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John 3:1-8

Context
Conversation with Nicodemus

3:1 Now a certain man, a Pharisee 1  named Nicodemus, who was a member of the Jewish ruling council, 2  3:2 came to Jesus 3  at night 4  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 5  that you do unless God is with him.” 3:3 Jesus replied, 6  “I tell you the solemn truth, 7  unless a person is born from above, 8  he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 9  3:4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb and be born a second time, can he?” 10 

3:5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the solemn truth, 11  unless a person is born of water and spirit, 12  he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 3:6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, 13  and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3:7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all 14  be born from above.’ 15  3:8 The wind 16  blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 17 

Romans 8:1-17

Context
The Believer’s Relationship to the Holy Spirit

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 18  8:2 For the law of the life-giving Spirit 19  in Christ Jesus has set you 20  free from the law of sin and death. 8:3 For God achieved what the law could not do because 21  it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 8:4 so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

8:5 For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by 22  the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. 8:6 For the outlook 23  of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, 8:7 because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so. 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 8:9 You, however, are not in 24  the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him. 8:10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, but 25  the Spirit is your life 26  because of righteousness. 8:11 Moreover if the Spirit of the one 27  who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ 28  from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you. 29 

8:12 So then, 30  brothers and sisters, 31  we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh 8:13 (for if you live according to the flesh, you will 32  die), 33  but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are 34  the sons of God. 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, 35  but you received the Spirit of adoption, 36  by whom 37  we cry, “Abba, Father.” 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness to 38  our spirit that we are God’s children. 8:17 And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ) 39  – if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him.

1 sn See the note on Pharisees in 1:24.

2 tn Grk “a ruler of the Jews” (denoting a member of the Sanhedrin, the highest legal, legislative, and judicial body among the Jews).

3 tn Grk “him”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

4 tn Or “during the night.”

sn Possibly Nicodemus cameat 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.

5 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.

6 tn Grk “answered and said to him.”

7 tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.”

8 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).

9 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.

10 tn The grammatical structure of the question in Greek presupposes a negative reply.

11 tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.”

12 tn Or “born of water and wind” (the same Greek word, πνεύματος [pneumatos], may be translated either “spirit/Spirit” or “wind”).

sn Jesus’ somewhat enigmatic statement points to the necessity of being born “from above,” because water and wind/spirit/Spirit come from above. Isaiah 44:3-5 and Ezek 37:9-10 are pertinent examples of water and wind as life-giving symbols of the Spirit of God in his work among people. Both occur in contexts that deal with the future restoration of Israel as a nation prior to the establishment of the messianic kingdom. It is therefore particularly appropriate that Jesus should introduce them in a conversation about entering the kingdom of God. Note that the Greek word πνεύματος is anarthrous (has no article) in v. 5. This does not mean that spirit in the verse should be read as a direct reference to the Holy Spirit, but that both water and wind are figures (based on passages in the OT, which Nicodemus, the teacher of Israel should have known) that represent the regenerating work of the Spirit in the lives of men and women.

13 sn What is born of the flesh is flesh, i.e., what is born of physical heritage is physical. (It is interesting to compare this terminology with that of the dialogue in John 4, especially 4:23, 24.) For John the “flesh” (σάρξ, sarx) emphasizes merely the weakness and mortality of the creature – a neutral term, not necessarily sinful as in Paul. This is confirmed by the reference in John 1:14 to the Logos becoming “flesh.” The author avoids associating sinfulness with the incarnate Christ.

14 tn “All” has been supplied to indicate the plural pronoun in the Greek text.

15 tn Or “born again.” The same Greek word with the same double meaning occurs in v. 3.

16 tn The same Greek word, πνεύματος (pneumatos), may be translated “wind” or “spirit.”

17 sn Again, the physical illustrates the spiritual, although the force is heightened by the word-play here on wind-spirit (see the note on wind at the beginning of this verse). By the end of the verse, however, the final usage of πνεύματος (pneumatos) refers to the Holy Spirit.

18 tc The earliest and best witnesses of the Alexandrian and Western texts, as well as a few others (א* B D* F G 6 1506 1739 1881 pc co), have no additional words for v. 1. Later scribes (A D1 Ψ 81 365 629 pc vg) added the words μὴ κατὰ σάρκα περιπατοῦσιν (mh kata sarka peripatousin, “who do not walk according to the flesh”), while even later ones (א2 D2 33vid Ï) added ἀλλὰ κατὰ πνεῦμα (alla kata pneuma, “but [who do walk] according to the Spirit”). Both the external evidence and the internal evidence are compelling for the shortest reading. The scribes were evidently motivated to add such qualifications (interpolated from v. 4) to insulate Paul’s gospel from charges that it was characterized too much by grace. The KJV follows the longest reading found in Ï.

19 tn Grk “for the law of the Spirit of life.”

