John 3:16 is no doubt one of the best known verses in the Bible. It is the verse you often see displayed by Christian fans in sports stadiums. We see it everywhere! But it is almost always used without any reference to its context. It's a text that there has been quite a bit of theological and exegetical disputing over.
Luther called John 3:16 the miniature Gospel, and he said it was a text in which the whole Bible was contained. Spurgeon said that he preached on John 3:16 once a year.
Before we look at this very familiar verse, let's back up and get the context. Yeshua is having a conversation with Nicodemus, who is a high ranking Jewish official. Yeshua tells Nicodemus that in order to see the Kingdom of heaven he had to be born "from above." This seemed to confuse Nicodemus, so Yeshua reworded it in a way that Nicodemus should have grasped, Yeshua said, "You must be born of water and the Spirit." Being "born of water and the Spirit," is just a different way of saying, "born from above" in verse 3.
Yeshua tells Nicodemus that no longer is being in Covenant with God a question of being born in the physical line of Abraham, but of being born "from above" through the action of the Holy Spirit. To this teaching of Yeshua Nicodemus responds:
Nicodemus said to Him, "How can these things be?" John 3:9 NASB
Nicodemus just doesn't get it. He had for years taught others that the conditions of entrance to the Kingdom of God were being born a Jew and living in obedience to God's commands. Why was Yeshua saying that we needed a new birth:
No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. John 3:13 NASB
The implication is that no one has both ascended to heaven to receive divine revelation and descended to earth to give an account of that revelation in the same way that Yeshua has as the incarnate Word of God. In other words, "Nicodemus, you better grasp what Yeshua is saying because He has come from God."
Then Yeshua uses an illustration from the life of Israel that Nicodemus would have been familiar with:
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; John 3:14 NASB
He is talking about the incident in Numbers 21:
And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived. Numbers 21:9 NASB
Yahweh provided salvation for this disobedient sinful people, so that they might survive His divine judgment. This provision for Israel's healing is illustrative of the salvation Yahweh is about to accomplish through His only begotten Son.
Moses lifted up the serpent on a pole so that all who were afflicted in the camp might look and live. In the same way, the Son of Man must be lifted up—crucified and glorified—so that all who look to Him in faith may live.
so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. John 3:15 NASB
The bronze serpent in the wilderness was the salvation (deliverance) of those who believed. By comparing Himself to that serpent, Yeshua was teaching that whoever trusted in Him and His death would receive "eternal life."
Verses 14-15 are answering Nicodemus' question of verse 9, "How can these things be?" Yeshua answers, "A person's regeneration by the Holy Spirit can come about only through the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of the Son of Man.
Before we look at verse 16 let me say that scholars question if this text is something that Yeshua said to Nicodemus, or is this something that Lazarus has added? If you remember, I told you before that it is very difficult in many places in the Fourth Gospel to make the transition from our Lord's words to Lazarus' words. And here it's very difficult to know where the transition is; where our Lord's words stop to Nicodemus, and where Lazarus' words begin.
The Pillar NT commentary says, "In two passages in this Gospel, both in this chapter (3:15-21 and 3:31-36), the words of a speaker (Jesus and John the Baptist respectively) are succeeded by the explanatory reflections of the Evangelist. Because the ancient texts did not use quotation marks or other orthographical equivalents, the exact point of transition is disputed. In the first incident, Nicholson (p. 89) thinks the dialogue ends at v. 10, with all of vv. 11-21 being the comment of the Evangelist. This is unlikely: the title 'Son of Man' is so characteristically reserved for Jesus' lips as a form of self-identification that it is unthinkable that he ended before v. 15." (Pillar New Testament Commentary)
There are a couple of good reasons to think that verses 16-21 are Lazarus' words. One reason is the tenses in verse 19, the tenses of the verbs are written from Lazarus' standpoint and not from Yeshua's standpoint in the interview with Nicodemus:
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. John 3:19 NASB
"Men loved darkness…their deeds were evil"—are past tense. If this were still Yeshua's words to Nicodemus, you would expect those things to be in the present tense. But Lazarus, writing from the vantage point of many years afterwards, naturally puts it in the past tense.
