“Loving” the World vs Loving “the World” vs Loving the World, John 3:16-21


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“ ‘Loving’ the World vs Loving ‘the World’ vs Loving the World ”

John 3:16-21

May 19, 2019

Faith Presbyterian Church – Morning Service

Pr. Nicoletti

 

Our Scripture reading this morning is from the Gospel of John, chapter three, verses sixteen through twenty-one. Please listen carefully, for this is God’s Word for us this morning.

 

3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

 

This is the word of the Lord.

 

“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” [1 Peter 1:24-25]

 

Let’s pray …

 

Lord, your word is a lamp to our feet

and a light to our path.

And we, as your people, have committed ourselves

to keep your righteous commandments.

In the trials we face,

we ask you, Lord, to give us life according to your word.

As you have accepted our praise this morning,

so now teach us the way you would have us to go.

Your testimonies are our heritage forever,

for they are the joy of our hearts.

Incline our hearts to perform your statutes

forever, to the end.

This we ask in Jesus’s name. Amen.

[Based on Psalm 119:105-108, 111-112]

 

Our text this morning leads us to consider four different categories about three different ways of life. As we look at our text, what we will see is:

– three different visions of God,

– three different kinds of people,

– three different paths for eternity,

– and three different callings for all people.

 

So:

– three different visions of God,

– three different kinds of people,

– three different paths for eternity,

– and three different callings for all people.

 

This morning, in order to think through our text, we will consider those four categories one at a time.

 

So first, our text confronts us with three different visions of God. And we see that as we reflect on those opening words: “For God so loved the world.”

 

And right off the bat, depending on how you define some of the key words in that phrase, you end up with three different visions of God – three possible characterizations of who God is.

 

The first is a God who loves the world’s ways.

 

This vision implies that God cannot really love the world unless he loves and accepts the ways of the world (or, more specifically, God must love and accept the same ways of the world that we love and accept – whatever those may be).

 

This God’s role, therefore, is not so much to tell us what to do or how to direct our lives, but to support the goals we already have.

 

In the world the Apostle John was writing in, the pagan gods did not love their worshippers … but they filled a similar supporting role. They were not there to direct and shape your life, but to help and affirm the goals and desires you already had for your life.

 

And the God of secularism fills a similar role for many in our culture. This secular God is there to love us by blessing our desires, goals, and ways.

 

And so, this vision hinges on a specific meaning of God’s “love” in verse sixteen. God’s love, it would claim, is found in that he loves what we want him to love. He loves our achievements and our glory. He loves our comfort and our worldly security. He loves the forms of pleasure we seek. He loves whatever it is that we want in life. And within this vision, the phrase “For God so loved the world” makes sense … so long as that is what we mean by “love.”

 

That is the first vision of God, and it is a common vision of God and God’s love in our secular culture.

 

The second vision many bring to our text hinges not on how we understand the word “love” but more on how we understand the word “world.”

 

Because the second view takes for granted that God can’t really love the world. So, the definition of “world” must be modified to mean something else – to mean some subset of the world of which we are a part. In the first century the average Jewish reader of John’s gospel would be comfortable with a statement of God’s love for Israel … but not of God’s love for “the world.”

 

And so today. In some Reformed Christian settings, the same tendency can be seen in the desire to claim that “the world” in verse sixteen must really mean “the elect”. In other subsets of our culture we find people, both religious and secular, who are confident of God’s love for people like them – God’s love for their tribe – but they are not so sure about God’s love for other people outside their tribe.

 

And so, the second vision many bring to our text is one in which God loves us, and people like us … but he doesn’t really love “the world” … or at least not “the world” in the ordinary meaning of the word.

 

The third vision of God is the one found in the original meaning of our text. And it is a vision of a God who loves the world redemptively.

 

This vision sees the love of God extend in some way to the entire world – but it is not a love that simply affirms where the world is at. Instead, it loves the world enough to change those in the world, even at great cost to God himself.

