1. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    01 Oct '05 15:083 edits
    John 3:16
    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    Reflecting upon this verse this morning while reading through a book on heaven and hell, I noticed something about it that I had never noticed before. The pronoun "him" has an ambiguous antecedant. Does it refer to the Father or to the Son? I had always assumed it was the Son in whom the Father wanted people to believe, but it could also be read, at least in the English, that the Father wanted people to believe in himself, and sending Christ was how he aimed to accomplish that.

    Has anybody else considered this? Does the Greek have this same ambiguity?

    Does it make any difference to Christian theology, since both are part of the Trinity? It seems like it would, since in the latter interpretation, people who believe in God but not Jesus would have everlasting life, while in the former, people who believe in Jesus but not God would have everlasting life.

    Dr. S
  2. London
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    01 Oct '05 15:34
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    John 3:16
    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in [b]him
    should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    Reflecting upon this verse this morning while reading through a book on heaven and hell, I noticed something about it that I had never noticed before. The pronoun "him" has an ambiguous ...[text shortened]... le in the former, people who believe in Jesus but not God would have everlasting life.

    Dr. S[/b]
    Standard rules of English - the pronoun refers to the immediately preceding relevant noun; here, therefore, it would refer to the Son.

    in the former, people who believe in Jesus but not God would have everlasting life.

    Huh? How does this follow from the verse?

    Moreover, believing in the Son automatically means believing in the Father - it makes no sense to say "I believe Jesus is the Son of God" and not believe in God.
  3. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    01 Oct '05 15:402 edits
    Originally posted by lucifershammer


    [b]in the former, people who believe in Jesus but not God would have everlasting life.


    Huh? How does this follow from the verse[/b]
    Because under your interpretation, it says, "Whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish but have everlasting life." That is, it says belief in Jesus is a sufficient condition, so additional belief in the Father is not necessary.

    It is certainly possible to believe in Jesus but not the Father. This could take many forms, the most obvious of which to me would be accepting Christ as depicted in the New Testament as the real God, while rejecting the God depicted in the Old Testament, believing that the Father is actually a different entity.

    Just as it is possible for people to believe that Jesus is not the son of the Old Testament God, it is possible for people to believe that the Old Testament God is not the father of Jesus, and that a different Father-God sent him.
  4. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    01 Oct '05 15:436 edits
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    Standard rules of English - the pronoun refers to the immediately preceding relevant noun; here, therefore, it would refer to the Son.
    This is not the case.

    I gave my dog to my brother and he died.

    I hired my lawyer to sue my brother and he couldn't believe it.

    The customer asked the cook whether he should have eggs or ham.

    Bill asked Bob if he was a good golfer.

    Jesus had a big meal with Judas and then he died for the sins of the world.
  5. Standard memberfrogstomp
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    01 Oct '05 16:08
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    Because under your interpretation, it says, "Whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish but have everlasting life." That is, is says belief in Jesus is a sufficient condition, so additional belief in the Father is not necessary.

    It is certainly possible to believe in Jesus but not the Father. This could take many forms, the most obvious of whi ...[text shortened]... that the Old Testament God is not the father of Jesus, and that a different Father-God sent him.
    Have you read Valentinus?
  6. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    01 Oct '05 16:12
    Originally posted by frogstomp
    Have you read Valentinus?
    No.

    Frogstomp wrote to Cribs about Valentinus, but he never read his writings.
  7. Standard memberfrogstomp
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    01 Oct '05 16:16
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    No.

    Frogstomp wrote to Cribs about Valentinus, but he never read his writings.
    Read the Gospel of Truth. Don't get sidetracked by the untranslated Coptic words.

