What does it mean in Jn. 3:16 that God loved the world?

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John 3:16 contains one of the most striking statements in all of Scripture: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost, but may have life eternal. " The love of God is so immense, so amazing, that He loved the world. But what does that mean? How can we measure God's love, taking into account that He loved the world?
Many interpret this great hallarse of the Bible as if it were saying that the love of God is so coarse that He sent His Son to die on a cross for each and every one of the people who have lived, will live and will live in the world. According to some statistics, around 70 billion people have been born in the world to date. And who knows how many more will be born before human history comes to an end. "But the love of God is so great, some say, that He sent His own Son to die for each and every one of those 70 billion people. That's how great the love of God is. "
And although it seems surprising that God can love so many people at merienda, I do not think that is the measure John is using here to show us the greatness of God's love.
Let's not forget who that God is that loved the world in such a way. Our God has no limits of any kind in any of His abilities. The prophet Isaiah says, obviously speaking in figurative language, that all the water of all oceans fits in the hollow of His hand and that He can take the measure of the Universe with His span. And if all this were not enough, He knows by name each of the stars of each and every one of the galaxies. "Such is the greatness of His strength, and the power of His dominion," says Is. 40:26.
So we can not measure the greatness of God's love by taking as a point of reference the number of people who populate our planet. That would be as surprising as the fact that an Olympic weightlifter was able to lift a grain of rice.
On the other hand, those who interpret the word "world" in that way, without realizing it, and I am sure that without wanting it, they end up dwarfing and limiting God's love. Let me explain what I mean.
It is evident that not all people are saved. So if the word "world" here points to each and every one of the human beings who have lived, live and will live on the planet, we have to come to the conclusion that the only thing that God did in cortesía of all those individuals was open a path of salvation and then leave in your hands the possibility of salvation. As if the text said that God so loved each and every one of the human beings who have lived, live and will live in this world, that He gave His only begotten Son to make it possible for any of them to be saved, but without ensuring the salvation of none.
But it is impossible for us to interpret this text in that way. If God left in our hands the final decision to accept Jesus, no one would be saved, because no man in his natural state is inclined to believe in Him and submit to His authority. Listen to what John says in verses 19 to 20: "And this is the condemnation: that light came into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil detests the light and does not come to the light, so that his works will not be reproved. "
Everyone who does evil hates light and, therefore, does not come to light. And how many people in the world do wrong? Each and every one of them, as Paul says in Rom. 3:12: "there is no one who does good, there is not even one." So if God the Father had just sent His Son to die for all the inhabitants of the planet, and then left in our hands the final decision of salvation, no one would have been saved. But Christ came to the world to save and not simply to create the possibility of someone being saved.
What does it mean, then, that God loved the world? When John uses the word "world" in his gospel, it is usually to refer to the system of evil prevailing in this world and that is radically opposed to God and His ways. Later, in Chapters 14 to 16 of the Gospel of John, the Speech of the Upper Room, one of the prominent themes of that discourse is the opposition that the world raises against Christians simply because they are Christians: "If the world he hates you, know that he has hated me before you "(John 15:18). It is because of the abhorrence that the world feels for Christ that the world hates all who are His. But it was precisely out of love for that world that it hates it, that God the Father sent His Son.
As the theologian Benjamin Warfield says, what John wants to show us in this text is not "that the world is so big that it takes a lot of love to cover everything, but the world is so bad that it takes a love" too big to be able love him, and above all when we think of the fact that this love cost him to deliver his Son. (i) That God, Warfield continues, "whose holy justice is inflamed with indignation at the sight of all iniquity, and whose absolute sanctity he turns away with horror at any impurity, loves this sinful world in spite of everything … in such a way that he has given His only begotten Son to die for him. "(ii) (i) Benjamin Warfield; The savior of the world; pg. 96
(ii) Ibid .; pg. 96-97.

Author: Sugel Michelén
He studied for the ministry in 1979. Later he was sent by the Biblical Church of the Lord Jesus Christ (IBSJ), in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to the city of Puerto Plata, to begin a work there. But at the end of 1983 he was called to be part of the IBSJ pastor corps, where he serves the Lord since then, regularly exposing the Word on Sundays. He is also the author of the blog All Thought Captive.

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