by C. Matthew McMahon
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C. Matthew McMahon, Ph.D., Th.D., is an American Calvinist Reformed theologian and adjunct professor at Whitefield Theological Seminary. He is the founder and chairman of A Puritan’s Mind, the largest Reformed website on the internet for students of the Bible concerning Reformed Theology, the Puritans and Covenant Theology. He is also the founder of Puritan Publications which publishes rare Reformed and Puritan works from the 17th century.
Is there a more beloved Scriptural passage than John 3:16? Throughout church history, there has not been a more quoted or preached upon verse than this one. It is that special text concerning God’s love for the world and the eternal life that is found in the person of Jesus Christ. The richness of this special life-changing verse is seen in Jesus’ dialogue and instruction to the Pharisee Nicodemus. Christ’s teaching in this passage demonstrates that Nicodemus was living a life devoid of the power of the Holy Spirit, and attempted, in outward religious acts, to please God by his perceived good works. Jesus’ instruction cures Nicodemus from his man-centered religious views, and brings the Pharisee back to the meaning of the Old Testament, and God’s plan of redemption in the Son of Man who came down from heaven to teach men about what it means to have true communion with the Father.
Being faithful to the text, and ultimately focusing in on the meaning of John 3:16, McMahon accurately employs proper hermeneutics and exegesis to consider this most important verse in its complete context. He also engaged in a large amount of extra-biblical reading in hundreds of historical and theological volumes to find the consensus view on the meaning of this passage in church history. McMahon covers John 2:23-3:21 divided into various chapters that demonstrate the meaning behind the plan of the Father and Son to save sinners, and the outworking of that plan in the initial power of the Holy Spirit’s spiritual operation on the hearts of sinners.