John 3:16-21 Grammatical Analysis

So I’m going to start using the blog to write up grammatical analyses. It’s mostly for my own benefit to make sure I’m as thorough as I should be when I am working through a passage for sermon prep. But it also means I have the benefit of the wisdom of any of my readers – you can comment/correct my analysis as appropriate.

So, next Sunday (20th June 2010) I’m preaching on John 3:16-21 at my old church (Holy Cross, Hove). I’ve pretty much written the sermon already, so I’m writing this stuff retrospectively.


Verse 16

The initial γαρ of v16 shows that what follows builds on what precedes (i.e. vv14-15).

[This is significant as this verse is mostly found outside of its context. But in order to order to understand what John means by “believe” and “life” the context of John’s reference to Numbers and the bronze snake needs to be kept in mind.]

Οὕτως is an indeclineable adverb. It means “thusly, in this way.” It does not mean “God soooooo loved…”! It is modified by an unusual construction: ὡστε + indicative (see Burton, Moods and Tenses, §236). According to Burton this clause demonstrates the “actual result” of the independent clause. ἔδωκεν 3s aor act indic, with preceding accusative direct object; subject implied in verb and context. The term μονογενής indicates that these verses are the words of John, not Jesus, since Jesus never applies this vocabulary to himself.

The subordinate οὕτως result clause is further modified by a ἵνα purpose clause. Πας, as always, in predicative position modifying a nominal participial clause. The subject has two subjunctive verb phrases in a “not…but” form (μη…ἀλλα).

ἠγαπησεν – 3s aor act indic ἀγαπαω. The lengthened connecting vowel η is due to the fact that ἀγαπαω is an -αω verb. ὁ θεος – subject of preceding verb. τον κοσμον accusative direct object of ἀγαπαω.

Verse 17

A second γαρ introduction means v17 provides support. I have taken it (and diagrammed it) as coordinate to v16 and therefore modifying what precedes, as a whole. It is possible that it is to be taken as subordinate to v16 providing supportive information for that verse specifically.

The main clause is simple enough: negated 3s aor act indic verb, explicit subject, direct object and prepositional phrase. The subject and prepositional phrase have counterparts in v16 (hence why I have taken v17 as coordinate to v16).

There are two parallel subordinate ἵνα clauses (ἵνα…ἀλλ’ ἵνα…, cf. v16cd). Both have subjunctive verbs, the first being active, the second passive. If v17c were active rather than passive, ὁ κοσμος would be the direct object (i.e. “Jesus saves the world” rather than “the world is saved through Jesus”).

[ Why does John say “but so that the world might be saved through him” rather than “but to save the word”? The latter would be a more obvious parallel to the first ἵνα clause. ]

Verse 18

V18 is comprised primarily of two parallel contrasting clauses. The first is positive and the second negative and is further explained by an ὅτι clause. The nominative participle is the same as in v16c (ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν). In the second clause (18b) it is negated and abbreviated to simply (ὁ πιστεύων). The same verb is used in each clause. Firstly it is 3s pres pass indic, second it is 3s perf pass indic.

The subordinate ὅτι clause of v18c is causal: explaining the reason why the one who doesn’t trust is already judged. 18c features the fourth and final occurrence of πιστευω in three verses. The majority of the clause is a right-branching prepositional phrase.

Verse 19

V19 introduces the final cola of this section which spans through to v21. The repetition of κριν* roots suggests that vv17, 18 and 19 are parallel. V19b introduces the first occurrence of φως which continues through to v21a, with σκοτος in 19c too. Similarly to with ἐργα* (19d, 20c, 21b, c).

The postpositive δε seems to introduce a conclusion-type clause (note the asyndeton of v22).

The main clause is brief, but the demonstrative pronoun αὕτα introduces a complex series of subordinate clauses. The following ὅτι introduces two και coordinated clauses. το φως is in focus position (known information placed before the verb). Note the repetition of ἀγαπαω (still aor act indic, but 3p here instead of 3s in v16) contrasting God’s love of the world with mankind’s (= the world’s) love of darkness.

The final γαρ introduces two further parallel clauses headed by comparable participial phrases contrasting the one who does evil and the one who does truth/good (which, in context, = trusting in Christ). The three main verbs (μισει, ἔρχεται x2) are all present tense-form. Each has an attached ἵνα purpose clause reference to ἐργα.

The final ὅτι is nominal. The closing reference to θεος may be an inclusio (cf. v16a).

There’s more that could be written, but that’s enough for now.


2 thoughts on “John 3:16-21 Grammatical Analysis

  1. > The term μονογενής indicates that these verses are the words of John, not Jesus, since Jesus never applies this vocabulary to himself.

    good point.

    Like the diagram as well. Looking forward to more!


  2. JOHN 3:16 – 3:21 – people don’t get fooled, increase your learning, and watch your salvation!

    John 3:16 For YAHUWAH Alahym so loved the righteous (orderly people). Hebrew: tsavah. Greek: kosmos. Isaiah 38:1 that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.

    Note that all Christian translations have corrupted the blessed words “the righteous (orderly people. Hebrew: tsavah or Greek: kosmos to instead read ‘the world’. Strongs #2889 Greek concordance confirms that the Greek word “kosmos” means “orderly arrangement”.

    Could we say the evil Christian ‘world of the ungodly’

    Because 2Peter 2:5 read: and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the wicked; Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him (Yahuwshuwa) that justifieth the unrighteous, his faith is counted for righteousness. Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time the Mashiyach died for the unrighteous.

    Romans 4:5 and Romans 5:6 is not an ‘orderly arrangement’ (Greek: kosmos) but an evil ‘world’ of “envyings and strife, where there is confusion and every evil work” James 3:14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

    James 3:15 & Revelation 18:2 have changed the meaning of the Hebrew word “Tsavah” from “the righteous (orderly people). Isaiah 38:1 & John 3:16 to the world of the ungodly.
    Revelation 18:2 They even “loveth and maketh a lie” (Revelation 22:15) that ‘the world of the ungodly are justified by Satan (Image of Jesus Christ)


    Did our heavenly father YAHUWAH Alahym not commanded His people “Love not the world (Hebrew: cheled)…”

    This is what Yahchanan (john) and YAHUWAH our heavenly Father said, He NEVER, NEVER said ‘loved the world’

    John 3:16 For YAHUWAH so loved the righteous, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    Yahuwshuwa the Mashiyach also declared “…I do not pray for the world (Hebrew: cheled)…” John 17:9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them, which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

    1John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of YAHUWAH abides forever.

    1John 5:19 And we know that we are of YAHUWAH, and the whole world lies in wickedness or the whole world (Hebrew: cheled) lies in the power of the evil one”

    We are told that YAHUWAH Alahym so loved the righteous (orderly people) and who are in His “house of prayer” fear Him, and that he gave to them, His only begotten Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16 & 1John 3:23.

    1John 3:23 And this is His (YAHUWAH) commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Yahuwshuwa the Mashiyach and love one another, as He (YAHUWAH) gave us commandment.

    Psalm 50:23 Whoso offered praise glorified me: and to him that ordered his conversation aright will I show the salvation of Alahym.

    “Salvation” that is in Yahuwshuwa the Mashiyach is only given to the righteous (the orderly people)” (John 3:16) whether Israelite or Gentile “who orders his way aright” (Psalm 50:23) and fear YAHUWAH Alahym and worketh righteousness. Exodus 9:30 & Acts 10:35

    Those who make up the ‘the world of the ungodly’ are outside (Revelation 22:15) and excluded from the blessings revealed in John 3:16.

    People be careful when you read articles like this, and increase your learning and/or visit or

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