Saturday, January 05, 2008

BIBLE STUDY - BORN ABOVE, JOHN 3:3

Joh 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born _______ he cannot see the kingdom of God."

1. You are all familiar with this passage. It says you must be born "again" to see the kingdom of God.
Here is something to consider.

2. The word translated "again" is APOTHEN. Note how the word is translated in other places in John and 1 John.

In some passages, the word APOTHEN is translated "from the beginning" or "again". But it is also translated "from above". Our question is which one best fits what Jesus is saying to Nicodemus?

APOTHEN - FROM ABOVE

Mat_27:51 "from _____ to bottom"; John 3:31 "he who comes from _______; Joh_19:11 "It had been given you from _______"; Jam_1:17 "every perfect gift is from ______"; Jam_3:15 "this wisdom is not that which comes down from _______"; Jam_3:17 "but the wisdom from ________";

Point: "Born from above", which is a spiritual birth, a birth different than our first natural birth, is what it means to be "born of God".

3. In John 1:12,13, who has the right to become a "son of God"?

Joh 1:13 "who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."

Point: the word APOTHEN is not used here, but it again speaks of 1] being "born" and 2] that birth not being of the flesh or being natural, is "of God".
As in John 3:3, being born of God is being born from above.

4. In 1 John, the Apostles again speaks of being "born of God".

1Jo_2:29 "everyone who practices righteousness is born of God"; 1Jo_3:9 "no one who is born of God practices sin"; 1Jo_4:7 "everyone who loves is born of God and knows God"; 1Jo_5:1 "whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God"; 1Jo_5:4 "whatever is born of God overcomes the world"; 1Jo_5:18 "we know that no one who is born of God sins"

Note: the 2:29 passages is not saying that EVERYONE who does good deeds is "born of God". Some people would interpret these sayings too broadly so as to contradict other Scriptures. To practice righteousness entails having an obedient faith (Rom. 1:5) in all things, not just being a "good person". I say this so that no one misunderstand what John is saying. In chapter four, John says that "everyone that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God". Interpreting this too broadly, one would conclude that Muslims are "born of God" since they believe He came in the flesh. We know that EVERYONE that says Jesus came in the flesh is not from God, because some people say he was just a good man who came in the flesh, or that he was a prophet, nothing more, who came in the flesh. While they do not deny the flesh of Christ, they deny the deity of Christ and are NOT therefore from God. Instead, what we are seeing is John's way of saying that those false teachers who deny this truth are not from God. So in 1 John 2:29, it is better understood to mean that if someone is not practicing (seen in his walk) righteousness, then they are not born of God (see 1 John 3:9 passage). Those who are NOT born of God might do good deeds, but this is not how "practicing righteousness" is defined in Scripture.

5. Point: In John 3:3, Jesus is teaching Nicodemus the necessity of a new birth that is spiritual; that is from above. We each already had one physical birth. But because we have sinned and fallen, then we need a spiritual birth. Each of us is born of the flesh by the will of man, but only those who are "born above", or "born of God", can see the Kingdom of Christ and enter it (John 3:5)

- Thanks to Dan Owen for enlightening me in the Word of God.

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