So Loved the World by Donald T. Williams

So Loved the World

John 3:16 is the most familiar, most memorized verse in the Bible—for good reason. What the naive reader gets out of it is there and profoundly true. But we will miss a good bit of its meaning if we fail to read it as part of the whole conversation with Nicodemus. We must also remember Nicodemus's Jewishness, and that for him, concepts like the new birth have not been part of his frame of reference for as long as he can remember. This makes the new birth and the word "world" jump out at us in a completely new way.

Nicodemus is expecting God to love not "the world" but "Israel." Jesus is challenging all of his preconceptions about the Messiah and the Kingdom. Nicodemus must be born again. He is not ready to talk about the politics of overthrowing Rome—is not within a hundred miles of that topic—until the Kingdom causes a complete, internal, spiritual transformation in his life. And he needs to remember the Abrahamic Covenant. The whole point of calling Abraham's family was so that, through it, all the families of the earth would be blessed. Jesus' Kingdom is about a bigger and more radical regime change than Nicodemus was yet capable of imagining.

Rome, schmome! Jesus has bigger fish to fry. Nicodemus needs to rethink everything—everything! And he won't be able to do it until he believes.

By chapter 19, we realize that Nicodemus did. Will we?

Donald T. Williams Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Toccoa Falls College and the author of Deeper Magic: The Theology Behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Square Halo Books, 2016) and Ninety-Five Theses for a New Reformation: A Road Map for Post-­Evangelical Christianity (Semper Reformanda Publications, 2021).


more on Christianity from the online archives

31.1—January/February 2018

Beggars Before Christ

on Taking the Measure of the Deserving & the Undeserving Poor by Martin Bordelon

30.6—Nov/Dec 2017

The Messiah's Beauty

on Benedict XVI on the Fairest of the Sons of Men by Michael Martin De Sapio

32.4—July/August 2019

A Case of Win-Win

on Probability, Death & the Existence of God by Graeme Hunter

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone

• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!


personal subscriptions

Purchase Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!


RENEW your print/online
subscription

Purchase
Online Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives including pdf downloads for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!


RENEW your online subscription

gift subscriptions

GIVE Print &
Online Subscription

Give six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for the reduced rate of $29.95. That's only $2.50 per month!


RENEW your gift subscription

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

kindle subscription

OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)

Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.


more from the online archives

30.6—Nov/Dec 2017

The Messiah's Beauty

on Benedict XVI on the Fairest of the Sons of Men by Michael Martin De Sapio

26.5—Sept/Oct 2013

More than Schooling

The Perils of Pragmatism in Christian Attitudes Toward the Liberal Arts by Robin Phillips

33.2—March/April 2020

Glory to Be Revealed

on How Bodily Resurrection Informs Social Justice by W. Ross Blackburn

00