Q. Thank you for your website, I visit it often when I do not understand what I read in the scriptures. This morning I came across another one. Will you please help me understand? I searched this verse on your site but didn’t find anything that explains it. John 3:36 says, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” . It appears to be a contradiction. How can one have eternal life and then not see life, but the wrath of God?
A. You have a confusing translation of this verse. The primary meaning of the word translated “not obey” in your translation is to reject, or refuse to believe. Therefore, a clearer translation of John 3:36 is,
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” The NIV and the KJV agree on this.
This is a simple statement that belief is what God requires of us, as John 6:28-29 indicates. God has made His existence so clear to man that He often uses unbelief and disobedience interchangeably. He doesn’t think anyone is unable to believe, so He sees unbelief as disobedience.