What is "Pharisees"?
Pharisees were one of the leading sects within Judaism. Pharisees took pride in trying to adhere not only to the laws in the Old Testament, but a dizzying array of man-made laws as well. They were respected by the other Jews and enjoyed social, religious and political power in the community.
What is meant by Nicodemus being “a ruler of the Jews”?
Nicodemus was one of the seventy or so members of the Sanhedrin, the political-judiciary-religious body that ruled Israel.
Didn't the Romans rule Israel at this time? And wasn't there also a king named Herod?
Yes, the Sanhedrin ruled under the supervision of Herod, whom the Roman emperor had appointed for the region that included Israel. Herod in turn was under the rule of the Roman emperor, who was represented by the Roman governor and legion stationed in the region.
Why did Nicodemus come "by night" (John 3:2)?
Nicodemus most likely didn’t want to be seen.
Nicodemus was one of the nation's top judge/religious leader/politician. Being seen with, let alone going to see, a street preacher who was doing and saying unorthodox things may not have been the best thing for Nicodemus' reputation.
How would you characterize Nicodemus' opening words to
They sound pretty gracious and respectful. He calls Jesus not only a "teacher" but one "from God" (John 3:2).
Are Nicodemus' opening words correct?
Not quite. Jesus IS God, not a teacher from God.
How might Nicodemus have expected Jesus to reply?
Given the disparity in their social status, Nicodemus may have expected Jesus to show some appreciation of the compliments offered.
Does Jesus live up to his expectations?
Proceed to the next page.