John 3 The Voice (VOICE)
3 Nicodemus was one of the Pharisees, a man with some clout among his people. 2 He came to Jesus under the cloak of darkness to question Him.
Nicodemus: Teacher, some of us have been talking. You are obviously a teacher who has come from God. The signs You are doing are proof that God is with You.
At this time, Israel’s Roman occupiers have given a small group of Sadducees and Pharisees limited powers to rule, and Nicodemus is one of the Pharisees. He holds a seat on the ruling council known as the Sanhedrin, and surprisingly Nicodemus is among those who seek Jesus for His teaching. It appears that he believes more about Jesus than he wants others to know, so he comes at night.
Jesus: 3 I tell you the truth: only someone who experiences birth for a second time[a] can hope to see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus: 4 I am a grown man. How can someone be born again when he is old like me? Am I to crawl back into my mother’s womb for a second birth? That’s impossible!
Jesus: 5 I tell you the truth, if someone does not experience water and Spirit birth, there’s no chance he will make it into God’s kingdom. 6 Like from like. Whatever is born from flesh is flesh; whatever is born from Spirit is spirit. 7 Don’t be shocked by My words, but I tell you the truth. Even you, an educated and respected man among your people, must be reborn by the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God. 8 The wind[b] blows all around us as if it has a will of its own; we feel and hear it, but we do not understand where it has come from or where it will end up. Life in the Spirit is as if it were the wind of God.
Nicodemus: 9 I still do not understand how this can be.
Jesus: 10 Your responsibility is to instruct Israel in matters of faith, but you do not comprehend the necessity of life in the Spirit? 11 I tell you the truth: we speak about the things we know, and we give evidence about the things we have seen, and you choose to reject the truth of our witness. 12 If you do not believe when I talk to you about ordinary, earthly realities, then heavenly realities will certainly elude you. 13 No one has ever journeyed to heaven above except the One who has come down from heaven—the Son of Man, who is of heaven. 14 Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. In the same way, the Son of Man must be lifted up; 15 then all those who believe in Him will experience everlasting life.
16 For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. 17 Here’s the point. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction.
18 No one who believes in Him has to fear condemnation, yet condemnation is already the reality for everyone who refuses to believe because they reject the name of the only Son of God. 19 Why does God allow for judgment and condemnation? Because the Light, sent from God, pierced through the world’s darkness to expose ill motives, hatred, gossip, greed, violence, and the like. Still some people preferred the darkness over the light because their actions were dark. 20 Some of humankind hated the light. They scampered hurriedly back into the darkness where vices thrive and wickedness flourishes. 21 Those who abandon deceit and embrace what is true, they will enter into the light where it will be clear that all their deeds come from God.
Jesus makes the point clear: stay connected to Him, and have no reason to fear. Jesus doesn’t mean that at the instant someone has faith, fear simply vanishes or only good things happen in that person’s life. In fact, the blessings that come with eternal life often have nothing to do with present or future circumstances, but they have everything to do with the individual’s connections to God and others. That is John’s message to his listeners. God came to earth embodied in flesh, and then He reached His greatest acclaim through a torturous death. If this is all true, then believers will find strength and beauty in places never imagined. Abiding in Jesus the Anointed is the good life, regardless of the external circumstances.
22 Not long after, Jesus and His disciples traveled to the Judean countryside where they could enjoy one another’s company and ritually cleanse new followers through baptism.[c] 23-24 About the same time, Jesus’ cousin John—the wandering prophet who had not yet been imprisoned—was upriver at Aenon near Salim baptizing scores of people in the abundant waters there. 25 John’s activities raised questions about the nature of purification among his followers and a religious leader, 26 so they approached him with their questions.
John’s Followers: Teacher, the One who was with you earlier on the other side of the Jordan, the One whom you have been pointing to, is baptizing[d] the multitudes who are coming to Him.
John the Baptist: 27 Apart from the gifts that come from heaven, no one can receive anything at all. 28 I have said it many times, and you have heard me—I am not the Anointed One; I am the one who comes before Him. 29 If you are confused, consider this: the groom is the one with the bride. The best man takes his place close by and listens for him. When he hears the voice of the groom, he is swept up in the joy of the moment. So hear me. My joy could not be more complete. 30 He, the groom, must take center stage; and I, the best man, must step to His side.
