A Beautifully Misunderstood Verse:
“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:17)
The proponents of ‘eternal conscious torment’ (ECT in Hell concept) believers often claim that the “might” in John 3:17 is a “maybe” & may not necessarily come to pass or that the ‘might’ in that verse refers to ‘only believers being saved’.
The verse above simply doesn’t say that at all. The phrase referring to “believers only” exists in the infamous verse prior (John 3:16) —> pointing to them being ‘saved’ first in the ‘coming age itself’ inheriting the reward of “age-during life”. Here it is in full:
““For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have age-during life.
“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16 – 17)
So, if John wanted to mean “believers only” being “saved” when penning John 3:17, he may have just used the phrase which he used (or an equivalent one) to the one found in John 3:16. Truth is, he did not and thus such claims are false because the Bible is accurate to the ‘last word used’ (though we sometimes may not understand the intended meaning due to our human weaknesses)—-> but the undeniable truth is (as their own translations too render, it is the “world” (kosmon, Kosmos or its equivalents In Greek) that is being pointed to in John 3:17) —> highlighting “God’s Will for Salvation’ for not just” believers” (first recipients, and not the only recipients of it, John 3:16 through the granting of age-during life, i.e. ‘life in the age to come with the Purpose of Knowing Him’, in John 17:3), —> but also for the whole “world” in John 3:17.
How about “God’s Wrath” remaining on those ‘non-recipients’ of “age-during life”?
““He who believes in the Son has age-during life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)
This separation can ‘only last eternally’ if God’s Judgment in His Wrath is eternal toward it. Scripture in verses below clearly prove the opposite, namely that ‘Judgment ends’ (when ‘Mercy Triumphs over it’, James 3:17) and that “His Propitiation” (implying the ‘ending of His Wrath’, 1 John 2:2) eventually applies not just to “us” (‘believers only’) but the ‘whole world’ too (Saving the whole World as He Willed, in the end, John 3:17)! (these verses are listed below; please ponder deeply to see that it is so plainly written):
This point of ‘Salvation’ for ‘believers’ (“us”) first but thereafter for the “whole world” too via “His Propitiation” (‘ending of All God’s Wrath’) toward ‘sin of the Whole world’ is again ‘concluded’ in verse below too:
“and He Himself is the propitiation for our (“believers”) sins; and not for ours (“believers”) only, but also for those of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)
“The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
“For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13)
“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:13 – 14)
How about: When will God’s Will be done certainly vs temporarily not fulfilled?
Please consider the Two Types of God’s Will in Scripture
(i) God’s Will commanded to be done by Man
God’s Will ‘may not’ or ‘may be’ be fulfilled only if men are playing a determining role in it
Example: we are called to ‘not commit adultery’ (God’s Will)
However, some of us fail & fall into this sin causing God’s Will for our lives to not be fulfilled due to ‘our role’ in it.
Such a ‘temporal’ stance ‘against His Will’ by the ‘creature’ (e.g. man) is shown in verse below which is often taken ‘out of context’ to prove the ‘possibility of the immortal free will in sin’ which is certainly wrong because the ‘General’ verse describing ‘creation’s will vs God’s Will’ is Romans 8:20 – 21 (Quoted at the end of this write up) —> clearly shows the “vanity” (implying temporal, non-infinite, non-all powerful) ‘free will of creation’ —> (often erred otherwise by our ECT brothers in their ‘claim’ often citing the verse below as their ‘proof text’ for the ‘corrupted immortal free will concept’) who ‘miss the word “UNTIL” in verse below which points to an ‘END’ of this ‘sad state of Jerusalem against God’ –> that is, the ‘not willing’ due to ‘free will’ below “ends” when Jerusalem says, ‘Blessed is He (Jesus the Messiah) Who comes in the Name of the LORD’:
““Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
“Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!
“For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me UNTIL you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’” (Matthew 23:37 – 39)
(ii) God’s Will fulfilled by His Act alone
Example: Salvation (Saving believers first, all men next & the whole world too thereafter –> all things reconciled –> God becomes ‘all in all’, Colossians 1:16, Colossians 1:20, 1 Corinthians 15:28, Ephesians 1:10)
The “might” here is no more “may be” But a “certainty”. Such is to be the understanding of “sothe” (the Greek Word) found in John 3:17 translated often as ‘might be saved’.
That is, the “certainty” of it being “Fulfilled” does not depend on the word being used only but on ‘Who is called to Do it’.
“Salvation” is God’s Work Alone through His Most Blessed Son, Lord Jesus Christ and He Will Fulfill it without Fail.
