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It's not usual to see a cryptic "3:16" sign at a sporting event. What does it mean?

3:16 is a reference to the New Testament of the Christian bible (chapter 3, verse 16 of the Gospel of John):

- 3:16 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.:

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John 3:16 is one of the most widely quoted verses from the Christian Bible. It has been called the "Gospel in a nutshell" because it is a fundamental element of the Christian religion which claims that whoever believes in Jesus (accepts Jesus as "their personal savior") will get to heaven, otherwise they will not be saved and subject to hell.


The verse occurs in a narrative in the New Testament third chapter of John taking place in Jerusalem. Nicodemus, a member of the ruling council, comes to talk with Jesus, whom he calls Rabbi. Jesus' "miraculous signs" have convinced Nicodemus that Jesus is "from God". In reply, Jesus declares, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" (verses 5–6). John 3:16 summarizes Jesus's lesson to Nicodemus: that belief in Jesus is the path to eternal life.

Is John 3:16 authentic?

The authenticity of this passage is subject to the same critical analysis of virtually all scripture, and specifically the New Testament whose legitimacy is called into question by Freethinkers based on a number of facts:

  • There is no way to verify the legitimacy or accuracy of claims involving an afterlife. The notion of eternal life, heaven or hell or any type of existence after death is mere speculation at best.
  • The scripture was not written by Jesus.
  • In fact, there is no definitive evidence that Jesus Christ ever existed as a historical figure. There is no contemporaneous evidence of Jesus. No writings from the time where he supposedly lived has referenced his existence, and any that have shown up (such as Josephus and Tacitus) are widely regarded to be later forgeries.
  • None of the Gospels, of which John 3:16 is a part, were written by actual eye-witnesses to the events involving Jesus. The entire series of scripture is hearsay, written by people who never knew Jesus and were only re-writing stories that were told among people. There are no first-hand accounts of any of the claims in the Gospels by actual writers.
  • The earliest New Testament gospel scriptures date at least 30 years after the supposed death of the Jesus figure.

As a result of the dubious origin of scripture, there is no rational way to conclude that any claim of Jesus being a messiah is legitimate or backed up by any historical evidence.

Of course, this is of little consequence to many Christians, and augmented by their "faith" that the stories are true, despite any actual evidence.

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