“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
God so loved that he gave his “one and only” Son. The Greek word behind this descriptive phrase literally means “unique” — one of a kind. The lavishness of God’s love is no less remarkable simply because we cannot understand the mystery it involves. God is the Great Initiator who loved us first. We can never get “one up” on him. The most we can ever do is to love God in return (1 John 4:9-10).
God so loved the world — individual women, men and children of every tribe and dialect, crossing every ethnic group and political boundary. The marvel is that a love so far-reaching is not diluted in the process. Yet, because God’s love is intensely personal, we can boldly affirm: “Christ loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Jesus died to redeem specific human beings, who were already his by divine inheritance (Psalms 2:8; Ephesians 1:18). The “whosoever wills” and the “elect” finally are one and the same.
Christ’s work will have its intended effect. Because God so loved and gave, whoever believes will have eternal life. Jesus uses unequivocal language that leaves no room for exceptions. “No one can come to me,” he exclaims, “unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44). But “every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me” (John 6:45). Here is no room for error, for miscalculation, for loss. Jesus firmly anchors our hope in the infallible sovereignty of God himself. How we should praise the Father, who loves us so powerfully and effectively!