John Brown of Broughton (1784–1858) on John 3:16

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in John 3:16


b. The Pleas.

In support of this petition our Lord urges two pleas: the first, that it is by this unity of mind, will, aim, and operation, that the world is to be brought to believe and know that the Father had sent the Son; and the second, that this unity, with the effects to which it was sure to lead, was the great object why He had given his people the glory which the Father had given him.

With regard to the first of these pleas, let us inquire, first, What is the object our Lord contemplates as. to be served by this unity? and then, How this unity is fitted to gain this object. The object is, “that the world may be made to believe and know that the Father had sent the Son.” “The world,” here, as generally in the New Testament, means mankind; as when it is said, “God so loved the world, that He gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life;” “sent him not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”1 Though it is, and cannot but be, the will, the object of complacential regard to him whose nature as well as name is love,2 that all men should be “saved and come to the knowledge of the truth,” it is nowhere stated in the Scriptures that it is the purpose of God that all men shall be saved, by being made to know and believe that he hath sent his Son, and thus brought to receive his message, to embrace him as their Savior, and to become partakers of his salvation. On the contrary, we have abundant evidence that some men–many men–shall perish in, and for, their sin and unbelief.

But it is stated–very plainly stated–in Scripture, that it is the will of God that the gospel of the kingdom should be “preached to every creature under heaven;” and not only so, but also that it is his determination that vast multitudes of men, of all kindreds, and people, and tongues, and nations, shall be brought, through the faith of that gospel, into the possession of the blessings which it at once reveals and conveys; and that a period may be looked for when the great body of mankind living on the earth at the same time shall be brought to the knowledge and profession of the Christian faith, and to the enjoyment of the Christian salvation. It was distinctly promised that “in Abraham’s seed all the families of the earth were to be blessed;”3 that “to Shiloh was to be the gathering of the people,”4 and that” the nations”–the Gentiles–were to “rejoice with God’s people;”5 that” all the ends of the earth were to remember, and turn to the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations should worship before him;”6 that” He should have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth;” that” all kings should fall down before him, and all nations should serve him;” that” men should be blessed in him, and all nations should call him blessed;”7 that “Jehovah’s name should be one over all the earth,”8 and that” the God of the whole earth should he be called;”9 that the Messiah should be a “light to lighten the Gentiles, and. Jehovah’s salvation to the end of the earth;”10 that “the glory of the Lord should be revealed, and that all flesh should see it together.”11 “The world’s knowing and believing that the Father had sent the Son” is just equivalent to ‘mankind enjoying eternal life in the knowledge of the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he bas sent men experimentally” knowing God as the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, blessing them with all heavenly and spiritual blessings in him.” This, then, is the object which our Lord contemplates as to be gained by the union of his church for which he prays, and which he employs as a plea with the Father, that this Union may be effected and’ maintained by his keeping and consecrating them. John Brown, An Exposition of Our Lord’s Intercessory Prayer, (Edinburgh: William Oliphant and Co., 1866), 161-163. [Some spelling modernized; footnote values modified; and underlining mine.]


1John iii. 16, 17.

2I Tim. ii. 3, 4; 1 John iv. 16.

3Gen. xxii. 18.

4Gen. xlix. 10.

5Deut. xxxii. 43.

6Ps. xxii. 27.

7Ps. lxm 8, 11, 17.

8Zech. xiv. 9.

9Isa. liv. 5.

10Isa. xlix. 6.

11Isa. xl. 5.

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