Monday, July 30, 2012


NOW THERE was a certain man among the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler-a leader, an authority-among the Jews;
2 Who came to Jesus at night and said to Him, Rabbi, we know and certain that You are come from God [as] a Teacher; for no one can do those these signs-these wonderworks, these miracles, and produce the proofs-that You do, unless God is with him.
3 Jesus answered him, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see-know, be acquainted with [and experience]-the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus said to Him, How can a man be born again when he is old? Can he enter his mother's womb again, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, except a man is born of water and (even) the Spirit, he cannot [ever] enter the kingdom of God.
6 What is born of [from] the flesh is flesh-of the physical is physical; and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not-do not be surprised, astonished-at My telling you, You must be born anew (from above).
8 The wind blows (breathes) where it will; and though you hear its sound, yet you neither know where it comes from nor where it goes. So it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.
9 Nicodemus answered by asking, How can all this be possible?
10 Jesus replied, Are you the teacher of Israel ad yet you do not know nor understand these things? [Are they strange to you?]
11 I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, We speak only what we know-we know absolutely what we are talking about; we have actually seen what we are testifying to-were eyewitnesses of it. And still you do not receive our testimony-you reject, refuse our evidence [that of Myself and all of those who are born of the Spirit].
12 If I have told you of things that happen right here on the earth, and yet none of you believes Me, how can you believe-trust Me, adhere to Me, rely on Me-if I tell you of heavenly things?
13 And yet no one has ever gone up to heaven; but there is One Who has come down from heaven, the Son of man [Himself], Who is-dwells, Whose home is-in heaven.
14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert [on a pole], so must-so it is necessary that-the Son of man be [lifted] up [on the cross];
15 In order that every one who believes in Him-who cleaves to Him, trusts Him and relies on Him-may not perish, but have eternal life and [actually] live forever! (John 3:1-15).


3 Jesus' reply to Nicodemus's opening statement was cryptic and abrupt. He informed Nicodemus that one one could even see the kingdom of God without a spiritual rebirth.Birth is our mode of entrance into the world. To be "born again" (or "born from above," the preferable translation) means the transformation of a person so that he or she is able to enter another world and adapt to its conditions. To belong to the heavenly kingdom, one must be born into it.

4 Nicodemus's reply may be interpreted in two ways. At first sight he appears to be quite materialistic in his attitude, thinking that Jesus was advocating what was impossible-a second physical birth. On the other hand, perhaps he meant, "How can a man whose habits and ways of thinking have been fixed by age expect to change radically?" Physical rebirth is impossible, but is spiritual change any more feasible?

5 In response, Jesus repeated his solemn assertion and expanded on it with reference to water and Spirit. What did Jesus mean by "water" and "Spirit"? Furthermore, since his ministry came shortly after that of John the Baptist, Jesus was probably referring to John's preaching, which dealt with the baptism of water (signifying repentance) and with the coming messenger of God who would endow humans with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-33). The new birth is conditioned on the repentance and confession of the individual in response to the appeal of God and by the transformation of life by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

6-8 Jesus asserted that the entrance into the kingdom of God that Nicodemus desired could not be achieved by legalism or outward conformity. It requires an inner change and is given only by the direct act of God. Just as the origin and destination of the wind are unknown to the one who feels it, similarly the new life of one born of the Spirit is unexplainable by ordinary reasoning; and its outcome is unpredictable, though its actuality is undeniable.

9 Nicodemus's question "How can this be?" should not be interpreted as an exclamation expressing incredulity. Rather, it is a plea for direction. He wanted to know how this experience could become his. Nothing in the Judaism he knew offered anything like this. The answer of Jesus accords with the words of Ezekiel in Ezk 36:25-28.
   Proselytes to Judaism were washed completely, issued new clothing, and then received into the commonwealth of the people of God; but Israelites were regarded as sons of Abraham and children of God by covenant from birth. In effect, Jesus was telling Nicodemus that his descent from Abraham was not adequate ground for salvation. He would have to repent and begin a new life in the Spirit if he expected to enter the kingdom of God (cf. John 8:37-44).
[NIV BIBLE COMMENTARY Volume 2: New Testament].



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