Skip to comments.Born Of Water And of The Spirit...John 3 pt 4
Posted on 02/22/2012 1:54:15 PM PST by pastorbillrandles
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.(John 3:5-7)
John Three is the record of an interview, between the great Rabbi and Pharisee, Nicodemus, and the non formally trained , itinerant Rabbi from Nazareth, Jesus. But Jesus is the one who is teaching. The subject is the New Birth.
The Jews had a concept of new birth but it was non-biblical and inadequate, merely a colloquialism for any initiation into new responsibilities, such as marriage or initiation of ministry. perhaps a bit closer to the true sense, the Jews believed that if a defector from faith repented, he was said to be born again.
But Jesus is obviously calling for something far deeper, insisting that everyone, regardless of whether or not he is of the seed of Abraham, needs to be reborn to so much as see the Kingdom . According to Jesus, New Birth is a matter of ultimate and final salvation, without it there is no entry into Gods Kingdom.
Jesus is the Lord of Glory, but in the days of his flesh, he was a Rabbi, who taught the Word of God. He went by scripture, and actually never really said anything at all that wasnt either a direct quotation, or a direct allusion to the scriptures. As a man, he held the scripture in the highest regard . Even when tempted by the devil, he said It is written , appealing to the Word of God, and not applying his own thoughts and feelings, thus putting himself under the authority of scripture.
This is important to note, because there is much confusion about verse 5, unless a man is born of water and Spirit, he cant enter into the Kingdom of God .
Many believe that Jesus was referring to water baptism and spirit baptism, in talking to Nicodemus. Water and Spirit But the uniquely Christian baptism for the remission of sins was not inaugurated until after Calvary, where Jesus died for our sins. The same goes for Spirit Baptised, John 7:37-38 tells us that there could be no Spirit Baptism until Jesus was glorified. Nicodemus would have no idea what that meant, so I doubt it was a reference to that.
Others believe it is a reference to natural birth, (water) and spiritual rebirth, as if Jesus was saying to Nicodemus, you have to be born of a woman and of the spirit. That sounds unlikely to me also, why would Jesus tell us that we have to be born of a woman as well as spiritually?
I believe that Jesus was talking in a language Nicodemus as a Rabbi, Sanhedrinist and expert in scripture would know well, Jesus was alluding to a specific scripture, Ezekiel 36 ,
For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.(Ezekiel 36:24-27)
Nicodemus would know that Jesus was referring to the promise of God to Israel, in the days of the Babylonian captivity, that he would one day bring them back into the land in unbelief, and cure the nation once and for all of their penchant for idolatry.
The LORD would effect this for Israel, by washing them with water, and by removing from them their stony heart, replacing it with a new heart, sensitive again to God, a heart to follow and obey God. This would happen when God put his Spirit in them.
The promise of God to Israel was that He would renew them by water and Spirit, washing and regeneration.True salvation involves both of them. Nicodemus knew that Jesus was applying that promise to he and his generation.
But Israel had repudiated idolatry long since the Babylonian captivity and the return of the exiles. And Israel had developed into an intense purification religion. They were obsessed with the removal of defilement. Jesus had warned them however that the heart itself was the very fountain of all defilement, and that defilement is not external, but springs froma fallen nature.
There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.(Mark 7:15,20-23)
A close reading of John will reveal that gallons of water had to be available for the manifold ablutions, washings not only required by the Law of Moses, but by the traditions of the elders also.
Obviously purification alone is anadequate, we need new life! We need to be resurrected unto God, by an act of God. We do need to be forgiven, and washed clean of the things we have done against God and man. But washing alone fails to meet our deepest need, for our problem is not just what we have done, but who we are before God.
We need a New Birth! God offers to make us all over again, to give us a new heart.We can recieve a moral and spiritual renovation from God by accepting Jesus.
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: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.(John 1:12-13)
“I believe that Jesus was talking in a language Nicodemus as a Rabbi, Sanhedrinist and expert in scripture would know well, Jesus was alluding to a specific scripture, Ezekiel 36.”
Of course, there is no indication of this at all in the context of John 3. However, since the recorded exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus leads immediately into the subject of baptism and John the Baptizer (John 3:22), why in world would you overlook the most obvious and nearby referent to Jesus’ words, that is to John’s baptism?
