with Nicodemus 1:
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|A Conversation with Nicodemus
(John 3:1-21) There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of
the Jews: 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.
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.
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?
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. That which is born
of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not
that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it
listeth, 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.
Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest
not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know,
and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told
you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of
And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from
heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the
serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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. For God sent not
his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him
might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that
believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the
name of the only begotten Son of God.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved
darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that
doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should
be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may
be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (KJV)
Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, the Council of the Jews, a ruler
nik-o-de'-mus (Nikodemos): A Pharisee and a "ruler of the Jews," mentioned
only by John. He (1) interviewed Christ at Jerusalem and was taught by Him
the doctrine of the New Birth (Joh 3:1-15), (2) defended Him before the
Sanhedrin (Joh 7:50-52), and (3) assisted at His burial (Joh 19:39-42).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Much speculation has centered on why Nicodemus came to Jesus by night.
However, why he did we are not told. We only know that he did.
Nicodemus addresses as a Rabbi, or Master, or Teacher. He acknowledges
that Jesus performed miracles that attested He was approved by God. That
was the force and purpose of the miracles.
Jesus responds to Nicodemus by telling him:
Amen, Amen, I tell you, except a man is born again, he is not able to see the
kingdom of God.
He addresses what Nicodemus needs to know. Repeatedly telling him that
what He about to say is true – Verily, verily – Jesus emphasizes the
importance of what He is about to tell him. A man must be born anew to be
able to see the kingdom of God. This birth comes from above.
Nicodemus was confused. He could not understand how a man could be born
again. How can a full grown man be born? Is he able to climb back into his
mother’s womb, and be born?
Jesus repeats what He said, but in different words.
Truly, truly, I tell you, except a man is born of water and of the Spirit, he
cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Unless a man is born of water and of the Spirit, he is not able to enter into the
kingdom of God.
N. B. Hardeman was once asked what he thought water meant in this verse.
His response was “buttermilk.” When asked why he responded buttermilk, he
replied that if water did not mean water it could mean whatever one wished it
Water is only found in the act of baptism (immersion) in the teaching of the
gospel. It is the “washing of regeneration,” or the washing of the new birth.
The water covering the body being the sign of the change occurring upon the
spirit and soul of the individual. It is not the washing of the body, but the
washing of the soul with the blood of Jesus Christ.
The fact that one preposition is used to speak of the birth “of water and
Spirit” (note that the “of” before Spirit in the KJV is italicized), means that
one birth is being spoken of – a birth that combines water and the Spirit. It is
the instruction of the Spirit (the inspired word of God, the gospel) that
teaches one to be baptized, where the blood of Christ cleanses and makes
one a new creature.
(Mark 16:16) He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that
believeth not shall be damned. (KJV)
(Acts 2:38-40) Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one
of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall
receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your
children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall
call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save
yourselves from this untoward generation. (KJV)
(Acts 22:16) And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash
away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (KJV)
(Ephesians 5:25-33) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the
church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the
washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious
church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be
holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own
bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his
own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For
we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause
shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and
they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning
Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love
his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
(Galatians 3:27-29) For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have
put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free,
there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye
be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
(Romans 6:1-4) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace
may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer
therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ
were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism
into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the
Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (KJV)
Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the
kingdom of God. Jesus does not reply directly to the question of Nicodemus,
but proceeds to give a more explicit statement concerning the new birth. One
must be born of water and of the Spirit. Whatever this may mean, it will be
admitted by all (1) that no one is a member of the kingdom of God until he is
born again; (2) that the Savior declares the impossibility of one entering who
is not born of water and of the Spirit. All agree that the birth of the Spirit
refers to the inward, or spiritual change that takes place, and all candid
authorities agree that born of water refers to baptism. So Alford, Wesley,
Abbott, Whitby, Olshausen, Tholuck, Prof. Wm. Milligan, the Episcopal Prayer
Book, the Westminister Confession, the M. E. Discipline, and M. E. Doctrinal
Tracts, and also the writers of the early Church all declare. Alford says: "All
attempts to get rid of this have sprung from doctrinal prejudices."
People’s New Testament with Notes
There is a fleshly birth, and there is a Spiritual birth. They are two separate
things. Do not get them confused.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, 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. Most commentators have held that this means: "As the
wind moves mysteriously, so does the Spirit, and it breathes upon whom it
will, effecting the inward change called the birth of the Spirit arbitrarily." This
view I believe due to a wrong translation, sanctioned, not by Greek, but by
current theology. Let it be noted that: (1) Exactly the same Greek term
[pneuma] is rendered "wind" and "Spirit" in this verse. It is a violation of all
law that the same word should experience so radical a change of meaning in
the same sentence. (2) That the word pneuma is not translated "wind"
elsewhere, although it occurs scores of times in the New Testament, but is
always rendered "Spirit." (3) Another word in the Greek, anemos, is usually
used to represent "wind." (4) The erroneous idea creates a confusion of
figures. It makes Christ to say: "The wind bloweth where it listeth; so is (not
the Spirit, but) every one born of the Spirit." It affirms of him who is born just
what is affirmed of the wind, a thing the Savior never did. These facts are
sufficient to show that the rendering "wind" is wrong. All we have to do is to
translate pneuma here, as is done in the latter part of the verse and
elsewhere in the New Testament. The verse then reads: "The Spirit (pneuma)
breathes where it pleases and thou hearest the voice thereof, but canst not
tell whence it comes nor whither it goes. So (by hearing its voice) is every one
born of the Spirit" (pneuma). The meaning is: The Spirit breathes where it
wills and you recognize its manifestation by its voice; by the words spoken by
men of God as the Holy Spirit gives them utterance. You cannot tell whence
the Spirit comes to whither it goes, but you can hear its voice when it does
come. So, by hearing the voice of the Spirit, is every one born of the Spirit. He
who receives by faith the communications of the Spirit is born of the Spirit.
The birth of the Spirit is not the same thing as the gift of the Spirit. To those
who are born of the Spirit is given. "Because ye are sons, God hath sent the
Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Ga 4:6). Hence, in
harmony with the above view, Peter says, "Being born again, not by
corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and
abideth forever" [1Pe 1:23].
People’s New Testament with Notes
Do not be amazed that I said a man must be born anew.
Still Nicodemus did not understand. How is this possible?
Jesus responds by saying, in essence, How can you be a Rabbi in Israel, and
not know what I am saying? Undoubtedly, Jesus is speaking of what He knows
and what He has seen; but, Nicodemus does not accept what Jesus says as
true. If he cannot understand these things pertaining to this earth, how is he
going to be able to understand heavenly things?
[to be continued]