"Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”  Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, 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.’  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”  Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?  Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.  If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?  No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."
(John 3:1-15 ESV)
1. The author of this passage is John, the Apostle. This is the testimony of the early church and John is the person most likely to be "the beloved disciple" who testifies to writing the book. Known as a "son of thunder," he wanted to call down fire on those who would not believe in Jesus, but he became a teacher of brotherly love among the saints.
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5. Born/born again. God/Kingdom of God. Spirit. Bear witness/tell/give testimony. Believe. Eternal life. Heaven. (Words with slashes between them indicate a concept represented by different words in the passage).
6. Born again. Spirit. Believe. Kingdom of God. Bear witness/tell.
7. There are several comparisons in this passage. Jesus compares the spiritual renewal that comes from God to one's birth. Jesus compares water and the Holy Spirit. Jesus compares wind and the Holy Spirit. Jesus compares the lifting up of the Son of Man (his crucifixion) to Moses lifting up the snake in the wilderness.
8. There are a few cause-effect relationships in this passage. According to Jesus, being born again causes one to see the Kingdom of God. Being born of water and the Spirit leads one into the Kingdom of God. Believing in the Son of Man results in eternal life.
9. The literary form used in this passage is narrative. More specifically, it is a gospel, which is a sub-genre of the New Testament.
1.John was an apostle of Jesus Christ many years before he wrote his gospel and lived in Asia Minor, but he was a Palestinian Jew by birth. In this passage, the concept of new birth must have been appalling for Nicodemus. As a religious ruler of God's chosen people He believed that he was automatically born into the Kingdom of God. He might have been greatly offended by Jesus' words that he needed to be born again. The Hebrew and Greek words for "wind" and "spirit" are the same in each language. A Palestinian Jew would also be aware of what was being implied by Jesus' statement "Son of Man," a messianic term, and that "being lifted up" means being offered up as a sacrifice.
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2. John is in the process of telling his readers the most important things that Jesus said and did. In this passage he is explaining how Jesus spoke truth to a religious leader of the Jews who came to him by night. The next chapter shows how He spoke truth to the lowest people in His world, going to the adulterous Samaritan woman in the brightest part of the day. Jesus proceeds to tell this ruler that his status as a religious leader is worth nothing if the Spirit does not give Him new life from above and that he must believe in Him in order to enter the Kingdom of God.
3. Rabbi simply means "teacher." Although rabbis might be associated with particular sects in Jesus' day, it was probably out of respect for Jesus' good teaching that people referred to Him as a rabbi. Kingdom of God refers to the reign and rule of God that Christ was initiating on earth among His followers, teaching them how to live and prepare for the full realization of that Kingdom on earth. Born of water and the Spirit: There are several theories as to what this means. Some say it refers to water baptism in which a person receives the Holy Spirit. Some say it refers to the combination of natural birth (of water, referring to the fluids associated with birth) and spiritual. More likely, it is a reference to Ezekiel 36:25-27.
4. This passage follows the narrator's statement in John 2 that Jesus did not need to be told about the nature of human beings because He knows what is in a person. The first person presented after that is this religious ruler of the Jews and teacher of Israel, Nicodemus. Following Jesus' meeting with Nicodemus, He meets the Samaritan woman, who He also knows. This passage shows readers that Jesus has something to say to the religious elites, that they need to be born again and believe in the Son of man, just as the following chapter shows that Jesus had something to say to the social outcasts, that they can come to Him for living water. The author is telling us what happened between Jesus and Nicodemus, not just because it happened, but because of what it tells us about Jesus.
5. The following scriptures are related to the new birth: 2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 6:15, 1 Peter 1:3, 23. Ezekiel 36:25-27, Titus 3:5, and Hebrews 10:22 are related to "born of water and the Spirit." Numbers 21:9 is where Moses lifts up the serpent in the wilderness. Two subsequent times Jesus refers to Himself as being lifted up: 8:28, 12:32-34.
6. The Apostle John wrote this passage to show his readers how Jesus came to teach all men the way to eternal life. In this account of Nicodemus, coming to Jesus by night, Jesus teaches a teacher of Israel that he must be born again in order to see the Kingdom of God. All people must be born again from above through the work of God's Spirit, that they might believe the good testimony that Jesus is the Son of man lifted up and thereby have eternal life.
1. One must be born again in order to see the Kingdom of God. One must be born of water and the Spirit to enter the Kingdom of God. Whoever believes in the Son of Man lifted up will have eternal life.
2. There isn't really an example to follow in this passage, nor is there an error presented that the reader should avoid.
3. "You must be born again."
4. There isn't an attitude to change or a sin to confess presented in the passage.
5. Praise God for the new birth by which we can see the Kingdom of God and believe upon the Son of Man for eternal life!