In John 3:17, it is written,

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. KJV, 1769

ΙΖʹ οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἵνα κρίνῃ τὸν κόσμον ἀλλ᾽ ἵνα σωθῇ ὁ κόσμος δι᾽ αὐτοῦ TR, 1550

In John 9:39, it is written,

39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. KJV, 1769

ΛΘʹ καὶ εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς Εἰς κρίμα ἐγὼ εἰς τὸν κόσμον τοῦτον ἦλθον ἵνα οἱ μὴ βλέποντες βλέπωσιν καὶ οἱ βλέποντες τυφλοὶ γένωνται TR, 1550

How can the two supposed contradictions be resolved?1


1 cp. John 8:15, 12:47. To note, the Greek noun κρίμα and verb κρίνῃ are indeed related to one another, like the English noun “judgment” and verb “judge.”

  • See John 16:8-11.
    – Lucian
    Aug 9, 2017 at 6:48

7 Answers 7


In John 9:39, Jesus is referring to the Pharisees, who had just refused to accept the miracle of His having healed the man who was blind from birth (v.1-38). The Pharisees essentially condemn themselves through their spiritual blindness. Theophylact explains:

He declares, for judgement I am come, meaning, "for the greater condemnation and punishment of My enemies, that [ινα] they which see not might see; and that they which see, such as the Pharisees, might become blind in the eyes of their soul."

The Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to John (tr. from the Greek, Chrysostom Press, 2007), p.163

Theophylact - a Greek - also explains how ινα is to be understood in the above context:

Now, understand this as well, every student of Divine Scripture: the conjunctions ἵνα and ὅπως [both translated in English as "that"] are often used to express the outcome, but not the intended result, of the action stated in the clause. Thus David says, Against Thee only have I sinned, ... that [ὅπως] Thou mightest be justified in Thy words [Psalm 50:4 LXX]. When David sinned, he did not do so with the purpose in mind of justifying God ... Paul says, The law entered, that [ἵνα] the offense might abound [Romans 5:20], although the law certainly was not given in order to make sin more prevalent

Ibid., p.152

  • Actually, as I understand Romans 5:20, Paul actually is saying that the increase of the offense might about was the intention. If you read the passage carefully he's saying that the law was given to turn "sins" into "transgressions" so there would be many transgressions, for typological reasons. So I take exception to Theophylact's analysis on that point.
    – Ruminator
    Nov 18, 2019 at 2:05

The Idea in Brief

The Christian New Testament provides several independent propositional statements by different authors that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross was on behalf of the entire world. In this respect, Jesus Christ was condemned so that the entire world may be saved.

However, the rejection of Jesus Christ as the savior-Messiah will preclude receiving the gift of eternal life. That is, the unbeliever who rejects Jesus Christ will not receive the free gift of eternal life through justification by faith. The Book of Revelation indicates that those cast in the Lake of Fire never had eternal life, since their names were not found in the Lamb's Book of Life. In this respect, Jesus Christ sits on the Great White Throne as the ultimate judge of the world, for whom he died to save. He will therefore not condemn those who were sinners, but those who never received his free gift of eternal life through righteousness by faith.


Christ Jesus gave Himself as a ransom "for all" (1 Tim 2:6). Therefore it is the desire of "God our Savior" that "all men" be saved (1 Tim 2:4 and 2 Pet 3:9). Jesus Christ is the "Savior of all men, especially of believers" (1 Tim 4:10). The Apostle John says that Christ Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, and not just for the sins of believers (1 Jn 2:2); in fact, the Book of Hebrews indicates that Christ Jesus tasted death "for everyone" (Heb 2:9). These verses by various New Testament authors are explicit, independent propositional statements that the sacrifice of Jesus was that the world would be saved as the following verse proposed by the OP indicates.

