Is John 3:16 really from Jesus?

And Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son*, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Or did he?

Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

    The above quotation is from the infamous John 3:16, which is a fundamental text for evangelists in their missionary activities. The translation is from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) which puts it within quotation marks to indicate that they are Jesus’ words and a continuation of his discourse with Nicodemus that begins in John 3:1. But interestingly, even though the committee of editors who translated the NRSV believe that John 3:16 belongs to the lips of Jesus, they nevertheless recognise the fact that other equally able interpreters see the verse as the beginning of a pericope or commentary by the author of John about Jesus. They submit to the fact that these interpreters see the dialogue between Nicodemus and Jesus as ending at verse 15:

 

“Some interpreters hold that the quotation concludes with verse 15” [1]

 

*At this point it is important to note, in order to avoid any confusion as we go along, that there are two ways in which translators have rendered the Greek τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ (ton huion ton monogenen, “the Only Son”). The NKJV (New King James Version) retains the classic rendering of its predecessor the KJV, “the only begotten Son” which may seem undesirable to modern readers, especially Muslims as the word “begotten” has a rather strong anthropomorphic overtones in language. On the other hand, other authoritative versions have opted to translate the phrase as “Only Son” as the NRSV does above. It does not have too great of a significance on our current discussion, but we would suggest to the NKJV users that ‘monogenes’ does not actually convey the idea of being “begotten”. It rather conveys the idea of being “unique”, or the “one and only.” (See Boring, M. E. & Craddock, F. B. (2009). The People’s New Testament Commentary. p. 298) In the following treatise, we will use the NRSV translation of the phrase (except in quotations where the scholars have chosen the NKJV rendering instead), but those who prefer their NKJV rendering may keep in mind that the same text is being discussed.

What the above footnote by the NRSV committee of translators show is that there are biblical interpreters and Bible versions that view verses 16 to 21 of John 3 as additional notes by the author of John and that they are not actually the words of Jesus. Many Christians, especially those of the fundamentalist flavour, will not be pleased with that because they need to believe that John 3:16 is a proclamation by their Lord and Saviour. That this verse points to the belief that in him lies the only way to salvation through his death on the cross, is foundational to Christian faith and it is the bedrock of Christian soteriological conception. To prove their claim, the conservative Christians will direct us to their red letter Bible and show us that John 3:16 is highlighted in red which is an indication that they were spoken by Jesus. To be fair, their insistence on others to refer to the words in red as Jesus’own words is not entirely misplaced. It is true that these are the words of Jesus but only insofar as the translators’ interpretation is concerned. Unbeknownst to many of these red letter Bible adherents, is the fact that the red lettering system that highlights the words of Jesus in red is a rather modern invention. The first red letter New Testament was first published exactly 117 years ago and the complete Bible just two years later in New York by Louis Klopsch after he received the go-ahead from his teacher, Reverend T. De Witt Talmage and not from God. So unless the red letter devotees identify Klopsch as some sort of a prophet who was given divine inspiration from God to correctly paint the words of Jesus in red, then they must concede that this system of identifying Jesus’ speech in the New Testament is a modern human invention.

We can confirm that the original King James Version prior to Klopsch is free of red ink by looking at the scanned images below of the original 1611 King James Version that was Authorised by His Majesty King James.

Front cover of the original KJV of 1611

Front cover of the original KJV of 1611

KJV John 3.16

John 3:16, original Authorised KJV 1611, page 1307, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Sonne: that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

As you can see, the original 1611 King James Version is free of any red colour in its text. And so, the NKJV/KJV red letter fundamentalists must now seriously reconsider their outdated position in light of what they have seen above which show that their original 1611 KJV has no markers at all to indicate where the words of Jesus begin and where they end,  and think of a different way to substantiate their view, if they still wish to continue with it, that the pericope that extends from John 3:16 till John 3:21 does indeed contain the words of Christ. So refusing to raise the white flag, some others will jump to those versions that use quotation marks instead of red letters to highlight the speech of Jesus. Unfortunately, this excuse does not suffice either. Essentially, modern editors and translators, in their attempt to help ordinary readers of the Bible to see where Jesus spoke what, have used two prevailing methods to highlight what they perceive to be the words of Jesus:

