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Birth into the New World

Updated: Mar 23, 2022

Jesus in John 3 and 4 is speaking the same message to the Jew and Gentile. Jesus is speaking to both Nicodemus and the woman at the well that people of the Messiah are not going to follow certain rules and just have an improved version of the covenant but followers of the Messiah are going to be reborn and made new through the Spirit. Jesus says in John 4:23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth…” This is important to both narratives because this shows that this isn’t a new idea Jesus had but that Jesus is fulfilling the promise to restore Humanity. That word truth in the greek is alēthia which primary definition is, “Truth, verity, reality, conformity to the nature and reality of things.” Why this is important is because what Jesus is saying is that people of the Kingdom are going to worship God like they were originally designed because that is truth, the reality in which God designed.

Humans in choosing their own definitions of good and evil have distorted the truth and Jesus is coming to restore by causing us to that by filling humanity with the Spirit which will cause people to experience a rebirth, a re-creation, be made brand new. John 3:5 Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is from of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The interpretation of John 3:5 that I have heard the most is the water is salvation and then after salvation the Holy Spirit fills you but in the greek we see that this is not the case. Water and Spirit are not separate but rather they are one of the same. “The expression ‘of water and the Spirit is best paraphrased as ‘of water which is the Spirit.” The Spirit is always connected to liquid illustrations and water is one of the most common illustrations of the Spirit in Biblical literature. Separating water and Spirit in this Scripture would not measure up to the rest of the Biblical language about the Spirit.

Going into chapter four of John Jesus continues to use this water illustration with the woman at the well. Again we see a person who is thinking in an earthly perspective while Jesus shifts the focus to the kingdom of heaven and again talks about entering this kingdom by means of water. Contrasting the physical water in the well to the water Jesus is offering which is the Spirit. Now there are disagreements on where exactly the dialogue between where the dialogue between Nicodemus and Jesus end. Talbert says that it ends in verse 12 but the New American Standard Bible has all the way until verse 21 in red meaning the dialogue ends in verse 21 according to The New American Standard Bible. No where in the English or Greek does there seem to be a break therefore there is no reason to think verse 12 is the end of the dialogue.

With the interpretation that the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus ends in verse 21, the dialogues between the woman at the well and Nicodemus end in the same way Jesus death and resurrection being the answer. That humanity must be reborn of the Spirit but this all happens in light of the death, resurrection and ascension of the Son of God. Once we believe what John is communicating about Jesus through both these stories that “Jesus is more than a rabbi, a teacher, a man sent from God, or a prophet. He is the Messiah to all peoples, the Savior in what John terms the ‘world’.” The Spirit baptizes at the moment of salvation and begins the new creation work, and we are reborn into the kingdom.

Sources used:

Spiros Zodhiates, Warren Baker , and Joel Kletzing, eds., Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible: Key Insights into God's Word: NASB, New American Standard Bible (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2008)

Talbert, Charles H. Reading John: a Literary and Theological Commentary on the Fourth Gospel and the Johannine Epistles 103. Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Pub., 2005.

Selvidge, Marla J. “Nicodemus and the Woman with Five Husbands.” Proceedings 2 (1982): 63–75.

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