While chapter and verse divisions aren’t part of the original text (we discussed last time how the divisions were added), they can be helpful if we don’t depend on them too much. In the last installment we considered the Honorable Mentions of 3:16 verses. This time we look at the Top Ten, including a close competition for the premiere spot. In the spirit of disclosure, The voting committee consists of one member, and the committee encourages you to read all the 3:16’s in the Bible (there aren’t as many as you might think) and come up with your own list. All complaints and disagreements are to be directed to the supervisory committee for establishing committees on Biblical verse rankings.
Without further ado, drumrolls, ceremony, or fanfare…
“So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”
Because any Biblical mention of barf has to make the top ten. The Greek word is ἐμέσαι, which is best translated as I will vomit – tough and vivid language, indeed. The term is even more impactful when we realize He is talking about believers who are making Him sick because of their lack of commitment to Him. Don’t be a barfy Christian!
#9 – Ecclesiastes 3:16
“Furthermore, I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness.”
What a great reminder that when we have an under the sun perspective, everything is mixed up and out of order. Solomon exhorts us to a beyond the sun perspective that helps us put the pieces in place. Worldview is important.
#8 – Genesis 3:16
“To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
This is a vivid reminder of the destruction caused by sin. The beauty of childbirth is marred by the intense agony that precedes it. Also, the marital relationship would be distorted. Instead of the partnership evident in the pre-fall, as a result of sin, husbands would be domineering. It is worth noting that God demands of believing husbands that they not succumb to these effects, instead, viewing the woman as a fellow heir (1 Pet 3:7…just nine verses away from being in this top ten list).
#7 – James 3:16
“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”
Sin affects all of us. These two sins aren’t always outwardly discernible, but rather they are internal sins that manifest outwardly. What an important reminder this is – that even a hint of selfishness brings with it all kinds of evil.
#6 – 2 Thessalonians 3:16
“Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!”
Notice the passage doesn’t promise believers an escape from every circumstance, but rather peace in them. That is a huge distinction. True peace doesn’t come from the absence of a storm, He provides it in the midst of the storm.
#5 – Joel 4:16
“The Lord roars from Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth tremble. But the Lord is a refuge for His people and a stronghold to the sons of Israel.”
The high ranking might surprise some, but there are a few reasons for the #5 rank. Besides providing a magnificent testimony that God is dependable, and that He values Israel, this is a helpful verse, because it illustrates how the chapter and verse divisions in Hebrew don’t always match the divisions in English. Sometimes the chapter and verse divisions can get us in trouble if we depend on them too much. While this passage is Joel 4:16 in the Hebrew Bible, it is 3:16 in English.
#4 – 1 John 3:16
“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
Reminding us of John 3:16, this passage exhorts believers to consider the example of Christ and treat each other as He treated us.
#3 – Colossians 3:16
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
This passage explains exactly how Christians are to treat the word of God. It almost singlehandedly sets the tone for our daily walk.
#2 – John 3:16
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
What?? That John 3:16 is ranked #2 is a travesty, right? Not so fast. Certainly it is the best-known verse in the Bible (special thanks to American football). And it is theological extremely important because it communicates God’s love for all, the reason for Jesus’s death, and the method of salvation – belief in Him. So how can it be ranked #2? Simply because there is one other 3:16 which affirms the validity of this one and all the others.
#1 – 2 Timothy 3:16
“All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…”
Without passages like this, we wouldn’t have the internal claim that the other 3:16’s are reliable and authoritative – hence the #1 ranking. The claim that the Scriptures are God-breathed is extremely vital for Christians, and helps to ground the idea of the sufficiency and authority of Scripture for every part of life.