Most Christians have a concept about why Jesus died on the cross and what exactly he did for us. This concept is usually quite self-centered and and according to our natural, sinful concept. Everyone wants to live forever. We all fear death. So when we read John 3:16, the very first thing that comes to mind is: “phew! That makes me feel better! I’ll carry on in my living forever!” This is erroneous and contrary to the mark of God’s purpose and plan.
The Bible Interprets Itself
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone who believes into Him would not perish, but would have eternal life.” John 3:16
As a stand alone verse, this could be interpreted to mean either everlasting human life or something else that I will present to you in this post, but I need to lay out a principle first: the Bible interprets itself.
I have many opinions. We all do. We are all chop-full of beliefs and opinions that, on their own, are absolutely pointless and have no weight or ability to give life. However, the Bible contains all the truths necessary for salvation, and unveils what is the mystery of God. It allows no room for our own opinions or interpretations. It actually can interpret itself.
For example, when you read Genesis 3:15, you can find what it refers to later on with the full revelation of Christ!
“And I will put enmity between thee (the serpent) and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
“And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” Romans 16:20
There are more verses that talk about this, but that’s beside the point. My point is, the Bible is a complete work that contains the secrets and mysteries of God within. It allows no room for opinions. So in the case of eternal life, I would like to look at what the rest of the Bible has to say.
“Eternal Life” in John 3:16 is not a promise of not dying. We do die. Everlasting life in Genesis 3:22 was about living in the same state forever, but this is different. “Eternal” refers to the nature of this life, not the enabling of the continuation of our current life!
Eternal, meaning that it is from eternity-past and will remain through eternity-future, refers to God’s life. “Life” here is in the greek “Zoe,” which is distinct from the other two greek words for life in the New Testament: “psuche” and “bios.” It is God’s uncreated, incorruptible life. For more on this, refer to: Tripartite Man
God gave us His life! That is why it’s described as a new birth in a few verses earlier (John 3:3-6)! We had to be born with this life. Not just receive the promise of the continuation of our human life.
Eternal life: The Knowing of God
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Him whom You have sent, Jesus Christ.” John 17:3
The eternal life enables us to know God and Christ Jesus. This is not just objective, doctrinal knowledge of God, but the subjective knowledge of Him, that only the Son has:
“All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one fully knows the Son except the Father; neither does anyone fully know the Father except the Son and him to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Matthew 11:27
This is what is so tight and what will bring me to my final point: Eternal Life is neither the continuation of your current life, nor some abstract thing that lets you know God, rather it is God Himself, as Christ, embodied in the Spirit (wasn’t that a mouthful??).
“No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son (most authoritative manuscripts actually render “Son” as “God!”), who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” John 1:18
The fact that the eternal life is the life that brings in the knowledge of the unknowable God is very telling with as to what it is. Christ’s coming has many purposes, but it can be summed up in two: grace and reality. He came to accomplish God’s purpose via grace in God’s economy, and He came to bring reality, by declaring God to us!
Christ declares God, which enables us to know God. So the eternal life must be Christ!
Eternal Life: A Wonderful Person
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of life- and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and report to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us-” 1 John 1:1-2
The Eternal Life is Christ. Christ died that whosoever believes into Him may have Him. If you don’t see that in the above verses, please read them 10 more times carefully.
The life was “from the beginning” (John 1:1), heard (John 1:18), seen (John 1:14), beheld (1:14), handled (John 20:27), was the Word of life (Phil. 2:16), was manifested (John 1:14), and is the eternal life who was with the Father (John 16:28). Jesus is the Eternal Life! We have Jesus if we have believed! Not just at our side or in heaven on our behalf, but living in us:
“Christ in you” Colossians 1:27
Hope everyone enjoyed this post, and I hope you all come to know this wonderful person more and more! I’m learning to as well and it is an amazing experience. Much grace.