The NLT Changes John 3:16!

This is old news I’m sure, but I just happened to find out that the NLT now uses contemporary wording for John 3:16 in order to reflect the meaning to modern readers. I always wondered why they used the old rendering. I’m not sure which year this change was made. Let me know if you do. (They now make minor changes frequently instead of major revisions.)

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

(The KJV is “For God so loved the world…”.)

Others before it that I know of are God’s Word, NET, HCSB, ISV, and Mounce (from the interlinear).

Here is a footnote from the HCSB:

16 “For God loved the world in this way:[a] He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

Footnotes:
John 3:16 The Gk word houtos, commonly translated in Jn 3:16 as “so” or “so much” occurs over 200 times in the NT. Almost without exception it is an adverb of manner, not degree (for example, see Mt 1:18). It only means “so much” when modifying an adjective (see Gl 3:3; Rv 16:18). Manner seems primarily in view in Jn 3:16, which explains the HCSB’s rendering.

I’m not suggesting the traditional KJV rendering (John 3:16 KJV), which is what nearly every other translation has borrowed from, is/was wrong or even not optimal. I’m not a language expert, but I believe that the people living in that time, and probably for many, many years after, understood it in this way. As language changes, I believe it’s OK to make some minor changes in translation. I think a good idea for a Bible would be to have one in the King James Version which has footnotes that explain any English words or phrases that might not be well understood to modern readers because of the older English.

Some might ask why the difference is important. While someone reading the KJV will still understand what Jesus did for us on the cross, the word love has many definitions and connotations. If we want to know not just that God loves the world (sinners), but how he loved the world, we can look to what he sent his Son to do for us on the cross to display his amazing grace for us.

For a much better and well thought out explanation on that, please see:

2 Responses to “The NLT Changes John 3:16!”


  1. 1 pedro4jc

    I know you’re happy that the NLT still starts off the verse with the word ‘for’. 😉

  2. 2 Scripture Zealot

    What other word is there to start off a sentence in the Bible? It’s in the Greek though, and is probably a conjunction and not just punctuation.

    I read the OT in the NLT’s chronological Bible and it seemed like every other sentence began with the formal ‘for’, even though the language is supposed to be more contemporary. It seemed out of place at times. I wish I wasn’t so particular.

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