1. Use the red colour to highlight Jesus’ speech.

2. Use quotation marks to indicate Jesus’ words being quoted.

As we have seen, the first method is a modern invention by Louis Klopsch just a little over a century ago and the earliest Bibles do not have this system. The same is true with the quotation marks system which has only been recently introduced in modern versions of the Bible. Neither red ink nor quotation marks existed as a means to differentiate the words of Jesus from that of his listeners in the gospels as is evidently seen in the original Greek text:

 

John 3:16 in the original Greek [Wordsworth, C. (1872). The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, In the Original Greek with Introductions and Notes, Vol. 1. London: Rivingtons. p. 282])

John 3:16 in the original Greek [Wordsworth, C. (1872). The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, In the Original Greek with Introductions and Notes, Vol. 1. London: Rivingtons. p. 282])

As the image is somewhat miniscule, I will reproduce the Greek text from verse 15 till verse 17 below for your convenience, but of course, looking carefully at the image above, however miniscule it may be, one can discern that there are no quotations marks and the text is totally black in colour.

ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται, ἀλλ’ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον Οὕτω γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται, ἀλλ’ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. Οὕτω γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται, ἀλλ’ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

The above is based on Scrivener’s 1894 Textus Receptus which has no quotation marks that may indicate where Jesus’ speech begins and where it ends. In fact, if you go back to older, unedited Greek manuscripts then you will find no punctuation marks at all, such as Codex Sinaiticus which employs the scriptio continua method of writing where words flow continuously without spaces or markers of any kind between them, therefore, we can safely conclude that the original autographs, even though we may not have them with us, were without indicators as to where Jesus’ speech begins and where it ends.

 How then do we determine whether or not John 3:16 belongs to Jesus’ lips or that it is the commentary of the author of John on the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus that perhaps ends at verse 15? Well, the interpreters and Bible committees that publish translations and versions of the Bible are divided on this question. We shall begin with the minority position before going to the two major ones.

1. Though many speak of a contentious debate between those who support John 3:16 as the beginning of a commentary by the author of John and those who say that it is a continuation of Jesus’ speech, there exist another alternative view that is proposed by quite a few notable biblical commentators and scholars such as Beasley-Murray, Schnackenberg, Herman Ridderbos and H. Hegermann says that verse 11 is where the dialogue ends between Jesus and Nicodemus. The verse in question reads:

“Verily truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony.” (John 3:11; NRSV)

The scholars who argue for this position contend that the “we” as it appears in the verse cannot be said to refer to only Jesus as it is evidently in the plural, therefore, they propose that the “we” used in the verse is actually in reference to the church and the author of John, representing the church that he favoured, i.e., verse 11 is John’s editorial note or his commentary, that reflects the thoughts of the church, that he cleverly attributes to Jesus. Herman Ridderbos writes, “Nowadays many interpreters understand the “we” as the “we” of the church (the so-called pluralis ecclesiasticus.)” [2] He then cites H. Hegermann, the German biblical scholar, who confidently states that the verse is from the thoughts of the author of John that he puts into the mouth of Jesus:

“Seldom is it so clear as it is here that the Evangelist quite consciously formulated his own witness and that of the church out of the mouth of Jesus” (“Erkam in sein Eigentum.” in Der Ruf Jesu und die Antwort der Gemeinde [Festschrift for J. Jeremias]. 1970, p. 120).” [3]

It is strange, however, that in identifying a different source behind verse 11 on the basis of a first person plural pronoun, they leave out any comments on the pronoun “you” in the ending of the verse which just so happens to be the plural “you”, or the second person plural pronoun, e.g., “but still you people do not accept our testimony.” (as rendered in the NIV). The Greek word at play here is λαμβάνετε (lambete) which is in the second person plural verb, active voice and indicative mood, i.e., “you people” as accurately rendered in the New International Version, the Berean Literal Bible, NET Bible and others. This is significant because the dialogue is supposed to be between only Jesus and Nicodemus. If we follow the above reasoning by Hegermann and friends then the plural “you” here corroborates the “we” used in verse 11 in that, John as representative of the church (the doctrines and masses of Christians who share John’s theological leanings), speaking on behalf of it, therefore, the “we”, addresses Nicodemus as representative of the Pharisaic community, speaking on behalf of them, is correctly addressed in the text in the plural “you”. So in short, when we see the two different sets of plural together through the lenses of Hegermann and others, the proposition that the verse is an editorial note by the evangelist to convey the comments of the church community to the Pharisaic community becomes even stronger.

