Perish the Thought, Part 2: More Challenges to the Traditionalist Reading of John 3:16

 

For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him
should not perish
but have eternal life.

–John 3:16

 

In my article Perish the Thought: How John 6 and 11 Challenge the Traditionalist Reading of John 3:16,1Darren J. Clark, “Perish the Thought: How John 6 and 11 Challenge the Traditionalist Reading of John 3:16,http://rethinkinghell.com/2019/06/14/perish-the-thought-john-3-16/. I demonstrate that John 3:16’s phraseology of “eternal life” and “perish” teaches that only believers will live forever, while all others will die. I examine John 6 and 11 to strengthen my exegesis of John 3:16 because those are two sections in the narrative where Jesus explains further what he meant to convey in that famous verse.2All citations in English will be from the ESV, unless otherwise indicated. In those chapters Jesus speaks about the kind of life believers will be given, and simply employs the same language he uses in surrounding contexts to refer to ordinary life and death (John 6:49-51, 58; 11:25-26). For John 3 and John 6 I show that Jesus drew from historical and tangible examples from the Israelite experience of being protected from death (John 3:14-16 cf. Num 21:4-9; John 6:22-59 cf. Exod 16:16-21). I also explain how Jesus’ terms “eternal life” and “perish” relate to the death and resurrection of Lazarus in John 11.

The purpose of this current article is to provide a supplementary argument to fortify my previous argument about what Jesus meant in John 6:49-51 and 11:25-26, where he taught that believers will not die. In particular, I have in mind the use of the verb ἀποθνήσκω (“to die”) as it is used in John 6:50 and 11:26. I will then demonstrate how this impacts our reading of two similar statements made by Jesus, in similar contexts in John’s narrative.

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1. Darren J. Clark, “Perish the Thought: How John 6 and 11 Challenge the Traditionalist Reading of John 3:16,http://rethinkinghell.com/2019/06/14/perish-the-thought-john-3-16/.
2. All citations in English will be from the ESV, unless otherwise indicated.