It is very good to see how time flies when you’re having fun. I mean just a week or so ago we undertook the journey to go through the bible verse by verse and we started with the Gospel of John. Now, we are already starting Chapter 3. I admit that we could go even deeper into some of these verses but, I don’t want to complicate God’s word with to much information. I just want everyone to understand what they word is saying.
Now, at the end of chapter 2, we left Jesus in Jerusalem at the Passover. This is where he chased everyone who was trading in the temple, out of the temple. We also saw pretty much his first confrontation with the Jews or specifically the Pharisees when they questioned his authority to chase people away. We saw Jesus telling them that they can destroy the temple and he will raise it in three days. Obviously referring to his death but the Jews failed to see that.
Now at the beginning of Chapter 3, Jesus is still in Jerusalem and we see a Pharisees by the name of Nicodemus visiting Jesus in the night and asking questions. John 3:1-21 is pretty much the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus.
I must admit that this is one of my favorite passages in the bible.
John 3:1-21 (ESVST)
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
The only thing we know about Nicodemus is that He was a leading Pharisee, “a ruler of the Jews,” and a member of the Sanhedrin. Sanhedrin was the highest court of justice and the supreme council of ancient Jerusalem.
2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “ Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
He came by night. Now many are saying that his coming at night shows the spiritual darkness of his heart. To me it would make more sense for such a high positioned person in Jerusalem not to want to be seen with Jesus publicly untill it has become clear who he was. We see this as well when Jesus was been trialed by the council, he did not tell them about his visit but instead, tried to defend him. He is the same man who later buried him. I believe he was simply sacred to be seen with Jesus in public and that is why he came by night.
We have seen in Chapter 2, how Jesus did miracles. It was mentioned there after the miracle of the wine that this was many of the first miracles that he did. So, at this point, as indicated by Nicodemus in this verse, because of these miracles, they knew that he was from God. The reason being, only if God was with you, could one do such miracles but here is the problem, they did not see Jesus as the Son of God, they saw him as a teacher. I believe this is the reason why Jesus said in John 2:23-25 that,
John 2:23-25 (ESVST)
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
He knew that although they believe, they were simply believing because of the signs and miracles and they still did not believe that he was the Son of God. They had incorrect or false believe. This is now confirmed by Nicodemus who sees Jesus as a teacher. There are lots of instances were Jesus was called Rabbi meaning teacher, even by his own disciples.
3 Jesus answered him, “ Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Now, according to the verses we just read, Nicodemus did not ask a question. He only made staments. Now, why is Jesus answering him, what question did he ask? There are two scenarios here, the firs one is that Nicodemus did ask a question but John did not write it
John 21:25 (ESVST)
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
So, this could have been one of those question that John felt he needed not to write about. The second scenario could be that I believe that as indicated in John 2:23-25 that Jesus knows what is in man and does not need man to witness, Jesus knew what was in Nicodemus’s heart and he went straight to the point and answered it. I believe this second one makes more sense. It was said in chapter 2 that he knew what was in man, so he simply looked into Nicodemus’s heart and answered his reall question.
Jesus’s answer to a question that Nicodemus asked in his heart was unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. This is one of the most misunderstood verse in the history of the church. This verse together with verse 5 which we will deal with later, are very misunderstood. When Jesus says “truly, truly” he is simply using an expression to highlight that he is really telling him the truth. The word again in the verse is a Greek word “anothem” which means “from above”. This word was used 13 times in the authorized version and 5 times as above, 3 times as top and 2 times as again and so on. This word ” anothem ” comes from the adverb “ano” which means above.
g0509. ανωθεν anothen; from 507; from above; by analogy, from the first; by implication, anew:— from above, again, from the beginning (very first), the top.
AV (13)- from above 5, top 3, again 2, from the first 1, from the beginning 1, not tr 1;
Why am I using the Greek dictionary, it is because the New Testament was originally written in Greek. So, we need to go back to the original Greek to see what the original meaning was.
So, clearly this word means above. So, Jesus’s answer would look like this in its original meaning, unless one is born from above, he will not see the kingdom of God. Still not convinced? Let’s look at this verse. I want to spend a bit more time here so that we can all be on the same wave length.
1 Peter 1:3 (ESVST)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
Here Peter uses the words born again but in this verse, the original Greek words are not anothem or ano meaning from above, the words here are “anagennao” meaning “born again”. This word “anagennao” comes from two Greek words “Ana” which means “by” and “gennao” which means to conceive or give birth.
g0313. αναγενναω anagennao; from 303 and 1080; to beget or (by extension) bear (again):— beget, (bear) x (again).
AV (2)- begat again 1, be born again 1;
to produce again, be born again, born anew
g1080. γενναω gennao; from a variation of 1085; to procreate (properly, of the father, but by extension of the mother); figuratively, to regenerate:— bear, beget, be born, bring forth, conceive, be delivered of, gender, make, spring.
AV (97)- begat 49, be born 39, bear 2, gender 2, bring forth 1, be delivered 1, misc 3;
of men who fathered children
Here Peter is also using the words born again but here, he means to conceive or to give birth. In this context of this verse in Peter, when Peter says he has caused us to be born again, Peter is simply saying that Jesus has given birth to us. Our Worldly parents gave birth to us into a sinning world or into sin or unto death but Jesus has caused us to be born again spiritually into a living hope. To be born, wether spiritually or physically, you as the person who is being born, play no part in it. It is not your decision and you do not get consulted.
So, I hope now you can see the difference between the words John used and the words Peter used. Jesus is talking about being born from above and Peter is talking about being born again. Example, it is like saying a boy that wants to marry my daughter must be born from a rich family. This is the condition that you put in place, the same as the condition that you need to be born from above to enter the kingdom of God. Now, how does this boy gets born, his father must inpregnate his mother for him to be born. This is the same as although you are physically alive, you are however spiritually not alive. Now, you need to be born from above but Jesus is the one that causes you to be conceived spiritually. I hope this makes sense now.
So what we are looking at here is that we see Jesus saying to Nicodemus unless you are spiritually born from above, you will not enter the kingdom of God.
We will continue with verse 4 next time.
Father thank you for your wonderful words. Thank you for telling us how we can come to you. Let’s these words find a suitable place in people’ s hearts. In Jesus name, amen.
4 Nicodemus said to him, “ How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother ‘s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “ Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘ You must be born again. ’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to him, “ How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “ Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
For God So Loved the World
16 “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”