Critics of this view argue that this view and interpretation that replies on the plural pronoun “we” turn a convenient blind eye to the next verse which clearly has Jesus speaking and referring to himself in the first person and addressing Nicodemus in the second person singular. Well, what these critics don’t seem to be able to appreciate is that if it is established, and most scholars agree to this view in general (not necessarily on John 3:16 to John 3:12), that there are instances where John can insert entire pericopes between the actual words of Jesus, then it is even more likely that he would and may. if proven so from an analysis of the text, insert a sentence or two between Jesus’ speech to include his own related views.

It is possible, however, to propose that Jesus’ speech disavows 3:11 but includes John] 3:12 and extends up to 3:15 because the phrase ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (ho huios ton anthropon, i.e., “the Son of Man”) found in verses 13 and 14 is never used as an epithet for Jesus in any explanatory notes, commentaries, editorial reflections or narrative parts in all four gospels. [4]

2. This second view is taken up by the Revised Standard Version, the New American Bible, the English Standard Version and the NET Bible. These Bibles along with their committee of translators and editors propose that Jesus’ exchange with Nicodemus ends at verse 15 and the following verses up to verse 21 are the thoughts and commentary of the author of John. Interpreters who favour this position propose the following arguments to substantiate their position:

a) John 3:16 introduces a new subject which disconnects it from the previous verse. In John 3:16 “God” is introduced as a new subject and so this may indicate the author’s own exposition on Jesus’ preceding words.

This view is proposed by Bartholoma: “Evidence for regarding 3:16-21 as the evangelist’s exposition may be found in the introduction of “God” as the new subject in 3:16-17, the tail-head transition between 3:15 and 3:16…” [5]

b) The phrase τὴν ἀλήθειαν (ton aletheian, “to do truth”) only occurs elsewhere in 1 John 1:6 and is never used by Jesus in his speeches.

c) The special phrase τὸν Υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ (ton huios ton monogenen, “the only Son”) in John 3:16 is never used by Jesus to refer to himself or anyone else in his speeches. It is only used by the author of John in his commentary and notes about Jesus (John 1:14 and John 1:18 [following most textual critics, we would agree with the Byzantine reading as opposed to the Alexandrian]).

d) The phrase ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν (ho pisteuon eis auton, “who believes in him”) in John 3:16 and again in verse 18 is only used by the author of John and never by Jesus himself (John 1:12 and John 2:23).

e) John 3:19 conveys the same idea as the author of John’s musings in John 1:9-11 in the Prologue. The tone used in the verse seems to be historic in nature, conveying the idea of past rejection, e.g., “loved darkness” and “were evil”.

f) It is not infrequent for the author of John to abruptly intercede and insert his ideas, thoughts or commentary on a topic between or right after the words of Jesus, e.g., John 1:16-18 and John 12:37-41.

g) And the strongest point that this position puts forward is the fact the John 3:16 abruptly changes the tense from present to past, i.e., John 3:1 until John 3:15 are formatted in the present tense which tallies with how Jesus’ speech is typically structured. But John 3:16 shows an abrupt change in the tense to the past tense. [6]

Points b, c, d, e, f and g are used by the noted biblical scholar Marvin Vincent, who was Baldwin Professor of Sacred Literature in Union Theological Seminary in New York. He strongly opposes the view that sees verses 16 to 21 as the words of Jesus and postulates no less than six reasons to substantiate his stance. Commenting on John 3:15 he writes:

“The interview with Nicodemus closes with ver. 15; and the succeeding words are John’s. This appears from the following facts: 1. The past tense loved and gave, in ver. 16, better suit the later point of view from which John writes, after the atoning death of Christ was an accomplished historic fact, than the drift of the present discourse of Jesus before the full revelation of that work. 2. It is in John’s manner to throw in explanatory comments of his own (i. 16-18; xii. 37-41), and to do so abruptly. See i. 15, 16, and on and, i. 16. 3. Ver. 19 is in the same line of thought with i. 9-11 in the Prologue; and the tone of that verse is historic, carrying the sense of past rejection, as loved darkness; were evil. 4. The phrase believe on the name is not used elsewhere by our Lord, but by John (i. 12; ii. 23; 1 John v. 13). 5. The phrase only-begotten son is not elsewhere used by Jesus of himself, but in every case by the Evangelist occurs elsewhere only in 1 John i. 6.” [7]

The above good point about the abrupt shift in the tense is also begrudgingly agreed upon (or at least, he submits to the possible view) by Dwight Pentecost as he quotes commentator, Shepard who in his The Christ writes:

“The past tenses of the verses which follow (3:16-21), would indicate that they are not the words of Christ, who would have used present tenses in His conversation, but of John who in these verses recapitulates in summary and comments on the teaching of Christ to Nicodemus. These seasoned reflections of John in the interview, reannounce Jesus as the only-begotten Son of God sent into the world to be its Teacher and Saviour.” [8]

3. This view which believes that Jesus’ words, highlighted in red or bracketed in quotation marks, find support in the New King James Version (NKJV), the New International Version (NIV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) and the New Living Translation. However, as we have indicated above, the NIV and the NRSV recognise the possibility, by stating candidly that other (authoritative) interpreters conclude Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus at verse 15, that the pericope may in fact belong to the mind of John and are not the words of Jesus.

The most promising point that this view offers to substantiation for their position is that there is a continuation or flow of ideas, i.e., the context seamlessly go through John 3:1 right till John 3:21. Though Pentecost does not seem to really dismiss Shepard’s grammatical argument, in his view, when taking into consideration the context of both pericopes (John 3:1 – 15 and John 3:16-21), it would appear that they are connected and belong to Jesus and there is no place for John’s interruptions anywhere in the text.

“However, following the NIV, it seems best in view of the context to understand verses 16-21 as a continuation of our Lord’s words. The word for in verse 16 connects the passage with what precedes and introduces the explanation.” [9]

In favour of the second view, we may suggest that the Οὕτως (for) may well connect the idea of verse 16 to verse 15 before it, but as David Croteau points out, if it is claimed that verse 15 and 16 are uninterruptedly connected and together spoken by the same person then Jesus one may advise Jesus to take classes in discourse to avoid committing redundancies in speech:

“First, it would create redundancy between John 3:15 and 3:16: “So that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. For God so loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” If the quotation ends after verse 15, then the author is beginning a summarizing section in verses 16-21. However, if Jesus is continuing to speak in verse 16, then John 3:16 becomes somewhat redundant with 3:15. Essentially everything that is stated in 3:15 is repeated in 3:16. It seems more likely that a change is taking place: Jesus is no longer speaking, and we are now reading John’s thoughts.” [10]

The People’s New Testament Commentary explains, as we have done above, that commentators differ as to whether Jesus’ speech actually extends into verse 16 from verse 15 since the dialogue appears to end in verse 15. Either way, in Boring and Craddoc’s view, the decision at the end of the day is that of the editorial’s and it has little bearing on the message imparted by the text. [11] In our view, it is important to determine whether or not Jesus has uttered something because the interpretations and commentaries of men are fallible and so, his summary or thoughts on what Jesus may have said may not representative of what he actually meant. In order to determine whether the author of John or anyone else has understood and conveyed Jesus’ message accurate is to have access to Jesus’ original words upon which the commentary is made.

Professor of Theology at Boston College, Dr. Pheme Perkins favours the view that verse 16 is where the author of John begins his narrative about the preceding verses. Narrative means a third person, narrating about the happenings, incidents, ideas, events or concepts about something or someone that has taken place and it is quite different from a conversation or a dialogue that John 3:1 to John 3:15 is (thought considering the first position above, verse 11 may be John’s interruption as well in addition to verses 16 to 21).

53   (ii) Comment: God sent the Son to give life (3:16-21). The Evangelist breaks into the narrative with a discourse on the sending of the Son to bring life to the world.” [12]

Thus, subscribing to position two, Perkins says that the author of John (the Evangelist) starts a discourse, i.e., his explanation or commentary, about Jesus from verses 16 to 21.