 

  1. A. Carson writes: “God’s love [for the world described here] is to be admired not because the world is so big and includes so many people, but because the world is so bad […]. The world is so wicked that John elsewhere forbids Christians to love it or anything in it (1 Jn. 2:15-17). There is no contradiction between this prohibition and the fact that God does love it. Christians are not to love the world with the selfish love of participation; God loves the world with the self-less, costly love of redemption.” [Carson, 205]

 

In other words, our text acknowledges that the world is in rebellion against God, and that God loves it anyway – and not because the world’s rebellion is insignificant, but because he is a God who loves with a self-less, costly, redemptive love.

 

The love God has for the world in John 3:16 is not a feckless love that just shrugs off whatever the world does. That wouldn’t be particularly impressive. It’s also not a selective love that loves those easiest to love. It is instead a love that leads God to intervene for the good of a world that has committed grievous sin and rebellion against him.

 

John Piper points out that this is in fact the common use of the word “world” in John. And so, the significance of the love described comes from the fact that the word “world” really does mean “world” and not just some subset of the world. It describes, he says: “the great mass of fallen humanity that needs salvation.” [Piper, “God So Loved the World: Part 1”]

 

B.B. Warfield similarly highlights that the point of John 3:16 is not that God has loved the world because it is so lovable, or that he loved a subset of the world that is more lovable, “but that the world is so bad that it takes a great kind of love to love it at all, and much more to love it as God has loved it when he gave his Son for it.” [Quoted in Dr. John W. Tweeddale, “What Does ‘World’ Mean in John 3:16?”]

 

The third vision is of a God who is willing to love a world in rebellion against him – even as he demands that those he love change their ways.

 

In our culture we are increasingly losing that distinction – between loving a person and loving their ways or their beliefs.

 

My daughters are currently ages eight, five, and three. And at different times of life, they have believed that chocolate and jellybeans would make a good balanced diet, that having a wrestling match at the top of a flight of stairs was a fun way to pass the time, and that biting was a reasonable tool in conflict resolution.

 

My wife and I opposed those beliefs and practices. And our opposition to those things was not at all in tension with our love for them. It was a result of our love for them. They didn’t always see it that way – but it was still true.

 

God’s love is more than mere affirmation. He wants to be more than just our assistant. And his loving offer of salvation embraces not just our tribe or people like us, but the world. He loved the world in a way that cost him. And he loved the world in a way aimed at changing it.

 

This is the vision of God set before us in our text.

 

But that love of God also requires a response. And our text quickly outlines how people respond to that love. And as we reflect on it, we can consider three kinds of people who respond to God’s love offered in Christ.

 

We see the first two kinds in verses nineteen through twenty. There we read: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”

 

And there are actually two very different groups who would “hate the light” because of their works.

 

The first group is what we might call “sincere lovers of darkness” … and that sounds a little odd, so let me explain what I mean. This group includes those who sincerely embrace beliefs and deeds that the Christian God of the Bible tells them to reject. They embrace them and do not deny their embrace of those things, and their belief is that it is not they who are mistaken, but the God of the Bible.

 

This category would include many pagans at the time the Apostle John was writing, and includes many secular people in our culture today.

 

And people in this category often find themselves puzzled as to why the God of the Christian Scriptures would reject some of the things they embrace – why he would call evil what they consider good.

 

If this describes you this morning – if you find yourself similarly puzzled – then I want to ask you to consider again for a moment my daughters. At a young age, they could not comprehend why a diet of nothing but candy would be bad for them. They looked at us in confusion when we rushed in to stop them from wrestling at the top of a flight of stairs. They couldn’t see any realistic alternative to conflict resolution besides sinking their teeth into their sister’s flesh.

 

That is the distance in understanding between a young child and a parent. How much more is the distance between a small human creature and an infinite Creator?

 

If the God of the Bible exists (and he does), then we must consider that even if we cannot see why he would prohibit one thing or command another … like little children told not to wrestle at the top of the stairs, perhaps we should take the word of one wiser than we are. Perhaps God knows better.

 

That is the first group – the sincere lovers of what the Bible calls darkness.

 

The second are the hypocritical lovers of darkness.

 

These are those who agree with the God of the Bible regarding which deeds are good and which are evil. But they then selectively avoid the light in order to present an image to those around them that they are more righteous than they actually are. They love the concealing nature of the darkness. They hide their evil deeds in the dark, and then they claim that those evil deeds do not exist.

 

This was true of many of the Jewish leaders in John’s day and is true of a range of people – both religious and secular – today.

