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During a traditional debate on the Diesm of Jesus as God"

Revelation Lad makes a very interesting comment John 3:16 says God sent, not the Father sent. You replace God with Father based upon what you believe. However, had Jesus said, the Father so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son... (which makes much more sense BTW) your beliefs would be spot on. Yet for some reason, Jesus failed to state (what you believe) is obvious. This despite using "Father" more than any other Gospel

The scripture is Joh 3:16 BIB+ Οὕτως Houtōs so γὰρ gar For ἠγάπησεν ēgapēsen loved ὁ ho - Θεὸς Theos God τὸν ton the κόσμον kosmon world ὥστε hōste that τὸν ton [His] Υἱὸν Huion Son , τὸν ton - μονογενῆ monogenē one and only ἔδωκεν edōken He gave ἵνα hina that πᾶς pas everyone ὁ ho who πιστεύων pisteuōn believes εἰς eis in αὐτὸν auton Him μὴ mē vvv ἀπόληται apolētai shall not perish ἀλλ’ all’ but ἔχῃ echē have ζωὴν zōēn life . αἰώνιον aiōnion eternal

1.How does this change our understanding of the Roles of the Godhead in redemption?

2.Is this verse Enough to change our understanding?

3.Is God the Father in this verse?

4.If not then who was the Word with in the beginning in John 1?

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    Hi Faith, this isn't really an exegetical question - asking why a biblical text "doesn't say X" is usually a red flag hermeneutically. The text can't tell us what it doesn't say. It might be a perfectly valid theological question, but hermeneutics probably won't help you with it.
    – Steve can help
    Dec 2, 2022 at 20:49
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    I have now read this question a few times and still struggle to understand exactly what is being asked. The Father is God, 2 Cor 1;3, 1 Thess 1:1, 2 John 3, and so is Jesus according to Matt 1:23, John 1:18, 20:28, Heb 1:8, 9. What is the question? Jesus is/was a gift of the entire Godhead, not only the Father. John 10:17, 18, Phil 2:6-8.
    – Dottard
    Dec 2, 2022 at 20:51
  • @Dottard Yes your comment is the answer I am looking for. Please make it broader as an Anwser Dec 2, 2022 at 21:04
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    Being human, I am benevolent to all that are in the world. But being a father, I have an especial care for that which I begat. So also Deity is benevolent to all the world. But the Father has an especial care for those who are begotten of Him. John 3:16 is about Deity. It is not about the Father. One must bear in mind the nature of Deity as such. Before considering person . . . . within Deity.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 2, 2022 at 23:41
  • @FaithMendel. What do you mean when you say "Roles of the Godhead"? Where is this roles of the Godhead found in the bible? Is the Father not the God of Jesus, if the Father is not the God of Jesus, who is the God of Jesus? Who sent Jesus according to Jesus' own words? Dec 4, 2022 at 0:29

3 Answers 3

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I am a firm believer that Bible writers meant what they said and said what they meant. That is, each word is just what it should be.

Expanding this a little further, John did NOT say in John 3:16 that the gift of Jesus was from the Father only, as if Jesus had no say in the matter. Quite the contrary. (See appendix below.)

The decision to send Christ as a sacrifice of atonement was made by both the Father and the Son as evidence from the following:

  • The Father sent the Son: John 5:23, 37, 6:64, 57, 8:16, 18, 42, 12:49, 17:25, 20:21, 1 John 4:14, etc.
  • The Son, Jesus, did this as an act of voluntary sacrifice:

Phil 2:5-7 - ... Christ Jesus: Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness.

John 10:15, 17, 18 - ... I lay down My life for the sheep. ... I lay down My life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. ...

Thus, the decision to offer Jesus' life as an atoning sacrifice for sin (Rom 3:23-28, 1 John 2:2) was made by at least The Father and Jesus, not just the Father. Hence John's choice of wording in John 3:16.

APPENDIX - God

Of the many things that the NT teaches, one of the clear things is that God consists of more than one person. For example:

  • The Father is God: 2 Cor 1:3, 11:31, 1 Thess 1:1, 2 John 1:3, 1 Peter 1:2, 3, Eph 1:3, 17, 4:6, Col 1:3, etc. This much is uncontroversial.
  • Jesus is God (the same God as above but a different person), Matt 1:23, 26:63-65, Mark 14:61-63, Luke 22:66-71, John 1:1, 18, 5:17, 18, 10:30, 20:28, Acts 20:28, Phil 2:5-8, 1 Tim 3:16, Tit 2:13, Heb 1:8, 9, 2 Peter 1:1, etc.

There is but One God.

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  • Upvoted. I will allow for more answers first and mark this as an Answer. Dec 2, 2022 at 21:34
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We should not say why a biblical author - or any other author - didn't do something unless the author tells us. To speak for an author in this way is to put words into someone else's mouth.

We can look at what an author has written and seek to understand the meaning that was intended.

Let's look at the context.
Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus how to enter the kingdom of God.
To enter the kingdom of God you must be born again.

John 3

1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again

Nicodemus did not understand. Jesus was speaking spiritually and Nicodemus had his head stuck in the physical.

4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

Jesus explains that the requirement for entering the kingdom of God - being spiritually born again - is part of his testimony. Jesus has this unique testimony because he has been in heaven. Jesus further explains that the Son of Man - Jesus - must be lifted up on the cross for all to see that "everyone who believes may have eternal life in him" In this context we have the verse in question. However, the verse does not stand alone.

16 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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 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. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Based on the context here are some thoughts on what the author is communicating by using the word "God".