31 If someone comes from heaven above, he ranks above it all and speaks of heavenly things. If someone comes from earth, he speaks of earthly things. The One from the heavens is superior; He is over all. 32 He reveals the mysteries seen and realities heard of the heavens above, but no one below is listening. 33 Those who are listening and accept His witness to these truths have gone on record. They acknowledge the fact that God is true! 34 The One sent from God speaks with the very words of God and abounds with the very Spirit and essence of God. 35 The Father loves the Son and withholds nothing from Him. 36 Those who believe in the Son will bask in eternal life, but those who disobey the Son will never experience life. They will know only God’s lingering wrath.
John 3 The Passion Translation (TPT)
3 Now there was a prominent religious leader among the Jews named Nicodemus,[a] who was part of the sect called the Pharisees and a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 One night he discreetly came to Jesus and said, “Master, we know that you are a teacher from God, for no one performs the miracle signs that you do, unless God’s power is with him.”
3 Jesus answered, “Nicodemus, listen to this eternal truth: Before a person can perceive God’s kingdom realm, they must first experience a rebirth.”[b]
4 Nicodemus said, “Rebirth? How can a gray-headed man be reborn? It’s impossible for a man to go back into the womb a second time and be reborn!”
5 Jesus answered, “I speak an eternal truth: Unless you are born of water[c] and Spirit-wind, you will never enter God’s kingdom realm. 6 For the natural realm can only give birth to things that are natural, but the spiritual realm gives birth to supernatural life!
7 “You shouldn’t be amazed by my statement,[d] ‘You must be born from above!’[e] 8 For the Spirit-wind blows as it chooses. You can hear its sound,[f] but you don’t know where it came from or where it’s going. So it is within the hearts of those who are Spirit-born!”[g]
9 Then Nicodemus replied, “But I don’t understand, what do you mean? How does this happen?”
10 Jesus answered, “Nicodemus, aren’t you the respected teacher in Israel, and yet you don’t understand this revelation? 11 I speak eternal truths about things I know, things I’ve seen and experienced—and still you don’t accept what I reveal. 12 If you’re unable to understand and believe what I’ve told you about the natural realm, what will you do when I begin to unveil the heavenly realm? 13 No one has risen into the heavenly realm except the Son of Man who also exists in heaven.”[h]
God’s Love for Everyone
14 “And just as Moses in the desert lifted up the brass replica of a snake on a pole for all the people to see and be healed,[i] so the Son of Man is ready to be lifted up, 15 so that those who truly believe in him[j] will not perish but be given eternal life. 16 For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift.[k] So now everyone who believes in him[l] will never perish but experience everlasting life.
17 “God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it![m] 18 So now there is no longer any condemnation for those who believe in him, but the unbeliever already lives under condemnation because they do not believe in the name of God’s beloved Son.[n] 19 And here is the basis for their judgment: The Light of God has now come into the world, but the hearts of people love their darkness more than the Light, because they want the darkness to conceal their evil. 20 So the wicked[o] hate the Light and try to hide from it, for their lives are fully exposed in the Light. 21 But those who love the truth[p] will come out into the Light and welcome its exposure, for the Light will reveal that their fruitful works were produced by God.”[q]
John, Friend of the Bridegroom
22 Then Jesus and his disciples went out for a length of time into the Judean countryside where they baptized the people. 23 At this time John was still baptizing people at Aenon,[r] near Salim,[s] where there was plenty of water. And the people kept coming for John to baptize them. 24 (This was before John was thrown into prison.)
25 An argument then developed between John’s disciples and a particular Jewish man about baptism.[t] 26 So they went to John and asked him, “Teacher, are you aware that the One you told us about at the crossing place—he’s now baptizing everyone with larger crowds than yours. People are flocking to him! What do you think about that?”