It’s Impossible for Christ to Fail in fulfilling “All the Will of God” especially ‘Saving the World’ (“Making all things new”, “restoring all things”, Revelation 21:5, Acts 3:21) eventually as Scripture clearly testifies that these are God’s Work alone (we only contribute the sin which made it necessary & causes the temporal delay, “no” permanent ‘will of creature’ can remain against ‘His Will to save it eternally’):
“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name:
who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12 – 13)
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” – Lord Jesus Christ (John 6:38)
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope
that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:20 – 21)
“Though we may have fallen a million times, Christ did not fall even once; yet He willingly took our falls upon Himself to Save the Whole World in Time” – Anonymous
Understanding His Will
‘The point of Understanding His Will is not whether ‘He can’ or ‘He cannot’ but that ‘He Will Do it” – Unknown
“Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;” – God (Isaiah 46:10)
P/S: Some edifying Comments
“not to judge the World” is mentioned (implying an ‘end’ to Judgment, James 2:13 too)
When ‘His Saving Act’ is applied to ‘the World’ in time —> from the phrase “But the world might be saved through Him”
*other quoted verses and more possibly agreeing to it as well, peace
**One could also view “His Judgment” —> with the final outcome (intent or ending in) —> “Him Saving the World” –> when John 3:17 is read by itself.
***But isn’t His second coming only for Judgment & John 3:17 could relate to ‘a time before that only’?
Judgment is to the “age” (Matthew 25:46) for men but the ‘final conclusion for “all” men being saved’ is inevitable as it is written in (Titus 2:11, 1 Timothy 2:4, 1 Timothy 4:10)
In fact, 1 Timothy 2:4 means ‘His Act’ of ‘Saving “All” Men’ especially since the word translated as ‘Will’ (or ‘Will have’) in this verse is incredibly a ‘Verb’ (not a Noun) Meaning “He Will Fulfill God’s Will” to bring it about Without Failure though details of such ‘mystery of His Will’ may remain partially revealed (1 Peter 4:5-6) or hidden accordingly for ‘His Glory’ in the ‘end’ (when ‘seen’):
“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)
Hope this helps sir & much more detailed perspectives and explanations may be found even in our blog www.anonymouschristian.org for further details too.
****Can we take apostle Paul’s letter seriously or just a write-up to a friend using colloquial speech?
If one Christian were to send a similar letter to another, would the doctrinal truths change in writing a letter to a friend as opposed to writing a letter to a church? Perhaps
But I don’t think it’s such a case as Apostle Paul’s letter is inspired writing. And being inspired, each word occurs in it as it is written & means that (His Word is flawless, endorsed in fully inspired writing only).
Our works may have flaws (I dare not claim my writings as Inspired). I believe that only Scripture is inspired as found in the Bible. Whether more books needs to be considered in the Bible or not, doesn’t concern me.
So, the only misinterpretation we can achieve is in our hermeneutics of interpreting against what is plainly written.
For example, 1 Timothy 4:10 clearly distinguishes “those who believe” & “all men” using different terms meaning it is such as it is written.
1 Timothy 4:10 is to be understood in the context of “God being the Savior of All men” (Noun) because “God Will have All Men to be saved” (Verb) as described in 1 Timothy 2:4.
Apostle Paul’s inspired writing is perfect and means ‘what the word means as it is’. In fact, if “believers” in 1 Timothy 4:10 means ‘all believers’ from beginning of the age till the end of the age, then the “all men” mentioned in this verse too must refer to this “same” timeline attached to believers. Being a Conclusion Verse (indicated by the phrase “For this” or “For this end” at the beginning of 1 Timothy 4:10) —> “All men” must refer to “all men” from ‘all time’.
Also, Timothy the “evangelist” is to “command & teach these things” (pertaining to ‘God being Savior of all men’) just a Verse later in 1 Timothy 4:11 perfectly knitting all these together.
If an ‘evangelist’ (Timothy) is told to “command & teach these things” —> to avoid ‘errors’ (1 Timothy 4:1) —> and ‘an evangelist’s’ message applies to “all churches”, the context is clear that it means both “all men” & “believers” (highlighted) in 1 Timothy 4:10 accordingly as ‘it is written’.
To prove any other context otherwise, one must find his usage of ‘all men’ to mean ‘believers only’ within this letter because both ‘phrases are found’ marking this distinction clearly. This is impossible since if apostle Paul “only” meant “believers will be saved” by “Him” —> then the phrase “all men” in 1 Timothy 2:4 should have been “those who believe” (as it’s found in 1 Timothy 4:10 where both ‘all men’ & ‘those who believe’ are both stated).
Apostle Paul did “not” make a mistake in the words/phrases chosen to mean “all men” and “believers” & it is crisp clear when say 1 Timothy 2:4 & 1 Timothy 4:10 (context, in the ‘same’ letter) are read together to mean ‘Salvation eventually to “all men” (though details or hidden things about it may not be revealed).
Hope it helps