Martin Luther called this verse “the gospel in miniature” because there was a sense in which the entire story of the Bible is expounded in it.  Just two weeks before he died, he repeated the text with evident ecstasy and added, “What Spartan saying can be compared with this wonderful brevity?  It is a Bible in itself.”  In his dying moments he repeated the words again, three times, in Latin.

F. W. Boreham, the famed minister and author who has written so many volumes of sermons and biographical works, wrote several volumes on the favorite texts of famous men.  After a number of chapters he concluded the volume with a chapter entitled, “Everybody’s Text.”

August Van Ryn, an American Bible teacher, claimed that one could find in this verse “an ocean of thought in a drop of language.”

J. C. Ryle said of it, “A more wonderful verse is not to be found in the Bible!”

This verse opened the eyes of D. L Moody to the truth of the love of God and transformed his ministry.

It is undoubtedly the most widely known and widely quoted verse from Scripture; invariably it is the first verse every child learns.

You know it well. It is not only well-known within the church, but it is also well-known by those who don’t believe.  It is so simple that a child can understand it; yet it is also a wealth of rich theological treasures that culminate in the cross of Christ — the most wonderful and horrific event in the history of man.

“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.” (John 3:16)

In this verse are four demonstrations of the greatness of God and His love.  How great is God’s salvation?  It is…

  1. A great love — not only a general love for all men, but a particular and special love for His own chosen people.
  2. A great gift — the most precious and unique gift of all time — the gift of His own Son.  And this gift His gift was the result of His love; it was not wrung from Him, stolen from Him, nagged from Him, or manipulated from Him.  It was the free gift of a loving heart.
  3. A great opportunity — the door to fellowship with God is wide open.  God has a love for the whole world that offers the whole world the chance for redemption and forgiveness.
  4. A great life — He gave this gift so that His people wouldn’t die and so that they would in fact live.

R. C. Sproul tells the account of famed German theologian Karl Barth being asked by a seminary student, “Dr. Barth, what is the single most important truth you have learned as a theologian?”  His response?  “The most important thing I have leaned is this:  ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.'”