What does John 3:24 mean?
ESV: (for John had not yet been put in prison).
NIV: (This was before John was put in prison.)
NASB: for John had not yet been thrown into prison.
CSB: since John had not yet been thrown into prison.
NLT: (This was before John was thrown into prison.)
KJV: For John was not yet cast into prison.
The gospel of John explains many Hebrew ideas to readers, but it assumes that readers are familiar with the writings of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Matthew chapter 14, Mark chapter 6, and Luke chapter 3 explain how the Baptist was arrested, and eventually executed.
Before the Baptist was taken, the region around Jerusalem would have heard from both Jesus and John the Baptist. According to verse 23, this must have had quite an impact. The Baptist chose a location with "plenty of water," presumably because there were that many people who wanted to be baptized! Rather than taking their message to the hard-hearted city, they preached in the countryside.
Verse 22 also explains that this was a time for Jesus to teach His disciples. This is a crucial part of the Christian life: spending time with God. The time these men spent with Jesus prior to His crucifixion is what prepared them for life as apostles.
John 3:22–30 describes an argument between followers of John the Baptist and a Jewish religious leader, over purification. Though the passage does not name him, it’s possible this man was Nicodemus, who had just been discussing that topic with Jesus. The Baptist isn’t upset that his followers are dwindling, while Jesus attracts crowds. Instead, he makes it clear that Christ’s glory was his mission, and seeing it succeed makes him happy. Rather than being selfish about our own applause, we should be happy when our efforts cause people to praise God.
John chapter 3 is one of the most important in the entire gospel. Many crucial ideas are explained in this passage, including the role of Jesus as Savior. After the loud, public commotion at the temple, John transitions to a quiet, nighttime discussion. These verses make it clear that Christ—and Christ alone—is the means of salvation for the entire world. This text also states that those who reject Jesus are rejecting God.
The gospel of John is meant to prove that Jesus is God. Chapter 3 contains some of the most direct, most important concepts in Christianity. The ideas of spiritual rebirth, and the need to believe in Christ, are reinforced by the rest of the information in this gospel. John continues to use contrast, moving from the loud and public temple cleansing to the quiet of this conversation. After Jesus injects humility into a powerful leader, chapter 4 will transition again, as Jesus gives dignity to an outcast stranger.
The gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls “signs”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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