For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ( John 3:16)
Why is it that Jesus, in John 3:16, doesn’t say that “God Loves the World…”, rather, even the English version of the Bible (rightly) speaks of God’s love in the past tense…? “For God so Loved the World…”.
Does God love the World?
Obviously the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified as a sacrifice for our sins, and resurrected, is still being offered to the World, so yes it is legitimate to say that God loves the World. Whosoever (in this world) believes on Him, will not perish, but will have “Everlasting Life. What a gift of Love”! What mercy and grace on undeserving sinners and enemies! Of course God loves the World.
What is the point then in referring to the Love of God in the past tense in John 3 ?
The Word “Loved…” is a verb here, Jesus is telling Nicodemus, that “God loved the World…”as a one time action in History.
When did God Love the World? When He sent His monogenes, “only Unique Son” into the World in order to purchase our salvation. That was the time that “God loved the World…”. There will never be another time like it, it was a “once and for all event”, God Loved the World then and there.
You can contrast that “one time act of Love” with the word “Believeth…” in John 3:16. ‘Believeth…’ is also a verb but the Greek tense of that verb is continuous perfect. This is why the word is usually translated in English, “Believeth” or “Believes”. “Whosoever believes on Him…” implies a current, ongoing action.
“…Whosoever goes on believing in Him…” would be a valid rendering of this verse. God only had to “love the World” once, in order to save sinners, but sinners must believe in the gospel and go on believing in it, in order to be saved. When Christ died for sins once and for all, He provided mercy and salvation for whoever in this sinful and cursed world would receive it, to this very day. I would call that “amazing Love”
What are implications of this point?
God’s love for this world was revealed Once, and only in that one act; ie the incarnation and life and death and resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus is the location of any Love God has for the World, and no where else. There will not be anything else, for there can be nothing greater! Only in Jesus and his life, death and sacrifice, can the Love of God be experienced by anyone in this world.
God has no ongoing love relationship with this world. The truth is God hates the World also . He is not impressed with it’s “accomplishments”, nor it’s faux compassion, ‘moral progress, ‘evolution’ , nor even it’s religion. The World hates God, and it also hates Jesus Christ, and would create a Millenium without them.
“The Kings of the earth and their rulers take council together against the LORD and His Messiah…” (Psalm 2)
But inspire of all of that, God has once Loved the World, and that Love is still operative, in Jesus.
This World is under wrath, God’s attitude towards it is uncompromising, the sentence of destruction revealed in the book of Revelation is soon to be executed. The World will not be reformed or even repaired, there is only that one way out…the cross of Jesus is where God has loved the World.
The Love of God revealed in Jesus is a special and unique kind of Love. It is Agape, the Love of the Will and of Action.
The infinitely Holy and Righteous God has not seen anything attractive or desirable, let alone lovable in those of us He has called out of the World.
Rather it was His sheer compassion, and mercy which has compelled him to send His Son into the world, and to seek and to save the rebels who had done nothing but spurn Him. He saw our need and did something about it. Love is seeking someone else’s good. God never needed us, but we needed to be rescued by Him.
Does God Love the World? Of course He does, but only through Calvary does He love the World.