3:2 came to Jesus 1 at night 2 and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs 3 that you do unless God is with him.”
3:10 Jesus answered, 4 “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you don’t understand these things? 5
1 tn Grk “him”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
2 tn Or “during the night.”
sn Possibly Nicodemus came…at night because he was afraid of public association with Jesus, or he wanted a lengthy discussion without interruptions; no explanation for the timing of the interview is given by the author. But the timing is significant for John in terms of the light-darkness motif – compare John 9:4, 11:10, 13:30 (especially), 19:39, and 21:3. Out of the darkness of his life and religiosity Nicodemus came to the Light of the world. The author probably had multiple meanings or associations in mind here, as is often the case.
3 sn The reference to signs (σημεῖα, shmeia) forms a link with John 2:23-25. Those people in Jerusalem believed in Jesus because of the signs he had performed. Nicodemus had apparently seen them too. But for Nicodemus all the signs meant is that Jesus was a great teacher sent from God. His approach to Jesus was well-intentioned but theologically inadequate; he had failed to grasp the messianic implications of the miraculous signs.
4 tn Grk “Jesus answered and said to him.”
5 sn Jesus’ question “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you don’t understand these things?” implies that Nicodemus had enough information at his disposal from the OT scriptures to have understood Jesus’ statements about the necessity of being born from above by the regenerating work of the Spirit. Isa 44:3-5 and Ezek 37:9-10 are passages Nicodemus might have known which would have given him insight into Jesus’ words. Another significant passage which contains many of these concepts is Prov 30:4-5.