Another reason to see the author of these verses as Lazarus is because Yeshua is called the, "only begotten Son" and we have no record of our Lord ever using that term of Himself. But it's a favorite term of Lazarus. So I think it is best to see that the interview with Yeshua and Nicodemus has ceased, and Lazarus is now giving us more detail. Please understand that if these are the words of Yeshua's or Lazarus' they are still inspired by the Holy Spirit.
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. John 3:16 NASB
Notice the similarity between the idea of this text and the text in:
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Romans 8:32 NASB
The similarity between the texts is that they both speak of the purpose of the Son's coming. They speak of the intent of His coming and they speak of the love of God in the gift of the Son and its result, that those for whom Christ died have all of the blessings of life as well.
There are three important clauses in verse 16, one of them is a compound clause. In this verse we have an Act—God loved, The Result—God gave, and then The Purpose—negatively, that men should not perish, but positively, that believers should have eternal life.
Let's look at the first clause, "For God so loved the world"—he starts this verse with a gar, translated here as "for." And when you see something like that, you have to ask yourself, "What's the reference for the 'for'?" And then we have the word "so." "The two words, 'for … so,' are the rendering of a two-word combination in the Greek text, which occurs nine times in the New Testament. None of these occurrences can or should be rendered in a 'so much' way. Every one can, and perhaps should, be rendered 'in this way,' or 'this is the way,' or something very similar. This can be seen by the way the NET Bible handles the expression found in John 3:16." (Robert L. Deffinbaugh That You Might Believe: A Study of the Gospel of John)
For this is the way God loved the world: he gave his one and only Son that everyone who believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NET
Based upon the consistent use of this expression in the New Testament, I believe we should understand John 3:16 the way the NET Bible has translated it. So the expression, "for in this way," points back to something previously stated. The "for…so"
here is giving a reason for Yahweh's provision for sinful dying men in the previous verses:
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so [in the same way] must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. John 3:14-15 NASB
On hearing this, someone may ask, "Why would Yahweh do that for those wretched people?" And John 3:16 is the answer. "For God so loved the world"—is an explanation of why Yahweh sent His Son to die for sinful men. It's because of His love. "So" or "in this way" expresses method, not emotion! God demonstrated His love (cf. Rom. 5:8) by giving (John 3:16) and sending His Son to die on mankind's behalf.
Who is this God who loves the world? Our text says, "God." And I have to ask, What God? Whose God? The Anglo-Saxon word "God" means: "the invoked one." The English word "God" is so nebulous, it tells us nothing about the One we love and serve. So who loved the world and gave His Son? Is it Thoth, The Egyptian god of magic? Which God? In deism, God is the creator of the universe who wound it up and let it go. In pantheism, God is the universe itself. When referring to God, a follower of New Age is not talking about a transcendent, personal God who created the universe, but is referring to a higher consciousness within themselves. Muslims believe there is the one almighty God named Allah, who is infinitely superior to and transcendent from humankind. Hindus acknowledge multitudes of gods and goddesses.
In the Greek, the word "God" is a translation of the word "Theos" meaning: "Mighty One." This can refer to any person; man or diety. The context determines the meaning. Assuming the word always refers to a deity, is error since the Greek referred to many with authority as "Theos" (Mighty One).
In the LXX they translated El, Elohim, and Yahweh as Theos. Many times they mistranslated Yahweh as Theos. The closest Hebrew equivalent of "mighty one," or Theos, is Elohim. Anyway, my point is that elohim is like Theos; it is used of many different spiritual entities and is, therefore, not a good substitute for Yahweh. It is Yahweh, the creator and sustainer of the universe who loved the world.
The Yahweh of the Bible is a Trinitarian God. He is a God who is the Father of our Lord Yeshua the Christ and who, with the Son and with the Spirit, form the triune God. So when we talk about God loving the world we are talking about the Trinitarian God, Yahweh.
