ESV - 5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
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The Lord is telling Nicodemus he needs a second birth, being born again, to be able to enter God’s kingdom. The first birth was his physical birth, coming for the womb (the water birth of the flesh). The second birth is a spiritual birth from the Spirit of God. Put another way; For in Him (Jesus Christ) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands (a spiritual circumcision of the heart), by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism (putting to death the physical), in which you also were raised with Him (spiritual birth) through faith in the operation of God, who raised Him from the dead (physical). Col 2:9-12 Nicodemus had his first physical water birth from his mother’s womb, but he need, just like everyone else does, a second spiritual birth, the work of God. Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:13 Having been born again, not of corruptible seed (man's flesh) but incorruptible (God's Spirit), through the word of God (the gospel, 1Cor. 15:3-4) which lives and abides forever, 1Pet. 1:23
What does it mean 'born of water and the Spirit'? If we look to the word of God as its own interpreter what we find is, water is often use as a metaphor for the Word of God. Ps.1:2,3 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; I And whatever he does shall prosper. The life giving transformational power of the "Law" Word of God is what is being likened to water. Jms.1:18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. Here we see the truth of how the will of God is made effectual by the word of truth. 1 Pet.1:23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, Again it is the Word of God that has brought about the new birth. Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, This passage refers to a washing of regeneration that is distinguished from the renewing of the Holy Spirit. Eph.5:26 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, The spiritual cleansing and sanctifying power of Christ is done by the Word of God. While as we have seen there is a sense in which the the Work of the Spirit and the Word are distinguishable they are inseparable and absolutely essential to salvation. John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Because it is clear that salvation is not possible apart from the Word and the work of the Spirit it seems clear that Jesus is using the term water to refer to the Word of God. Why would you tell a person who is already physically alive that in order to be born again they must be physically born. It is even plausible that this is what Nicodemus had in mind when he sarcastically alluded to entering a second time into his mothers womb? Let us therefore humbly and with great confidence proclaim the word of the Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation. Rom.1:16
Your Mom's water broke, you were born of the water. I think it is a very simple answer that is given by the Lord in the verse immediately following. Ye must be born of water (1st) and the spirit (2nd) - that which is flesh is flesh (1st) and that which is spirit is spirit (2nd). In John chapter 3, both verse 5 and 6 are needed to understand what He meant. "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.
“Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again”, John 3:5-7. The phrase “born again” literally means “born from above.” Two things involved in being born again, “born of water” and “the Spirit”. Having studied this verse closely, I am convinced “born of water” has absolutely no reference to water baptism but cleansing, (regeneration). When Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus of being born of water, water baptism was new and had two different meanings. He would have understood only one, pre resurrection. John’s baptism was in response to repentance, outward sign that they were clean and believed on Him who was to come. Baptism after resurrection was a public declaration to those who had been regenerated, that they had died and resurrected with Christ. “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance…”, Matthew 3:11. As this was pre resurrection of Christ, Nicodemus would have understood the words of Christ to mean cleansing (regeneration), not starting with John but going back to the Old Testament. A better place to bring this to light is Ezekiel 36:25-27, “25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them”. I see Paul echoing to Titus Ezekiel 36, he writes, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit“, Titus 3:5, also as seen in Leviticus 15:13. To make it simple, He has to cleanse before He can dwell. Born of water and Spirit involves cleansing of the old and a creation of the new. Romans 6:6. Blessings Ev
When it talks of water and spirit it speaks of BAPTISM. That is the only way in which you come in contact and receive the Holy Spirit. If it was as easy as saying a prayer for a minute and getting salvation everyone would do it. But just as it says in Acts 2: 35-41 you must repent and be baptized in order to receive the Holy Spirit and truly enter God's kingdom just as Jesus states in John 3:5-8.
[born of water and of the Spirit] Not the natural birth, for Nicodemus already had this birth and he was told he had to be born again of both water and Spirit. Not water baptism; all Old Testament saints were saved and born again without water baptism (Heb. 11; Rom. 3:23-25; Heb. 9:15; Rom. 4; Gal. 4:29; Jas. 2:23; Ps. 32:5; 103:3; Lk. 1:70; Acts 3:21; Dt. 32:18; 2Pet. 1:21). They all had the Holy Spirit, gifts, and many blessings without water baptism (Ps. 51:12; 1Ki. 3:12; 4:29-34; Num. 11:17-29; Acts 3:21; Lk. 1:15-17,41,46,67; 2:25-38; Heb. 11). Many in Christ's ministry were forgiven without water baptism (Mt. 9:1-7,22; Mk. 5:34; 10:52; Lk. 7:48; 17:19; 18:9-14; 19:1-9; 23:43; Jn. 4:49-53; 7:31; 8:30-31; 11:45; 12:11,42). Men have been baptized in the Holy Spirit before water baptism(Acts 9:17; 10:44-48; 11:14-18; 15:7-11). Christ was baptized in water without forgiveness of sins (Mt. 3:15-17). It is a mere figure (1Pet. 3:21) and a witness (1Jn. 5:6-10), but not held as essential to salvation (1Cor. 1:13-24; 15:1-5; Rom. 1:16; 10:9-14; Eph. 2:8-9; Acts 10:43; 13:38-39; 16:31; Jn. 3:14-18,36; 5:24; 1Jn. 5:1). It is only for men who have repented (Mt. 3:2-6; 28:19; Acts 2:38-41; 8:12,37; 10:43-48; 18:8; 19:4). Water is used in a figurative sense of salvation (Jn. 4:14; Isa. 12:3), of the Spirit baptism (Jn. 7:37-39), and of cleansing by the Word of God (Jn. 15:3; Eph. 5:26). Since men are cleansed and born again by the Word (Jas. 1:18; 1Pet. 1:23), it is clear that being born of water means being born again by the Word of God.
“Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again”, John 3:5-7. It appears that Jesus was differentiating the two births. There are 2 caveats according to Him, viz., 1. Being born of the flesh is flesh 2. Being born of the spirit is spirit. It seems that these requisites also refer to 2 attributes, viz., "timing", i.e. when a person is actually born, and also to "body-composition", flesh or spirit. And, with that understanding, we can now analyze what Jesus meant. Can anyone really assume "born" refers to an adult coming out of "water baptism"? An adult has already been born flesh and as such, he/she goes for water baptism; goes in as "flesh" and comes out still "flesh". Most likely not. On the other hand, a fetus has not yet been born, and covered in "amniotic fluid"(water). When "born" the newborn was "born of water" and certainly is "flesh". At the "timing" of birth, the person is "flesh". On the other hand, the timing of "being born of the spirit" is like being "firstborn from the dead". The only example of this is what happened to man-Jesus, the "first of the firstborn from the dead"(Col.1:18). No one can dispute that at resurrection (firstborn from the dead) he was/is "spirit-composed" with the ability to be seen, in the same way that angelic-spirits can show themselves to humans (Gen. 18; Matt. 28:1; Lu.24:,10-24; John 20:19-22; 1 Corinthians 15:6-9). In short, as Jesus said, "most assuredly", one has to born "flesh" first before being "born of the Spirit". During growth and development in utero, the fetus is covered with water/amniotic fluid before "born". Likewise, we need to be "all covered" (infused) with the Holy Spirit in our current flesh composition for "sealing, guidance, protection, maturing, i.e., "growth & development" as in, Ezekiel 36:25-27, “25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them”. All of these processes to be "one" with Jesus, our "forerunner"(Heb. 6:20). Then, this flesh will change in a "twinkling of an eye" from flesh/mortal to spirit/immortal(I Cor. 15:52).
Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. I have heard many people say that this points to baptism. One must be baptized in order to be saved. BUT…notice the order of words here: First the birth of water, then the birth of the Spirit. If this was baptism, then Christ would be saying unless a man is baptized first and then saved by the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. We all know this isn’t so, or He would be condoning works-based salvation. Jesus Himself explains what He means in the very next verse. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Isn’t that simple? Why all the confusion? I have also heard men say that the water mentioned here is symbolic of the cleansing power of the Spirit of God after a man gets saved. Well, this doesn’t work either, because the sentence is out-of-order again. A man gets saved by the Holy Spirit, and then is cleansed of all his sin. Not the other way around. Jesus explains Himself and uses two categories: Flesh and Spirit. This should tell us that He was meaning a physical birth and spiritual birth. The flesh always comes first, it has to…one must be born into this world and receive the curse of Adam and the original sin first, before he is saved. He needs to be born into this world in order to receive the condemnation for his sin. He needs to be brought to the Law, broken and then saved. Then AFTER he is saved, he makes a public declaration by being baptized. Jesus was perfect. He spoke perfectly and everything He did was perfect. He meant what He said and said it in a specific order. It was supposed to be in a certain order in order to make a point. Imagine if Jesus was giving His disciples a recipe and didn’t bother to give them the right order of ingredients? Jesus knew full well what He was saying, and made sure He was understood by Nicodemus and us. But alas, we as human being try to complicate and twist things…and now we have confusion. The point of this post, I guess was two-fold. Getting an oft misunderstood subject cleared up and to make it known that you must be born into this world, in order to qualify for salvation. You have to be walking, breathing and living outside of the womb in order to be saved. You cannot be saved in the womb. If you are destined to be saved, however, then the mark of God is already upon you even in the womb, but you must be born outside of the womb in order to receive salvation. Those of you who defend babies and their innocence pay attention. Those babies in mommy’s tummy are not pure and sinless. They are not innocent. They are just as much condemned to hell as any one of us who are not saved. They must be born before they can be saved and I believe this is why Satan has gone hog-wild in getting 1 out of 3 babies aborted before they can breathe their first breath. Let’s keep things accurate. Let’s be truthful and bow to the authority of the Scriptures rather than trying to make the Scriptures say what we believe.
The scripture is direct, pellucid and axiom. Being born of water and spirit denotes and connotes being born of the word of God. Allowing the word to pass through you, allowing one's life to be patterned by the word. Living out the word in truth and in spirit. Hating what God hates. Living a life of chaste! Submitting self to the dictates of the word of God. In so doing, you are born of water. The water here means the word of God. God bless you!
As the Jews of the Old Testament were part of the Covenant with God throught the act of physical circumcision, the Christians of the new Covenant are reconciled to God through the act of spiritual circumcision, water baptism. Read 1 Peter 3:18-21 to see what water baptism truly does. It saves us as the act of a good conscience toward God.
In John 3:3 Jesus said that unless one was born again, he could not see the Kingdom of God, and in v.5 He says that unless one is born of water and the spirit, he could not "enter" the kingdom of God. I believe that in keeping with the parables of Jesus, there are always the distinctions being drawn by Jesus of the one who heard and knew the truth but didn't overcome, and the one who both heard and overcame. Whether it is the 10 virgins, the ones who received talents, or any other scenario where there is an assessment being made of someone who is accepted and someone who is not. John 3 and Jesus conversation with Nicodemus is the same. There are those who may see, and there are those who not only see, but they enter. So many professing believers can clearly see the Kingdom truths, especially the Truth of Jesus, that He is the Son of God and that He died on the cross, was in the tomb 3 days and was resurrected on the third day, but knowing and seeing this kingdom truth doesn't mean that you'll hear "well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of they Lord". But as another person in this thread described, it's those who have heard, have been born again, are sanctified and cleansed of the old garment and are regenerated and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. There certainly are enough verses which clearly illustrate this.
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