John 3:16: The expanded version
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3:16. It's one of the most widely-quoted Bible verses there are. It's been called "the Gospel in a nutshell", for its succinct summary of the New Testament's "message".
A verse as vital and revered as John 3:16 deserves proper examination in the light of the rest of Holy Scripture. Let's place it into the wider context of the entire Bible:
"For God so loved the world, that he...
- Decreed sickness, painful childbirth, and death for all descendents of Adam and Eve;
- Drowned every man, woman, and innocent child on Earth, save a handful;
- Slaughtered every man, woman, and innocent child in Sodom and Gomorrah;
- Murdered countless babies in Egypt to impress a Pharoah;
- Explicitly allowed and even commanded slavery, the beating and murder of slaves, and the rape of slaves;
- Ordered the execution of homosexuals, disobedient children, stubborn sons, blasphemers, non-believers, "witches", adulterers, complainers, anyone ignoring a priest or judge, anyone working on the Sabbath, anyone touching Mt Sinai, any woman whose father cannot produce bloody sheets as proof of marriage-night virginity, and any betrothed virgin who is raped but doesn't protest loudly enough;
- Repeatedly commanded his people to capture and rape women after battles;
- Established a law requiring that rape victims marry their rapists;
- Killed 24,000 Israelites by plague, stopping only when Phinehas pleased God by murdering an interracial couple;
- Commanded the Israelites to slay all Midianites, including women and innocent children – except for 32,000 virgins, who were to be saved for raping;
- Commanded the Levites to attack each other, resulting in the deaths of 3000;
- Allowed Lot to give up his daughters to a mob of rapists; Caleb to give away his daughter as a battle prize; and a concubine owner to give his concubine to a mob of rapists (after which she dies and is dismembered);
- Allowed His various champions to rip the flesh off captives; kill 69 brothers "upon one stone"; bring down a building on 3000 men and women; massacre inhabitants of cities with saws and axes; and throw 10,000 captives off a cliff;
- Commanded Joshua to kill all peoples of all lands he visited, including women and innocent children, as well as kill all livestock and burn all cities;
- Ordered that all Samaritans be killed by the sword, with infants dashed to pieces and pregant women ripped apart;
- Commanded and aided massacres of men, women, children, and infants among the Caananites, Bethelites, Moabites, Philistines, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, Amelekites, Midianites, Succothites, Sihonites, Benjamites, Ammorites, Syrians, Assyrians, Edomites, Heshbonites, the city of Nob, the city of Ninevah, the town of Laish, the house of Jeroboam, the house of Baal, the house of Baasha, foreigners in Samaria, Hagarites, Hazorites, Jebusites, Ethiopians, Babylonians, and Israelites;
- Directly murdered people Himself for reasons including masturbation; refusal to strike a prophet; believing a lying prophet; looking into the ark; attempting to save the ark from a fall; and "offering strange fire";
- Murdered the wives, sons, and small children of men who argued with Moses, along with 250 bystanders;
- Sent bears to slaughter 42 children who laughed at a priest's bald head;
- Killed Job's children, slaves, and animals as part of a game;
- Repeatedly punished children for sins of parents or even earlier generations;
- Vowed to use lies and stumbling blocks to lure people into unrighteousness, then damn them eternally for it;
- Inflicted various peoples with curses including pestilence, leprosy, fever, mildew, hemmorrhoids, locusts, itching, blindness, dead livestock, slavery, madness, worms, burning, thirst, baldness, miscarriages, famine, hail, and fruitless olive trees;
- Delivered a plague that caused women to boil and eat their children;
- Welcomed human sacrifice, including Jephthah's burning of his innocent daughter; the Moab king's burning of his son; Josiah's offerings of burnt priests; and Abraham's willingness to slit a child's throat."
I don't know about you, but all this Godliness is really bringing a lump to my throat. Yet let's not neglect the key message concerning Jesus in John 3:16. God showed us His Love in one more way:
"For God so loved the world, that he...
- ... gave his only begotten Son – to preach death, damnation, and eternal torment for disbelievers; to criticize Jews for not executing disobedient children; to defend Old Testament atrocities like slavery, massacres, and bloodythirsty laws; and to doom thousands of valuable pigs in a botched exorcism."
It's no wonder that so many believers find comfort in this homely scripture, and all the rest of the Holy Book that stands behind its message of hope.
Special thanks to the Skeptic's Annotated Bible for aid in this post.