We are told that Yahweh "so loved the world"—here we see that the object of Yahweh's love is the world. Then we must ask who is the world? It is the common view of our day that when the Bible says, "For God so loved the world" that it means that He loved every individual in the world equally without exception and without distinction. In other words, everyone is the equal object of the love of God. Every individual past, present, and future, and all are loved in the precisely same way. Now that is not taught in the Bible; that's a common view in our day, but it's not taught in the Bible. Now before you get mad at me, please answer this question, Where does it say in the Bible that God loves everybody? Where does it say that He loves every single individual equally, without exception, without distinction? Can you give me a text? While you're thinking, let me give you a text:
Just as it is written, "JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED." Romans 9:13 NASB
Now you may say, "I don't like that text." Or you might say, "I never have understood that text." But what you should never say once you have read this verse is that God loves every individual equally without exception, without distinction.
Nothing can more clearly manifest the strong opposition of the human mind to the doctrine of divine sovereignty than the violence which human ingenuity has employed to twist the expression, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated."
Some say that what Paul is talking about here is the election of a nation as over against nations, and not election of individuals. That's really a foolish argument. If it is unjust for God to select one man over another, why is it okay if he selects one nation over another? Aren't nations made up of individuals?
Some try to twist this text by saying that hate doesn't mean hate, but it means to "love less," or "to regard and treat with less favor." Hate is used in this way in several passages:
If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:26 NASB
Here hate would have the idea of "to regard with less favor." But in the original context of Malachi 1:1-5 loving less hardly fits with the visitation of judgement:
but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness." Though Edom says, "We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins"; thus says the LORD of hosts, "They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the LORD is indignant forever." Malachi 1:3-4 NASB
The quotation of Paul from Malachi 1:2-3 in Romans 9:13 is for the purpose of confirming what had just been quoted from Genesis 25:23, which points to a discrimination that existed before the children were born or had done good or evil.
The love of God is the root of election, God chooses because He loves. God is sovereign in the exercise of His love. What I mean is that He loves whom He chooses to, God does not love everybody. Now I know that when I say that, people get upset, but it is clearly what the Word of God teaches. He didn't love Esau, that is very clear. Now how will you argue, will you say that He loves everyone but Esau?
One of the most popular beliefs of our day is that God loves everybody. But the idea that God loves everybody is a modern belief. The writings of the church fathers, the Reformers or the Puritans will be searched in vain for any such concept. The fact is that the love of God is a truth for the saints only. With the exception of John 3:16, not once in the four Gospels do we read of the Lord Yeshua telling sinners that God loved them. In the book of Acts, which records the evangelistic labors and messages of the apostles, God's love is never referred to at all. Does that seem odd to you? But when we come to the Epistles, which are addressed to the saints, we have a full presentation of the truth:
FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES." Hebrews 12:6 NASB
God's love is restricted to the members of His own family. If He loves all men, then the distinction and limitation here mentioned is quite meaningless. God only chastens whom He loves, which is a reference to believers, the elect.
So you really can't use John 3:16 to teach that God loves everybody. Because the Bible clearly teaches that He didn't love Esau. You must admit the Bible says that. Let's put it in the form of a syllogism:
Major premise: God hated Esau
Minor premise: Esau is part of the world
Conclusion: God doesn't love everyone in the world.
If it were true that God loved everybody equally, without distinction, without exception, how can Yeshua say, with reference to His disciples:
I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. John 17:9 ESV
If God loved the whole world, why didn't Yeshua pray for the world?
What does the Bible teach about the term "world"? The word "world" is from the Greek term "kosmos." If you look up all of Lazarus' uses of kosmos you will see that he uses the term in different senses. Here it is simply a term for humanity, God loves humanity. One commentator writes, "Kosmos must, in context, refer to the entire world." But we already saw that that isn't true; He didn't love Easu. The word "world" or kosmos often has a relative rather than an absolute meaning. For example:
So the Pharisees said to one another, "You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him." John 12:19 NASB
Was everyone in the world going after Yeshua? Was everybody equally, without distinction and without exception, going after Christ? No, look who is speaking, the Pharisees. They didn't go after Him. So it's obvious the term "world" does not, in certain context, refer to everyone.
Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence." Acts 19:27 NASB
Did everyone in the world worship Diana? No!
First, I thank my God through Yeshua Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. Romans 1:8 NASB
Was everyone in the world speaking of the faith of the Roman believers? I don't think so.
So what does "world" mean in our text? In John 3 Yeshua is speaking to Nicodemus, a Jew. The Jews believed that God loved only them. Nicodemus had the idea that when the Messiah would come He would come and give the Kingdom to the Jews and He would submit the Gentiles to judgment. That was their doctrine. Their doctrine was that the Jews would be saved, anybody connected with Abraham would be saved. But Gentiles would be judged. This is why the Prophet Jonah could not conceive of the Ninevites (Gentiles) being saved, and thus he did everything in his power to see that this city would be destroyed. When Peter went to the home of Cornelius and preached the Gospel to the Gentiles who had gathered there, the church leaders in Jerusalem called him to account for his going to the Gentiles with the Gospel (Acts 11:1-3). According to one commentator, no Jewish writer specifically asserted that God loved His world.
What John 3:16 is saying in context is that God's love is international in its scope, He loves Gentiles as well as Jews. When Lazarus says, "For God so loved the world," he is saying that His love is enough to embrace, not simply Israel, but also Gentiles:
"For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world." John 6:33 NASB
He didn't say, "offers life," but "giveth." Gives necessarily implies its acceptance. Does Christ give life to everyone? No, world is here limited to the world of the elect:
Now before the Feast of the Passover, Yeshua knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. John 13:1 NASB
Yeshua loved those who belonged to Him. God loved Jacob and He hated Esau. Why? God is sovereign in the exercise of His love.
There were two rebellions that took place, angels and men. God provides redemption only for men. There is no redemption for angels. The Bible is full of distinguishing love. God is sovereign in the exercise of His love.
We are so man centered today, even in our theology, that if it doesn't start with us, we can't grasp it. We think it's unfair for God to choose some individuals and not others. We need to allow the Scriptures to shape our thinking so we will have the mind of Christ. God is sovereign, even in His love.
Now God does love the world as His creation. In the sense of common grace He bestows blessing upon all men equally, without distinction, without exception. The blessings of rain, and sunshine, the blessings of life—these belong equally and without exception to all men. But His special redemptive love is for His own people.
"Loved" is the term agapao. It was not used much in Classical Greek. The early church took it and filled it with specific meaning. That word "loved" is a word that expresses the nature of God's love. It is an eternal, immutable love. And when it is set on a particular person, that love lasts throughout all eternity. It begins back in eternity when God elected His saints to salvation and it culminates in Bethlehem and Calvary historically, but it stretches on into the ages of the future.
The word "loved" is in the past tense. The Greek verb is in the aorist tense, indicating a specific act at a particular point in time. This verse does not say, "God loves (present tense) the world." I believe the reason for this is because we are to understand that God has manifested His love for the world in a particular way. He "loved" the world through His Son, Jesus Christ. He "loved" the world by sending His son. (Robert L. Deffinbaugh That You Might Believe: A Study of the Gospel of John)
The next clause shows us the Result of His love—"He gave His only begotten Son"—the words "only begotten" are from the Greek word monogenes. The use of the word "only begotten" is important because it is only used 5 times in the New Testament of Christ as the Son of God, and it is used this way only in the writings of Lazarus: John 1:14; 1:18; 3:16; 3:18; and 1 John 4:9.
If you remember back to our study of Genesis 6:1-4, I said that "sons of God" is used there of watchers, members of the Divine Counsel. So how can Lazarus say 5 times that Yeshua is the "only begotten son"? How could Yeshua be the only divine son when there were other sons of God? The answer to this is that "only begotten"is an unfortunately confusing translation, especially to modern ears. Not only does the translation "only begotten"seem to contradict the obvious statements in the Tanakh about other sons of God, it implies that there was a time when the Son did not exist—that He had a beginning.
