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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : A Letter to a Limited Atonement Brother

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Alive-to-God - your question regarding "believers who "continue" believing Does go into what John 3:16 Does say.

In the "whosoever believeth" - "Believeth" is a Present Active Participle which is "continuous action" which makes this "believing" a continuous action.

".....whosoever believing in Him, 'Not Perish' but 'possess' eternal life" - that's the actual reading of John 3:16.

 2011/3/24 13:35

Joined: 2005/5/19
Posts: 611


Hello brother,

I have no one to blame :-) for my exegesis but me. Both verbs for "perish" and "have" are subjunctives. The definition for subjunctive is somewhat interpretive itself, depending on which scholar you are reading.

In short the subjunctive differs from the indicative in that the writer chose to not express the action as an absolute certainty. Subjunctive is further removed from actual reality than the indicative. It may be seen as a probability, but not as a definite actuality.

Knowing this, I simply translated the negative along with the subjunctive "perish" as "might not perish" (not trying to overly differ from "should not"). I simply prefer the word "might" over "should". I did not even mention that "perish" is actually an Aorist, Middle, Subjunctive - and being a Middle voice lays the focus on the individuals participation in the resulting outcome. It is necessary to understand the implication of Middle voice to fully appreciate this.

As I indicated earlier, I also translated the subjunctive verb "have" as "might have". This verb is actually a Present Active Sujunctive. If I were to be even more literal, I would translate it "might presently have" "or "should presently have". The difference between actually have and should have are intentional by the apostle John's use of the subjunctive.

Once again John chose not to use the Indicative mood for either of these verbs in this sentance. This point is very relevant, for John could have chosen an indicative and did not. This is how we recognize that the subjunctive was intentional on his part. To fully appreciate the difference between the actual and the potential requires one to become familiar with the grammatical implications of both Subjunctive and Indicative. There are many resources available to help us appreciate the differences.

I hope that helps. We should all give thanks to God for the men who have dedicated their lives to providing us with the available helps to grasp these things.

Alan and Dina Martin

 2011/3/24 14:24Profile


Thanks for your reply Brother.

You're taking your understanding from words that aren't in the original and why I gave the #ed to Strong's version.

Just to make this easier for me as well - I'll just give two verses where this same grammar is used.

Joh 3:16 ForG1063 GodG2316 soG3779 lovedG25 theG3588 world,G2889 thatG5620 he gaveG1325 hisG848 only begottenG3439 Son,G5207 thatG2443 whosoeverG3956 believethG4100 inG1519 himG846 should notG3361 perish,G622 butG235 haveG2192 everlastingG166 life.G2222

First we see that the word "should" is not in the text and that "have" G2192 is a Present Subjunctive Active - as seen in Rev 19:7 (just for the one) "Let us be glad and rejoice".
The Present Subjunctive is also a continuous or repeated action despite when the action takes place. Continuous as also the Present Active Participle was that connects these two words "Believing" with "have" - they continue as contingent upon one another.

An example of the "not perish" (removing the added "should") - "not" is just that, "not" and "perish" - is an Aorist Subjunctive Passive that in another passage reads - "He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death", Rev 2:11.

It's just a simple action - "will not"! No "mights" about it. Will Not is Will Not.

The "potential" is open to those whom GOD sent His Son for - that, "whosoever" that continues to believe, out from the entire world that He Loves.

 2011/3/24 14:46

 Re: A Letter to a Limited Atonement Brother

Hi Jesus-is-GOD,

Thanks for your reply. I'm a bit bemused by your objection to makrothumia's original post, as what he said seems to be in line with both Berry's Interlinear, and Young's Literal.

(Young) John 3:16 for God did so love the world, that His Son--the only begotten--He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during.

Not sure if this will look 'Greek' when submitted, so please bear with me if it doesn't. The important bit is the English translation.

John 3:16 outwV <3779> gar <1063> {FOR SO} hgaphsen <25> (5656) o <3588> {LOVED} qeoV <2316> {GOD} ton <3588> {THE} kosmon <2889> {WORLD} wste <5620> ton <3588> {THAT} uion <5207> autou <846> {HIS SON} ton <3588> {THE} monogenh <3439> {ONLY BEGOTTEN} edwken <1325> (5656) {HE GAVE,} ina <2443> {THAT} paV <3956> {EVERYONE} o <3588> {WHO} pisteuwn <4100> (5723) {BELIEVES} eiV <1519> {ON} auton <846> mh <3361> {HIM} apolhtai <622> (5643) {MAY NOT PERISH,} all <235> {BUT} ech <2192> (5725) {MAY HAVE} zwhn <2222> {LIFE} aiwnion <166> {ETERNAL.}

I don't have a problem with the point makrothumia is making, because it accords with other verses, for instance,

(KJV)John 1:7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all [men] through him might believe.

(Young) John 1:7 this one came for testimony, that he might testify about the Light, that all might believe through him;

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.

John 10:10 The thief doth not come, except that he may steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they may have life, and may have [it] abundantly.

Okay, I'm getting it. There are lots of 'might's in the KJV, and 'may's in Young's.

makrothumia said

There are many resources available to help us appreciate the differences.

I glanced in my Newberry's, and the best I can make out of this is that the subjunctive throws open the door to a continuously standing offer of what the one believing into Christ must receive by believing.

Am I close?

The 'may' and the 'might' do not introduce 'doubt' about what Christ purchased for us, nor what is promised to those who believe, but rather that UNTIL one 'believes', all is un-fulfilled in the un-believer's experience.

