You Must Be Born Again
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him."
3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
We can't even "see the kingdom of God" unless we are born again. That is, we can't even believe in Christ, until we are born again. If you think it was your personal choice to become a Christian then think again. You certainly made a choice, but Jesus says the Holy Spirit caused you to be born again before you made your choice. Don't ask me how that works. This is what Jesus is saying so who am I to argue with the Lord? If you don't believe Him, you can take it up with Him one day.
4 Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"
5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
To "enter the kingdom of God" is to be saved, and we can't be saved until we are born again. And it's God who causes us to be born again. We become his children by his authority and his authority alone. We can't give birth to ourselves - the Holy Spirit does that to us. At the same time, no one is beyond the saving power of the Holy Spirit. Anyone who wants to be saved simply has to repent and believe in Lord Jesus Christ - as he is revealed in Scripture (see Romans 10:9).
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
9 Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?"
10 Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?
11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.
12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
13 No one has ascended into heaven except him who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
Just as Moses lifted up the serpent
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
So: οὕτως houtōs; from G3779: houtó and houtós: in this way, thus
15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."
Serpent in the wilderness account in Numbers 21:4-9.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
This is the most popular verse in the Bible but misunderstood by most. The "so" in this sentence is the Greek word houtós which means "thus" or "in this manner" and not "so much". It is a parallelism to the "so (houtós)" in v.14.
Even Bible translators get this wrong - more than one version has translated "so" as "so much" (See Bible Hub) that I doubt the translators had looked at the original Greek at all.
So: Οὕτως Houtōs; from G3779: houtó and houtós: in this way, thus Original Word: οὕτως Part of Speech: Adverb Transliteration: houtó and houtós Phonetic Spelling: (hoo'-to) Definition: in this way, thus Usage: thus, so, in this manner.
Perish: ἀπόληται apolētai; from G622: apollumi: to destroy, destroy utterly Original Word: ἀπόλλυμι Part of Speech: Verb Transliteration: apollumi Phonetic Spelling: (ap-ol'-loo-mee) Definition: to destroy, destroy utterly Usage: (a) I kill, destroy, (b) I lose, mid: I am perishing (the resultant death being viewed as certain).
A better translation would be: For thus God loved the world - that he gave his only son - so that everyone believing in him should not perish but should have eternal life.
John says something similar in 1John 4:9 and that supports the translation of "thus" rather than "so much".
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Those who do "not believe is condemned already". People tend to think that unbelievers are punished for not believing in Christ, but that's wrong. It's in fact the other way round. People are condemned for their own sin, and their condemnation is the receipt of God's justice which is holy and fair. Refusal to believe in Christ is the refusal to accept the only possible pardon that God offers to them.
19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.
20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.
John the Baptist Exalts Christ
22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing.
23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized
24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).
25 Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification.
26 And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness- look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him."
27 John answered, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.
28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.'
29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.
30 He must increase, but I must decrease."
31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all.
32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony.
33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.
34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.
35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Notice "the wrath of God remains" on the disobedient. The disobedient are the unsaved and they are already under God's wrath (John 3:18). Only the born-again Christian is capable of truly obeying God, because it's the Holy Spirit living inside him who causes him to obey God. Without the Holy Spirit indwelling, no one has the ability to obey God. Unless people are in Christ they are under God's wrath - just like the people who were in Noah's ark were saved from the flood, but those outside it were swept away.