John 3:16
An Offer of the Gospel or a Declaration of the Gospel?

By Dr. Ken Matto

John 3:16 (KJV) 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.

I have heard free will preachers and adherents, when questioned about free will, rely on John 3:16 as some type of proof text which undeniably proves free will because it contains the word “whosoever.” In John 3:16, the Greek word “pas” for “whosoever” is singular and not plural which means it is speaking of individuals and not groups of people.

The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines “whosoever” as “anyone or any person whatever.”

The 1913 Webster's Dictionary defines "whosoever" as "Whatsoever person; any person whatever that; whoever."

The 2003 Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “whosoever” as “whatever person or any person whatever that.”

The dictionary definitions match up perfectly with the meaning of the Greek word.

The word “whosoever” in the New Testament is the Greek word “pas” which is used over 1,200 times. It carries with it the meaning of “all, everyone, every, each, or everything.” It is translated “whosoever” in the New Testament 110 Times in 93 verses. The translation of this word depends upon the context of the passage where the word is used. As you can see in the four examples below, that if you were to use “all or everyone” in place of whosoever, you would come to the same understanding of the passages. If you used the same meaning the free will preachers give it, it would totally destroy the meaning of the passages. John 3:16 is not an offer of the Gospel but it is a declaration that those who are saved, will never perish but are given everlasting life.
(John 3:16 KJV) 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.
(Gal 5:4 KJV) Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
(1 John 3:6 KJV) Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

1 John 3:9 (KJV) Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
Now there is one verse which seems to be saying that a person can be willing to come to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is Revelation 22:17 where “pas” is not used.
(Rev 22:17 KJV) And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
The Greek word behind “whosoever will” is the word “thelo” which means, “desire, to wish to have, to be willing, or to purpose to do.” So it does sound like there is a verse which is teaching that a person can come in their free will. Right? Well, not really. Look carefully at this passage and you will see the word “heareth.” It is the word “akouw” (akouw) in the Greek which carries with it the meaning of “hearing with understanding.” Luke 24:45 (KJV) Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

The unsaved will not understand but only the saved will understand. Look at the first part of the verse in Rev. 22:17. Who is calling the people to come? It is the Spirit of God who is doing the calling along with the bride, who is the body of believers. Who are the ones who hear? It is the believers. Who are the ones who are athirst for God? It is the believers because the unbelievers do not understand and in their spiritual deadness only walk according to the course of this world. (Eph 2:2 KJV) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: This is what the believer had been saved out of. Rev. 22:17 is a verse which is evangelism based. The Holy Spirit indwelling the believer gives them the Gospel message to send out and only those who have been qualified by God to hear and understand, that is, having their spiritual ears opened, will come to God. Only those who are saved will thirst for God and take the water of life freely, which is the Gospel. (John 4:14 KJV) But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. So Revelation 22:17 cannot be used as a proof text for the free will Gospel simply because it is not teaching that, yet, free will preachers use it without really knowing what it means. The scary thing is that these free will preachers do this to the whole Bible just to bring it under a biased system of beliefs instead of allowing the Bible to speak for itself.

The word “offer” is used 17 times in the New Testament in 16 verses and not once is it used in reference to the offering of the Gospel. If one is going to use a correct term, the term would be calling, call, or called. The call of the Gospel goes out to the world. Matthew 22:14 (KJV) For many are called, but few are chosen. The call of the Gospel goes out to the world and within the calling is the choosing of the elect found within the hearing of the Gospel.

Romans 1:6 (KJV) Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:

Romans 8:28 (KJV) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:30 (KJV) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

1 Corinthians 1:9 (KJV) God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Thessalonians 2:12 (KJV) That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

2 Thessalonians 2:14 (KJV) Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:9 (KJV) But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

The biblical term for Gospel proclamation is calling and not offering.

John 3:16 has been intentionally misused as a proof text for something which does not exist, namely free will in accepting the Gospel. John 3:16 is a declaration that all those in Christ, “whosoever,” will never perish but have everlasting life. Can John 3:16 be used in preaching evangelism? Of course, because it is Scripture but it must be used properly by showing the hearers the great promise that it holds for the true believer. If John 3:16 has not been intentionally misused, then I feel sorry for all those PhDs and ThDs who do not know how to read or research a simple word. John 3:16 is a post-salvation verse and not a pre-salvation verse because it gives information about those who are already in Christ.