A Look at Yahuchanan (John) 3:16

Will Be or Could Be

Many people seem to think that Yahuchanan 3:16 gives them carte blanche entrance into the body of Yahushua haMashiach (the Anointed) if all they do is believe that He is the Son of our Eloah (whose name is Yahuwah). One popular version of scripture even renders the verse to make it say that. The version that makes the statement is the New International Version that is translated from a corrupt manuscript to begin with, but even its underlying Greek agrees with the other versions.

NIV (Nestle's)

    "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Note that the statement of the "faith alone" groups that reject all other scriptural conditions set by our Creator the underlined word shall in the verse above "proves" their doctines. This version and its rendering allows them to say the "sinner's prayer" and feel good about it even though the sinner's prayer or anything like it is nowhere to be found in scripture.

The Greek phrase under consideration here is mh- apolhtai and in context it literally means, "not be destroyed." To render this phrase as "shall not perish" is a real stretch of the imagination, but these people needed something in their scripture to prove their doctrine, so they conveniently overlooked the actual (and usual) translation of this phrase and made it say what they wanted it to say. The phrase in the original language says that IF you believe, the OPPORTUNITY is there for salvation, and not that if you believe you HAVE salvation.

Take careful note that a single word difference between the NIV and all the rest of the modern translations will drastically effect how readers of the NIV believe. Is it "should not perish?" Or is it "shall not perish?" If it is "should not," then that says belief will lead you toward the Savior Yahushua, but if it is "shall not" then by just believing you are already there and the rest of scripture is meaningless. The underlying Greek in all versions, including that used for the NIV, say SHOULD NOT.

There are several good interlinears available that show this textual wording in the Greek. ALL of these interlinears have been translated to say "should be, may be, etc." The following are some of these interlinears. Note that George Berry and Jay Green both used the Majority Text as their source, while the Committee on Bible Translation used the Nestle's Greek Text.

TR/KJV Interlinear - George Ricker Berry

Majority Text of the TR - Jay P. Green

Nestle's 21st/KJV/NIV - The Committee on Bible Translation

Below is a partial list of those versions, some modern and some from centuries ago. All of these versions rendered the verse in the same tense as the Greek emphatically states. The text from which they are translated, if known by me, is indicated. I know of no other versions that renders this phrase in like manner to the NIV.

King James Version - Textus Receptus
New King James Version - Textus Receptus
Revised Version - Hort/Westcott, from the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts.
New Revised Standard Version - Nestle's, from the Hort/Westcott derived manuscripts.
New American Standard Bible - Nestle's
American Standard Version - (Hort/Westcott)
Basic Bible in English - (??)
Darby - (??)
Young's Literal Translation - (??)
Webster's Bible - (??)
Revised Webster's bible - (??)

Greek Source Texts
(BYZ) - Byzantine
(IGNT) - Ignatius
(TR) - Textus Receptus
(NESTLE'S 21st) - from Hort-Wescott

This article is intended for the serious seeker of truth that he may determine for himself whether or not salvation comes from believing only, as those who would misuse this verse would imply, or whether adherence to all of the conditions of Yahuwah are required.

C.F. Castleberry