Born of Above

John 3:1-21 contains a famous conversation between Jesus and
Nicodemus. It is in this discussion that we read one of the most popular verses
in the Bible (John 3:16). This is not the only famous quotation in this
passage. In verse 3, Jesus says, “Verily,
verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom
of God
” (John 3:3). Most Christians have probably heard sermon after sermon
about the importance of being “born again” and that is definitely an important
subject. If you check your center column, you may notice that a special note
has been made concerning the word “again.” Some Bibles have a note inserted
that reveals that an alternate translation for “again” is the word “above.” In
fact, the Young’s Literal Translation translates the Greek word as “above.” The
Greek word under consideration is the word ἄνωθεν.
This word, according to Strong’s, means “from above;
by analogy from the first; by implication anew: – from above,
again, from the beginning (very first), the top.
” This word is used in
John 3:3, John 3:7 John 3:31, John 19:11, John 19:23.

When we consider the use of the word in other places in John
(and in the rest of the New Testament), we can see how it would be reasonable
to translate John 3:3, “Jesus answered him, “Truly,
truly, I say to you, unless one is born
from above
he cannot see the kingdom of God. In verse 7, Jesus says again, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’” [verses here are primarily from the ESV for clarity’s
sake]
Before we make our application, let’s further show that our
translation is valid by examining the context.
 “There was a man of
the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:  (2)  The same
came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, 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.  (3)  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily,
verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom
of God.  (4)  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?
 (5)  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.  (6)  That which is
born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
 (7)  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
 (8)  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
(John 3:1-8).
Nicodemus came to Jesus to seek information concerning the
kingdom of Heaven (for “kingdom of Heaven” see Luke 17:20-37 and Luke
19:11-27). Due to Jesus’s use of miracles, Nicodemus knew that He was a teacher
from God and, possibly, the Redeemer of Israel! Jesus then presented to
Nicodemus the way to see God’s kingdom (for “see” notice I Corinthians 1:18; I
Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 1:18).
Nicodemus, like many today, tried to view the rebirth through natural eyes,
and, because of that, he misunderstood (John 2:19-22; John 4:10-14; John
6:32-41; etc.). Jesus told him not to marvel, and he then went on to explain
that to be “born from above” is to be begotten of water and the Spirit. There
is a difference between being born of flesh and being born of Spirit. Those
born of flesh are flesh, and those born of Spirit are spirit.
To be born of the Spirit is to be born again, but the birth
is not of flesh and blood! It is from above.
But as many as received him, to them gave he
power to become the sons of God, even
to them that believe on his name:  (13)  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the
will of man, but of God
(John 1:12-13).
Now, let’s make our application.
Further into the chapter, John says, “He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is
earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all

(John 3:31).
When an individual is born of water and of the Spirit, they
are born from above (that is “from Heaven”). It is at that point in time that
they are no longer “flesh and blood” but are “spirit.”
For they that are
after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the
Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to
be carnally minded is death
; but to
be spiritually minded is life and peace
. Because the carnal mind is enmity
against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So
then they that are in the flesh cannot
please God
” (Romans 8:5-8; for “cannot please God” see Hebrews 11:6).
Read the next section very closely with an open heart and an
open mind. Try to answer the questions before you read the answer.

Can one enter the kingdom of Heaven without being born “from
above” (again)?
No, they cannot. Why?
Because they are still “flesh” (living according to the
flesh) and, therefore, cannot be pleasing to God.
What do they have to do to go from being flesh to spirit?
Jesus said, “that which is born of flesh is flesh; and that
which is born of Spirit is spirit.” So, in order for someone to be a part of
the kingdom of Heaven, they have to be born of water and of the Spirit, right?
Now, read John 3:31 one more time: “He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is
earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all
.”
Read this next passage slowly and carefully.
And so it is written,
The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening
spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is
natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth,
earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they
also that are earthy: and as is the
heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly
. And as we have borne the
image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I
say, brethren, that flesh and blood
cannot inherit the kingdom of God
; neither doth corruption inherit
incorruption
” (1 Corinthians 15:45-50).
Jesus is a quickening (a life-giving) Spirit. To those that
are dead (because they are carnally minded), He offers them the light of life.
No longer do they have to be outside of the kingdom of God, but they can be
born of Spirit in order to be like He is. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the
kingdom of God because those that are in the flesh cannot please God. One has
to be born of the “incorruptible seed” because they can’t be a Christian and
only have been born of the “corruptible seed” of man after the will of the
flesh. It takes a rebirth to be made fit for God’s kingdom.

Seeing ye have
purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love
of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed,
but of incorruptible, by the word of God
, which liveth and abideth for ever

(1 Peter 1:22-23).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *