"Come and See": A Web Commentary on the Gospel of John: Section 3 New Beginnings

Section 3.3: Nicodemus Visits Jesus (Jn 3.1-21)


31There was a man among the Pharisees, Nicodemos by name, a Jewish official. 2He came to Jesus1 at night and said to him, 'Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher. For no-one can do these signs that you are doing unless God be with him.' 3Jesus answered and said to him, 'Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless someone be begotten from above2, they cannot see the kingdom of God.'

4Nicodemos said to him, 'How can a person be born when they are old? They cannot re-enter their mother's womb and be born, surely!' 5Jesus answered, 'Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless someone be begotten from water and Spirit, they cannot enter the kingdom of God3: 6what is begotten from the flesh is flesh, and what it begotten from the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be amazed that I said to you4, "You must be begotten from above." 8The wind5 blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it is coming from or where it goes: so is each one begotten from the Spirit6.

9Nicodemos answered and said to him, 'How can such things be?' 10Jesus answered and said to him, 'You are a teacher of Israel and you do not understand these things‽ 11Amen, Amen, I say to you7 that we speak what we know and we testify to what we have seen, and you do not receive our testimony. 12If I tell you earthly things and you don't trust me, how will you trust me if I tell you heavenly things?

13'And no-one has gone up into heaven except the one that came down from heaven, the Son of Man8. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the Wilderness, so it is necessary that the Son of Man be lifted up, 15so that everyone who puts their trust in him shall have everlasting life9. 16'For God so loved the world that he has given the only Son, so that everyone who puts their trust in him shall not be lost10, but shall have everlasting life. 17For God did not send the Son into the world to bring the world to judgment; but so that the world might be saved by him11.

18'The one who puts their trust in him is not brought to judgment; the one who does not put their trust in him has already been brought to judgment because they have not put their trust in the name of the only Son of God. 19But this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, for their actions were wicked. 20Look, everyone that does mean things hates the light and does not come to it, so that their actions may not be put to shame. 21But the one that does what is true12 comes to the light so that their actions may be revealed as ones done in God.'

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1 Literally 'to him'.

2 Or 'born anew'; also in v.7.

3 Cp Ez 36.25-7

4 This first 'you' is singular, but the second 'You' is plural.

5 'Pneuma' (πνεῦμα) means both 'spirit' and 'wind, breeze'.

7 Cp Eccl 11.5

7 As in v.7, this first 'you' is singular, but the second 'you' is plural.

8 Compare the riddling questions in Prov 30.4, the first of which is 'Who has ascended to heaven and come down'; the answer to all six clearly seems to be 'God'.

9 See Numbers 21.8-9:' And the Lord said to Moses, "Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live." So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.'

10 Or 'shall not perish'

11 Or 'through him'.

12 Literally 'does the truth'.