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John 3:19 And this is the condemnation,

Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night. They discuss the nature of man's origin. Nicodemus asked how anyone is able to know these things himself.

Spoken to:
an individual
Greek Verse:

John 3:19 αὕτη δέ ἐστιν κρίσις ὅτι τὸ φῶς ἐλήλυθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον καὶ ἠγάπησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι μᾶλλον τὸ σκότος τὸ φῶς, ἦν γὰρ αὐτῶν πονηρὰ τὰ ἔργα.

KJV Verse:

John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

NIV Verse:

John 3:19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

Literal Alternative:

This, however, is the judgment: that the light had shown up in this world order, and they cared, these people, more for the dark than the light because it was their failures, those deeds.

Hidden Meaning:

Jesus uses the definite article, meaning "the" or "this," before "light" and "darkness." So he is not talking about light and darkness generally, but a specific "light," "this light." In the large context, this would be the "light" of trusting in Jesus's words.

The word translated as "evil" means "second-rate" or "worthless." When used as a noun, it has the sense of "worthlessness" or, when referring to an action, a "failure." It doesn't have a sense of malevolence that our word "evil" does. Here, it is used as a plural noun, so "failures" works. This article explores its meaning in more detail.

The Greek word that is translated as "condemnation" and "verdict" is the noun form of the verb translated as "condemned" in the previous verse. Both words primarily mean "separate" or "distinguish." The KJV usually translates these words as "judgment" and "to judge." It is translated more harshly here to make a theological point that Jesus doesn't seem to be making. Jesus's basic idea was to separate the valuable from the worthless using the light.

The "loved" here expresses a lot of different ideas including "to be fond of," "to greet with affection," "to persuade," and "to be contented with." Jesus, however, applies it to relationships where we have a duty to care for others: family, God, etc. Another word, also translated as "love" is used for relationships of affectionate friendships. To distinguish this word, translating it as "cares for" seems to work best. See this article on love for more information.

My Takeaway:

People prefer to hide their mistakes by obscuring the truth.

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About this Site

I started this site fifteen years ago.  My original award-winning work as a "techno-linguist" was in ancient Chinese. I wanted to bring the same computer search and analysis techniques to explore something more important: the original Greek of Jesus's words. To understand why this was important to me, you may want to read this article on how Jesus's meaning is lost.

This site does not promote any religious point of view. On the contrary, it seeks to avoid the competing and evolving religious dogmas that have shaped Biblical translation for centuries.  I purposely use "nonreligious" sources for Greek word meaning, rejoining the study of Biblical Greek with the broader study of ancient Greek. My goal is simply to identify how listeners of Jesus's time would have heard him.

Jesus' words are unique for three reasons.

  1. His words were spoken, not written. Spoken language is inherently different than written language.
  2. His words changed the meaning of words, determining even how later NT authors' used the Greek.
  3. His words were the basis of a unique historical revolution in the way people think.

Most of the on-line material on "Biblical Greek" is largely tautological. It explains the Greek only in terms of how it has been translated into English in the Bible. It flows from the ways that the  Gospel was taught from the Latin Vulgate. I respect this work and use it daily. However,  most of my work takes place outside of this tradition, researching the use of the Greek closer to the time of Jesus, especially the Greek OT, the Septuagint.

The Bible has been such a powerful force in history that it has changed the meaning of many words in English, Latin, and Greek. However, the Greek of Jesus's words has been faithfully preserved for centuries despite the changing religious fashions. These fashions, unfortunately, affect each successive English translation of the Bible, moving it further and further from the Greek.  I stopped analyzing the NLT version because so much of it fails to connect to anything in Jesus's Greek. It is not a translation but how a group of people today feel about the ideas in other English translations. The Message Bible version is even worse.

This site is offered for those who care about fidelity to Scripture as passed down for two thousand years.

Most Recent Question

Does John 6:37 mean that once I’m saved, no matter what sin I do, if I come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness and repent from that sin, I will not be cast out?

I don't see anything about asking forgiveness and repenting nor anything about "being saved." All of these are Christian concepts invented after Jesus. He doesn't use these ideas at all. What is translated as "forgive" means "let go" as in dropping something. What is translated as "repent" means "change your mind" as in thinking differently. What gets translated as "being saved" is the idea of being "rescued" not from "evil" but from "worthlessness."

None of this is in the verses. Or in its context. His ideas in John 6:37 are simpler.  You are either returning to Jesus or moving away from him. Those who the Father has given him...