John 3 Expanded Bible (EXB)
Nicodemus Comes to Jesus
3 There was a man named Nicodemus who was one of the Pharisees [C a religious party which strictly observed OT laws and later customs] and ·an important Jewish leader [L a ruler of the Jews; C probably a member of the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish court of the time]. 2 ·One night [or By night; C perhaps with connotations that he could not “see” spiritually] Nicodemus came to Jesus and said, “·Teacher [L Rabbi], we know you are a teacher sent from God, because no one can do the ·miracles [L signs; 2:11] you do unless God is with him.”
3 Jesus answered, “·I tell you the truth [L Truly, truly I say to you], unless you are born ·again [or from above; C this may be a play on words, meaning both “again” and “from above”], you cannot ·be in [experience; L see] God’s kingdom.”
4 Nicodemus said to him, “But if a person is already old, how can he be born ·again [or from above; 3:3]? ·He cannot enter his mother’s womb again. So how can a person be born a second time [L Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born]?”
5 But Jesus answered, “·I tell you the truth [L Truly, truly I say to you], unless you are born from water and the Spirit [C equivalent to being born again (3:3); water could symbolize physical birth, but more likely symbolizes spiritual cleansing which brings renewal; Ezek. 36:25–27], you cannot enter God’s kingdom. 6 ·Human life comes from human parents [L That which is born of the flesh is flesh; C flesh here means human nature], but ·spiritual life comes from the Spirit [L that which is born of the Spirit is spirit]. 7 Don’t be ·surprised [amazed; astonished] when I tell you, ‘You [C plural, referring to the Jews or the Jewish leaders] must be born ·again [or from above; 3:3].’ 8 The wind [C one word means both “wind” and “spirit” in Greek] blows where it wants to and you hear the sound of it, but you don’t know where the wind comes from or where it is going. It is the same with every person who is born from the Spirit.” [C We cannot comprehend or control the Spirit, but we experience his effect.]
9 Nicodemus ·asked [replied], “How can this ·happen [be]?”
10 Jesus ·said [replied; answered], “You are ·an important teacher in Israel [L the teacher of Israel], and you don’t ·understand [know] these things? 11 ·I tell you the truth [L Truly, truly I say to you], we talk about what we know, and we ·tell [testify; bear witness] about what we have seen, but you don’t ·accept what we tell you [L receive our testimony/witness]. 12 I have told you about things here on earth [C the teaching about being born again], and you do not believe me. ·So you will not [L So how will you…?] believe me if I tell you about things of heaven. 13 ·The only one who has ever gone up to heaven is [L No one has gone up into heaven except] the One who came down from heaven—the Son of Man[a] [C a title for the Messiah; Dan. 7:13–14].
14 “Just as Moses lifted up the ·snake [T serpent] in the ·desert [wilderness; C Moses put a bronze snake statue on a pole, and those who looked at it were healed of snake bites; Num. 21:4–9], the Son of Man must also be lifted up [C an allusion to the cross and resurrection]. 15 So that everyone who ·believes can have eternal life in him [or believes in him can have eternal life].
16 “[L For] God loved the world so much that he gave his ·one and only [only; unique; T only begotten; 1:14, 18] Son so that whoever believes in him may not ·be lost [T perish], but have eternal life. 17 [L For; Indeed] God did not send his Son into the world to ·judge the world guilty [condemn the world], but to save the world through him. 18 People who believe in God’s Son are not ·judged guilty [condemned]. Those who do not believe have already been ·judged guilty [condemned], because they have not believed in [L the name of] God’s ·one and only [only; unique; T only begotten; 3:16] Son. 19 ·They are judged by this fact [L And this is the judgment/condemnation/verdict]: The Light [C Jesus, God’s Son] has come into the world, ·but they did not want light. They wanted darkness [L but people loved the darkness more than the light], because they were doing evil things. 20 All who do evil hate the light and will not come to the light, because it will show ·all the evil things they do [L their deeds/actions]. 21 But those who ·follow the true way [do what is true; live by the truth] come to the light, and it ·shows [may be seen] that the things they do were done ·through [or in the sight of; or in obedience to; L in] God.”
Jesus and John the Baptist
22 After this, Jesus and his ·followers [disciples] went into the ·area [countryside] of Judea, where he ·stayed [spent time] with his ·followers [disciples] and baptized people. 23 John was also baptizing in Aenon [C a town (meaning “springs”) of uncertain location on the Jordan River (but see note on Salim)], near Salim [C a town (meaning “peace”) probably located either near Shechem or just south of Bethshan, both of which are in a Samaritan area], because there was plenty of water there. People were going there to be baptized. 24 (This was before John was put into prison [Matt. 4:12].)
25 Some of John’s ·followers [disciples] had an ·argument [discussion; debate] with a Jew about ·religious washing [ceremonial cleansing; L purification; C the Jewish people washed themselves for ritual purposes before eating, before worshiping in the Temple, and at other special times]. 26 So they came to John and said, “Teacher [L Rabbi], remember the man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan River, the one ·you spoke about so much [L about whom you have testified/witnessed]? He is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”
27 John answered, “A ·man [person] can get only what ·God gives him [L is given to him from heaven]. 28 You yourselves heard me ·say [testify], ‘I am not the ·Christ [Messiah], but I am the one sent ·to prepare the way for him [L before him; 1:20–28; compare Is. 40:3].’ 29 The bride belongs only to the bridegroom. But the ·friend who helps the bridegroom [or the best man] stands by and listens to him. He ·is thrilled [rejoices greatly] that he gets to hear the bridegroom’s voice. In the same way, ·I am really happy [L my joy is fulfilled; C in this analogy, John is the best man and Jesus is the bridegroom]. 30 He must ·become greater [increase], and I must ·become less important [decrease].
The One Who Comes from Heaven
31 “The One [C Jesus] who comes from above is ·greater than [L above] all. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and talks about ·things on the earth [earthly matters]. But the One who comes from heaven is ·greater than [L above] all. 32 He ·tells [testifies to; bears witness to] what he has seen and heard, but no one ·accepts [receives] ·what he says [his testimony; 3:11]. 33 Whoever ·accepts what he says [receives his testimony] has ·proven [certified; affirmed; L set his seal] that God is true. 34 [L For] The One whom God sent speaks the words of God, because God gives him the Spirit ·fully [L without measure/limit]. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given ·him power over everything [him authority over all; L all things into his hand]. 36 Those who believe in the Son have eternal life, but those who ·do not obey [reject] the Son will ·never have [L not see] life. God’s ·anger [wrath] ·stays [remains] on them.”