John 3:16 For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him.
What is meant by ‘the world’?
(a) Some think that ‘the world’ here means all of God’s elect:-
Hutcheson – ‘The world, whereby we are not to understand all and every man…but only his own in the world among lost mankind.’
John Flavel – ‘This must respect the elect of God in the world; such as do or shall actually believe, as it is exegetically expressed in the next words, “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish.” Those whom he calls the world in that, he styles believers in this expression; these are the objects of his love.’
Gill – ‘not every man in the world is here meant, or all the individuals of human nature; for all are not the objects of God’s special love, which is here designed, as appears from the instance and evidence of it, the gift of his Son: nor is Christ God’s gift to every one; for to whomsoever he gives his Son, he gives all things freely with him; which is not the case of every man.…
It is a commonplace with preachers to point out that as Christians we have two addresses, two places of residence. This dual citizenship is expressed frequently, and in varied ways, throughout Scripture.
In writing to the Corinthians, for example, the apostle Paul greets ‘the church or God in Corinth…those sanctified in Christ Jesus’ (1 Cor 1:1). They are ‘in Corinth’, and they are at the same time ‘in Christ’. The same apostle writes to ‘all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi’ (Phil 1:1), and later in that same letter makes it clear where our primary home is: ‘our citizenship is in heaven’ (Phil 3:20).…
Salvation in Christ encompasses much more than personal spirituality. Both the material world and its people cry out for freedom (Rom 8:18-25), and it is this that God’s redemption is moving everything towards. Although the consummation is ‘not yet’, the people of God can, and should, work towards making this a reality ‘now’.
‘The world’ usually means for us the sum total of things and people around us. The focus may be
(a) physical and geographical – this planet, with its chemistry, climate, population, raw materials;
(b) racial and anthropological – people of all nations, as when we speak of ‘world health’, ‘world peace’, or ‘world opinion’.
(c) sociological and cultural – an outlook and pattern of communal life, as in our notion of the ‘civilized world’, the ‘communist world, or on the contrast between the ‘ancient world’ and the ‘modern world’.…