Dr. Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch in their Ignatius Catholic Study Bible shows that there is a break between verse 15 and verse 16 of John 3. By removing the quotation marks that they use to identify words by Jesus and Nicodemus respective from verses 1 to 15, no brackets are presented or used in verses 16 to 21. The reason for the absence of brackets that would have differentiated quotations by Jesus from the words of the author of John, i.e., his thoughts and commentary is because they agree with position number two and state that verse 16, “…marks a transition from a dialogue between Jesus  and Nicodemus (3:1-15) to an extended monologue by either Jesus or the evangelist himself (3:16-21).” [13] Here, we would like to highlight the embarrassing inconsistency in Hahn and Mitch’s testimony that Jesus could have spoken verses 16 to 21 in a strange monologue after they have already clearly and most vividly identify verses 16 to 21 as belonging to the mind and thoughts of John by virtue of the fact that they remove any and all quotation marks from the text that necessarily relegate the words to the author of John and away from Jesus. And so, the absurd concession and fickleness that fly contrary to their stated position, placing them squarely in favour of position two, which may well arise from some lingering traditional leanings in interpreting the passage (which isn’t a far-fetched claim as anyone who is familiar with the content of this commentary knows full well that it shouts conservatism in most other places throughout), do not in any way subtract the value of their scholarly stance that appears to go against their own lingering biases (and the logical implication of a scholar stating a view that goes against his grain is that it is of greater value and reliability). Hahn and Mitch can be both said to strongly favour position two.

In the foregoing analyses above, we have thoroughly dissected John 3:16 and have seen multiple divergent views that are propelled by Christian commentators themselves. This would then serve as a potent warning, cautionary note or even prohibition to would-be proselytisers to avoid so confidently declaring, “Thus sayeth the Lord, Our Saviour, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Son, that whosoever shall believe in him shall have eternal life.” Taking into consideration the preponderance of evidence that we have evaluated, the missionary may do well to modify his proclamation to, “Thus sayeth the unknown author of John, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Son, that whosoever shall believe in his shall have eternal life.” This is the strongest interpretation of John 3:16 according to what we have carefully and meticulously gleaned from the academics cited above and the arguments that they have put forth in support of their position. We end with the words of Philipp Bartholoma that surmises our discussion concisely in a nutshell:

“Thus, it seems that the majority of Johannine commentators would regard the end of 3:15 as the most likely point for the ending of Jesus’ speech quotation.” [14]

Notes:

[1] Anon. (1997). New Revised Standard Version. Iowa: World Bible Publishers. p. 81 fn. t; See also Anon. (2001). New International Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. p. 588 fn. t

[2] Rodderbos, H. (1997). The Gospel according to John: A Theological Commentary (John Vriend, trans.). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. p. 133

[3] Ibid. fn. 101

[4] Bartholoma, P. F. (2012). The Johannine Discourses and the Teaching of Jesus in the Synoptics: A Contribution to the Discussion Concerning the Authenticity of Jesus’ Words in the Fourth Gospel. Verlag: Francke. p. 108; See also J.H. Bernard (1928). A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint John, Vol. 1. Edinburg: T&T Clark. p. 112)

[5] Bartholoma, P. F. (2012). Ibid.

[6] The keyword that we shall look at here to prove this point is “gave”. In the English this appears as the simple past tense and it does basically capture the meaning of the original ἔδωκεν (edoken, “gave”). To be more accurate, however, ‘edoken’ is structured in the aorist tense with active voice and in the indicative mood. For our purpose here, it is sufficient that we clarify what “aorist tense” means. There are three kinds of aorist verbs in Greek:

i. Punctiliar aorist: This is used for an action that exists at a certain designated point in time.

ii. Inceptive aorist: This is used for an action that has started at some point in time.

iii. Cumulative aorist: This means that the action started and has ended at some point in time.

In all of the above types of aorist verbs, what is important to be noted is that they all may only refer to actions that started in the past and not something that may only begin at present or in the future.

