Reflections on John 3:16
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Reflections on John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believe in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
To my reading, the writer of John’s Gospel asserts that God cares about the salvation of the entire world – not just humanity. Evidently, Paul also recognized that there was much suffering among humans and nonhumans. He observed that “the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now” (Romans 8:22). How might the Son save the world?
I think we get clues from Jesus’ teachings and ministry. Jesus cared for and cured those who were sick, poor, widowed, or otherwise disenfranchised. In addition, he liberated the animals slated for slaughter in the Temple. Though he did help many individuals, his actions spared only a small fraction of suffering humans and nonhumans. Perhaps salvation of the world through the Son must involve those of us who, inspired by his ministry, resolve to continue his work. This would include, but not be limited to, living as harmlessly as possible and encouraging others to do likewise.

Remarkable, the second part of John 3:16 shifts from concern about the world to a focus on the “eternal life” of every individual who believes in the Son. How do make sense of what appears on its surface to be a non sequitur? I’ll consider this next essay.

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