John 3:17 (NASB)
17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (emphasis added)

Now those who believe on Jesus Christ as savior-Messiah receive the free gift of eternal life. That is, the believer receives the free gift of eternal life and so emerges from his erstwhile condition of spiritual death (Jn 3:5-7). In this sense, the person experiences a second birth (spiritual), and so this second birth is to be "born again" (since the first birth was ones actual physical birth). The message is good news ("gospel") that Christ died for all men, and that the sinner can now receive the free gift of eternal life through righteousness by faith and be "born again." The gospel is that one can be free from not only the power of sin (through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross), but the condemnation of sin (through eternal life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave). This does not mean that believers become sinless people, but that they will no longer "practice" unrighteousness (1 Jn 2:29; 1 Jn 3:10; Rev 22:11). Thus they are released from both the power and the condemnation of sin.


The unbeliever is therefore condemned to eternal damnation because two sets of books are opened at the Last Judgment: the Book of Works and the Lamb's Book of Life. In other words, sins are not the basis of the indictment at the last judgment, since sins were condemned for the entire world on the cross. It is the dead works stemming from spiritual death which are the indictment. (Dead works are acts of self-righteousness and self-justification.) In other words, the unbeliever is condemned because the unbeliever is dead spiritually; lives of spiritual death are therefore enterprises in dead works when sins are not considered. All unbelievers in Hades with (spiritual) death are going to be thrown into the Lake of Fire at the Last Judgment (Rev 20:14). Therefore the condemnation of the unbeliever is not for sins (which were already condemned at the cross for the entire world), but for the failure to receive the free gift of eternal life through righteousness by faith. This precise line of reasoning is why Paul was accused of encouraging sinning in Romans 3:8. Interestingly, the Greek word κρίμα appears in that verse, but in reference to Paul's accusers.

In conclusion, there is no unbeliever who can make the claim that his sins are unforgivable, or that his sins have disqualified him from God's eternal election to the saved, since Christ died for all men. Therefore all sinners can be saved. And so without salvation (that is, the receipt of eternal life through righteousness by faith) the person, however, will have to stand in judgment before the very same person who actually died for their sins to save them in the first place.

John 3:26 (NASB)
36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

This verse is clear that receiving eternal life is the issue; that is, without eternal life "the wrath of God abides on him."


Jesus' primary mission is to save sinners/the blind. So, therefore, He came not to condemn.

He, does, however, have a problem with those who say they can see, those who are proud and hard of heart.

In John 9:41, Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains."

In this sense, He also came, that wolves in sheep clothing would be condemned.


The primary purpose of God sending His Son into the world was to save it—that is, save those who believe in the Son, as can be seen in John 3:18 (KJV)

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Those who believe in the Son will be saved, but those who do not stand condemned already. Notice how in John 9:35-41 (KJV), the formerly blind man says he believes in the Son when Jesus asks him:

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? 36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. 40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? 41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

The blind man's eyes were restored and he could physically see again, and he was also able to spiritually see that Jesus was the Son. The Pharisee's eyes could physically see, but they were spiritually blind and refused to see that Jesus was the Son. Thus they stood already condemned because they believed not "in the name of the only begotten Son of God."


The following is a response to a few statements in Joseph's answer concerning the condemnation of the wicked at the last judgment:

  • “[Jesus] will therefore not condemn those who were sinners, but those who never received his free gift of eternal life through righteousness by faith.”

  • “sins are not the basis of the indictment at the last judgment, since sins were condemned for the entire world on the cross.”

  • “the condemnation of the unbeliever is not for sins...”

I take issue with these ideas because while Jesus' death provided atonement for the sins of everyone, a sinner must repent of his sins or he will be destroyed at the judgment:

26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. -Hebrews 10:26-27 (NKJV)

Jesus' death atoned for sins, but any sins that are cherished and not forsaken will not be covered by His blood.

After Moses burned the golden calf and ground it to powder, he goes to the Lord in order to make intercession for the people, where he says:

32 “Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”

33 And the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.” -Exodus 32:32-33 (NKJV)

Those who have sinned against God are the ones who are blotted out of His book, and is why their names are not found written in the Book of Life in Revelation:

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. -Revelation 20:15 (NKJV)

Unbelief is itself a sin:

12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said:

“Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. -Hebrews 3:12-19 (NKJV)

Unbelievers are guilty of sin, and because of this sin of unbelief they will not be saved and will be destroyed at the last judgment.