There is evidence in the context of John 3 of what Pastor Brandles is saying here. Look at 3:10 where Jesus says to Nicodemus, “Are you the teacher of ISRAEL and you do not know these things?” This means that being “born of water and spirt” was taught in the Old Testament, and Nicodemus should have known about regeneration by water and spirit. There are actually many verses in the Old Testament which speak of regeneration by water and spirit besides Ezekiel 36. Joel 2, Isaiah 32 and 44 are just to name a few.
"Water and Spirit" comes right out of Ezekiel. Jesus spoke in terms of scripture, Nicodemus was familiar with Ezekiel 36. A new birth would correspond more to a "new heart" than to baptism.
the testimony of John the Baptist (John3:22-) is distinct from the conversation with Nicodemus. John the Baptist, , serves in his testimony to give a Christocentric recap of the earlier themes of the chapter. Jesus wouldn't have pointed Nicodemus to John the Baptist, John the Baptist was sent to point people to Jesus
pastorbillrandles wrote: “’Water and Spirit’ comes right out of Ezekiel. Jesus spoke in terms of scripture, Nicodemus was familiar with Ezekiel 36.”
Yes. I never said it didn’t. But does not Ezekiel 36 have fulfillment in the NT?
pastorbillrandles also wrote:
“A new birth would correspond more to a ‘new heart’ than to baptism.”
It might seem so if you understood baptism as merely an act of man rather than an act of God. So, to quote Jesus: “I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me: The baptism of John - was it from heaven or from men?” (Luke 20:4)
pastorbillrandles also wrote:
“the testimony of John the Baptist (John3:22-) is distinct from the conversation with Nicodemus.”
That is nothing more than your assertion, against which speaks the context, which the Apostle John writing by inspiration of God the Holy Spirit furnished.
pastorbillrandles also wrote:
“Jesus wouldn’t have pointed Nicodemus to John the Baptist, John the Baptist was sent to point people to Jesus.”
Clever, but wrong. If Nicodemus had not been baptized by John, which the people of “Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan” (Matthew 3:5) seemed to well understand was in accord with the command and will of God, then Nicodemus hadn’t been “pointed” to Jesus the Christ foretold by the OT prophets and pointed to by John, whom God appointed to prepare the way of the Christ. Nicodemus hadn’t believed the word of God spoken by the mouth of John. So Instead, Nicodemus pointed himself at Jesus the teacher from Nazareth, he prepared his own way. And it didn’t work very well. Jesus’ point was that if Nicodemus was told earthly things and didn’t believe, how would he believe if he was told heavenly things. In other words, if Nicodemus didn’t believe and understand that John spoke for God, saying, “repent and be baptized” (commands), and follow the plain and simple command - as most of the Pharisees and Sadducees also didn’t! - then he, lost, blind, and dead in sin as he was, could never believe in the Christ by his own ability.
Secondly,you said;pastorbillrandles also wrote: the testimony of John the Baptist (John3:22-) is distinct from the conversation with Nicodemus. That is nothing more than your assertion, against which speaks the context, which the Apostle John writing by inspiration of God the Holy Spirit furnished.
That is not an assertion, the text says..."After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.
Thirdly, Ezekiel 36 does have a fulfillment in the NT as well as at the time of the end. The NT fulfimment of Ezekiel 36 is the New Birth!
Fourthly , I have never said or considered Baptisn to be "of men", read the article!
Finally we don't know whether or not Nicodmus had been baptised by John or impacted by Him at all. But we do know that Jesus insisted that He needed to be born again!
Well thank you for the post. It is refreshing.
A new birth with a new heart, a new mind, a new spirit, a new name in the new Jerusalem of a new Heaven.
“First of all Belteshazzar, I am not trying to be ‘clever’, I am in good faith trying to promote discussion and understanding of scripture.”
Nor did I say you were trying to be clever. Nor am I accusing you of doing anything that is not in “good faith.” And I do believe that you are promoting “discussion and understanding of scripture.” And I believe that perhaps not only your readers will learn something.
Nevertheless, it was a clever answer in that on the surface it would appear to be true. John points to Jesus. Jesus would never point to John. Ergo Jesus could never have directed Nicodemus to John. But to argue this way is to negate the very point you were trying to make. You say that Jesus was pointing Nicodemus to Ezekiel. Well, tell me, how was Ezekiel’s call and office as prophet any different in purpose than John’s? Was he not also called by God to point to the coming of the Christ? To prepare His way?
