For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.…
I. THE STARTLING PHENOMENON. The judicial separation of mankind into two classes, the believing and the unbelieving, the workers of evil and doers of good (vers. 20-21).
1. When it occurred. At the appearing of Christ (ver. 19).
2. How it was effected. By the appearing of Christ, the light, the effects of which were(1) Illumination, setting in bold relief what was previously obscure, viz., that there are only two varieties of character, the good and the bad (Matthew 4:1, 2).
(2) Separation. Not by the direct action of Christ, but through the indirect action of the truth (Job 24:13).
(3) Arbitration. The man who comes to the light judges himself and separates himself from the darkness, declaring himself to be antagonistic to it. So with the man who turns from the light (Acts 13:46). Thus by coming into the world Christ initiates a judicial process which will culminate in the great day (Malachi 3:18; Matthew 25:26).
II. THE SOLEMN EXPLANATION.
1. Of the behaviour of those who come not to the light.
(1) They love darkness not more than light, as though there lingered some appreciation, but rather than the light which they do not love at all (ver. 20), because it is congenial to the works in which they delight (Ephesians 5:11; Proverbs 2:13; Psalm 82:5); to themselves as children of darkness.
(2) They hate the light as well as love the darkness; for prophesying evil (2 Chronicles 18:7); for suggesting good (chap. 13:26, 27). Hence they shun the light (Job 24:14-16) like Lady Macbeth (Acts 1. scene 5).
2. Of the conduct of those who came to the light.
(1) They have a natural affinity for it (John 18:37).
(2) They are not afraid of the light (Ephesians 5:8-13).Lessons —
1. If a sinner is condemned, himself only, and neither God nor Christ, is to blame.
2. If a sinner refuses to believe the gospel, he must share in the judgment which will ultimately fall upon the world.
(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.