  • You state that the primary purpose of God sending His Son into the world save those only who believe in the Son, but Scripture states that he sent His Son to save all men (John 1:29, 1 John 2:2, 2 Cor 5:15). 1 Timothy 4:10 states, Trust in the living God, Who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe.
    – user15733
    Jan 9, 2017 at 12:50
  • 1
    @TheNonTheologian - Strange, I wouldn't have expected this kind of a response from you. You should ask a question about 1 Tim 4:10 to get a more complete answer, because all men (every single person to ever live) will not be saved. The wicked, those who do not repent, will perish (Matt 3:7-12; Luke 13:3; Mal 4:1; et al). See John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
    – user6503
    Jan 9, 2017 at 14:49
  • 2
    Also see Adam Clarke on 1 Timothy 4:10, "Who is the Savior of all men - Who has provided salvation for the whole human race, and has freely offered it to them in his word and by his Spirit. Specially of those that believe - What God intends for All, he actually gives to them that believe in Christ, who died for the sins of the world, and tasted death for every man. As all have been purchased by his blood so all may believe; and consequently all may be saved. Those that perish, perish through their own fault."
    – user6503
    Jan 9, 2017 at 14:51
  • Brian, I appreciate your objections, but I will stand by my claim that a belief that Christ came to save only those who believe in him contradicts what is elsewhere in Scripture. The contradiction arises I believe though the equation of salvation with escape from condemnation - a prevailing view in western Christianity, but not in the eastern tradition. I'd prefer not to start a long discussion here on soteriology - it is probably better suited for the Christianity forum. Thanks.
    – user15733
    Jan 9, 2017 at 15:22
  • @TheNonTheologian - My friend, you are mistaken. Jesus offers salvation to all men, but only those who believe in Him will actually be saved. Those who do not believe in Him will perish. These are the very words from the mouth of Jesus Himself, and also of the apostles: "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:11).
    – user6503
    Jan 9, 2017 at 15:58

John 3-17 to 3:18 should be read together. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (NIV) 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (NIV) Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, because those who did not believe in God and Jesus were condemned already. Those already condemned did not need another condemnation, instead they needed to be saved, if possible, as Jesus said “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. " (John 12:47 NIV)

In John 9:39, "For judgement I have come into this world" does not mean he is the one to judge. As in John 12:48 (NIV), Jesus continued "There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day." Now you see, the Pharisee rejected Jesus so they were condemned by what they did.

The above verses have no contradiction.


Thanks for the prompt to revisit this. Had previously found an adequate 'bridge' by reading the BibleHub commentaries; however, when reviewing tonight, discovered a bit of a nag still present. Still no clear-cut idea of judgment=condemnation vs (J)udgment=Compassion/Mercy.

Then came across this:


"For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." (John 9:39) Jesus makes this statement as the man healed from his blindness bowed and worshiped him.

However, the translation and subsequent interpretation by ecclesiastical sectarian teachers have distorted this statement.

Here the Greek word κρίμαa (krima) can be translated to 'judgement,' but then the sentence does not make sense. The word κρίμαa (krima) can mean a 'decree, judgment or decision'. The word before κρίμαa is εἰς (eis), which can be translated to 'into, unto, to, towards, for, among'. Therefore, the more appropriate translation of the phrase εἰς κρίμαa would be "it has been decided..."

This would make Jesus' statement more appropriately translated to:

"It has been decided that I come into this world so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind."... (End of quote)

---Why does Jesus want to 'blind' some folks?

Benson Commentary

John 9:39-41. And Jesus said — While he stood talking with the blind man who had received his sight, several people, it seems, being gathered about them; For judgment, as well as mercy, I am come into this world, that they which see not might see — That the ignorant, who are willing and desirous to be instructed, might have divine knowledge and true wisdom imparted to them; and that they which see — Who are confident that they see, who are conceited of, or trust in, their supposed knowledge and wisdom; might be made blind — Might be confirmed in their ignorance and folly, and be abandoned to a greater degree thereof.

---So, even this 'blinding' is merciful because:

"It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows." Epictetus

I see it as Jesus was bringing New...and the Pharisees didn't feel in need of what was being offered. Not striking the learned stupid; rather, by opening the ignorant to Wisdom, the learned will become aware of the deficiency of Reason alone.