 

Our text challenges us to consider whether it includes us as well.

 

What ugly or evil deeds … which you admit are ugly and evil … do you try to hide and functionally deny? Where does moral hypocrisy show up in your life? Our text tells us that such hypocrisy leads some to avoid the true light because they want to maintain their image of moral superiority when they know that the light would reveal a much less impressive picture.

 

Is that dynamic at work in your life?

 

That is the second type of person who responds to the light: they hypocritical lover of darkness.

 

The third kind of person comes to us in verse twenty-one: “But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

 

Who is this talking about?

 

Well first, the phrase would seem to be a parallel to an Old Testament phrase that means “to keep faith.” So, it is describing those who live faithfully to God. [Brown, 135]

 

But lest we immediately imagine this referring to a self-righteous few [Carson, 208], Augustine, in his homily on this text helps us get a deeper sense of what is included here.

 

Augustine, explaining this phrase, says “When you have started to be displeased by what you have done, that is when your good works begin, because you have found fault with your bad works. The beginning of good works is the confession of bad works. You then are doing the truth and coming to the Light. What does ‘you are doing the truth’ mean? You do not flatter yourself, you do not fool yourself, you do not praise yourself. You do not say, ‘I am just,’ when in fact you are iniquitous – then you begin to do the truth. But you come to the light so that your works can be seen as having been done in God. Because even in being displeased with your sin, that would not displease you unless God had shed his light upon you, unless his Truth had showed it to you.” [Augustine, Homily on the Gospel of John 12.14 (p. 240)]

 

The third kind of person seeks to be faithful to God. Which begins with acknowledging that his deeds really are evil, and he really does need the grace and help of God. They are honest about themselves and come humbly to God’s light.

 

So – the sincere lovers of darkness, the hypocritical lovers of darkness, and the honest lovers of light.

 

These are the three kinds of people our text addresses.

 

With these three visions of God, and these three kinds of people, we are then led to consider three paths for eternity. And our text pushes us there – its focus is on where our paths lead us.

 

In verse eighteen we read of a path that leads to condemnation … and in verse sixteen we read that that condemnation takes the form of perishing – and not just one-time perishing, but eternal perishing is implied, in contrast with “eternal life.”

 

Our text tells us that all we have spoken of so far leads to questions of eternal destiny.

 

And as there are three kinds of people with three visions of God, we learn that if the Christian Scriptures are true, if that third vision of God is correct (and it is), then there are three possible paths for eternity:

  • Sincere perishing
  • Self-righteous perishing, and
  • Dependent eternal life

 

As we begin to consider the idea of eternal perishing, we need to acknowledge the question of why such a thing should exist at all. Why can’t God just bless everyone for all eternity?

 

In an article titled “The Bad Place,” published in The New Yorker back in January, Vinson Cunningham writes about hell, and poses this question – he asks: “What modern believer wouldn’t want to cast off this old, sadistic barrier to faith in a loving God? What kind of deity draws such a hard line between his friends and his enemies, and holds an eternal grudge? Surely the loss of Hell – even the idea of such a loss – should come as a bit of a relief.”

 

“Why,” many find themselves asking, “why would God allow such a thing as hell? Why would he do that?”

 

Doesn’t it make sense to see the doctrine of hell just “one of Christianity’s cruder means of maintaining [social] control [of people]”? [Cunningham]

 

N.D. Wilson speaks of an encounter in which a similar question was put to him.: “When I was in a conversation with some friends in graduate school,” he explains, “we were in a pub, and [one woman] looked at me and she says ‘Do you think I’m going to hell? […] My immediate answer was just a question: Don’t you want to? You just told me, even if there was this God, you wouldn’t serve him. If this God turns out to be real, do you want to spend eternity with him, do you want to be in his presence? If you hate him, if you do not want to be with him, why would he keep you there? It’s a kindness of him not to make you. I don’t think anyone in hell would say ‘I want to be here,’ but all of them, I think, will want to be there more than in heaven.”

 

What is Wilson saying here? If you are one who insists that any good God must approve of all that you approve of, then if the God of the Bible exists, aren’t you saying that you wouldn’t want to be with him? If in heaven he is the king, and all serve him … then despite your complaints, you don’t actually want to be there.

