3:1 There 1 was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a a ruler of the Jews:
(1) There are none sometimes more unlearned than the learned, but the learned as well as the unlearned must desire wisdom from Christ only. 3:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a b teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, c except God be with him.
(a) A man of great estimation and a ruler amongst the Jews.
(b) We know that you are sent from God to teach us. 3:3 2 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot d see the e kingdom of God.
(c) But he in whom some part of the excellency of God appears. And if Nicodemus had rightly known Christ, he would not only have said that God was with him, but in him, as Paul does in ( 2 Corinthians 1:19 ).
(2) The beginning of Christianity consists in this, that we know ourselves not only to be corrupt in part, but to be wholly dead in sin: so that our nature has need to be created anew, with regard to its qualities, which can be done by no other power, but by the divine and heavenly, by which we were first created. 3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How f can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mothers womb, and be born?
(d) That is, "go in", or "enter", as he expounds himself below in ( John 3:5 ).
(e) The Church: for Christ shows here how we come to be citizens and to have anything to do in the city of God.
(f) How can I who am old be born again? For Nicodemus answers as if Christs words were only addressed to himself. 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is g flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
(g) That is, fleshly, namely, wholly unclean and under the wrath of God: and therefore this word "flesh" signifies the corrupt nature of man: contrary to which is the Spirit, that is, the man ingrafted into Christ through the grace of the Holy Spirit, whose nature is everlasting and immortal, though the strife of the flesh remains. 3:8 The wind bloweth where it h listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
(h) With free and wandering blasts as it wishes. 3:9 3 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
(3) The secret mystery of our regeneration which cannot be comprehended by mans capacity, is perceived by faith, and that in Christ only, because he is both God on earth, and man in heaven, that is to say, man in such a way that he is God also, and therefore almighty: and God in such a way that he is man also, and therefore his power is made manifest to us. 3:11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our i witness.
(i) You handle doubtful things even though you have no solid basis for believing them, and yet men believe you: but I teach those things that are of a truth and well known, and you do not believe me. 3:13 And no k man l hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, [even] m the Son of man which n is in heaven.
(k) Only Christ can teach us heavenly things, for no man ascends, etc. 3:16 5 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth o in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
(l) That is, has any spiritual light and understanding, or ever had any, but only the Son of God who came down to us.
(m) Whereas he is said to have come down from heaven, this must be understood as referring to his Godhead, and of the manner of his conception: for Christs birth upon the earth was heavenly and not earthly, for he was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
(n) That which is proper to the divinity of Christ, is here spoken of the whole Christ, to show us that he is but one person in which two natures are united.
(5) Nothing else but the free love of the Father is the beginning of our salvation, and Christ is he in whom our righteousness and salvation dwells: and faith is the instrument or means by which we apprehend it, and everlasting life is that which is set before us to apprehend. 3:17 6 For God sent not his Son into the world p to condemn the world; but that the q world through him might be saved.
(o) It is not the same to believe in a thing, and to believe about a thing, for we may not believe in anything except in God alone, but we may believe about anything whatever, says Nazianzene in his Oration of the Spirit.
(6) Christ does not condemn, but rather despising Christ condemns. 3:19 7 And this is the r condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
(p) That is, to be the cause of the condemning of the world, for indeed sins are the cause of death; however, Christ will still judge the living and the dead.
(q) Not only the people of the Jews, but whoever will believe in him.
(7) The only reason why men refuse the light that is offered to them is wickedness. 3:21 But he that s doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought t in God.
(r) That is, the cause of condemnation, which remains in men, unless through Gods great benefit they are delivered from it.
(s) That is, he that leads an honest life, and is void of all cunning and deceit. 3:25 8 Then there arose a question between [some] of Johns disciples and the Jews about purifying.
(t) That is, with God, God as it were going before.
(8) Satan inflames the disciples of John with a fond emulation of their master in order to hinder the course of the gospel: but John, being mindful of his office, not only puts a stop to their endeavours, but also takes occasion by that means to give testimony of Christ, that in him alone the Father has set forth everlasting life. 3:27 John answered and said, A man u can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
(u) Why are you trying to better my state? This is every mans lot and portion, that he cannot better himself in the slightest way. 3:31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is x earthly, and y speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.
(x) Is nothing else but man, a piece of work made of the slime of the earth. 3:32 And what he hath z seen and heard, that he testifieth; and a no man receiveth his testimony.
(y) Is characterized by nothing but corruption, ignorance, dulness, etc.
(z) What he knows fully and perfectly. 3:35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath b given all things into his hand.
(a) That is, very few.
(b) Committed them to his power and will. 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not c see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
(c) Shall not enjoy.