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Chapter 3

Nicodemus.[a] (A)Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.[b] He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.”(B) Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born[c] from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?”(C) Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.(D) What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.(E) Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind[d] blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”(F)

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Footnotes

  1. 3:1–21 Jesus instructs Nicodemus on the necessity of a new birth from above. This scene in Jerusalem at Passover exemplifies the faith engendered by signs (Jn 2:23). It continues the self-manifestation of Jesus in Jerusalem begun in Jn 2. This is the first of the Johannine discourses, shifting from dialogue to monologue (Jn 3:11–15) to reflection of the evangelist (Jn 3:16–21). The shift from singular through Jn 3:10 to plural in Jn 3:11 may reflect the early church’s controversy with the Jews.
  2. 3:1 A ruler of the Jews: most likely a member of the Jewish council, the Sanhedrin; see note on Mk 8:31.
  3. 3:3 Born: see note on Jn 1:13. From above: the Greek adverb anōthen means both “from above” and “again.” Jesus means “from above” (see Jn 3:31) but Nicodemus misunderstands it as “again.” This misunderstanding serves as a springboard for further instruction.
  4. 3:8 Wind: the Greek word pneuma (as well as the Hebrew rûah) means both “wind” and “spirit.” In the play on the double meaning, “wind” is primary.

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