John 3:16

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Things have gotten out of hand.
Light iron-age reading
The Bible
Icon bible.svg
Gabbin' with God

John 3:16 is a verse from the Gospel of John which reads:

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.

At the point in the narrative where this verse occurs, Jesus is the one speaking it — so this verse is essentially Jesus telling everyone about his love and care for everyone, in the third person.

Since it has been translated into a huge array of languages, including ones which have incomplete or nonexistent Bible translations, it may be the single most translated piece of writing in human history.


This verse has sparked a fair bit of controversy between different sects of Christianity. Martin Luther based his interpretation of Christianity off of this verse, even going so far as to call it "the gospel in miniature".[1] This is because John 3:16 can be interpreted to mean that believing in good old Jeezy Creezy as your One True Savior is the only prerequisite for eternal life. One interesting side effect of this verse's importance to Protestants is that it is included in tons[2] of[3] Chick Tracts[4].

Given the "perish" verb (other languages use "be lost" or an equivalent term) instead of for example "sent to Hell", as some Fundies have been caught changing that part during their sermons, it has often been claimed that John was an annihilationist, so the alternative to such eternal life would be nonexistence.

As a political tool[edit]

In the US, at least once per election, someone (usually the Democratic candidate) will have chain e-mails spread around accusing them of "faking" their Christianity: At a <insert party here> rally on <insert date here>, <insert candidate here> stated that their favorite verse is John 16:3 rather than John 3:16. This is a particularly ironic mistake to make, because the text of John 16:3 is:

They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.

The verse in popular culture[edit]

Because the verse is so central to the meaning of Christianity, it is often used as a means by which to raise awareness of the religion.

  • American retailer Forever 21 features the phrase on its packaging.
  • American fast food chain In-N-Out-Urge In-N-Out Burger references the verse on its soda cups.
  • Rollen Stewart (a.k.a. "The Rainbow Man") gained a degree of notoriety for waving a sign that read "John 3:16" at sporting events while wearing a multi-colored wig—before he turned to terrorism, of course. Signs featuring the reference have become a common sight at sports events.
  • Advertisements for digital clocks sold to Christian consumers are usually depicted with "3:16" as the time of day.
  • Wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin modified it into Austin 3:16, which says "I just whipped your ass!"
  • Tim Tebow. Oh FFS.
  • Tebow's former NFL teammate, convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez, scrawled "John 3:16" in red ink on his forehead and in blood on the prison cell wall before hanging himself.[5]

See also[edit]