You Must Be Born Again 3 1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named h Nicodemus, i a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus 1 j by night and said to him, k “Rabbi, l we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do m unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is n born o again 1 he cannot p see the kingdom of God.” 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 q of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 r That which is born of the flesh is s flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 1 7 t Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You 1 must be born u again.’ 8 v The wind 1 blows w 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, x “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel y and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, z we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but z you 1 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 a No one has b ascended into heaven except c he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 1 14 And d as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man e be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes f in him g may have eternal life. 1 For God So Loved the World 16 “For h God so loved i the world, 1 j that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not k perish but have eternal life. 17 For l God did not send his Son into the world m to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 n Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not o believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 p And this is the judgment: q the light has come into the world, and r people loved the darkness rather than the light because s their works were evil. 20 t For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, u lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever v does what is true w comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
3 1 ῏Ην δὲ ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων, Νικόδημος ὄνομα αὐτῷ, ἄρχων τῶν Ἰουδαίων• 2 οὗτος ἦλθεν πρὸς αὐτὸν νυκτὸς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ• ῥαββί, οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἀπὸ θεοῦ ἐλήλυθας διδάσκαλος• οὐδεὶς γὰρ δύναται ταῦτα τὰ σημεῖα ποιεῖν ἃ σὺ ποιεῖς, ἐὰν μὴ ᾖ ὁ θεὸς μετʼ αὐτοῦ. 3 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ• ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. 4 λέγει πρὸς αὐτὸν [ὁ] Νικόδημος• πῶς δύναται ἄνθρωπος γεννηθῆναι γέρων ὤν; μὴ δύναται εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ δεύτερον εἰσελθεῖν καὶ γεννηθῆναι; 5 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς• ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ πνεύματος, οὐ δύναται εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. 6 τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς σάρξ ἐστιν, καὶ τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος πνεῦμά ἐστιν. 7 μὴ θαυμάσῃς ὅτι εἶπόν σοι• δεῖ ὑμᾶς γεννηθῆναι ἄνωθεν. 8 τὸ πνεῦμα ὅπου θέλει πνεῖ καὶ τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ ἀκούεις, ἀλλʼ οὐκ οἶδας πόθεν ἔρχεται καὶ ποῦ ὑπάγει• οὕτως ἐστὶν πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος. 9 ἀπεκρίθη Νικόδημος καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ• πῶς δύναται ταῦτα γενέσθαι; 10 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ• σὺ εἶ ὁ διδάσκαλος τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ καὶ ταῦτα οὐ γινώσκεις; 11 ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι ὅτι ὃ οἴδαμεν λαλοῦμεν καὶ ὃ ἑωράκαμεν μαρτυροῦμεν, καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν ἡμῶν οὐ λαμβάνετε. 12 εἰ τὰ ἐπίγεια εἶπον ὑμῖν καὶ οὐ πιστεύετε, πῶς ἐὰν εἴπω ὑμῖν τὰ ἐπουράνια πιστεύσετε; 13 καὶ οὐδεὶς ἀναβέβηκεν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εἰ μὴ ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβάς, ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. 14 Καὶ καθὼς Μωϋσῆς ὕψωσεν τὸν ὄφιν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, οὕτως ὑψωθῆναι δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, 15 ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ἐν αὐτῷ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. 16 οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλʼ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. 17 οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἵνα κρίνῃ τὸν κόσμον, ἀλλʼ ἵνα σωθῇ ὁ κόσμος διʼ αὐτοῦ. 18 ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν οὐ κρίνεται• ὁ δὲ μὴ πιστεύων ἤδη κέκριται, ὅτι μὴ πεπίστευκεν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ μονογενοῦς υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ. 19 αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ κρίσις ὅτι τὸ φῶς ἐλήλυθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον καὶ ἠγάπησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι μᾶλλον τὸ σκότος ἢ τὸ φῶς• ἦν γὰρ αὐτῶν πονηρὰ τὰ ἔργα. 20 πᾶς γὰρ ὁ φαῦλα πράσσων μισεῖ τὸ φῶς καὶ οὐκ ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα μὴ ἐλεγχθῇ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ• 21 ὁ δὲ ποιῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα φανερωθῇ αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα ὅτι ἐν θεῷ ἐστιν εἰργασμένα.
