JOHN 3:16 DOES NOT MEAN WHAT MANY THINK IT DOES
“We do here announce, declare, and proclaim that this assumption (that the “WORLD” of John 3:16 means “ALL MEN WITHOUT EXCEPTION” IS FALSE. It is unbiblical. It commits one to a teaching that deviates from the gospel, fundamentally.
The word, WORLD, in John 3:16 does not mean ‘all men without exception.’
It is now common among Reformed people that, when one confesses God’s election of some persons to salvation, God’s particular love for the elect, and God’s exclusive desire to save the elect, his confession is immediately contested by an appeal to John 3:16: ‘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.’ Indeed, this is almost the rule.
When the all-men-without-exception-people quote John 3:16, this is how they are reading it: ‘For God so loved all men without exception, that he gave his only begotten Son to die for all men without exception, with the desire that all men without exception be saved, so that whosoever believeth in him, of his own free will, should not perish, but have everlasting life.’
Whenever anyone challenges the confession of God’s particular, exclusive love for His elect by quoting John 3:16, we must regretfully conclude that he holds the doctrinal position set forth above and wishes to confess it publicly, in order thus to overthrow the Reformed doctrine of predestination, limited atonement, total depravity, effectual grace, and the preservation of saints (which is only an elaborate way of saying, salvation by grace alone — the gospel)”. [ David J. Engelsma ]