Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes


John 3:36-4:2
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: John 3:36
v36: After declaring these truths John challenged his own disciples saying that they too must believe because whenever the testimony about Jesus is given people’s hearts are tested. Those who believe in Jesus, with the kind of faith that submits to Him and chooses to obey His commands, are immediately placed into a life-giving relationship with God. Those who refuse to become His disciples prove that they are already separated from God, and if they don’t repent, their life here on earth will be a foretaste of the loneliness and misery they will experience after they die.

Monday: John 3:36
v36 (continued): By this one statement John declared salvation by grace as clearly as Paul. He said, “The one who believes in (into) the Son has eternal life” (literal). Notice John didn’t say the one who believes will have eternal life; he said that person has it now. The moment a person believes in Jesus, eternal life begins because eternal life results from being reconnected to God, not living in a place called heaven. Yes, we have a glorious future waiting for us, but those joys aren’t the essence of eternal life. That life is the life that constantly flows from God. When we die, our body with all its limitations, passions and weaknesses will fall away and our spirit will enjoy uninterrupted fellowship with God, but the intimacy of that fellowship doesn’t need to wait until we step across. John says it begins now.

Tuesday: John 3:36
v36 (continued): John’s statement doesn’t stop with believers receiving eternal life; he continues on with a warning to those who choose to reject Jesus. He said, “But the one who disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (literal). It’s significant that John changed a key word in the second half of this statement. He didn’t warn those who do not believe in Jesus, but those who do not obey Him. Unbelief can be the result of ignorance, but disobedience is an informed choice (A. Plummer, The Gospel According to John, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1893, p.112). This careful choice of words indicates that he is not talking here about people who have never heard of Jesus; he’s talking about those who have encountered Him in one way or another, those who understood who He is but then refused to follow Him as His disciple. This means that the kind of faith that brings eternal life is not merely an intellectual assent to a particular doctrine about Jesus but a deep decision to believe in Him and obey His commands.

Wednesday: John 3:36
v36 (continued): John says that the person who does not “obey the Son” will not “see life” which certainly means that they will not gain a restored relationship with God which produces eternal life, but it may also mean that they will not even understand eternal life when they see it at work in others (Jn 3:3). Again we must keep in mind that he was talking here about those who willfully reject the Son, not those who are ignorant of who He is or the salvation He brought to us. Just as those who believe in Jesus immediately begin to experience eternal life, those who reject Him are already experiencing what it means to be separated from God in their hearts. It’s impossible, and always will be, to exist anywhere apart from God because His Spirit fills the universe (Ac 17:28). But it’s possible in this life to be immersed in His Spirit, yet remain alone, isolated from Him in our hearts, and in the future to be kept in a place far away from Him and His people (2Th 1:9-10). John’s words were meant to warn us that this possibility exists. In His justice God will allow us to separate ourselves from Him forever, if we choose. He calls it the “wrath of God” because it’s horrible, and at the final judgment God will drive away from Himself those who have refused Him. God doesn’t hate people, not anyone, not even the worst sinner. But He does hate the evil they do, and He won’t let them continue doing it forever. Nor will He let them trouble beyond the grave those who love Him. He will put a barrier between them (Mt 25:41; Rev 20:15; 22:14-15).

Thursday: John 4:1
v1: The apostle John has already alerted us that John the Baptist is in danger (Jn 3:24). He will soon be arrested, held for a time in a dungeon and then executed (Mk 6:17-18; Lk 3:19-20) by Herod Antipas. This “king” was the son of Herod the Great and ruled (under the Romans) much of northern Israel (Galilee) as well as a strip of land along the eastern side of the Jordan River and extending as far south as the upper half of the Dead Sea (Perea). This fact may help us understand why Jesus left Judea when “the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus makes and baptizes more disciples than John” (literal). Matthew 4:12 says, “Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee” which may mean that news of John’s arrest arrived during this same period of time (Mk 1:14). Jesus had already awakened the hostility of religious leaders (Jn 2:13-21), so to be compared to John the Baptist and have it said that He was influencing even more people than John, would have been received by Him as a warning that He too was in danger.

Friday: John 4:2
v2: Because the apostle John was with Jesus in Judea (Jn 3:22) he corrects the Pharisees’ report that Jesus was baptizing. He informs us, his readers, that “Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were.” This is the sort of observation an eyewitness might make to correct a misstatement, but it also brings to our attention the fact that there was a distinct difference in the way John the Baptist and Jesus conducted their ministries: John personally baptized people, but Jesus did not. The question that arises, of course, is why didn’t Jesus baptize? Why didn’t He personally administer this symbolic act? The apostle John provides no answer, so all we can do is guess. One possible explanation might be found in their different messages. John baptized in order to prepare people to escape the judgment the coming Messiah would bring (Mt 3:7-12), but Jesus invited people to believe that He was the Messiah.

Saturday: John 4:2
v2 (continued): His own baptism would transform for His followers the symbolic meaning of this act from a plea to God to wash away our sins, to a watery burial in which we fully surrender to God’s path that leads to a cross. As we noted earlier the concept of a dying and rising Messiah was not understood or accepted by anyone at that point in Israel’s history (Jn 3:32), except John the Baptist himself (Jn 3:33), so Jesus’ disciples were probably ministering baptism in a manner, and with a meaning, similar to John’s. They may have used baptism to help people repent of their sins in order to prepare them to believe in Jesus, but it’s likely that it did not have the full meaning that it would take on after His death and resurrection. In the future people would be baptized in the “name of Jesus Christ,” joining Him by faith in His death and resurrection (Ac 2:38; 8:12, 16; 22:16; Ro 6:3; Gal 3:27; Col 2:12). Had He personally baptized people before this true meaning of Christian baptism could be understood, its proper reference to Him might have been lost.  


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