Whosoever Will (2010) [Chapter 1]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Sermon on John 3:16


A) About the author of the chapter:

Jerry Vines “was educated at Mercer University (B.A.), New Orleans Theological Seminary (B.D.), and Luther Rice Seminary, (Th.D.).

He was [also] elected President of the Alabama Pastors’ Conference in 1976, President of the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference for 1976 -1977. He also served two terms as President of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1988 – 1989.” [1]

[1] https://www.jerryvines.com/about-us/

B) Chapter Summary:

A. T. Robertson: “[The world in John 3:16] means the entire human race.”[1]

R. G. Lee: “Jesus was the only One ever born who had a heavenly Father but no heavenly mother; an earthly mother but no earthly father. The only One ever born older than His mother and as old as His Father.”[2]

“Had Jesus not been born of a virgin, He would have had a sinful nature. Thus, He could not have lived a sinless life. Had Jesus not lived a sinless life, His death would not have been a perfect sacrifice for sin. By the virgin birth, God short-circuited the sin cycle so that Jesus was never tainted by original sin.”[3]

Gerald Borchart: “God is the initiator and principal actor in salvation, and we should never think salvation originated with us. God, however, has given humanity a sense of freedom and requires us to make a choice. Accordingly, people are responsible for their believing. It is unproductive theological speculation, therefore, to minimize either the role of God or humanity in the salvation process. The Bible and John 3:16 recognize the roles of both.”[4]

“The transliteration of the Greek word is pas. It is used 1,228 times in the New Testament. It is translated as “whosoever,” “all,” and “every.” It is a pronominal substantival adjective.”[5]

“Here [in John 3:16] it [i.e. pas] carries the idea of totality. Kittel says it means a totality and an inclusion of all individual parts.13 The Dictionary of New Testament Theology says, “Stress may be laid on each of the many individuals or parts which make up the totality.”14”[6]

13 – B. Reicke, “pas,” in The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (ed. G. Kittel and G. Friedrich; 1969), 5:887

14 – F. Graber, “All, Many,” in The Dictionary of New Testament Theology (ed. C. Brown; 1967), 1:94

“Herschel Hobbs on the Southern Baptist Peace Committee, often reminding us of the use of pas in the phrase “all Scripture” in 2 Tim. 3:16, said it meant the whole of Scripture and every part of Scripture is inspired of God. Likewise, here [in John 3:16] it [i.e. pas] means God loves the whole world collectively, and He loves and will save “whosoever” individually.”[7]

“It is the design of the sovereign God to make the salvation of all people possible and to secure the salvation of all who believe. What kind of God would not make salvation possible for all?”[8]

“It is fascinating to note how often pas occurs in passages about salvation. “He … should taste death for every (pas) man” (Heb. 2:9). “The Lord … is not willing that any should perish, but that all (pas) should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). God “will have all (pas) men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). God “is the Savior of all (pas) men, specially of those that believe” (1 Tim. 4:10).”[9]

“Three basic ideas are involved [in John’s idea of saving faith]. First is the mental aspect – confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the idea conveyed in John 20:30-31. The use of pisteuōn in 3:15 seems to emphasize the mental aspect of second faith.

Second is the volitional aspect – commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. The preposition eis is used in John 3:16 and carries the idea of movement toward.

Third is the emotional aspect – communion with the Lord Jesus Christ. The use of the active participle and auton here suggest a continuing relationship with a living Person.”[10]

“How does this saving faith come about? A sovereign God has given every person the faculty of faith and a will to exercise it (see Rom. 12:3). This does not rob God of His sovereignty. Humans exercise the faculty of faith everyday. They trust that their spouse is not poisoning them, so they eat their breakfast. They trust the banker to keep their money safe so they make their deposit. They trust the pilot is capable so they board the plane.

As Norman Geisler says about humans’ capacity to choose – it has been “effaced, not erased; limited, not lost; damaged, not destroyed.””[11]

“But Paul said to him [i.e. the jailer], “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved!” (Acts 16:30-31). It would be unreasonable to command someone to do something impossible for them to do. It would be like commanding an armless man to embrace you.”[12]

“John 3:16 begins with the explanatory conjunction gar, which ties it to the preceding verses. In the opening pericope of the chapter, we have the interview of Nicodemus with Jesus, during which the Lord told him he must be born again. The question of how rebirth can occur is raised and is followed with an illustration from the Old Testament. Numbers 21 includes the account of the snakebitten Israelites who could receive new life by looking at the brazen serpent on the pole.”[13]

“The Greek word apolētai, translated “perish,” is an aorist middle subjunctive. The verbs are now in the subjunctive mood, the mood of potential and possibility. This word is used in two ways: a physical destruction (see “Lord, save us: we perish,” Matt 8:25) or a spiritual condition.”[14]

A. Oepke: “[apollymi refers to] an eternal plunge into hades and a hopeless destiny of death … an everlasting state of torment and death.”[15]

R. O. Yeager: “The ingressive and cumulative effects of perishing are eternal. The onset of the perishable state (ingressive) results in the culmination of a total state of separation from God (culminative).”[16]

“The verb [in the phrase “have everlasting life”] is in the present active subjunctive tense. It means “to have now and forever.” The phrase “have everlasting life” occurs 17 times in John’s Gospel. It carries the ideas of qualitative and quantitative life. The idea is of endless and never-ending life and of a difference in quality. This eternal life can be a present possession (see 1 John 5:12) and a hope (see Titus 3:7).”[17]


[1] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol. V: The Fourth Gospel and the Epistle to the Hebrews (1932), p.50

[2] Cited in p.21

[3] p.21

[4] Gerald Borchart, John 1-11, New American Commentary (2002), 25b:184

[5] p.24

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] p.25

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] p.26

[13] Ibid.

[14] p.27

[15] A. Oepke, “apollymi,” in The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (ed. G. Kittel and G. Friedrich; 1969), 1:394

[16] R. O. Yeager, The Renaissance of the New Testament, vol. 4 (1979), p.415

[17] p.28

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