John 3

Nicodemus learns about the new birth 1
Nicodemus should have known 9
God sent Christ who was lifted up 13
God so loved the world - Only begotten Son 16
John the Baptist's disciples and his position 25
John the Baptist exalts Christ as groom 29
Text Comments
.1 ¶ There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
 2  The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
  1 - There was a man Jesus could read his heart jn0225.
  1 - Ruler A member of the Sanhedrin.
  2 - Came to Jesus by night This would have been not long after the cleansing of the temple. Doubtless Nicodemus and the whole city and the region beyond had hear all about it jn0213ff. Also jn0223. Only after Jesus' death would he openly declare himself a follower jn1939.
  2 - Rabbi See on jn0138.
  2 - Teacher come from God The colleagues of Nicodemus had seen the same evidence but resisted the conclusion. They saw Jesus as a "master" and also recognized Him as "teacher" a term of respect and one he himself had no doubt earned by study of the Scriptures.
.3  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
 4  Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
.5  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into 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  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
.8  The wind bloweth where it listeth [pleases], and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
  3 - Born again Notice how Christ turns the conversation. He was about to offer something greater than miracles jn0113. The concept of the new birth is common among Christians. But this would have been a totally new thought to Nicodemus. Why is it needed and did Jesus need it? See note below.
  3 - Again From anothen. Or "anew" (RSV). or "from above" (YLT).
  3 - The kingdom of God This the Jews wanted but as an earthly kingdom which they would achieve with military might. Here Jesus is telling this political leader that he had to become a baby. What a contrast! On "kingdom" see mt0417, mt05.
   4 - How? It seems to me that Nicodemus was probing for an explanation.
   6 - Born of the spirit Paul apparently picked up this contrast between flesh and spirit ro0612, ro0618.
   8 - The wind boweth where it [pleases] It is independent and invisible So is the new birth process. The Holy Spirit works on the receptive heart gradually and without drawing attention to Himself jn1613.
.9  Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
.10  Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
.11  Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
 12  If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
  10 - Master of Israel Literally "the teacher of Israel."
  11 - Verily, verily See on mt0518.
  11 - We Why plural? Who is testifying with Christ? God the Father who sent Him and was then with Him. This will be clearer as we read.
  11 - Receive not our witness Jesus was witnessing and the Father had witnessed at His baptism mt0317.
  12 - Ye believe not Nicodemus must have been struggling with doubt.
  12 - Earthly ... heavenly things 1co0301f, he0512ff.
.13  And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.    13 - No man hath ascended This verse seems confusing. Jesus is speaking of Himself following His statement in v11. He had come down from heaven jn0638. At first glance we might wonder whether Enoch he1105 and Elijah 2ki0211 ever left this planet. Then we notice that the Son of man was at that time also "in heaven." The commentary I consulted said that maybe a scribe added this comment after Jesus had ascended. There's a better solution. He was spiritually in heaven by His close communion with the Father just as we may be ph0320, ep0206, 2co0509. Of course this does not give us the same level of authority as the One who came down. Also see pr3004. Ascending to heaven refers to what Christ would do ac0109ff. Won't we ascend at the coming of Christ? 1th0416. No, we will be taken as Enoch and Elijah were. And no text in the Bible justifies the idea that good people go to heaven individually when they die. Jesus comes to get them jn1403.
.14  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:   Serpent nu2106ff.
  Son of man Jesus often uses this term to identify Himself. It shows His human nature while "Son of God" shows His divine nature.
 15  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
 15 "that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." (RSV)
  Not perish The RSV translation from a different manuscripts as at left is apparently better. No truth is lost in the RSV, however. The only logical alternative to "eternal life" is "eternal death"—to be dead throughout eternity, thus "to perish." We understand this to be the "second death" for those not raised in the resurrection at the coming of Christ (1 Thess. 4:16, 17). See on re2006, re2004, re2108.
.16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
= = = = = = = = = =
  God so loved The Father is a person who cares. This love (agape) is beyond our imagination. Love is the power of His kingdom. jn2107. John wrote about this love and apparently understood it better than some others 1jo0301, jn1513.
