God so loved the world… For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. Verse 16 provides the link between the two parts of the discourse. It sums up vv. 14-15 by reiterating the salvific dimensions of Jesus’ death, but moves the argument forward with its reference to God’s love. God gave Jesus to the world because God loves the world. Continue reading
The Monologue. At v. 11, the text shifts from a dialogue to a monologue. The dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus alternated between Jesus’ offer of new birth (vv. 3, 5-8) and Nicodemus’s resistance (vv. 4, 9). The shift to the monologue allows Jesus’ voice to silence the voice of resistance. Jesus’ discourse runs through v. 21 and divides into two parts. Verses 11-15 interpret Jesus’ offer of new birth through his death, resurrection, and ascension, and vv. 16-21 focus on the theme of judgment.
We know. Jesus begins the discourse by speaking in the first-person plural. English translations of v. 11 mask the Greek word order. The translation “we speak of what we know ” flows in English, but the sentence literally reads, “what we know we say” (oidamen laloumen). This word order is important because it means that the beginning of Jesus’ discourse and Nicodemus’s opening words to Jesus (v. 3) are the same: “we know…. “ It is possible to read Jesus’ words as a continuation of the irony of v. 10; Jesus parodies Nicodemus’s assertion of his knowledge. Continue reading