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THE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST
The New Birth (2)
Victor M. Eskew
I. THE COMING OF NICODEMUS (John 3:1-2)
A. Nicodemus (John 3:1)
B. Night (John 3:2a)
C. Nexus (John 3:2b)
…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.
1. Address: Rabbi
1) Strong (4461): my master, an official title of honor
2) Thayer: my great one, my honorable one, a title used by the Jews to address their teachers
b. Interesting points:
1) Nicodemus calls Jesus, “Rabbi,” even though Jesus was not trained in the rabbinical schools.
2) The Pharisees loved this title (Matt. 23:6-7).
3) Jesus forbade His disciples from wearing the title (Matt. 23:8).
Be ye not called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
1) Titles have a tendency to cause an individual to be lifted up with pride.
2) Titles also create division between God’s people.
3) Titles cause one to have a sense of knowledge and wisdom that he thinks others do not possess.
2. Acknowledgement: We know that thou art a teacher come from God
a. We: Nicodemus and several others among the Jewish leaders (See John 12:42).
Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but…
b. He was a teacher who had been sent from God.
1) This as a big admission by Nicodemus.
2) Remember, some attributed His work to Satan (Matt. 9:34; 12:24).
3. Attestation: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
a. Was it one particular miracle?
Was it the multitude of the miracles?
Was it the undeniable nature of the miracles?
b. One of the purposes of the miracles was to confirm the messenger sent from God (See Exo. 4:1-9, esp. v. 5).
That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.
II. THE CHARGE OF JESUS (John 3:3)
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.
A. Jesus’ first words to Nicodemus do not seem to respond to the address Nicodemus gave to Jesus. Jesus immediately confronts him with the need to be born again.
1. It could be because the Jewish rules trusted so much in their lineage that went back to Abraham (See Matt. 3:9).
2. Jesus may have known that Nicodemus was coming to speak to Him about the kingdom.
a. Jesus teaches that the kingdom and the new birth are tied together.
b. When one is born, he is born into a family.
1) The church is the family of God (I Tim. 3:15).
2) The church is the kingdom of God (Matt. 16:18: Col. 1:130.
B. Four points:
1. The Amen: Verily, verily
a. The Greek word here is the word “amen.”
b. It comes from a word meaning “firm” or “sure.”
c. As an introduction, it means “of a truth.”
2. The Authority: I say unto you
a. Nicodemus had just acknowledged that Jesus was a teacher that came from God.
b. Now that same teacher is addressing him directly with an imperative, an absolute necessity.
c. Will he give ear to the Rabbi?
d. Remember, too, this is the Son of God.
3. The Action: ye must be born again
a. Definition: born
1) Strong (1080): to procreate
2) Thayer: to be born, to be begotten
b. Definition: again
1) Some translate the word “from above” or “anew.”
2) Nicodemus definitely understood the word as “again.”
c. Jesus is speaking of a spiritual birth when He uses these words. He does not reveal the “how” of the new birth at this time.
4. The Access: He cannot see the kingdom of God
a. When John and Jesus began their ministries, they both announced the imminent kingdom (Matt. 3:1-2; 4:17).
b. The Jews were in anticipation of it (Isa. 2:1-4; Dan. 2:44).
c. Jesus associates the new birth with the coming kingdom.
III. THE CONFUSION OF NICODEMUS (John 3:4)
Nicodemus saith unto 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?
A. Nicodemus automatically assumed a physical application of Jesus’ words.
1. He could not imagine a man entering again into his mother’s womb to be born.
2. Lesson: Men still mistake the physical for the spiritual.
a. The earthly kingdom of the premillennialist
b. The renovated heaven and earth of the Jehovah’s witnesses
B. Some are shocked that Nicodemus did not understand this instruction because the same terminology was used when a Gentile was proselyted into Judaism.
1. The Gentile was born again.
2. Nicodemus may have missed it because the Jews never once thought that the people of God needed to be born again.
C. Lessons from Barnes (e-sword):
1. Prejudice leads men to misunderstand the plainest doctrines of religion.
2. Things which are not at first comprehensible or apparently absurd, may, when explained, become clear.
3. Those in high rank in life, and who are learned, are often most ignorant about the plainest matters of religion.
4. A doctrine is not to be rejected because the rich and the great do not believe it or understand it. The doctrine of regeneration was not false because Nicodemus did not comprehend it.