Lessons from the Gospel of John: Eternal Life or Eternal Death?

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life. Instead, he will see God's constant anger.”  (John 3:36)

This is another one of passages that most Christians will automatically affirm. After all, this is the foundation of Christianity. I would like to take a closer look at this verse before we move on to the next chapter of John.

Whoever believes in the Son…

This is from the word that literally means “to have faith in” or “to entrust”. It does not mean that we will believe when we have seen proof or when Jesus does some special miracle in our life. It is plain and simple in that. Jesus said that we need to have faith like a little child (Matthew 2:18 – 19). This means unquestioning faith, like a small child has in their parents. Faith that stands up no matter what so-called proofs skeptics may present.

has eternal life…

Eternal means perpetual, never ending life. When read in the context of the rest of the Bible it is commonly understood that this means eternal life with Christ.

whoever rejects the Son…

Here rejects is the inverse of believes. When taken with the next word, in the original text, is rendered “believes not” (or believeth not) by many translations. It takes in all of the implications of believing, but in reverse. Doubt is looked at as unbelief if this is translated literally. I tend to translate literally which is one of the reasons that I am so thankful for God's grace and mercy.  The apostle John wrote that God will forgive our sins if we confess them (1 John 1:9). And yes, unbelief is a sin. In fact, it is Sin with a capitol “S”.

will not see life…

This echoes what Jesus said to Nicodemus; unless you are born again you will not even “see” the Kingdom (John 3:3). Jesus used a slightly different verb in verse 36, but the meaning in the original language is clear. Again, life here is eternal life with Christ.

he will see God's constant anger.

Usually, God's Word For The Nations1 is a pretty accurate translation, but this is one place where I think the King James Version has done a better job. In the KJV this is rendered, “the wrath of God abideth on him” which is a more accurate translation. Wrath, literally God's “burning desire against a person or thing”, will “stay, continue, dwell” “on, over and within” him.

God is not pleased with sin. Only by accepting Jesus’ freely offered gift can we avoid God's displeasure. And it is really simple. Ask God to forgive your sins, especially your sin of unbelief, and put your faith in Jesus.

1. Bible references are made using GOD’S WORD® translation of the Bible. GOD'S WORD® is a copyrighted work of God’s Word to the Nation. Quotations are used by permission. Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nation. All rights reserved. For more information about this project please see www.godsword.org

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  1. Theophile said:

    Hi Tim, You mentioned: “I tend to translate literally which is one of the reasons that I am so thankful for God’s grace and mercy”. I must ask Tim why You would use a version that needs permission to quote from as a copyrighted work. If the work is copyrighted by man as man’s work….. Why not stick with the KJV, no copyright, no permission needed to quote, better sounding version, and just keep in mind the italics have been added for readability? I can’t help but think, the demand due to the continuing divisions in the churches, is fueling this supply of the latest seeker friendly, gender neutral, politically correct, “translations”. Really, think about it, should You need to ask some man’s permission to quote God’s word? If so, then why?

    September 10, 2011
  2. Rev. Tim Lehmann said:

    I use the version I use, as I said above, because it’s usually very accurate. No, the KJV has no copyright, it also has language that is 400+ years out of date. The purpose is to communicate not confuse. “Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:: (1 Corinthians 10:25) is a good example. In the 1600 and 1700’s shambles meant market or restaurant. Language has changed.

    September 10, 2011

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