 

Hell is a terrible place. It’s a place where creatures, who were designed for God’s presence, are cut off from him forever. God is the source of all good, all satisfaction, all comfort and pleasure – and to be cut off from him is to be cut off from all of that and more. It is to be left to ourselves. And those who know themselves well know just what a terrifying prospect that is – the self-consuming internal flames of our own envy and anger and greed and vainglory for all eternity are far worse than any external flames a medieval artist may imagine.

 

And yet … Wilson’s point is that as bad as that would be, those who demand God love what they love and hate what they hate, who embrace a way of life and reject a Christian God who would oppose them … they are saying they’d prefer such a hell to living eternally in a heaven where the God of the Bible is king.

 

As C.S. Lewis has said: “The doors of hell are locked on the inside.” – to keep that God out.

 

Is that you? If so, have you ever thought of things in those terms? And either way … is that really the choice you want to make?

 

Is it really better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven?

 

The first group included in our text are those who are sincerely perishing – openly rejecting the kingdom of God.

 

The second are the self-righteous perishing. They are those who insist that their moral record is superior to others, who cannot accept a God who would love those they deem inferior to themselves, and who cannot accept that entrance into the kingdom of God is not based on their personal moral superiority. The cannot bring themselves to ask for grace.

 

C.S. Lewis gives a great illustration of this in his book The Great Divorce. It is a longer quote I’m going to read … but I think it is worth it.

 

Lewis, in this book, imagines conversations between souls in heaven (who are referred to as the “bright people”) and souls in hell (who are referred to as the “ghosts”). In the imagined story, the bright souls of heaven are urging the ghosts to leave hell and enter heaven.

 

Lewis describes one such interaction between a ghost who used to be a boss at work, and one of his former employees who was a murderer. The murderer is in heaven, one of the bright souls, and the boss is in hell, one of the ghosts. And the ghost is indignant:

 

“What I’d like to understand,” said the Ghost, “is what you’re here for, as pleased as Punch, you, a bloody murderer, while I’ve been walking the streets down there and living in a place like a pigstye all these years. […] Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?”

“No. Not as you mean. [the bright soul replied,] I do not look at myself. I have given up myself. I had to, you know, after the murder. That was what it did for me. And that was how everything began.”

“Personally,” said the Big Ghost with an emphasis which contradicted the ordinary meaning of the word, “Personally, I’d have thought you and I ought to be the other way round. That’s my personal opinion.”

“Very likely we soon shall be,” said the other. “If you’ll stop thinking about it.”

“Look at me, now,” said the Ghost, slapping its chest (but the slap made no noise). “I gone straight all my life. I don’t say […] I had no faults, far from it. But I done my best all my life, see? I done my best by everyone, that’s the sort of chap I was. I never asked for anything that wasn’t mine by rights. If I wanted a drink I paid for it and if I took my wages I done my job, see? That’s the sort I was and I don’t care who knows it. […] I’m asking for nothing but my rights. […] I got to have my rights same as you, see?”

“Oh no. It’s not so bad as that. [said the bright soul] I haven’t got my rights, or I should not be here. You will not get yours either. You’ll get something far better. Never fear.”

“That’s just what I say. I haven’t got my rights. I always done my best and I never done nothing wrong. […] I’m only telling you the sort of chap I am. I only want my rights. I’m not asking for anybody’s bleeding charity.”

“Then do. [said the bright soul] At once. Ask for the Bleeding Charity. Everything is here for the asking and nothing can be bought.”

“That may be very well for you, I daresay. If they choose to let in a bloody murderer all because he makes a poor mouth at the last moment, that’s their lookout. But I don’t see myself going in the same boat with you, see? Why should I? I don’t want charity. I’m a decent man and if I had my rights I’d have been here long ago and you can tell them I said so.”

The other shook his head. “You can never do it like that,” he said. […] “And it isn’t exactly true, you know.” […]

“What isn’t true?” asked the Ghost sulkily.

“You weren’t a decent man and you didn’t do your best. We none of us were and we none of us did. Lord bless you, it doesn’t matter. There is no need to go into it all now.”

“You!” gasped the Ghost. “You have the face to tell me I wasn’t a decent chap?”

