Yes friends, it’s time for bad Arminian argument #2. This is the big one. I don’t think in the history of Arminian argumentation there has been as big a poor argument as this one so we’ve saved it up for the day of days, Reformation Day.
here it is, brace yourselves.
Bad Arminian Argument #2
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The argument goes like this:
1. It says “whoever”. In fact, in the KJV it says “whosoever”.
2. That means it’s an open invitation to anyone. God will grant salvation to whoever believes in the Son, whoever that might be – not just on the basis of who He “chooses”.
This is a whole theology built upon a single word, “whoever”, latching upon just one possible meaning of a word with a wide semantic range.
Contrary to the Arminian assertion, the greek word underlying “whoever” says nothing about choice.
Let’s break down the verse into it’s constituent pieces.
God so loved the world
that he gave his only son
that whoever believes in him
1 should not perish
2 but should have eternal life.
Our key phrase, “whoever believes in him” is a simple participle (best thought of simplistically as a verbal noun) in the greek, in this case “pas ho pisteuwn” (the “w” is an omega, just pronounce a long “oh”). A more rudimentary translation would be “all the ones that believe” or “all the believing ones”.
So, we have, “God so loved the world that He gave his only Son so that all the believing ones in Him should not perish…” etc.
Quite rightly, when the English translators turned to this phrase they sought something a bit more eloquent. So they chose the word “whosoever”. The problem with “whoseover”, however (pardon the small joke), is that one of it’s meanings is to imply a choice – a choice that simply isn’t there in the greek.
So, on the basis of the verse alone, we can confidently assert that no choice is either present or absent. It doesn’t address the issue. It simply tells us that the “believing ones” will be saved. It makes no comment upon how one becomes a believing one.
Of course, if you want to know how someone becomes a believing one then look no further that the beginning of the same chapter where Jesus tells Nicodemus and us very clearly.
John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
The Spirit gives birth wherever He wishes. It’s down to Him, not us. How could we possibly do it on our own? We’re flesh, and flesh only gives birth to flesh.