Born Again

What does it mean to be Born Again?

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John 3 Bible Study

3-12 Born Again

13-21 Bronze Serpent
22-36 Judea
JOHN 3:3-4  3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot 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?"

How would you paraphrase Jesus' reply to Nicodemus?
Look, you have no clue because you haven’t been "born again" (John 3:3).

What does it mean to be "born again"?
The original Greek word translated "again" more commonly means, "from above," - i.e., heaven. This Greek word occurs 13 times in the Bible, and is translated “from above” 5 times, “top” 3 times, “again” twice, “from the first” once, “from the beginning” once, and is not translated once. Jesus is saying that Nicodemus "cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3) until he has been born spiritually.

What do you think of Nicodemus' reply?
If Nicodemus had stopped after the first question - "How can a man be born when he is old?" (John 3:4) - he just would have expressed incomprehension. But his second question - "Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?" (John 3:4) - indicates that he may have been either trying to make light of Jesus’ reply, which he may have considered a snub in front of those around, or expressing shock since being born a Jew is what the Jews thought guaranteed their entry into heaven.

JOHN 3:5-8  5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter 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 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

What is Jesus saying in this passage?
The Greek word for “again” (John 3:7) is the same one used in John 3:3 above. It means "from above." Jesus is distinguishing between our physical birth - "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6) - and the spiritual birth - "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6) - required for us to "enter the kingdom of God." (John 3:5)

Why is "Spirit" (John 3:5) capitalized?
Jesus is referring to God the Holy "Spirit," the enabler of the spiritual birth.

Is the "Spirit" then a different God?
No, God the Holy Spirit, along with God the Father and God the Son (Jesus), comprise one God, and Jesus affirmed this in Mark 12:29 by declaring, "the LORD is one." But the Bible also clearly describes three distinct personhoods for God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This notion, commonly called, "Trinity," isn't easy for us to grasp. Just bear in mind that God is God and created the universe, so there will be some things about His truth that we mere humans won't fully understand, at least not while on the earth.

But is the Holy Spirit someone who can be said to have a 'personhood'?
Yes, Acts 13:2 says that He speaks: "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, 'Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'"

Can the "Spirit" be seen?
No, but neither can the wind, yet you know of its existence, as Jesus says in John 3:8 above.

What is the "water" of which John 3:5 says one also needs to be born to enter the kingdom of God?
Jesus is talking about the "living water" in the next chapter (John 4:7-14).

What is this "living water"?
It's salvation through Jesus Himself, whom John 1:1 also calls the "Word". To enter the Kingdom of God, we need to have Jesus, to know about Him, and to know Him through the Word.

Is there a more direct equation between "water" and the "word" in the Bible?
Yes, Ephesians 5:25-26 says, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word." Also, 1 Peter 1:22-23 adds, "Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever."

And who enables us to do that?
The "Spirit," as Jesus says in the passage above.

JOHN 3:9-12  9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

What is happening in this passage?
Nicodemus, one of the rulers and "teacher" of Israel is completely lost and is being chastised by Jesus, a street preacher.

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