The word monogenes doesn't mean "only begotten" in some sort of "birthing" sense. The confusion extends from an old misunderstanding of the root of the Greek word. For years monogenes was thought to have derived from two Greek terms, monos ("only") and gennao ("to beget, bear"). Greek scholars later discovered that the second part of the word monogenes does not come from the Greek verb gennao, but rather from the noun genos ("class, kind"). The term literally means: "one of a kind" or "unique" without connotation of created origin. (See The Unseen Realm, Michael S. Heiser, chapter 4)
The word in Greek was used of an only child:
Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. Luke 7:12 NASB
"Only" here is monogenes. Luke uses monogenes of an only son (Luke 9:38) and of an only daughter in Luke 8:42. The writer of Hebrews uses this word of Isaac:
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; Hebrews 11:17 NASB
Isaac is called Abraham's monogenes. If you know the story, you know that Isaac was not the "only begotten"son of Abraham. Abraham had earlier fathered Ishmael (cf. Gen 16: 15; 21: 3). The term must mean that Isaac was Abraham's unique son, for he was the son of the covenant promises. Isaac's genealogical line would be the one through which Messiah would come. Just as Yahweh is an elohim, and no other elohim are Yahweh, so Yeshua is the unique Son, and no other sons of God are like Him.
So monogenes means: "one kind, unique or only" (i.e., the only one of its kind).
There is no other Son of God who is a Son of God in the same way that Yeshua is the Son of God. Only this one. All other sons of God referred to in the Scripture are either created or adopted.
God gave His Son—He doesn't just save us and take us to heaven because He loves us. He doesn't save arbitrarily. He's a holy, righteous and just God. And His holiness, His justice must be satisfied. His broken law demands penalty:
for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Yeshua. Romans 3:26 NASB
God's righteousness would dictate: pour out your wrath on guilty sinners—that would be righteous. But if God is going to justify the ungodly, then someone, namely Yeshua, had to bear the wrath of God to show that God is just. That's why the word "propitiation" in verse 25 is so important. Christ bore the wrath of God for our sins, and turned it away from us.
His righteousness demands judgment and so Christ must die as the sin offering. That's why He gave His Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish:
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Romans 8:32 NASB
"But delivered Him over for us all"—so who delivered up Yeshua to die? Octavius Winslow in the 19th century wrote, "Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy;—but the Father for love!" The death of Yeshua was due to the initiative of the Father. The Father willed the Son's death for the benefit of the elect:
But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. Isaiah 53:10 NASB
It was the Father's intention from the beginning that the promise to Abraham—that all nations shall be blessed (Genesis 12:3)—would be fulfilled through the death of His Son.
So we have the Act—God loved, The Result—God gave, and now then The Purpose—which is, "that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." These two aspects that are stressed are put in two different tenses in the Greek text. "That he should not perish, (an event,) but have, (present tense,) an enduring having of eternal life."
Let's look at the negative first, "whoever believes in Him shall not perish"—what does it say will not happen to those who believe? They "shall not perish" it doesn't say, they won't go to hell, or they won't suffer throughout eternity. It says they will not perish. It is the opposite of eternal life. It is the opposite of life which is death. John MacArthur writes, "'Perish' is the Greek word apollumi, which is much used in the New Testament for eternal ruin; it refers to hell." How did he make that connection?
Most Christians think there is a place of eternal fire and torment called "Hell" which will be the ultimate fate of the wicked. But what does the Bible say about Hell? Nothing! The word "Hell" is not in the original language of the Bible, and if you see it in your Bible, it is a bad translation. When we read the word "Hell," all kinds of ideas come to our minds. We may think of the abode of condemned souls; a place of eternal fiery punishment for the wicked after death. We may think of a place of fire and brimstone, where the damned undergo physical torment eternally.
