John 3:1-21

1 There was a Jewish leader named Nicodemus, who belonged to the party of the Pharisees.
2 One night he went to Jesus and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher sent by God. No one could perform the miracles you are doing unless God were with him."
3 Jesus answered, "I am telling you the truth: no one can see the Kingdom of God without being born again."
4 "How can a grown man be born again?" Nicodemus asked. "He certainly cannot enter his mother's womb and be born a second time!"
5 "I am telling you the truth," replied Jesus, "that no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.
6 A person is born physically of human parents, but is born spiritually of the Spirit.
7 Do not be surprised because I tell you that you must all be born again.
8 The wind blows wherever it wishes; you hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
9 "How can this be?" asked Nicodemus.
10 Jesus answered, "You are a great teacher in Israel, and you don't know this?
11 I am telling you the truth: we speak of what we know and report what we have seen, yet none of you is willing to accept our message.
12 You do not believe me when I tell you about the things of this world; how will you ever believe me, then, when I tell you about the things of heaven? 1
13 And no one has ever gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from heaven." 2
14 As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the desert, in the same way the Son of Man must be lifted up, 3
15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its savior.
18 Those who believe in the Son are not judged; but those who do not believe have already been judged, because they have not believed in God's only Son.
19 This is how the judgment works: the light has come into the world, but people love the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds are evil.
20 Those who do evil things hate the light and will not come to the light, because they do not want their evil deeds to be shown up.
21 But those who do what is true come to the light in order that the light may show that what they did was in obedience to God.

Images for John 3:1-21

John 3:1-21 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO 1 JOHN 3

In this chapter the apostle exhorts to a holy life and conversation in general, and to the exercise of brotherly love in particular. The former of these is urged from the consideration of the great blessing of adoption, which springs from the free love and favour of God, is unknown to the men of the world, and indeed, in the present state of things, does not appear to the saints themselves in all its fulness and advantages, as it will do in the future state, when the children of God will be like to Christ, and see him as he is; the hope of which should engage them to purity of life and conversation, 1Jo 3:1-3, and this is further enforced from the nature of sin, which is a transgression of the law, 1Jo 3:4, from the end of Christ's manifestation in the flesh, which was to take away sin, and who was without it, 1Jo 3:5, from communion with Christ, expressed by abiding in him, seeing and knowing him, which such must be strangers to that live a sinful course of life, 1Jo 3:6, from this, that only such that do righteousness are righteous persons, and these are righteous as Christ is, 1Jo 3:7, and from a man's being of the devil, that is, of a vicious conversation, who was a sinner from the beginning, and whose works Christ was manifested in the flesh to destroy, 1Jo 3:8, and from the nature of the new man, or that which is born of God, which is not to sin, nor can it, 1Jo 3:9, and from the distinction there is between the children of God and the children of the devil, those not being of God who do not righteousness, nor love their brethren, 1Jo 3:10, from hence the apostle passes to brotherly love, and excites and engages to that, from its being a message which had been heard from the beginning, 1Jo 3:11, which is illustrated by its contrary in the instance of Cain, who by the instigation of Satan slew his brother, because his works were righteous, and his own were evil, 1Jo 3:12, wherefore, it is no wonder that good men should be hated by the world, who, as Cain, are of the same wicked one, 1Jo 3:13, brotherly love is further urged unto, from its being an evidence of passing from death to life, or of regeneration; whereas he that hates his brother openly continues in a state of death, is a murderer, and so has not eternal life abiding in him, 1Jo 3:14,15, and from the great instance of Christ's love, in laying down his life for his people, the saints are incited to lay down their lives for one another; to such a pitch does the apostle carry brotherly love, 1Jo 3:16, wherefore, he that is rich, and is uncompassionate to his brother in distress, cannot be thought to have the love of God dwelling in him, 1Jo 3:17, hence he presses the exhortation to brotherly love, that it be not in profession only, but true, real, and cordial, 1Jo 3:18, and that by observing the advantages of it, as that hereby men know they are of the truth, and can assure their hearts before God; and which is illustrated by the contrary, the condemnation of the heart, 1Jo 3:19,20, the advantages of non-condemnation of the heart are confidence before God, and receiving whatsoever we ask of him; the reason of which is, because his commandments are kept, and things done which are pleasing to him, 1Jo 3:21,22, the commandments are explained of faith in Christ, and love to one another, 1Jo 3:23, and the happiness of them that do them is, that Christ dwells in them, and they in him, the evidence of which is, the Spirit that is given unto them, 1Jo 3:24.

John 3:1-21 In-Context

1 There was a Jewish leader named Nicodemus, who belonged to the party of the Pharisees.
2 One night he went to Jesus and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher sent by God. No one could perform the miracles you are doing unless God were with him."
3 Jesus answered, "I am telling you the truth: no one can see the Kingdom of God without being born again."
4 "How can a grown man be born again?" Nicodemus asked. "He certainly cannot enter his mother's womb and be born a second time!"
5 "I am telling you the truth," replied Jesus, "that no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.
6 A person is born physically of human parents, but is born spiritually of the Spirit.
7 Do not be surprised because I tell you that you must all be born again.
8 The wind blows wherever it wishes; you hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
9 "How can this be?" asked Nicodemus.
10 Jesus answered, "You are a great teacher in Israel, and you don't know this?
11 I am telling you the truth: we speak of what we know and report what we have seen, yet none of you is willing to accept our message.
12 You do not believe me when I tell you about the things of this world; how will you ever believe me, then, when I tell you about the things of heaven?
13 And no one has ever gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from heaven."
14 As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the desert, in the same way the Son of Man must be lifted up,
15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its savior.
18 Those who believe in the Son are not judged; but those who do not believe have already been judged, because they have not believed in God's only Son.
19 This is how the judgment works: the light has come into the world, but people love the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds are evil.
20 Those who do evil things hate the light and will not come to the light, because they do not want their evil deeds to be shown up.
21 But those who do what is true come to the light in order that the light may show that what they did was in obedience to God.
22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went to the province of Judea, where he spent some time with them and baptized.
23 John also was baptizing in Aenon, not far from Salim, because there was plenty of water in that place. People were going to him, and he was baptizing them
24 (This was before John had been put in prison.)
25 Some of John's disciples began arguing with a Jew about the matter of ritual washing.

Cross References 3

  • 1. +23.12Wisdom 9.16, 17.
  • 2. +23.13Baruch 3.29.
  • 3. 3.14Numbers 21.9+2Wisdom 16.5-7.

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. again; [or] from above.
  • [b]. again; [or] from above.
  • [c]. [The quotation may continue through verse 21.]