“Of course. [replied the bright soul] Must I go into all that? […] All the men who worked under you felt the same. You made it hard for us, you know. And you made it hard for your wife too and for your children.”

“You mind your own business, young man,” said the Ghost. […] “And I’ll tell you another thing. […] You can clear off, see? You’re not wanted. I may be only a poor man but I’m not making pals with a murderer, let alone taking lessons from him. […] You don’t suppose I’d go with you? […]

“Tell them I’m not coming, see? I’d rather be damned than go along with you. I came here to get my rights, see? Not to go snivelling along on charity […] I’ll go home. […] That’s what I’ll do. […] I didn’t come here to be treated like a dog. I’ll go home.”

[And the ghost turned and walked away.]

[Lewis, 25-31 (chapter four)]

 

Can you see yourself … just a little … in that ghost, trudging away from the gates of heaven rather than humbling yourself and admitting your moral and spiritual need? Does pride, and self-righteousness like that emerge in your heart as well? In at least your secret thoughts? Be honest with yourself.

 

In the Christian understanding, eternal perishing and condemnation is not some disjointed abrupt change that happens at death. It is the natural consequence of the trajectory of our lives in rebellion against the God of the Christian Scriptures – whether that rebellion takes the form of rejecting God’s calling on our lives, self-righteously demanding that God consider us superior to others, or a creative combination of the two (which is increasingly common in our culture).

 

That is what our text points to in verses eighteen through twenty.

 

And others have observed it as well. Even that article in The New Yorker ends with reflection that perhaps the idea of hell cannot be dismissed as easily as some would like.

 

The natural consequence of both the self-asserting and the self-righteous pattern of life is to reject the God of Christian Scripture, and therefore to choose condemnation and eternal perishing over eternal communion with that God.

 

The third alternative, we read in verse sixteen, is to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and receive eternal life. It is to accept a vision of God where God loves us not because we are so lovely but because his love is so great. It is to accept that many of our desires and deeds are dark, and to own that darkness as our own, and desire to be cleansed of it. It is to trust not in our own moral achievements, but the achievements of Christ in his death and resurrection on our behalf, as the basis for our right relationship with God.

 

And then, humbly accepting that gift, it is to enter the kingdom of God in joy and in utter dependence on Jesus Christ and his gracious, unmerited love towards us.

 

The path to eternal fellowship with God our Maker does not claim anything by rights and does not demand that God conform to our opinions but accepts that we must conform to him. And as it does, it marvels at the undeserved offer of eternal communion with God, and humbly accepts it.

 

The third path for eternity is humble dependence on God.

 

We have considered three visions of God, three kinds of people, and three paths for eternity.

 

The final question is: What are we to do with this information? What is this text calling us to? How are we supposed to respond to all of this?

 

And once more, three callings emerge, relating to those three patterns of life. We see that:

  • We are called to turn from works of darkness,
  • We are called to turn to Jesus in faith,
  • And we are called to imitate our heavenly Father.

 

First, we are called to turn from works of darkness. That means that we turn from them even if we don’t understand why they are dark. As I said earlier, when they were younger I could not easily explain to my daughters why a candy-only diet, a wrestling game at the top of the stairs, or a biting-based conflict-resolution strategy were bad things. My daughters calling was not to understand, but to believe me when I said it. And then … as they have grown, they have understood more and more.

 

This is what St. Anselm called “faith seeking understanding.” It’s not a rejection of seeking to understand God’s ways … but it’s also a willingness to accept God’s teaching and commands before we understand. It is a commitment to trust God’s word to us for our lives, and as we trust him, to seek to grow in our understanding of why he has said to us what he has said to us. It is the right disposition of a child towards her parent, and of a creature towards his Creator.

 

What would that look like for you? What works that the Bible calls darkness would you need to turn from?

 

Some of those might be big. But many will be small. Augustine, preaching on this text, reminds us to think not just of big, grand sins – but the lesser noticed sins of thought and word. Because, Augustine says, “if many sins are neglected, they kill.”