To determine which of the types of aorist is most suitable for the verb “gave” in John 3:16 we must determine the intended reason behind the word and the verse by the author (i.e. in John’s view why exactly God gave his son?). If it is so determined that this verse’s concern is primarily soteriological, i.e. salvific purpose of Jesus, then what must be seen as the originally intended meaning by the author of John is the death of Jesus which would be the key to receiving “eternal life” and preserved from being “perished”. And of course, in standard and mainstream Christian soteriology, one is not truly saved by viewing and believing in Jesus’ death in prospect. It is only achieved though the “shedding of blood” and once the sacrifice (in this case Jesus) has been completed, those who believe in that salvific act may attain salvation. Therefore, the most suitable type of aorist that is applicable to “gave” in John 3:16 is the cumulative aorist as the intention of the text according to the above mainstream interpretation of it is the crucifixion of Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice that would have been done and completed when the words of the verse was spoken. Jesus could not be said to use the aorist verb here because it is quite sometime before God “gave” him to be sacrificed on the cross. Grammatically, it would be incoherent. And so Marvin Vincent quoted above pertinently writes, “The past tense loved and gave, in ver. 16, better suit the later point of view from which John writes, after the atoning death of Christ was an accomplished historic fact, than the drift of the present discourse of Jesus before the full revelation of that work.”

[7] Vincent, M. R. (1889). Word Studies in the New Testament, Vol. 2. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. p. 99

[8] Pentecost, J. D. (1981). The Words and Works of Jesus Christ: A Study of the Life of Christ. Grand Rapids, Michigan: ZodervanPublishingHouse. p. 127

[9] Ibid.

[10] Croteau, D. A. (2015). Urban Legends of the New Testament: 40 Common Misconceptions.Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group. p. 45

[11] “Since the original one-on-one conversation has faded seamlessly into the address of the Johannine community to the world, it is not clear where quotation marks should be placed, i.e., where Jesus stops speaking directly to Nicodemus and the narrator addresses the reader in the name of Jesus and the Johannine community…In any case, “Jesus or Johannine church” is not a necessary choice from the point of view of the author’s theology. When the church speaks in Jesus’ name, it is (the risen) Jesus who speaks (see on chaps. 14-16).” (Boring, M. E & Craddock, F . B. (2009). The People’s New Testament Commentary. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 298)

We would take strong exception to the nonchalant attitude towards attributing to a great prophet, especially Jesus (who is supposed to be God in their view), words that he never uttered is tantamount to blasphemy as it necessarily involves firstly lying and secondly, the attribution of speech to a man of God something that he never said. This is a double whammy, as the American slang goes, offense against faith and religion. As Proverbs 19:9 says, “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish” Saying Jesus said something when he did not is bearing false witness against him and according to the verse in Proverbs 19, such an individual will be punished and he will perish.

Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that despite their fickle attitude towards the value of the authentic and historical words of Jesus, they admit with scholarly candour that the difficulty to decide which camp to favour, i.e., the verse verse 15 ending position or the extension into verse 16 position, is akin to Sophie’s choice, therefore, Christian conservatives should be more cautious in their use of this text as proof of Jesus’ verbatim proclamation about his primary purpose as God’s messenger.

[12] Perkins, P. (1990). John. In Raymond E. Brown (Ed.), The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. p. 956

[13] Hahn, S. & Mitch, C. (2010). Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. p. 167

[14] Bartholoma, P. F. (2012). Op. Cit.

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7 Responses to “Is John 3:16 really from Jesus?”

  1. inmousto says:

    On the other hand, other authoritative versions have opted to translate the phrase as “Only Son” as the NRSV does above. Where did you get this information?

    • Ibn Anwar says:

      What do you mean? I’ve given the information on “monogenes” rather concisely in the article. The NRSV and numerous other authoritative versions have abandoned the KJV translation of ‘monogenes’ in John 3:16.

      • MSV says:

        I think what he means is that the translation as ‘Only son’ still validates their claim that Jesus is a unique son of God.

        • Ibn Anwar says:

          I don’t think that’s what he meant. The first sentence in his comment is a direct quotation of me. He then asks in his own words, “Where did you get this information?”

  2. Munwar islam says:

    JazakAllahu khair bro.im really grateful for this priceless gift of truth.
    May Allah increase you in knowledge. May Allah make you a zariyah through which many people will get dawah and islah too like this article helped me .
    JazakAllahu khair.

  3. Imran Ibrahim says:

    The RSV goes to the most ancient manuscript, 1952 version, the John 3:16, and the ascending of christ was expunged.

    • Ibn Anwar says:

      You misunderstood the late Ahmed Deedat when he made references to John 3:16 and the RSV’s treatment of that verse. The RSV and the NRSV (nor any Bible for that matter) have not removed the text of John 3:16 from the main text of the chapter but rather, the word ‘monogenes’ that is translated as “begotten” in the KJV and NKJV is revised.

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