The New Birth

The New Birth: Born of Water and Spirit: Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see (with astounded eyes) the kingdom of God. John 3:3

First, you must remember that the interpretation of the Bible is often based upon what we already believe. Being reactionary against Catholicism, early protestant's "faith only" caused them to deny Christ's words because they, if interpreted consistent with the rest of the Bible, seem to imply that we have to use our minds or do something to accept the free gift of Christ.

Second, the idea of predestination demands that some are destined to heaven and others to hell. God, they say, made that decision to learn us or burn us long before we were born -- "babies not an inch long are burning in hell right now," some say. Therefore, to presume to believe and be baptized as a condition of entering into the kingdom of Christ is, to them, like a person 5'2" applying for a place on a professional basketball team. They would say: "If you ain't got it you ain't got it." Faith to them is given to them by God to prove to them and the watching world that they are one of the select few honored by God from eternity.

Third, the passage is taken out of context. Remember, that Nicodemus had already been born physically and Jesus said, and I paraphrase, "No, I am not talking about the physical birth when you were born of your mother's womb. You must be born again of water and the Spirit (Word or Truth) -- a new mind.

To be what God wants us to be it is important to be cleansed or purged of the "old man" who is considered dead when baptized; and to be renewed in the spirit of the mind. In Paul's imagery, our bodies are dead and God lives in our mind or spirit.

Therefore, to answer your question, I will begin to note that Nicodemus had already been born once. Then we will "bird walk" a bit and look at some other passages which show the Word - Spirit connection:

THERE was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: John 3:1

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. John 3:2

There, you see, Nicodemus already believed in Jesus as having God with Him. Therefore, Jesus recognized this faith but did not say: "Because you believe, you are already in the kingdom of God." He did not say, "Nicodemus, enter in because you are one of the select few."

The context of Nicodemus' statement is his confession that HE, JESUS, must be supernaturally empowered.

Jesus did not begin by promising "the gift of the Spirit" as some form of mental or physical feeling or action to prove that the power was in the believer

Rather, Jesus promised that the kingdom would be seen or discerned only after he, Nicodemus who was already a man and a believer, was born again at two levels.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see (with astounded eyes) the kingdom of God. John 3:3

Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Eze.18:31

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: Eze.11:19

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Is.57:15

A "man" is an already-existing person such as Nicodemus. He has been born once into the physical realm but not into the spiritual realm where he could see. However, this physical person must be born again of both water and spirit

Born "again" is from the Greek:

Anothen (g509) an'-o-then; from 507; from above; by anal. from the first; by impl. anew: - from above, again, from the beginning (very first), the top. (from the opposite direction)

Nicodemus continued to think like modern interpreters:

Nicodemus saith unto him,

How can a man be born when he is old?

can he enter the second time into his mothers womb, and be born? John 3:4

Nicodemus understood that he had been born physically and that Jesus was saying that he needed to be born in a physical sense a second time.

No, Jesus said, a man (already existing) must be (future) born of water a second time. To be born means that he must come out of the water:

It is not difficult to understand Jesus in John 3:5 if we see it explained by Him in the Great Commission, and put into practice beginning on the day of Pentecost:

1. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee,

Except a man (existing) be born
of water and
of the Spirit,
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5

2. And he (Jesus) said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15

He that believeth
is baptized shall be saved;
but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:16

3. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and

be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ
for (eis, into) the remission of sins,
and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38

4. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Titus 3:4

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us,

by the washing (Loutron, baptism) of regeneration (new birth),
and renewing (repairing) of the Holy Ghost; Titus 3:5

To enter into the kingdom, is from the Greek word:

Eiserchomai (g1525) ice-er'-khom-ahee; from 1519 and 2064; to enter (lit. or fig.): arise, come (in, into), enter into, go in through

This word is connected to eis (into or for) as the process and end-result: One enters into to make the action complete. For instance, the two Marys went into the tomb:

And entering (g1525) into (g1519 eis) the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. Mark 16:5

The Marys entered into a literal tomb, we enter into a type of that tomb where we begin to follow the risen Christ.

Into or for or eis does not mean "because of." Rather, its first meaning is "indicating the point reached or entered." The women entered the tomb as a process. When they were inside they were "in" the tomb.

Doesn't 3:6 prove that the first birth of water is the natural birth? Then doesn't the birth of the Spirit mean the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

In verse 6, Jesus said:

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

Jesus did not say that you must be born again of flesh and the spirit, but of water and the Spirit.

John did not write John 3 in isolation, but he wrote chapter 1 to set the stage and prevent mistakes. It is clear that the Spirit which revealed truth anticipated mishandling of the Word and guarded against it. In chapter one John wrote:

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12

Which were born (regenerated), not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:13

children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. John 1:13NIV

Jesus said that we MUST BE BORN AGAIN. The birth of FLESH was not of water but amniotic fluid. Our will was not involved in our birth. Nor can BORN AGAIN be flashed back to Born of flesh.

Nicodemus was born of the flesh and he was flesh. He was born of blood and of his father's will. However,

he must be born again of




If BORN AGAIN means born FIRST by flesh the BORN AGAIN must mean that we were once BORN OF THE SPIRIT and must be BORN AGAIN of SPIRIT.

The "new birth" means that we are translated into the kingdom of Christ

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness,

and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: Colossians 1:13

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Colossians 1:14

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer (request for) of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 3:21

In 1:18 Christ is the head of the body or the church or the kingdom. However, Paul notes that people were trying to change their opinions about the Christ they had received. They were complete because Christ had cut them off from the world without human hands. That is, the NEW BIRTH likened to the FIRST birth of FLESH which included circumcision. However, being BORN AGAIN we are to be circumcised without hands.

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Colossians 2:11

The people were effectively dead and BORN AGAIN into the kingdom or church because they had been

Buried with him in baptism,
wherein also ye are risen with him
through the faith of the operation of God,
who hath raised him from the dead. Colossians 2:12

Paul shows that it was not the initial faith that Jesus was the Messiah; the faith which saved was put into effect when the people believed that when they were baptized and buried, they were were raised in connection with Christ by their faith in God Who had raised Christ from the dead.

Paul told the Romans the same thing:

God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Romans 6:2

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Romans 6:3

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. Romans 6:4

Now look closer at what Jesus told Nicodemus:

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee,

Except a man (existing) be born
of water and
of the Spirit,
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5

Entering and Seeing the Kingdom of God

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized (Water) every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ

for the remission of sins, (into the remission of sins)

and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Spirit). Acts 2:38

Luke then identified those who had been baptized as believers.

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; Ac.2:44

praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:47

Christ, the Spirit, choose water as a fitting way for us to accept His will for our lives. Our "birth body" does not literally die but we are born again in a spirit sense. That happens in the water.

The Free Gift of God By Faith
Living Waters
Beginning of the Gospel
What is the Gospel - Baptized For the Dead
The New Birth
First Command of the Gospel
The Gospel at Pentecost
Paul, the Gospel and Baptism


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