 

“Indeed,” he goes on, “the raindrops that fill rivers are small, the grains of sand are small; but if a big basket of sand is placed on your shoulders, it weighs you down and crushes you. This is what bilge water does, what breaking waves do when neglected; they seep bit by bit into the bilges [of a ship’s hull]; seeping in over time and not pumped out, they sink the ship.” [Augustine, Homily on the Gospel of John 12.14 (p. 241)]

 

First, we turn from our works of darkness. Where do you need to do that – in ways big and small?

 

Second, we turn to Jesus in faith. That is what is highlighted in verses sixteen and seventeen. As we turn from our works of darkness, we do not foolishly put our faith in the better version of ourselves that we hope to achieve, but we put our faith in Jesus Christ, the savior who gave himself for us.

 

And as we do, we should be confident in his love.

 

John Calvin, commenting on this passage writes that verse sixteen is meant: “to magnify the fervor of the love of God towards us. For as men are not easily convinced that God loves them, in order to remove all doubt, he has expressly stated that we are so very dear to God that, on our account, he did not even spare his only-begotten Son. Since, therefore, God has most abundantly testified his love towards us, whoever is not satisfied with this testimony, and still remains in doubt, offers a high insult to Christ, as if he had been an ordinary man given up at random to death. But we ought rather to consider that, in proportion to the estimation in which God holds his only-begotten Son, so much the more precious did our salvation appear to him, for the ransom of which he chose that his only-begotten Son should die.” [Calvin, 124]

 

Where do you need to more sincerely, from the heart, turn to Jesus Christ in faith? Where have you doubted God’s love for you and how should the fact that God the Father was willing to send and sacrifice his beloved Son for you – how should that shape your understanding of God’s love for you?

 

Our text calls all of us to turn from our dark ways and turn towards Christ in faith – both in an initial act of faith, and again and again throughout our Christian lives.

 

Finally, … along with those two callings, we might add one more that is implied more than stated.

 

For those who do put their faith in Christ, we should also consider our calling to imitate our heavenly Father – which in this text means that we are called to love the world.

 

And so often as Christians we fail to do this rightly.

 

We either, on the one hand, love the world’s ways and are tempted to join in on its ways, or we hate not just the ways of the world, but the people who embrace those ways.

 

And neither of those options is the way of our heavenly Father.

 

Our Father did not embrace the dark ways of this world, but he also did not wall himself off from it. Instead he loved the world with a costly, redemptive love, and we are called to do the same. We are called, like our heavenly Farther, to love the world around us, to love the world even in its rebellion against God, to love the world even in its rejection of us, to love the world in such a way that we earnestly long for the cleansing and salvation of those around us who hate, or mock, or dismiss us and our God. Because that is what our heavenly Father did.

 

Where have you fallen in to either despising the world or loving its ways? Where might you be called to love individuals and groups in the world with costly, redemptive love, like our heavenly Father?

 

Our text this morning has led us to consider three visions of God, three kinds of people, three paths for eternity, and three callings that God extends to us.

 

That’s a lot of points, and that can feel a bit complex.

 

But at the center of it all is God’s love for us. God the Father so loved the world that he was willing to give the thing most precious to him, God the Son – he was willing to give his beloved Son over to death, in order to save us from the path of self-destruction we had set out on. He was willing to give his Son to cleanse and free us from our sin and our self-righteousness, and to make us adopted members of his family so that we might spend eternity in joyful fellowship with him. And in light of that, he calls us to turn from our dark ways, to turn to Jesus in faith, and to imitate his love for those who do not yet know him.

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

 

Those are the facts. How will you respond?

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

This sermon draws on material from:

Augustine. Homilies on the Gospel of John 1-40. Translated by Edmund Hill. Edited by Allan D. Fitzgerald. The Works of Saint Augustine. Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2009.

Brown, Raymond E. The Gospel According to John. vol.1. Anchor. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1966.

Calvin, John. Commentary on the Gospel According to John. Vol. 1. Translated by William Pringle. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1847 (2005 Reprint).

Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. PNTC. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991.

Cunningham, Vinson. “The Bad Place.” The New Yorker. January 21, 2019. (Published online as “How the Idea of Hell Has Shaped the Way We Think” on January 14. 2019: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/01/21/how-the-idea-of-hell-has-shaped-the-way-we-think)

Lewis, C.S. The Great Divorce. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1946.

Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John. NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1971.

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