"Hell" is found 31 times in the KJV Old Testament where it is translated from the Hebrew word "Sheol." But nowhere do we see Sheol as a fiery place of torment. So why did the KJV translators translate it as Hell? It is because the wording of the KJV is more "interpretation" than "translation."
In the KJV New Testament the word "Hell" is found 23 times. It is translated from the word "Hades," which is the Greek equivalent of Sheol (the place of the dead), 10 times. It is translated from the Greek word "Tartaroo" once, and 12 times from "Gehenna." Gehenna was a place that had become identified in people's minds as a filthy and accursed place where useless and evil things were destroyed. It was a defiled place, and it became the garbage dump of Jerusalem. Fires smoldered there continuously; repulsive and ugly worms ate at the garbage. That becomes the symbol of judgment.
Every use of Gehenna (except for the one in James) is from Yeshua speaking to Jews that live in or around Jerusalem. It is never used of Gentiles and never used outside the Gospels because Gehenna was the city dump outside Jerusalem.
So none of the KJV's uses of "Hell" have anything to do with a fiery place of torment. So as I said earlier, the word "Hell" should not be in your Bible. The NASB has the word "Hell" 13 times. ESV has it 14 times and Young's Literal Translation does not have the word "Hell" in it, not once. So to answer my original question," What does the Bible say about Hell?" The answer is nothing! The word "Hell" is not in the original translations of the Bible.
"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. John 3:16 NASB
The clear contrast here is "perish" and "eternal life." Those who trust in Christ don't perish. The Greek word "perish" is used literally of death. Paul taught the same thing as Lazarus did in:
For the wages of sin is the death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Yeshua our Lord. Romans 6:23 NASB
Note the wages for sin is death, not eternal punishing and torment in some place called Hell. In the context of Paul's dissertation in his letter to Rome, "the death" refers to the sentence given to Adam who was guilty of "the sin." Paul's message was that a life in Adam would result in "the death," while a life of faith in Christ brings everlasting life. Again the contrast is death and eternal life, not eternal torture or eternal life.
The Greek scholar and New Testament translator, R. F. Weymouth, wrote, "My mind fails to conceive a grosser misinterpretation of language than when the five or six strongest words which the Greek tongue possesses, signifying 'destroy,' or 'destruction,' are explained to mean maintaining an everlasting but wretched existence. To translate black as white is nothing to this."
Now you may be thinking what about Matthew 25? Let's look at it:
"These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:46 NASB
Here we have a comparison between eternal punishment and eternal life. The word "eternal" is the same in both cases. "Eternal" is from the Greek aionios from aion, which means: "existing at all times, perpetual, pertaining to an unlimited duration of time." So people argue if the righteous get eternal life then the wicked get eternal punishment. This is true, but what does "eternal punishment" mean? As we see from other Scriptures, the punishment is death. So what the wicked get is eternal death. It is talking about the result of the action and not the action itself. The punishment is death and that is eternal. The destruction of the wicked in the lake of fire is permanent. It is a punishment that cannot be reversed. The act of punishing will come to an end, but the consequences will last for eternity:
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 NASB
Here, those perishing are the non-elect:
but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:24 NASB
So the contrast is, those who are "perishing" and those "being saved."
The Bible teaches that the reward of believers is everlasting life, while the punishment of the wicked is just as the Scriptures state—death, which is the opposite of life. As the wicked will have no escape from death, it is indeed an eternal punishment
Lazarus defines that life as "eternal life." It has been the assumption of most of Christianity that "eternal life" means "everlasting life." However, for Lazarus , God is the "eternal" One, and thus "eternal life" is not "everlasting life," but the life of God. Furthermore, the word "eternal" was used to describe the Messianic Age, the Age of the Spirit, the Kingdom of God.
Believer, if you are ever tempted to doubt the love of God for you, all you have to do is look to John 3:16, Yahweh loves you so much that He gave His beloved Son to die in your place:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NASB
God demonstrated His love by giving His Son. Trust in what He has done for you.