that he is ungodly also. For the not coming readily to believe, when God teaches anything, what else is it, than laying upon the Truth a charge of falsehood? Besides this, in saying that He was given for the life of the world, He persuades him to consider seriously, of how great punishment they will be in danger, who from their mad folly, have made of no account so wondrous grace of God the Father. For God, says He, so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son.
Let the Christ-opposing heretic again hear, and let him come forward...
Give his only begotten Son
God sent not his Son into the world. He was then his Son, his only begotten Son, before he sent him into the world. He was not, therefore, his Son, only by the incarnation, but was his Son from the beginning, as he was also his word from all eternity. This was the constant doctrine of the Church, and of the Fathers, against the heresy of the Arians, that God was always Father, and the Son always the eternal Son of the eternal Father. See note on chap. i. ver. 14. (Witham)
The world may be saved. Why, says St. Augustine, is Christ called the Saviour of the world, unless from the obligation he took upon himself at his birth? He has come like a good physician, effectually to save mankind. The man, therefore, destroys himself, who refuses to follow the prescriptions of his physician. (St. Augustine)
Or thus: In the last judgment some perish without being judged, of whom it is here said, He that believes not is condemned already. For the day of judgment does not try those who for unbelief are already banished from the sight of a discerning judge, are under sentence ofdamnation; but those, who retaining the profession of faith, have no works to show suitable to that profession. For those who have not kept even the sacraments of faith, do not even hearthe curse of the Judge at the last trial. They have already, in the darkness of their unbelief, received their sentence, and are not thought worthy of being convicted by the rebuke of Him whom they had despised Again; For an earthly sovereign, in the government of his state, has adifferent rule of punishment, in the case of the disaffected subject, and the foreign rebel. Inthe former case he consults the civil law; but against the enemy he proceeds at once to war, and repays his malice with the punishment it deserves, without regard to ...
If it were only a creature given up for the sake of a creature, such a poor and insignificant loss were no great evidence of love. They must be precious things which prove our love, great things must evidence its greatness. God, in love to the world, gave His Son, not an adopted Son, but His own, even His Only Begotten. Here is proper Son ship, birth, truth: no creation, no adoption, no lie: hereis the test of love and charity, that God sent His own and only begotten Son to save the world.
Having said, Even so must the Son of man be lifted up, alluding to His death; lest His hearer should be cast down by His words, forming some human notion of Him, and thinking of His death as an evil, He corrects this by saying, that He who was given up to death was the Son of God, and that His death would be the source of life eternal; So God loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life; as if He said, Marvel not that I must be lifted up, that you may be saved: for so it seems good to the Father, who has so loved you, that He has given His Son to suffer for ungrateful and careless servants. The text, God so loved the world, shows intensity of love. For great indeed and infinite is the distance between the two. He who is without end, or beginning of existence, Infinite Greatness, loved those who were of earth and ashes, creatures laden with sins innumerable. And the act which springs from the love is equ...
What He says, is of this kind: Marvel not that I am to be lifted up that you may be saved, for this seems good to the Father, and He has so loved you as to give His Son for slaves, and ungrateful slaves. Yet a man would not do this even for a friend, nor readily even for a righteous man; as Paul has declared when he said, Scarcely for a righteous man will one die. Romans 5:7 Now he spoke at greater length, as speaking to believers, but here Christ speaks concisely, because His discourse was directed to Nicodemus, but still in a more significant manner, for each word had much significance. For by the expression, so loved, and that other, God the world, He shows the great strength of His love. Large and infinite was the interval between the two. He, the immortal, who is without beginning, the Infinite Majesty, they but dust and ashes, full of ten thousand sins, who, ungrateful, have at all times offended Him; and these He loved. Again, the words which He added after these are alike sign...
In His address to Nicodemus He says: "So God loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.".
John, in fact, exhorts us to lay down our lives even for our brethren.
Too, that ye may be able to quench the darts of the devil, when doubtless ye resist him, and sustain his assaults in their utmost force. Accordingly John also teaches that we must lay down our lives for the brethren;
As He said above, that the Son of man came down from heaven, not meaning that His flesh did come down from heaven, on account of the unity of person in Christ, attributing to man what belonged to God: so now conversely what belongs to man, he assigns to God the Word. The Son of God was impassible; but being one in respect of person with man who was passable, the Son is said to be given up to death, inasmuch as He truly suffered, not in His own nature, but in His own flesh. From this death follows an exceeding great and incomprehensible benefit: viz. that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. The Old Testament promised to those who obey obeyed it, length of days: the Gospel promises life eternal, and imperishable.