3:3 Jesus replied, 1 “I tell you the solemn truth, 2 unless a person is born from above, 3 he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4
3:7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all 5 be born from above.’ 6
19:11 Jesus replied, “You would have no authority 11 over me at all, unless it was given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you 12 is guilty of greater sin.” 13
19:23 Now when the soldiers crucified 14 Jesus, they took his clothes and made four shares, one for each soldier, 15 and the tunic 16 remained. (Now the tunic 17 was seamless, woven from top to bottom as a single piece.) 18
1 tn Grk “answered and said to him.”
2 tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.”
3 tn The word ἄνωθεν (anwqen) has a double meaning, either “again” (in which case it is synonymous with παλίν [palin]) or “from above” (BDAG 92 s.v. ἄνωθεν). This is a favorite technique of the author of the Fourth Gospel, and it is lost in almost all translations at this point. John uses the word 5 times, in 3:3, 7; 3:31; 19:11 and 23. In the latter 3 cases the context makes clear that it means “from above.” Here (3:3, 7) it could mean either, but the primary meaning intended by Jesus is “from above.” Nicodemus apparently understood it the other way, which explains his reply, “How can a man be born when he is old? He can’t enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born, can he?” The author uses the technique of the “misunderstood question” often to bring out a particularly important point: Jesus says something which is misunderstood by the disciples or (as here) someone else, which then gives Jesus the opportunity to explain more fully and in more detail what he really meant.
sn Or born again. The Greek word ἄνωθεν (anwqen) can mean both “again” and “from above,” giving rise to Nicodemus’ misunderstanding about a second physical birth (v. 4).
4 sn What does Jesus’ statement about not being able to see the kingdom of God mean within the framework of John’s Gospel? John uses the word kingdom (βασιλεία, basileia) only 5 times (3:3, 5; 18:36 [3x]). Only here is it qualified with the phrase of God. The fact that John does not stress the concept of the kingdom of God does not mean it is absent from his theology, however. Remember the messianic implications found in John 2, both the wedding and miracle at Cana and the cleansing of the temple. For Nicodemus, the term must surely have brought to mind the messianic kingdom which Messiah was supposed to bring. But Nicodemus had missed precisely this point about who Jesus was. It was the Messiah himself with whom Nicodemus was speaking. Whatever Nicodemus understood, it is clear that the point is this: He misunderstood Jesus’ words. He over-literalized them, and thought Jesus was talking about repeated physical birth, when he was in fact referring to new spiritual birth.
5 tn “All” has been supplied to indicate the plural pronoun in the Greek text.
7 tn Or “is above all.”
8 tn Grk “speaks from the earth.”
10 tc Ì75 א* D Ë1 565 as well as several versions and fathers lack the phrase “is superior to all” (ἐπάνω πάντων ἐστίν, epanw pantwn estin). This effectively joins the last sentence of v. 31 with v. 32: “The one who comes from heaven testifies about what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony.” On the other side, the phrase may have been deleted because of perceived redundancy, since it duplicates what is said earlier in the verse. The witnesses that include ἐπάνω πάντων ἐστίν in both places are weighty and widespread (Ì36vid,66 א2 A B L Ws Θ Ψ 083 086 Ë13 33 Ï lat sys,p,h bo). On balance, the longer reading should probably be considered authentic.
tn Or “is above all.”
11 tn Or “power.”
12 tn Or “who delivered me over to you.”
sn The one who handed me over to you appears to be a reference to Judas at first; yet Judas did not deliver Jesus up to Pilate, but to the Jewish authorities. The singular may be a reference to Caiaphas, who as high priest was representative of all the Jewish authorities, or it may be a generic singular referring to all the Jewish authorities directly. In either case the end result is more or less the same.
13 tn Grk “has the greater sin” (an idiom).
sn Because Pilate had no authority over Jesus except what had been given to him from God, the one who handed Jesus over to Pilate was guilty of greater sin. This does not absolve Pilate of guilt; it simply means his guilt was less than those who handed Jesus over to him, because he was not acting against Jesus out of deliberate hatred or calculated malice, like the Jewish religious authorities. These were thereby guilty of greater sin.
15 sn Four shares, one for each soldier. The Gospel of John is the only one to specify the number of soldiers involved in the crucifixion. This was a quaternion, a squad of four soldiers. It was accepted Roman practice for the soldiers who performed a crucifixion to divide the possessions of the person executed among themselves.
16 tn Or “shirt” (a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin). The name for this garment (χιτών, citwn) presents some difficulty in translation. Most modern readers would not understand what a ‘tunic’ was any more than they would be familiar with a ‘chiton.’ On the other hand, attempts to find a modern equivalent are also a problem: “Shirt” conveys the idea of a much shorter garment that covers only the upper body, and “undergarment” (given the styles of modern underwear) is more misleading still. “Tunic” was therefore employed, but with a note to explain its nature.
17 tn Or “shirt” (a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin). See the note on the same word earlier in this verse.
18 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.