SPIRIT – BORN OF
Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
Question: What does it mean to be born of the spirit?
Answer: Our Lord answers this question in John 3: 1-8. Nicodemus, a Pharisee, had heard of Jesus’ teachings and was favorably impressed by them. He was timid and therefore, though a ruler of the Jews, visited Jesus at night. He addressed Jesus very respectfully as a worthy teacher, saying, “Rabbi [teacher], we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” He, and apparently others, recognized that Jesus was a teacher that had evidently been sent by God because no man could perform the miracles that He did, except He come from God. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born [begotten] again, he cannot see [understand] the kingdom of God.” The begettal of the spirit is necessary in order to understand the kingdom of God. Whoever is not begotten of the spirit cannot see the kingdom of God. “Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”
Nicodemus obviously misunderstood our Lord, so Jesus corrects his misunderstanding, saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water [the word water is here used figuratively to symbolize the Truth, for it was by the Truth that one was begotten of the spirit] and of the Spirit [In the Greek the one word gennao means both (1) to beget and (2) to bear, hence this word is not repeated before the word Spirit, though both things are here meant. We might paraphrase this verse as follows: “Except a man be begotten of the Truth and born of the Spirit”], he cannot enter into the kingdom of God [for it would be impossible for him to come into the kingdom otherwise]. That which is born of the flesh is flesh [those who are begotten and born from human beings must be human beings]; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit [that which has been begotten of the spirit in them and born of the spirit becomes a spirit being].”
“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again [do not be astonished that I have told you that it is necessary that you must be born again – begotten of the spirit and born of the spirit, to enter the kingdom of heaven].” Then Jesus gave him an illustration: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” You cannot tell where he came from, nor where he will go, because he is invisible to human eyes; he will be incorruptible, as one of God’s spirit beings forever and ever. Thus our Lord gave Nicodemus a lesson here that Nicodemus showed through his fleshly mind that he could not understand, but that Jesus Himself could explain.