The only difference between John and Ezekiel is one of proximity. Jesus calls John the greatest prophet ever born of women (Matthew 11:11) for the simple reason that John is the last prophet, the last in a long line pointing to the Christ. It is John’s nearness to Christ that gives him glory, not John’s innate greatness in comparison to the other prophets. In the same way - and in the very same context! - Jesus says that Capernaum was “exalted to heaven.” (Matthew 11:23) Why? Was it better than any other town in Palestine? No, it was the home of the Christ at the beginning of His ministry. Its proximity to Him is its great glory and exaltation. Nevertheless, as Jesus said, “he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater” than John, that is, it is a far greater thing to be an heir and citizen of heaven and thus have its glory than to have the earthly renown of John or the exaltation of Capernaum. In the same way, why is Mary addressed by the angel thus, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women”? (Luke 1:28) And she says of herself - having believed the words of the angel, which were the words of God Himself! - “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:48) Why is she so favored? Surely, dozens and dozens of women had carried within them the genes of the coming Savior, from Eve to Sarah to Rahab to Ruth etc, but Mary carried Him in her womb. Mary gave Him birth. Mary nursed Him at her breast. Her glory and blessedness - and great it is! - is entirely due to her proximity to the Christ.
Nicodemus’ great error was to not listen to and believe the prophets, who all pointed to the Christ, all described Him and His words and works. He failed to believe the last and greatest of all, John. He failed to heed John’s admonition to repent and be baptized, an admonition as much from God Himself as the words the angel spoke to Mary. That is why Nicodemus is taken to task bluntly, but in truth, gently, by Jesus. Understanding never comes by choosing how we will approach God. Understanding comes by doing things God’s way, who in truth comes to us.
pastorbillrandles also wrote:
“That is not an assertion, the text says...”After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.”
Fine. But is John’s gospel just a string of unrelated recollections of Jesus? Or is it a well thought out - by God the Holy Spirit! - and exceedingly cohesive narrative intended to lead to understanding and faith? The persons and work of John and Jesus are intertwined in the first chapters of John for a very good reason. Again, if there is no connection between the narrative of John 3:1-21 and John 3:22-36, why did “there arise a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification”? What is this purification? Does it have anything to do with the application of water, reference to which is to be found in the OT, as an earlier poster noted. Of course it does! John’s disciples and the Jews were arguing about the difference between the OT era rites of purification and John’s baptism! That is why John answers his disciples question, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified - behold, He is BAPTIZING and all are coming to Him,” (John 3:26) the way he does. Baptism, whether John’s, which was for Israel (”for the Jew first and also for the Gentile”) would not be fully actualized until “all righteousness was fulfilled,” i.e. fulfilled by the Christ in His perfect life lived for us and His atoning death died for us, until Jesus the Christ cried out, “It is finished,” or that for “all the nations of the earth,” which was commanded when all things had been completed is one and the same, as St. Paul powerfully asserted: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, ONE BAPTISM; one God and Father of all (Jew and Gentile believer alike!), who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)
pastorbillrandles also wrote:
“Thirdly, Ezekiel 36 does have a fulfillment in the NT as well as at the time of the end. The NT fulfimment of Ezekiel 36 is the New Birth!”
Indeed! And the New Birth begins with water and the Spirit, i.e., BAPTISM, as Jesus explained to the, for the time-being, uncomprehending Nicodemus and for all the uncomprehending Nicodemuses who would come after him. The prophecy of Ezekiel 36 (and 18) has a great deal to do with John 3, and thus with John the Baptizer and the baptism God commanded through him for all Israel.
“Fourthly , I have never said or considered Baptisn to be “of men”, read the article!”
I did read it; and am saying you are not understanding baptism rightly.
“Finally we don’t know whether or not Nicodmus had been baptised by John or impacted by Him at all. But we do know that Jesus insisted that He needed to be born again!”
