Verse 3. "This is life eternal" - The salvation purchased by Christ, and given to them who believe, is called life:
1. Because the life of man was forfeited to Divine justice; and the sacrifice of Christ redeemed him from that death to which he was exposed. 2. Because the souls of men were dead in trespasses and sins; and Christ quickens them by his word and Spirit. 3. Because men who are not saved by the grace of Christ do not live, they only exist, no good purpose of life being answered by them. But when they receive this salvation they live-answer all the Divine purposes, are happy in themselves, useful to each other, and bring glory to God. 4. It is called eternal life to show that it reaches beyond the limits of time, and that it necessarily implies-1. The immortality of the soul; 2. the resurrection of the body; and that it is never to end, hence called aiwniov zwh, a life ever living; from aei, always, and wn, being or existence. And indeed no words can more forcibly convey the idea of eternity than these.
It is called h aiwniov zwh, THAT eternal life, by way of eminence. There may be an eternal existence without blessedness; but this is that eternal life with which infinite happiness is inseparably connected.
"The only true God" - The way to attain this eternal life is to acknowledge, worship, and obey, the one only true God, and to accept as teacher, sacrifice, and saviour, the Lord Jesus, the one and only true Messiah.
Bishop Pearce's remark here is well worthy the reader's attention:- "What is said here of the only true God seems said in opposition to the gods whom the heathens worshipped; not in opposition to Jesus Christ himself, who is called the true God by John, in 1 John v. 20." The words in this verse have been variously translated: