Notes on John chapter 3: 1-16

Joh 3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

The Pharisees were a prominent sect among the Jews.
The meaning of this title or name "Pharisees" is "the seperated ones".

Thayer says the following:
A sect that seems to have started after the Jewish exile. In addition to OT books the Pharisees recognised in oral tradition a standard of belief and life. They sought for distinction and praise by outward observance of external rites and by outward forms of piety, and such as ceremonial washings, fastings, prayers, and alms giving; and, comparatively negligent of genuine piety, they prided themselves on their fancied good works.

Nicodemus was one of them.

Joh 3:2 the same came unto him by night, and said to him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that thou doest, except God be with him.

It was interesting that Nicodemus came to him by night.
Many have speculated why. We do not really know why. Some have suggested that he was afraid to be seen with Jesus if he would go in the daytime. And as a result some would even call him a coward. Well, whatever the case may be, he went, and that is what counts.

Nicodemus showed himself to be of a different character then most of the Pharisees. He recognized that Jesus had to come from God, otherwise he could not have done the signs that he did. He went and came to Jesus and asked.

Joh 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Jesus started right away with teaching him.
Jesus showed him that being born again was essential to being able to see the kingdom of God.

We also emphasize here that the concept under consideration is that of rebirth.
So the following verses have to do with regeneration.

We read also in John 1: 12, 13: But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

The rebirth that only God can bring about was under consideration.

Joh 3:4 Nicodemus saith unto 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?

Nicodemus truly did not understand Jesus. His answer showed how ignorant he was of the teachings of the old Testament.
He could have know. (verse 10)

Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God!

Jesus added some thoughts to His earlier comments. Now Jesus showed that the new birth that He had stressed was one of the water and of the spirit.

Compare this to Titus 3: 5.
We see there also that the rebirth is a birth of the waters of baptism as well as a renewing of the Holy Spirit.

Joh 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Empasize is on the spirit-birth. (Compare John 1: 12, 13)

 Joh 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born anew.

He should not marvel. He should have known.(verse 10)

Joh 3:8 The wind bloweth where it will, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

The new birth is illustrated by the blowing of the wind.
So, with the one that is born of the spirit it is like the wind.
We have not seen him but we hear the voice of the wind.

With wind we see evidences of it but we see not the wind itself. We see the trees shaking and moving, we see other things moving but we cannot see or touch the wind itself.

So, we see the result but we see not the cause of the result. We see the result but not the cause.
That seems to me the input of this verse.

So to me Jesus tells here that there is a process going on, the work of God, that we cannot see but we do witness the result.

See for this concept, the work of God.

Eph 2:5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved),

Eph 2:6 and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus:

Col 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Tit 3:5 not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

All these verses, and many others could be given, show that there is an unseen work of God and the Spirit going on when one is converted. It cannot be seen but it happens. It is the unseen work of God.

We can see when one is baptized. But do we witness the cutting of the heart, do we witness the forgiveness of sin, de we witness the giving of the Spirit?
No, we do not see any of that, it is a spiritual operation.

I would see this in light of:

  • Ephesians 2: 1-3

In those verses we read that God made them alive.
Yes, when one is obedient to the salvation-plan of God, the person self does not convert, it is God who convert. (Acts 2: 47)

Read in 1 Cor. 3: 6-7 Paul explains that he planted and Appollos watered, but it was God who gave the increase.
It was God who could convert, man cannot do this.

Many other verses shed light on this very same concept. It runs through the whole Bible.

Joh 3:9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

Joh 3:10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou the teacher of Israel, and understandest not these things?

Nicodemus should have understood, but he did not.

Joh 3:11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that which we know, and bear witness of that which we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

Jesus seems to be stressing the concept that we (Jesus, diciples, other followers) did understand, did bear witness. These things should have been enough for Nicodemus. But their witness and testimony were not received.

So, while Nicodemus also believed that Jesus came from God, he should have believed there witness and testimony, but he would not.

Joh 3:12 If I told you earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you heavenly things?

If, after I have illustrated this new birth by a most expressive metaphor taken from earthly things, and after all you believe not; how can you believe, should I tell you of heavenly things.

Joh 3:13 And no one hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended out of heaven, even the Son of man, who is in heaven.

It seems to be that Jesus here refers to the concept that if one wants to speak of heavenly things he needs to be aquinted with it.
Since Jesus is from heaven, and the diciples were inspired through heavenly beings (Holy Spirit) they were well qualified to speak of these things.

Joh 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up;

Turning to Moses he says: That even as Moses lifted up the serpent, so the Son of man was also to be lifted up. Lifted up to draw all of mankind to Himself.

Joh 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself.

Joh 3:15 that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life.

Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

This is the reason why Jesus came. He came to save the lost. And bring them eternal life.

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