I was delightfully surprised by what I found while looking at what may be called the most popular verse in the Bible—John 3:16. You know it well:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

I’ve heard, quoted, preached, and delighted in this verse for decades.

But one little word jumped out at me …


Nearly every Bible translation emphasizes the “so” in terms of the amount of love God has for the world—”for God SO loved …” He loves the world abundantly.

This is true, and I don’t want to downplay the amazing reality of His love (see Ephesians 3:18-19).

But that is not the emphasis in the Greek grammar.

The “so” is a bit ambiguous in English and many people presume (especially based on our translations) that it points to the amount or extent of God’s love; however, this little word (οὕτως, in the Greek) is focused on the “manner of God’s love”—the means by which He demonstrates His love.

Thus, though it goes against nearly every traditional text in English, a better rendering could be:

This is the manner in which God shows His love: that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Perhaps it’s merely a small thing—for it truly doesn’t change the meaning of the passage. The emphasis is still on God’s abundant love, the incredible gift of Jesus, and our sole means of salvation through Him by faith/belief (also see John 14:6).

But I was delightfully surprised and found myself freshly in awe of our amazing God.

I pray the same is true for you and I am cheering you unto that end! 

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