    http://www.webcom.com/~gnosis/naghamm/nhlalpha.html
  8. The sky
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    01 Oct '05 16:23
    What does "believe in Jesus / God" mean exactly anyway? Moslems and Baha'i believe in Jesus in a way - they believe that he was a prophet. I believe in Jesus in a way, too - I believe he really existed. It would also be possible to believe in Jesus or God with all the connotations of the God of the bible, but reject them (if I had proof that there were a God who were exactly as the fundamentalists believe, I would be forced to believe, but I don't think I would worship him).
  9. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    01 Oct '05 16:27
    Originally posted by Nordlys
    What does "believe in Jesus / God" mean exactly anyway? Moslems and Baha'i believe in Jesus in a way - they believe that he was a prophet. I believe in Jesus in a way, too - I believe he really existed. It would also be possible to believe in Jesus or God with all the connotations of the God of the bible, but reject them (if I had proof that there were a ...[text shortened]... fundamentalists believe, I would be forced to believe, but I don't think I would worship him).
    It sounds like we need a Greek scholar to describe what John 3:16 literally means. I suspect the word for believeth has a specific connotation.
  10. The sky
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    01 Oct '05 16:35
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    It sounds like we need a Greek scholar to describe what John 3:16 literally means. I suspect the word for believeth has a specific connotation.
    I just looked up that verse in Greek here: http://www.greekbible.com/index.php
    The word used is "pisteuo", which I would have translated with "trust". That sounds quite different than "believe". It also makes more sense to me. But I am not a Greek scholar and have forgotten most of my Greek, so don't trust me. 😉
  11. London
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    01 Oct '05 16:38
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    Because under your interpretation, it says, "Whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish but have everlasting life." That is, is says belief in Jesus is a sufficient condition, so additional belief in the Father is not necessary.

    It is certainly possible to believe in Jesus but not the Father. This could take many forms, the most obvious of whi ...[text shortened]... that the Old Testament God is not the father of Jesus, and that a different Father-God sent him.
    Because under your interpretation, it says, "Whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish but have everlasting life." That is, is says belief in Jesus is a sufficient condition, so additional belief in the Father is not necessary.

    Read back over the verse. The precise referent for 'him' is not Jesus, but 'only Son of God'. Therefore, belief in the Father necessarily follows.

    Further, Jesus is identified as the 'Son of God' in John 1:34. So, believing in Jesus, in the context of the Gospel of John, necessitates believing in the Father.

    This could take many forms, the most obvious of which to me would be accepting Christ as depicted in the New Testament as the real God, while rejecting the God depicted in the Old Testament, believing that the Father is actually a different entity.

    Such an interpretation is to ignore the blindingly obvious. Both Jesus and the author of John's Gospel addressed audiences for whom 'God' meant the OT God and not some other Father-God. When they use the term 'God' it is clear they intend to refer to the OT God worshipped by the Jews.

    Your interpretation is not supported by reasonable exegesis from the texts. It requires reading preconceived notions into the texts and the cultural context.
  12. London
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    01 Oct '05 16:40
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    This is not the case.

    I gave my dog to my brother and he died.

    I hired my lawyer to sue my brother and he couldn't believe it.

    The customer asked the cook whether he should have eggs or ham.

    Bill asked Bob if he was a good golfer.

    Jesus had a big meal with Judas and then he died for the sins of the world.
    Are all of these sentences supposed to be exceptions to the 'preceding noun' rule?

    Sentences (2) and (4) seem to obey the rule.
  13. The sky
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    01 Oct '05 16:45
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    Are all of these sentences supposed to be exceptions to the 'preceding noun' rule?

    Sentences (2) and (4) seem to obey the rule.
    Sentence 2 didn't obey the rule before it was edited. 😉
  14. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    01 Oct '05 16:481 edit
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    [b]Because under your interpretation, it says, "Whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish but have everlasting life." That is, is says belief in Jesus is a sufficient condition, so additional belief in the Father is not necessary.

    Read back over the verse. The precise referent for 'him' is not Jesus, but 'only Son of God'. Therefore, be ...[text shortened]... believing in Jesus, in the context of the Gospel of John, necessitates believing in the Father.[/b]
    No, it doesn't.

    It might under the standard notions of father and son. In that case, it is true that a son cannot be his own father.

    But if you believe in the Trinity, then you believe that one entity can be both father and son. Here, you cannot draw logical conclusions that rely on the former interpretations of father and son, such as "The Son of God's existence requires two entites: the Father and the Son." That claim is false if you accept the Trinity.

    You can't have it both ways.
  15. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    01 Oct '05 16:503 edits
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    Are all of these sentences supposed to be exceptions to the 'preceding noun' rule?

    Sentences (2) and (4) seem to obey the rule.
    In each of them, the antecedent is the first noun in the sentence.

    Your rule says the antecedent is always the preceding relevant noun.

    Your rule is wrong in all cases.

    Thus, your rule is an incorrect characterization of English grammar.
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