  1. It is consistent with the rest of the passage.
  2. Using the word "God" ties directly into Nicodemus' statement in verse 2

2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

  1. John meant to say that God was the one who loved the world. Nothing more and nothing less.
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  • Are you suggesting that Jesus did not love the world also?
    – Dottard
    Dec 2, 2022 at 23:29
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    @Dottard I'm not suggesting that and I don't see that the Bible says that.
    – David D
    Dec 3, 2022 at 3:21
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    then why say, "God was the one who loved the world. Nothing more and nothing less.".
    – Dottard
    Dec 3, 2022 at 6:25
  • @Dottard I think that sentence means that in this context Jesus only mentioned the fact that God loves the world. Jesus also loves the world, but He's not trying to say that in this passage.
    – justhalf
    Dec 3, 2022 at 12:10
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    @FaithMendel One of the bad things about this format is that the poster can change the question after it's been answered to a completely different question. In this verse John does not say that God is the Father.
    – David D
    Dec 3, 2022 at 22:03
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John's gospel is open and transparent as to Who "God" is. The words "God" and "Father" are essentially interchangeable. In the KJV translation it is true that "Father" appears in 103 verses (122 times) in John as compared to "God" appearing in 69 verses (83 times)--so the word "Father" is of more frequent occurrence (based on a case-sensitive search).

Jesus prays to his "Father" in John 17, tells us that "the Father" is the one we should worship (John 4:21-23), and says plainly that the Father is both his God and our God (John 20:17).

But if John 3:16 were considered at all ambiguous as the identity of the One sending Jesus, we have only to consult the many other references in John plainly establishing this.

Sent of the Father

  1. That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. (John 5:23, KJV)

  2. I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (John 5:30, KJV)

  3. But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. (John 5:36, KJV)

  4. And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. (John 5:37, KJV)

  5. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. (John 6:57, KJV)

  6. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. (John 8:16, KJV)

  7. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. (John 8:18, KJV)

  8. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. (John 12:49, KJV)

  9. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. (John 14:24, KJV)

  10. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. (John 20:21, KJV)

Sent of God

  1. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:17, KJV)

  2. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. (John 3:24, KJV)

  3. Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. (John 6:29, KJV)

  4. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. (John 8:42, KJV)

  5. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee [the Father] the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3, KJV)

There are twice as many references to the "Father" sending Jesus, and yet, the Father and God are one and the same. In Jesus' prayer, he plainly calls the Father "the only true God." This would be a false statement if Jesus were also the true God, because Jesus is not the Father.

It is entirely improper for anyone to suggest a better wording to an inspired writer. To do so is to adopt the attitude of "higher criticism" in which one supposes he or she knows better than the Bible writer what he should have said. In the case of John 3:16, John is quoting Jesus--so this may not have been John's choice of wording at all, but that of Jesus.

If, as Jesus taught, the Father is God--the only true God, then there is nothing extraordinary about God having sent His son, as recorded in John 3:16-17.

But John's gospel teaches plainly that it is not just "God" who loves us, but "the Father himself."

The Father's Love

  1. Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. (John 13:1, KJV)

  2. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:21, KJV)

  3. Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23, KJV)

  4. For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. (John 16:27, KJV)

Now, looking at that last verse, there does appear to be a requirement to receive the Father's love. It is that we love Jesus, and believe that he "came out from God." If Jesus were "God," then how could he have "come out from" God?

That is the question of some importance here. If we want to receive the Father's love, it is important that we believe the truths that Jesus taught. If we love Jesus, we will believe and obey his commandments--and the Father himself will love us.


Side note: Many do not seem to realize that the word "Godhead" is singular. It is an archaic form akin to "maidenhead," which in most English words today would have shifted from the "-head" suffix to the "-hood" suffix. Therefore, references to "the Godhead" are, ironically, referring to a singular entity, the plural of which would be "Godheads."

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    @Dottard The word "Godhead" is not singular in the sense of a group entity. It is not like "team." The word "team" can be treated as singular or plural, as can "group" and "family." But "Godhead" (check your dictionary) is simply singular.
    – Biblasia
    Dec 3, 2022 at 11:08
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    @Dottard An American would say "team is...", "family is...", etc.; but in Britain, as I understand, they would say "team are...", etc. If the dictionary is to be believed, this would not be the case with "Godhead," as it is not considered a collective noun.
    – Biblasia
    Dec 3, 2022 at 11:36
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    "team are" is just bad English in both Britan, USA and Australia and Canada. "team" is singular by any grammar. The only way around that is to construct a sentence like, The members of the team are ..." Then "members of the team" become plural. However, "team" is still singular.
    – Dottard
    Dec 3, 2022 at 11:38
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    @RevelationLad I did not say they were the same words. "Jesus" and "Christ" are also different words, but interchangeable. In saying "interchangeable," I mean to say that they reference the same entity. Whether I were to say "Son of Man" or "Son of God", you would see them both as a reference to Jesus. And John uses "Father" and "God" to reference the same entity as well, even though "Theos" and "pater" are different words.
    – Biblasia
    Dec 3, 2022 at 15:58
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    @RevelationLad If John 3:16 had said "Father" in place of "God," Trinitarians would be just as convinced as they are now that the Trinity dogma was true. It is a matter of persuasion and tradition and of private interpretation. "A man convinced against his will will be of the same opinion still." The most dangerous deception, my friend, is the self-deception that sees oneself as in the right when actually one is all wrong. Who can persuade one who is thus self-deceived? Jesus said the Father is the "only true God." If you do not believe Jesus, you will never believe me.
    – Biblasia
    Dec 3, 2022 at 16:12

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