John 3:4-14

4 Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?"
5 Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.
6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, "You must be born from above.'
8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
9 Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?"
10 Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
11 "Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony.
12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,

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John 3:4-14 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 3:4-14 In-Context

2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God."
3 Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above."
4 Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?"
5 Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.
6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, "You must be born from above.'
8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
9 Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?"
10 Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
11 "Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony.
12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. The same Greek word means both [wind] and [spirit]
  • [b]. The Greek word for [you] here is plural
  • [c]. Or [anew]
  • [d]. The same Greek word means both [wind] and [spirit]
  • [e]. The Greek word for [you] here and in verse 12 is plural
  • [f]. Other ancient authorities add [who is in heaven]
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.