The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






John 3:16

John 3:16 (chapter 3, verse 16 of the Gospel of John) is one of the most widely quoted verses from the Christian Bible. It has been called the "Bible in a nutshell", because it briefly (and accurately) summarizes the Christian faith.


The verse in the original Greek is as follows:

ουτως γαρ ηγαπησεν ο Θεος τον κοσμον, ωστε τον υιον τον μονογενη εδωκεν, ινα πας ο πιστευων εις αυτον μη αποληται αλλ εχη ζωην αιωνιον.

Which could be translated literally as:

For in this way God loved the world: that he gave the unique Son, so that all those trusting in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

The King James version renders it as:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For a comparison of different translations of this verse, see Bible translations.

The text of the verse is also incorporated into the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, as part of a prayer said by the celebrant. This Divine Liturgy is commonly used in the Eastern Orthodox Church and in the Byzantine rite of the Roman Catholic Church.

Popular culture

The phrase "John 3:16" is very short and can be written in large letters on small signs. As a result, some Christians have intentionally displayed the phrase at sporting events (such as football games) so it might be televised. This has led to the phrase being parodied in slogans such as "Austin 3:16" and other variants in popular culture.

When the "John 3:16" signs were displayed at National Football League games in the 1980s, a tall, white man, wearing his hair in an Afro style and dyed in the colors of the rainbow, could often be observed nearby. He was dubbed "The Rainbow Man" by the press.

On September 20, 1987, a strategical blunder committed in an NFL game led to a particularly distinctive parody of the sign being created: The Cincinnati Bengals led the San Francisco 49ers by six points in the closing seconds of a game played at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium; faced with a fourth down in their own territory, Bengals head coach Sam Wyche called a running play. The 49ers had no timeouts remaining, and it was Wyche's belief that this play would successfully run out the clock. However, Wyche overlooked the fact that under NFL rules, the clock is automatically stopped on any play that results in a change of possession - and that is what occurred on this play as the Bengals did not gain enough yardage on it to obtain a first down. There were six seconds remaining when the clock was stopped; the 49ers then took possession of the ball, and on the ensuing play Joe Montana threw a touchdown pass to Jerry Rice, and the successful extra point attempt that followed gave San Francisco a 27-26 victory.

The next time the Bengals played at home, someone hung a banner from the stands that read "Sam 0:06." Stadium security personnel ordered the banner taken down.

Last updated: 02-07-2005 03:04:28
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55