What Does 'Condemned Already' Mean?

gavel_58Everyone, or so it seems, knows John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Seems simple enough, but even Nicodemus, the Pharisee and Teacher of Israel couldn’t immediately wrap his head around it. (John 3:1-21)

The next two verses are a critical exposition, or a further developing of Jesus’ proposition by Jesus himself to help Nicodemus apply the basic truth to his own life and those that he would teach later.

17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

Again, it seems reasonably simple.

Then, like a cleaver comes, verse 18:

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Verse 18 is divisive, exclusionary, and polarizing. There is no grey, no ‘both & and,’ and no ‘C, all of the above.” It seems obvious that the choice is either to believe or not.

But, what does ‘condemned already’ mean?’



0 thoughts on “What Does 'Condemned Already' Mean?

  1. Morgan Bush says:

    I think Jesus’ words give us a glimpse into the fact that God relates to time in a radically different way than we do. From our point of view, condemnation is something that starts, for an unbeliever, after they die. As Hebrews 9 records “It is appointed to men once to die, and after this comes judgement.” But when does a person really die? Paul wrote that death entered into the world through the sin of one man (Rms 5.12). Therefore, all born subsequent to that entrance were, by definition, born dead. Jesus seems to affirm this point of view with the language of “condemned already.”

  2. Tobie says:

    In the Scriptures, condemnation is related to death. As Adam’s seed, we are busy dying from the moment of conception. Romans 5 is clear on this point. God is not the cosmic party-pooper. Our party is already pooped. Jesus did not come to spoil something that was working just fine. He came to fix it. We are born condemned, and so Jesus has nothing to do with our condemnation. We have a habit of shooting our messengers (Oh, the bliss of ignorance….) And so we are mad at God for sending us the truth in his Son, as though he caused it instead of merely delivering it. As Roy Hession said, knowing the truth includes knowing the truth of our sad state.

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