27 John answered them, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless God bestows it.[u] 28 You heard me tell you before that I am not the Messiah, but certainly I am the messenger sent ahead of him. 29 He is the Bridegroom,[v] and the bride belongs to him. I am the friend[w] of the Bridegroom who stands nearby and listens with great joy to the Bridegroom’s voice. And because of his words my joy is complete and overflows! 30 So it’s necessary for him to increase[x] and for me to be diminished.[y]
31 “For the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks from the natural realm. But the One who comes from above is above everything and speaks of the highest realm of all! 32 His message is about what he has seen and experienced, even though people don’t accept it. 33 Yet those who embrace his message know in their hearts that it’s the truth.[z]
34 “The One whom God has sent to represent him will speak the words of God, for God has poured out upon him the fullness of the Holy Spirit without limitation.[aa] 35 The Father loves his Son so much that all things have been given into his hands.[ab] 36 Those who trust in the Son possess eternal life; but those who don’t obey[ac] the Son will not see life, and God’s anger will rise up against them.”[ad]
John 3 Amplified Bible (AMP)
The New Birth
3 Now there was a certain man among the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler (member of the Sanhedrin) among the Jews, 2 who came to Jesus at night and said to Him, “Rabbi (Teacher), we know [without any doubt] that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs [these wonders, these attesting miracles] that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a person is born again [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified], he cannot [ever] see and experience the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot [ever] enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh [the physical is merely physical], and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be surprised that I have told you, ‘You must be born again [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified].’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it is coming from and where it is going; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be possible?” 10 Jesus replied, “You are the [great and well-known] teacher of Israel, and yet you do not know nor understand these things [from Scripture]? 11 I assure you and most solemnly say to you, we speak only of what we [absolutely] know and testify about what we have [actually] seen [as eyewitnesses]; and [still] you [reject our evidence and] do not accept our testimony. 12 If I told you earthly things [that is, things that happen right here on earth] and you do not believe, how will you believe and trust Me if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has gone up into heaven, but there is One who came down from heaven, the Son of Man [Himself—whose home is in heaven]. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the [bronze] serpent in the desert [on a pole], so must the Son of Man be lifted up [on the cross], 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life [after physical death, and will actually live forever].
16 “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] [a]only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 Whoever believes and has decided to trust in Him [as personal Savior and Lord] is not judged [for this one, there is no judgment, no rejection, no condemnation]; but the one who does not believe [and has decided to reject Him as personal Savior and Lord] is judged already [that one has been convicted and sentenced], because [b]he has not believed and trusted in the name of the [One and] only begotten Son of God [the One who is truly unique, the only One of His kind, the One who alone can save him]. 19 This is the judgment [that is, the cause for indictment, the test by which people are judged, the basis for the sentence]: the Light has come into the world, and people loved the [c]darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For every wrongdoer hates the Light, and does not come to the Light [but shrinks from it] for fear that his [sinful, worthless] activities will be exposed and condemned. 21 But whoever practices truth [and does what is right—morally, ethically, spiritually] comes to the Light, so that his works may be plainly shown to be what they are—accomplished in God [divinely prompted, done with God’s help, in dependence on Him].”
John’s Last Testimony
22 After these things Jesus and His disciples went into the land of Judea, and there He spent time with them and baptized. 23 Now John was also baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was an abundance of water there; and people were coming and were being baptized— 24 for John had not yet been thrown into prison.
25 Therefore there arose a controversy between John’s disciples and a Jew in regard to [d]purification (ceremonial washing). 26 So they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi (Teacher), the Man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan [at the Jordan River crossing]—and to whom you have testified—look, He is baptizing too, and everyone is going to Him!” 27 John replied, “A man can receive nothing [he can claim nothing at all] unless it has been granted to him from heaven [for there is no other source than the sovereign will of God]. 28 You yourselves are my witnesses that I stated, ‘I am not the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed),’ but, ‘I have [only] been sent ahead of Him [as His appointed forerunner and messenger to announce and proclaim His coming].’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands by and listens to him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this pleasure and joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase [in prominence], but I must decrease.
31 “He who comes from [heaven] above is above all others; he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks [about things] of the earth [his viewpoint and experience are earthly]. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 What He has [actually] seen and heard, of that He testifies; and yet no one accepts His testimony [as true]. 33 Whoever receives His testimony has set his seal [of approval] to this: God is true [and he knows that God cannot lie]. 34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God [proclaiming the Father’s own message]; for God gives the [gift of the] Spirit without measure [generously and boundlessly]! 35 The Father loves the Son and has given and entrusted all things into His hand. 36 He who believes and trusts in the Son and accepts Him [as Savior] has eternal life [that is, already possesses it]; but he who does not believe the Son and chooses to reject Him, [disobeying Him and denying Him as Savior] will not see [eternal] life, but [instead] the wrath of God hangs over him continually.”