The Assemblies of God Enrichment Journal has several good articles out this summer and one is Craig Keener on John 3:16. Looks like pretty good stuff especially given his scholarship on John! Here is a segment:
The world is the object of salvation. God loved not just His obedient Son, but also the world that did not know Him and opposed Him.1 God’s love for the entire world reminds us He wants everyone to believe in Jesus and receive salvation.
Some of Jesus’ contemporaries emphasized God’s special love for Israel or for the righteous, but they did not recognize that God loved everyone. In the chapter following John 3:16, however, some Samaritans began to understand. They acknowledged Jesus as the Savior of the world (4:42; cf. 1 John 4:14). The “world” included Samaritans, whom most Jews despised. If it included Samaritans, it also included all other peoples, including those we might be tempted to despise today.
It may take more effort to bring God’s light to people groups shrouded in darkness, but there is no people group and no individual beyond the pale of God’s love. Jesus shed His blood for all. If we honor His sacrifice, we will love and serve across ethnic, cultural, and religious lines.
Because God gave His Son for the world does not mean everyone is saved; it means salvation is available for anyone. John 3:17 emphasizes that God’s purpose in sending His Son was not to condemn the world; it was already condemned. Instead, He sent His Son to save the world. Jesus is the sacrifice that appeases God’s anger for sins, not only ours, but also those of the entire world (1 John 2:2). Salvation is for “whoever believes.”
We should be motivated to share the good news because God desires everyone to receive salvation. When we think of unreached people groups, we remember that Jesus already paid the price for their salvation. However, they still must believe to be saved. This necessity invites us to follow our Lord’s sacrificial example to do whatever necessary to bring the unsaved the message that God loves them so greatly that He gave His own Son.
It is a wonderful thing that God loves the WHOLE world, not just certain people and desires that all come to repentance and salvation through his Son Jesus Christ!