"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life."
Probably no verse is used more as an objection to the Calvinist "L" (LIMITED ATONEMENT) than John 3:16. Those who object quote the verse and point to the word "World." They say that Calvinists try to make the word "world" mean "elect." The accusation is that Calvinists are not taking the plain sense of the word "world" here. However, I don't think that this is a fair objection. For one, this is not how Calvinists understand the verse. Maybe some do, but a better understanding is to accept what the text actually says. God loved the whole world--EVERYONE--Universally. This is not saying at all that Jesus died in the place of every person in the same sense. All this part of the verse speaks to is God's LOVE for the world--not who was purchased in the transaction that took place on the cross.
The second half of the verse (in my view) is actually in the favor of a Calvinistic interpretation. "That whosoever believeth...." Now, some emphacize the "whosoever," and emphacize the unlimited nature of that word. However, that word is not alone. It says, "whosoever believeth." The word "whosoever" is limited by the word "believeth." For this reason, all Christians have to "limit" the atonement to some extent. Not everyone is saved--only those who believe.
In the end, John 3:16 is no verse to use as an objection to particular redemption. It is untrue to claim that Calvinists have to go against the plain meaning of the "world" in this text. What the text does imply, is that anyone who believes can be saved. This is something that both Calvinists and non-Calvinists can agree on. We all must preach the gospel in the power of God, knowing that the gospel is freely open to anyone who believes. God is powerful enough to soften the hardest heart and open blind eyes, and to breath life into dead men.
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