  Only begotten Literally, "only one of the same essence" or "unique." He has other sons jn0112, ro0814. At the time of the New Testament, monogenes did not mean the only one born to a family.
  "One of the arguments used to support the idea that Christ was not eternal but that He had a beginning is that the title 'monogenes means 'only begotten.' ...This is a misuse and a mistranslation of the Christological title. 
Comments begin at the left.
That term appears nine times in the New Testament and always designates human objects: a son (Luke 7:12; 9:38), a daughter (Luke 8:42), Jesus (John 1:14,18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9), (This quotation, beginning at the left, and some comments not quoted are from a January 2007 newsletter from the Biblical Research Institute.)
  Abraham was called to sacrifice His only mogenes son (Heb. 11:17). Isaac had a unique role as the ancestor of Christ but Abraham had another (and important) son, Ishmael. 
  When monogenes applies to Jesus, the focus is on His unique roles as revealer of the Father, the only one who could forgive our sins and the only one who could die for them.
  Everlasting life What does the text say is the alternative? "perish." The popular idea about death does not agree. It says that those who refuse to believe still get everlasting life — just not in heaven.
.17  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.   Sent not ... to condemn  Condemn basically means "to judge" and from that, to pronounce a negative judgment. And consider the context. God gave His Son to the whole world. Everlasting life was offered to all so, from the next verses, why are some then condemned? Jesus explained this to Nicodemus. Read the passage carefully.
  If Jesus is our judge jn0522, can He be just without condemning anyone to punishment? Christ's mission was to preach about and live the kingdom of grace and to pay the supreme price for our redemption. Judgment is a later work. See on re2212.
  Also read about the woman caught in adultery jn0810f.
  World ... saved This does not mean that all will be saved as we see in the preceding verse.
.18  He that believeth on him is not condemned krino: but he that believeth not is condemned krisis already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.   Condemned Or "judged." Compare ro1423. Not condemned because the judgment is future and because the individual can change while living. By refusing to believe (claiming guilt), the case does not need to wait for judgment time.
  Name See on jn0112. Only begotten See on jn0114.
.19  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
 20  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
.21  But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
  19 - Condemnation From krisis, the process of judging. In contrast krima indicates the sentence or result of judgment.
  19 - Light ... and men loved darkness This strange behavior and its consequence are explained.
  Without light people are not condemned ps08704, ez0318ff, ro0707. lu2334. But with light, there is no excuse jn1522, 2co0404.
.22 ¶ After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.
.23  And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.
 24  For John was not yet cast into prison.
  22 - And baptized The Greek indicates a ministry of baptism. The physical action was done by the disciples jn0401f.
  23 - John also was baptizing He continued during the early part of the ministry of Christ.
  23 - Much water Sprinkling or pouring would not have required this ac0836ff.
.25  Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.
.26  And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.
.27  John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
 28  Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.
  25 - Purifying Ceremonial washing or baptism.
  26 - [Jesus] baptizeth, and all men come to him Jealousy develops easily. Study John's inspired response. See on v22.
  27 - Compare ja0117.
.29  He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.
.30  He must increase, but I must decrease.
 31  He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.
 32  And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.
  30 - But I must decrease How many of us would cheerfully say this? When we think of John's comment at v27, we can understand.
.33  He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.
.s34  For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.
.35  The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.
.36  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
   36 - He that believeth ... hath life See on jn1126. and compare da1202.
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Note on verse 3 – the new birth
    We are born with natural inclinations toward evil. We tend to like bad things. Our first parents were responsible to God who gave dominion over the earth ge0126. But He gave them a choice in not preventing access to the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Sadly, they chose to believe Satan and follow his advice. He has claimed this world as his ever since mt0408. Thus when old enough to understand, we may invite Christ into our lives. This gift is received by the work of the Holy Spirit as noted in verse 6 above. Then we keep it by committing our lives to Christ daily lu0923 and praying when we realize that we are being tempted. This doesn't mean instant perfection but constant commitment. We grow in grace 2pe0318. Thus as long as we remain close to our Lord and true to Him we we have assurance of salvation. See on jn1028f.
    Did Jesus need to be born again of the Spirit. No. His natural birth was through the Holy Spirit lu0135.