Come and have eternal life Intro : Recap backdrops: wedding, passover, temple, now a Rabbi and soon a sacred well. Gloriously trinitarian: not just that God makes it possible for us to be saved, but that he saves us : Father, Son, and Spirit. 1. You must be born again (v1-8) v1 Nicodemus, prominent 'ruler'. By night - significance? Moral/spiritual blindness. Perhaps he's one of the many who 'believed', end of last chapter? v2 claiming to 'see', but Jesus' response is that no one can 'see' unless born again. Wrong question: are you the One? Right question: am I ready for the One when he comes? [cf Christians and end times today. Right q: am I pure and ready?] v3 born from above/again. 'See' the Kingdom of God. Kingdom of God, shorthand for all of God's plans fulfilled. Establishing his long-awaited reign. Parallels to 'enter' eternal life. To participate in the kingdom at the end of the age. [E.g., book of Daniel] v4 Nicodemus doesn't understand, hence his literalistic, skeptical response. cf 'you will rebuild this temple which took 46 years to build'. v5 Enter the Kingdom of God: so it's not just future, but present. 'Now and not yet'. 'Regeneration' of the individual, before the end of the world/age, in order to enter the Kingdom. Not moral improvement, but transformation; new life from another realm. New life given from 'outside'. v6-8 Not two births (e.g., natural and then spiritual, or water baptism then spirit baptism), but both descriptors of birth 'from above' v3. 'Of' governs both 'water' and 'spirit'. And Jesus says Nicodemus should understand these things since he's Israel's teacher (v10), so we must look to the OT. Most significant is Ezekiel 36.25-27. Water speaks of cleansing from impurity, and spirit speaking of transformation of the heart to enable people to follow God whole-heartedly. Followed by famous valley of dry bones - death into new life, Ezekiel 37. NB Jesus isn't insisting Nicodemus experience the new birth there and then, but explaining what must be experienced for someone to enter the Kingdom. But the truth can only be fully understood and appreciated once Jesus has risen from the dead. v7 do not be surprised. You should know from the OT that a) people desperately need a new heart given them, and b) God promises to give it. Like the wind: discernable by its effects. The Spirit's work is uncontrollable but undeniable. God's glory . Gives eternal life and entrance to his kingdom, not dependent on privilege and upbringing, wisdom and gifts. But on the basis of the Father's love, the Son's blood, the Spirit's life. FCF . Gnostic tendencies, i.e., a higher and exclusive experience. Or, self-reliant moral improvement. Counterfeit fruit vs real fruit. The Spirit empowers our death to self, which grows the fruit. cf Christians who fall away and everyone is gobsmacked. Pull on the thread and find they never had to do anything they didn't actually want to do. Socially conservative values and issues are not in themselves proof of the Spirit's work. We cannot create the Kingdom of God, since without new birth from above no one can see or enter it! 2. The Son of man must be lifted up (v9-15) v9 the sense is 'how can this happen?' v10 Jesus is clearly teaching on the Old Testament v11-12 earthly things: not wind and natural birth (since no one disbelieves those things). But the new birth itself, which happens here on earth; Jesus says he has told him 'earthly' things. It is 'elementary', in that it is the start of life in the Kingdom. In which case 'heavenly things' are the splendours of fully realised Kingdom life. v13-14 Jesus can speak of heavenly things, not because he ascended into heaven from earth, but because heaven was his home in the first place, and he came from there. The parallel: God gave new life out of death to his people in the desert when they looked at the bronze serpent (Numbers 21.4-9); so why is it strange that he should give new life to his people? Second, important parallel: the serpent was 'lifted up', and so will the Son of Man be. Physically lifted up, and exalted; both senses in the word. In John, Jesus' return to the glory he had with the Father (John 17.5) is accomplished by means of being lifted up on the cross. This exaltation draws people to him (8.28, 21.32). The Son of Man is the revealer of heaven, most gloriously in the self-giving love shown at the cross. v15 whoever believes may have eternal life in Him. Jesus himself is the resurrection and the life, those who believe have life in him. Here's the simplest answer to Nicodemus' question v9: the Kingdom of God is entered, new life is experienced, eternal life begins, through the saving work of Jesus lifted up on the cross, received by faith. Eternal life - life of the age. The resurrection age; resurrection life. To participate in the Kingdom of God; a parallel term. Work of Jesus . He was 'lifted up' for our sakes on the cross. 3. God loved the world like this: he gave his Son (v16-21) Now an extended reflection or explanation from John? We are not sure quite where the speech marks should end. Note the levels: the new birth by the Spirit is grounded in the cross of the Son, which is grounded in the love of the Father. We aren't to admire God's love for being so big, since the world is so big. But for being so self-less, since the world is so bad. Dual stance towards the world: pronouncing honest condemnation on the grounds of human sin, whilst giving his gift of love that those who believe might be saved. Love of the Father leads to the mission of the Son. He loved 'in this way'. The Son of Man did not come into a neutral world to save some and condemn others; he came into a lost and already-condemned world to save some, those who would believe in his name. v18 condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God [cf arrogant critic - reveals/hardens what was already the case; 'it is not the masterpiece that is condemned, but the critic' - Wittgenstein's ruler]. Light coming into the world, cf 1.4-5. Jesus the true light, now shining within his creation even more brightly than at creation. Hates the light, lest works exposed; another aspect of the judgment. Comes into the light; not out of self-righteousness, but so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God; through God, in union with God. Person of Jesus. He reveals the self-giving love of the Father. In him is life. Union with Jesus . Come and have life in him. Come and enter the Kingdom today. Look upon Jesus, lifted up for your cleansing and renewal, and believe. Wrap up : Gloriously trinitarian: not just that God makes it possible for us to be saved, but that he saves us : Father, Son, and Spirit.