20 tc Most mss read the first person singular pronoun με (me) here (A D 1739c 1881 Ï lat sa). The second person singular pronoun σε (se) is superior because of external support (א B {F which reads σαι} G 1506* 1739*) and internal support (it is the harder reading since ch. 7 was narrated in the first person). At the same time, it could have arisen via dittography from the final syllable of the verb preceding it (ἠλευθέρωσεν, hleuqerwsen; “has set free”). But for this to happen in such early and diverse witnesses is unlikely, especially as it depends on various scribes repeatedly overlooking either the nu or the nu-bar at the end of the verb.

21 tn Grk “in that.”

22 tn Grk “think on” or “are intent on” (twice in this verse). What is in view here is not primarily preoccupation, however, but worldview. Translations like “set their mind on” could be misunderstood by the typical English reader to refer exclusively to preoccupation.

23 tn Or “mindset,” “way of thinking” (twice in this verse and once in v. 7). The Greek term φρόνημα does not refer to one’s mind, but to one’s outlook or mindset.

24 tn Or “are not controlled by the flesh but by the Spirit.”

25 tn Greek emphasizes the contrast between these two clauses more than can be easily expressed in English.

26 tn Or “life-giving.” Grk “the Spirit is life.”

27 sn The one who raised Jesus from the dead refers to God (also in the following clause).

28 tc Several mss read ᾿Ιησοῦν (Ihsoun, “Jesus”) after Χριστόν (Criston, “Christ”; א* A D* 630 1506 1739 1881 pc bo); C 81 104 lat have ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν. The shorter reading is more likely to be original, though, both because of external evidence (א2 B D2 F G Ψ 33 Ï sa) and internal evidence (scribes were much more likely to add the name “Jesus” if it were lacking than to remove it if it were already present in the text, especially to harmonize with the earlier mention of Jesus in the verse).

29 tc Most mss (B D F G Ψ 33 1739 1881 Ï lat) have διά (dia) followed by the accusative: “because of his Spirit who lives in you.” The genitive “through his Spirit” is supported by א A C(*) 81 104 1505 1506 al, and is slightly preferred.

30 tn There is a double connective here that cannot be easily preserved in English: “consequently therefore,” emphasizing the conclusion of what he has been arguing.

31 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:13.

32 tn Grk “are about to, are certainly going to.”

33 sn This remark is parenthetical to Paul’s argument.

34 tn Grk “For as many as are being led by the Spirit of God, these are.”

35 tn Grk “slavery again to fear.”

36 tn The Greek term υἱοθεσία (Juioqesia) was originally a legal technical term for adoption as a son with full rights of inheritance. BDAG 1024 s.v. notes, “a legal t.t. of ‘adoption’ of children, in our lit., i.e. in Paul, only in a transferred sense of a transcendent filial relationship between God and humans (with the legal aspect, not gender specificity, as major semantic component).”

37 tn Or “in that.”

38 tn Or possibly “with.” ExSyn 160-61, however, notes the following: “At issue, grammatically, is whether the Spirit testifies alongside of our spirit (dat. of association), or whether he testifies to our spirit (indirect object) that we are God’s children. If the former, the one receiving this testimony is unstated (is it God? or believers?). If the latter, the believer receives the testimony and hence is assured of salvation via the inner witness of the Spirit. The first view has the advantage of a σύν- (sun-) prefixed verb, which might be expected to take an accompanying dat. of association (and is supported by NEB, JB, etc.). But there are three reasons why πνεύματι (pneumati) should not be taken as association: (1) Grammatically, a dat. with a σύν- prefixed verb does not necessarily indicate association. This, of course, does not preclude such here, but this fact at least opens up the alternatives in this text. (2) Lexically, though συμμαρτυρέω (summarturew) originally bore an associative idea, it developed in the direction of merely intensifying μαρτυρέω (marturew). This is surely the case in the only other NT text with a dat. (Rom 9:1). (3) Contextually, a dat. of association does not seem to support Paul’s argument: ‘What standing has our spirit in this matter? Of itself it surely has no right at all to testify to our being sons of God’ [C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans [ICC], 1:403]. In sum, Rom 8:16 seems to be secure as a text in which the believer’s assurance of salvation is based on the inner witness of the Spirit. The implications of this for one’s soteriology are profound: The objective data, as helpful as they are, cannot by themselves provide assurance of salvation; the believer also needs (and receives) an existential, ongoing encounter with God’s Spirit in order to gain that familial comfort.”

39 tn Grk “on the one hand, heirs of God; on the other hand, fellow heirs with Christ.” Some prefer to render v. 17 as follows: “And if children, then heirs – that is, heirs of God. Also fellow heirs with Christ if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him.” Such a translation suggests two distinct inheritances, one coming to all of God’s children, the other coming only to those who suffer with Christ. The difficulty of this view, however, is that it ignores the correlative conjunctions μένδέ (mende, “on the one hand…on the other hand”): The construction strongly suggests that the inheritances cannot be separated since both explain “then heirs.” For this reason, the preferred translation puts this explanation in parentheses.



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