Religion dictionary

John 3:16

[jon three siks-teen]

What does John 3:16 mean?

John 3:16 is a widely quoted Bible verse that summarizes the cornerstone Christian belief that their God sacrificed his son for the salvation of humanity. It's associated with signs that fans often bring to sports games.

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Where does John 3:16 come from?

John 3:16
Emily C. Heath

The King James Version of Chapter 3, Verse 16 of the New Testament’s Gospel of John, simply referred to as John 3:16, reads: “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 many Christians, John 3:16 serves as a thesis statement of their faith: God sacrificed his son, Jesus, for the sins of humanity, and if you believe in him, your soul will be saved. So much so, according to theologians, that in the 1970s born-again Christians began displaying John 3:16 at sports stadiums to spread their gospel similarly to how other fans would hold up banners reading “Defense!”

One notable “sports evangelist” was Rollen Stewart, nickamed Rainbow Man for his rainbow-colored wig, which he wore along with a John 3:16 t-shirt while dancing around goal posts—where the TV cameras put eyes on his message. Another was quarterback Tim Tebow, who wore John 3:16 eye black in a 2009 college championship game and coincidentally threw 316 yards with the paint under his eyes in a 2012 NFL game.

Mind Blown

In 1996, professional wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin memorably riffed on John 3:16 during a speech that gave birth to his catchphrase, Austin 3:16: “You sit there and you thump your Bible, and you say your prayers, and it didn’t get you anywhere! Talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16… Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!”

Examples of John 3:16

Dear all the peoples in this world, JESUS LOVES YOU! John 3:16 💗 #RiverofLifeOfficial #RiverofLifeMinistry 💦
@rrebeccaball, June, 2018
When it comes to religion or politics, some might argue, it’s easy. John 3:16, take it or leave it.
Steven Dinero, Rawlins Times, May, 2018
Consider the small word “so” that goes before “love” in the Bible’s most famous verse, John 3:16. The verse says, “God so loved the world . . . “ (NIV).
Rick Warren, Baptist Message, May, 2018
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Who uses John 3:16?

Among Christians, John 3:16 is often used as a shorthand signal of their faith, printed on bumper stickers and t-shirts and posted on social media and dating profiles. Among the general public, John 3:16 is associated with signs at sports games, typically football, and often interpreted as saying “We believe in you, team!”

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Note

This is not meant to be a formal definition of John 3:16 like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of John 3:16 that will help our users expand their word mastery.