I was referred to this video for a Calvinist perspective that John 3:16 is more accurately interpreted “all who believe” instead of “whoever believes”.
After watching the video, I’m not so sure that John 3:16 is best translated “all who believe”. I’m certainly not a linguist – and, for better or worse, have no interest in incorporating Greek or Hebrew into my own Bible study. However, at some point we have to trust that those who put together the various translations we have at our disposal did so with honesty, integrity and a keen awareness of language and culture. In doing a quick comparison of some versions, not one of them infer “all who believe”.
NIV – whoever believes
NASB – whoever believes
NLT – everyone who believes
KJ – whosoever believeth
NCV – whoever believes
ASV – whosoever believeth
ESV – whoever believes
Why is this? How is it that so many biblical translators over the course of centuries have determined that the best wording or phrase for John 3:16 is ‘whoever’ and not ‘all who believe’?
Dr. White referred to John 6:44 as justification for an ‘all who believe’ interpretation for John 3:16. From a non-Calvinist perspective, I admit to finding the wording in John 6:44 a little troubling. Moreover, I can certainly understand Calvinist thought that due to being dead to sin, no one can bring himself to God unless God first gives His grace to whose whom he’s elected. However, in John chapter six – a little before and a little after verse 44 (i.e. vs 40, 45, 47 & 51 in particular) it seems apparent that ANYONE who believes shall be saved. Jesus makes no distinction as to the elect and the non-elect. Wouldn’t this have been an opportune time for Jesus to explain TULIP? But so far as I read here, he doesn’t. John 6:25-59 is a discussion between Jesus and unbelieving Jews who happen to know of Jesus (vs 42) and who were struggling to understand how this “boy” they knew is now the messiah. To that end, those unbelieving Jews were perhaps troubled with previous statements Jesus had made with regard to not having the love of God in their hearts (John 5:42). Jesus continued in John 5:43 that [the Jews] did not accept [Christ]. I presume this to mean that many (but certainly not all) Jews had rejected Christ’s offer of forgiveness through faith and instead were holding on tight to the law for their justification. Again, Jesus did not explain TULIP and tell the elect to rejoice and explain to the non-elect that their eternal destiny is sealed and too bad. The overriding principle that I see from verses such as John 3:16 & 2 Pet 3:9 is that God indeed reaches out to everyone and desires that everyone be saved and no one to perish. Yes, we’re dead in our sins and without Christ’s forgiveness – which must be individually received, we’re toast. To their eternal peril, the majority of people have chosen to reject Christ. And that’s the point – they have made a choice. So, in the middle of all this is John 6:44 – no one comes to [Jesus] unless he’s “drawn” by God? Again, I admit to finding this phrase a little troubling. But could it be that there are some translational aspects involved in which a Greek to English translation doesn’t accurately convey the thought that the Holy Spirit is moving within people and works to bring about a desire to seek forgiveness of sins? Hmmm, perhaps that concept is elsewhere in scripture? Still, for the aforementioned reasons, I’m not convinced that John 3:16 states ‘all who believe’ and I don’t see that John 6:44 is as solid of a foundation for unconditional election as Calvinists would believe.