If Nicodemus was not impacted by John “at all,” he never would have come to faith. But he did, as John the Evangelist makes clear for us. (John 7:50-52 and John 19:39-40)
Being born again (or perhaps more accurately, “from above”) and baptism are intimately intertwined, and that by the word and will of God. Nicodemus learned the lesson that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Nicodemus learned that to sit at the feet of the prophets, including John, is to sit at the feet of Jesus the Christ, for they all pointed to Him! He learned that to sit at their feet is to learn how to be “apt to teach,” (1 Timothy 3:2) and become in fact the “teacher of Israel” that he then was only in name.
Pastor, I am very interested in learning about this. I have heard Pastor Stephen Davy on the radio preach that to be born “of water” means physical birth, meaning that water is the amniotic fluid. Pastor Davy also said that to be born of “the spirit” refers to the Holy Spirit coming into your heart.
From what I can see, you agree with Pastor Davy’s interpretation for “spirit” but not with his interpretation for “water.”
My question: Are you saying that Ezekiel 36 is a prophesy for the New Covenant and the body of Christ? If not, what do you believe “sprinkle clean water on you” means for us today?
I have learned a lot from your posts.
Thanks Belteshazar, I have to think about what you are saying. Are you saying that Baptism itself is regeneration ? What are you saying I am not getting? Please try to be succinct.
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Both were originally given to Israel, but both apply to the church in the intermediate period.
I will sprinkle clean water on you is Priestly technical terminology , saying I will make you ritually clean again and fit to come before me. Hebrews 10 refers to the same cleansing. The Gospel is the water that washed (Eph 5:26)
The context of John 3 does appear to be baptism.
22 After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized.
The, ‘these things’, are Jesus discussion with Nicodemus.
“Thanks Belteshazar, I have to think about what you are saying. Are you saying that Baptism itself is regeneration ? What are you saying I am not getting? Please try to be succinct.”
OK, let me try to be succinct. To save space I will not even include Bible references, but simply use Bible language.
Salvation is spoken of in three different ways in the Bible:
1) Jesus is the Savior. Therefore Jesus saves. In this sense the Bible testifies to the fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, WON our salvation with His perfect life and sacrificial death. He did this entirely unassisted, after which He declared, “It is finished.”
2) Baptism saves, as does the preached Gospel (the power of God unto salvation). In this sense the Bible testifies to the fact that Jesus Christ commanded that disciples are to be made by these means throughout the world. Through these God-established means the salvation Christ WON then and there (that is, at Calvary 2000 years ago) is DISTRIBUTED to us here and now (wherever here and now are for us).
3) Faith saves, as Jesus and the apostles say so many times. In this sense the Bible testifies to the fact that faith, which is the gift of God not of works, is a heaven-sent gift of God to us, who are dead in trespasses and sins, and enemies of God. Thus faith RECEIVES the salvation Christ WON then and there and DISTRIBUTES to us here and now.
These three senses in which God in His word uses the term save/salvation are often played off against each other as if they were in conflict, and thus the plain words and sense of the Scriptures is contradicted one way or the other. But all three senses are true and correct, and beautifully connect the one to the other, and so uphold the absolute truth of God’s word, that SALVATION is by grace (DISTRIBUTED by God’s power and gift) through faith (RECEIVED) for the sake of Jesus Christ alone (WON).
When it comes to those who lived before the time of Christ and up until He said, “It is finished,” and later commanded His disciples to go forth and make disciples, they looked forward to SALVATION WON. But because God, who cannot lie, promised it, it was a certainty. In the same way SALVATION was DISTRIBUTED in view of it being WON, but the means were forward looking rather than backward looking as now, but still just as certain since God does not lie. Faith was the instrument of SALVATION RECEIVED then as now, and simply looked to the coming One, and the SALVATION He would win and distributed to Israel first and then to the nations.
P.S. Does baptism regenerate, i.e., make alive spiritually? Yes. That is what Jesus is saying to Nicodemus, for it is through baptism and the word that faith, saving faith, is given by God.
I read Eph 5:26 to refer directly to babtism. It is by obeying the Gospel, which calls for baptism, that Eph is refering to. Water is very important in God's plan. It is in the beginning to Christ's Death.
Gen 1 And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Israel is saved by passing through the waters of the Red Sea.
Israel enters the promised land by passing through the water of the Jordan River.
Jesus was baptized:
31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.
32 And John bore witness, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.
34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.
1 John 5
6 This is He who came by water and bloodJesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness on earth:[b] the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
Makes sense to me.