The words “eternal life” are often repeated in Christian circles without much elaboration. We tend to assume that everyone just knows what it means to have eternal life. But what about those of us with questions or uncertainties? The words on their own don’t seem to mean much.
What Does the Bible Say?
Most Christian buzzwords can be easily clarified with a quick look in the Bible, and “eternal life” is no exception. If you or anyone else is confused about what it truly means to have eternal life, these verses can help you:
- Matthew 7:13-14
- John 3:16-17
- 1 John 5:11-13
- 1 Timothy 6:12
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
This verse emphasizes that eternal life is a prize found by only a precious few. While salvation is freely available to all, many will not accept it.
Pro Tip: In Matthew 7:13-14, the Greek word used for destruction is apoleia, which refers both to utter material and monetary ruin and to eternal death. In contrast, the word used for life is zoe, which refers to a fulfilled life of joy and prosperity.
2) John 3:16-17
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
John 3:16 is the go-to verse for most Christians when talking about eternal life. However, most people don’t keep reading to verse 17, which elaborates on what Jesus actually meant. Eternal life implies more than just living forever and being happy. It also means we’ve been rescued from the punishment our sins deserve. Everlasting life is salvation.
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
This verse emphasizes the gift of eternal life and its necessity for everyone. But it also takes the concept a step further by adding the idea that a person can know for sure that they have this gift. There is no uncertainty or expired warranty on salvation.
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
This verse is sometimes used to justify the notion that salvation is earned by good works rather than freely given. However, a closer look reveals the truth. Like any gift, salvation only becomes yours if you accept it. A neglected gift doesn’t truly belong to you. In order to enjoy the benefits of salvation and eternal life, you have to willingly accept God’s gift to you.
Thoughts on Salvation
These verses barely scratch the surface of what the Bible has to say about salvation and eternal life. The theme runs through the entire book. The best way to see the complete picture of eternal life is to do an in-depth Bible study on the topic yourself. Plenty of others will be ready to join you.
Do you still have questions about salvation and the Bible? Join the conversation to see what these verses mean to others.