Solution not perfect yet...perhaps closer.

  • “Therefore, the more appropriate translation of the phrase εἰς κρίμαa would be "it has been decided..."”— -1 for that alone.
    – user862
    Jan 9, 2017 at 8:29
  • @Simply a Christian I've read in several places where it is the site's desire for greater participation. Perhaps being more helpfully corrective instead of penalty-prone would serve the goal better?
    – tblue
    Jan 9, 2017 at 9:28
  • 1
    —Sure, no problem. I downvoted you because your statement was factually incorrect. In no way, shape, or form does εἰς κρίμα translate into English as “it has been decided.” Perhaps you wish to cite at least one other popular English translation that translates εἰς κρίμα the same way as you. If you wish to base your answer on a substantially different English translation, please include some sort of substantiation of your translation. As far as the downvote, if you edit it and substantiate your translation, I have no problem upvoting you. As it stands, your answer deserves a downvote (imo).
    – user862
    Jan 9, 2017 at 9:36
  • @SimplyaChristian - If the way that author worked the Gr. out is incorrect, okay. What remains is that "krima" is the wrong word there, whether a scribe error or diabolical insert...<s> "To me, the most natural reading is that the judgement is not the final judgement, but judging between those who claim to see by their own knowledge and understanding and those who come to see, not by their own power, but by the transformative power of Jesus." It's from a Gr. site. Krino, not krima?
    – tblue
    Jan 9, 2017 at 10:23

The problem as I see it, is the way the various translations deal with the Greek preposition εἰς in John 9:39. Here's how I would translate the verse:

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I have chosen "with judgment" as the best way of translating "Εἰς κρίμα" instead of "for judgment" as many of the translations have done. I do this because "judgment" was not the purpose of Jesus coming into the world, but was a consequence, i.e. judgment followed him into the world.

Jesus Declares His Purpose

The writer of the Gospel of Luke informs us that after being tempted in the wilderness Jesus returned to Galilee, and read to his own people these words from the prophet Isaiah:

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
-- Luke 4:18-19 (KJV)

When he returned to his seat after reading from the scroll every eye in the synagogue was fixed on him, and he said:

... This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.
-- Luke 4:21 (KJV)

There was no sense of judgment in the words that Jesus read from the scroll, and the people "wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth" (Luke 4:22).

And Judgment Followed Him

Sensing the inclination of their hearts, Jesus challenged the congregation in regard to obligation, i.e. paraphrasing Luke 4:23, "You will expect me to do for you what you have been told I did in Capernaum, but I won't be able to, because to you I am just Joseph's son".

Jesus then drew the attention of the congregation to Elijah and Elisha as prophets who were sent to particular "foreigners" to do a special work, whereupon the congregation flew into a rage, wanting to throw Jesus out of their city (Luke 4:28-29).

The people of the synagogue had the WORDS of God in their midst. Generation after generation they would have brought them out on the Sabbath, reading them and discussing their implications, but their blindness to the One the words testified of was only made manifest when the WORD of God, Jesus himself, stood in their midst and suggested that familiarity would prevent him from being able to do any great work amongst them. Indeed, this revelation made them angry enough to want to "lead him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong."

The people of Jesus' home region JUDGED him worthy of death, and in doing so CONDEMNED themselves to a state of ongoing suffering without the benefit of what he could have done for them.

Herein is the judgment of God delivered WITH Jesus: the same WORDS of God can be preached to both rich and poor in spirit, but the WORD of God will become a blessing to those who think they are poor (taking advantage of what Jesus has to offer), and an offense to those who think they are rich (judging that they already possess in good measure anything Jesus has to offer, and it is offensive for him to insinuate otherwise).


Jesus didn't come for the purpose of JUDGMENT, he came rather for the purpose of HEALING the brokenhearted, to INFORM them that deliverance from captivity was a reality, that seeing God was a reality, and that freedom from oppression was a reality. In the wake of this work, judgment inevitably followed as Jesus' words indicted those whose hearts were filled with a sense of their own righteousness.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews said this:

For the word λόγος of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
-- Hebrews 4:12 (KJV)

And the Logos says this (emphasis mine):

34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
-- Matthew 12:34-37 (KJV)

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