John 3:16–The Heart of the Gospel

John 3:16.

It is probably the best known verse in the Bible.  Years ago you would see a guy at a football game wearing a rainbow-colored wig holding up a John 3:16 sign.  Back in the 1970’s, there was a man in St. Petersburg, Florida, John Michael Cook, who legally changed his name to John 3:16 Cook.   He operated a mission downtown and ministered to the homeless, alcoholics, and drug addicts.

In more recent years Tim Tebow made famous John 3:16 by painting it in black under his eyes when he played quarterback for the University of Florida.  Then in December when the Denver Broncos upset the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tebow passed for 316 yards and  averaged 31.6 yard per pass, John 3:16 got more press coverage than a Billy Graham crusade!  In fact, the Washington Post reported that it was the most googled item on Monday of any search.  Over 90 million times!

John 3:16 has been called “the gospel in miniature.”  One preacher called it “the greatest sentence ever written.”

So what does Jesus say in John 3:16? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

An unknown writer called John 3:16 “the heart of the gospel” and wrote this tribute.

“God”…The greatest Lover

“So loved”…The greatest degree

“The world”…The greatest number

“That He gave”…The greatest act

“His only begotten Son””…The greatest gift

“That whosoever”…The greatest invitation

“Believeth”….The greatest simplicity

“In Him”…The greatest Person

“Should not perish”…The greatest deliverance

“But”….The greatest difference

“Have”….The greatest certainty

“Everlasting Life”…The greatest possession

 John 3:16 is the heart of the gospel because it is about love. The love of God in sending His Son. The love of Jesus in dying on the cross.  The divine love that reaches out to all people and provides the means for salvation.  God’s love is demonstrated to the greatest degree, more than man can imagine.


Because God cares.  God cares about people.  God cares about you.  He wants us to be saved.  To enjoy eternity with Him. And to escape punishment assigned to unbelievers.  But it is all motivated by pure, untainted, holy love.

Some have been criticized for preaching too much on love.  While I understand that love can be emphasized to the point of neglecting the whole counsel of God on obedience, responsibility and the “works of God’s righteousness”, I want to be careful not to criticize that which the Bible calls the greatest gift.

The gospel is good news. And the good news is that sinful people like Ken Weliever can be saved because of God’s love, mercy and grace.  Because of what Jesus did on the cross.

The Bible speaks of the books being opened in judgment.  I can imagine a giant ledger with my name.  There is column after column of the debt of sin I owe.  Of misdeeds. Of Failure. Then I see the Father write “paid in full by Jesus.”  He paid the debt of sin I owe.  He paid it all.  Every bit. Why? Love.  A love that is beyond our comprehension.

That’s why John 3:16 is the heart of the gospel.

—Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under Gospel, Love

16 responses to “John 3:16–The Heart of the Gospel

  1. Deborah Need

    Ken, this is a great break-down of John 3:16. Love is the greatest gift and this child of God is thankful for it.


  2. Ken Green

    Great thoughts on an awesome statement. I don’t think we can preach too much on love. Love is the fulfillment of the law. If we make it our primary topic all else will fall into its proper place.


  3. Clint Cleveland

    Amen brother! This doesn’t get preached near enough. God loves us so much and wants us to be with Him! Thanks for this encouragement.


    • You’re welcome, Clint! Thanks for comments…and for reading my blog!

      Ken Weliever 12107 Wood Duck Pl Temple Terrace, FL 33617 Home Phone: 813-899-4539 Cell Phone: 813-507-1726 web site: blog:



    • Hi Brother:

      I can’t agree with you more. It is the heart of the Bible. I also believe it should be preached much more.

      I’m Bro Henry and I’m a new Christian artist known by my stage name,” Gospel Jazz by HL Steins”. I have been so inspired while meditating upon this golden text, that I rendered it into a lovely musical message of the gospel. So I intend to share this wonderful verse with the world!

      This rendition of the Holy scriptures well known and beloved verse “as you said the heart of the Bible”, is filled with Bible truths, moving and very powerful. This song is nothing short of beautiful.

      Please listen to it @ and help me share this wonderful gospel message in song with the world.

      May Our God Bless You…

      Bro Henry
      Gospel Jazz by HL Steins


  4. Sandy

    That guy who ran the mission in St. Petersburg ended up talking my mom out of everything we had in the attic because he took me in off the streets for one night. He got our babe Ruth ball among just about everything that meant anything to us. I know I need to forgive him but can’t yet and it’s been like 40 years. Grrr


    • Hollie Bailon

      Hello Sandy. My grandfather was at that mission also in the 70s and if there is anyway I could contact you I would greatly appreciate it. My grandfather passed away in st.Petersburg Florida and there’s a lot of missing info. I’m reaching out to anyo e that might could help.


  5. Pingback: GREAT VERSES OF THE BIBLE: Romans 15:13 | ThePreachersWord

  6. Pingback: A Passage To Ponder: Proverbs 6:16-19 | ThePreachersWord

  7. Pingback: How Faith Relates to Your Feelings | ThePreachersWord

  8. Pingback: Friday’s List To Live By #56 | ThePreachersWord

  9. David Kanak

    John 3:16, THE GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST is so simple, perfect and complete that a child or and atheist can understand and BELIEVE IT, and be Saved!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.