Jesus-is-GOD, please bear with me. I'm not trying to stir up strife, nor disagree with you, but rather, to consolidate my understanding on this little bit of study on the point makrothumia attempted to highlight. I'm open to correction.

 2011/3/24 19:26

Joined: 2008/10/30
Posts: 1934

 Re: John 3:16 + Atonement

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone believing into Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

God gave His Son for the purpose of, or, so that, His end be achieved. His end being specifically that every believing one should not perish, but that every believing one should have everlasting life.

The word translated 'that' is the greek word hina. Strongs #2443 - in order that (denoting the purpose or the result): - albeit, because, to the intent (that), lest, so as, (so) that, (for) to.

The Father gave His Son for the purpose of those who believe. The Son is given so that the believing ones will not perish, but opposite to that, have eternal life. That is the purpose of the giving.

So, what John 3:16 teaches is:

ALL who A (believe in Him)

will not B (perish)

but will have C (everlasting life)

What does this text tell us about who WILL believe or who CAN believe?

The answer is: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! The text does not address the issue of who WILL believe or who CAN believe.
Scripture elsewhere addresses who will, who can, and who actually do, believe unto their eternal salvation (See John 6 for example),as well as who He(Jesus)dies for (John 10:15, John 15:13).

John 3:16 is not telling me that “if I do the act of believing, then I shall have eternal life”, rather that verse is saying that “if I am one of the believing ones, then I will have eternal life”, without committing itself to how I become “a believing one.”

πᾶς ο πιστεύων (transliterated into English as Pas Ho Pisteuwn), means "all the believing ones" or "everyone believing," or more literally, "the believing all", NOT "That Every Single Person Can or Might Believe." The KJV translates it "whosoever believeth".

The word πᾶς (pas),an adjective which means all, should not have been translated here as whosoever. Many are erroneously teaching that this verse implies "That Every Single Person Can or Might Believe", which is simply not what is being taught in this verse, nor the verse preceeding.

Whosoever was just a bad translation. Literally, (πας ο) would be "The All" and (πιστευων) "Believing",which imparts ownership of the belief to "the "all. So "The Believing All" would be the ones who have everlasting life.

We know from Scripture that the faith(believing) of God's elect(Titus 1:1) is the gift of God(Eph.2:8) given in time, but which[faith which believes unto salvation] was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began(2 Tim. 1:9).We also know that Christ quickened us(Eph.2:5),or made us alive,or regenerated us,and that He does so to whom He will(John 5:21),and that it is not of man's will(Rom.9:16).

This is Gospel Grace in Christ, redeeming grace, persevering grace, grace which cannot and does not fail, but is, effectual grace. Just as He purposed it.

Has God saved the human race? Yes! He saved them(2) in the garden. He saved them(8) in the ark. He saved mankind in the ark as well as animal kind in the ark. Does that mean he saved all the animals? All without exception, every last single one? No! He saved 2 of each kind in the ark, and so saved the race from extinction.

God has saved from eternal damnation and extinction, mankind, with an eternal salvation in Christ Jesus, which was His eternal plan from before time began. History is that which He as Creator has decreed. It is being unveiled and revealed before the eyes of His creatures. All Glory be to God Alone! For He is the All-Glorious One.

"Grace at the start, grace to the end, grace in the middle, grace without fail, grace without mixture, grace without addition, grace that allows no boasting, grace that precludes all glorying but in the LORD." J.S.

 2011/3/25 2:22Profile


Hi AtG. There's no problem at all with your post to me. If you felt there would be, I'd feel as if I had failed you in some way.

The possibility is 'always' there that I may have misunderstood another's words or the direction they were pointing to... that's a definite and only through drawing it out with conversation will I see where I may have done this.

First, I'd like to say that I fully agree with this line of your post - "The 'may' and the 'might' do not introduce 'doubt' about what Christ purchased for us, nor what is promised to those who believe, but rather that UNTIL one 'believes', all is un-fulfilled in the un-believer's experience."

Yes, completely.

Now regarding Brother Makrothumia's post - I'm not sure if we disagree with one another or not. I hoped he come back and straighten out anything that I posted that may have been contrary to what he is seeing in the language.

I prayed before posting this because I need to seperate what emotions are stirred by the sheer mention of calvin.
I won't touch him personally here, but having joined a Reformed church, I assumed that I'd learn more of the assurance of Grace from the Senion citizen group that I joined for mid-week Bible study.
These were folks that had been a part of this Church for most of their lives.
One day stays in my mind and heart as if it happened yesterday, but this was about 5 yrs ago and I can't shake it.
The question was asked and went around the entire class of their assurance of salvation and there wasn't one there that could answer with assurance. The answer was basically, in a shortening of words, "I hope so."
The one man who I loved most, my father's age and like my ideal of a father, broke my heart the most when he said that. He hung his head down and seemed to almost be beating himself. This was beyond just his humility, this was fear and as I knew him, it was unfounded fear.
They have no idea if they are the Elect or not.
I'll end that part from my emotional side with that.

I'd like to say to Brother Makrothumia - if I've misunderstood your doctrine based upon two words, I am deeply sorry and pray you'll see where the misunderstanding stems from --- those two words. I do understand them as AtG has posted in my quote.

GOD Bless and again I say, I've respected your posts from my beginning here at SI.

Thank you to both of you.

Your Sister

 2011/3/25 5:19

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