Born Again in scripture?


#1

Did Jesus say one must be born again or from above?

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says to Nicodemus, unless one is anóthen, one cannot see the kingdom of God.

The Greeek word used is anóthen.

Now, in the Gospel of John, Jesus says one thing, his listener misunderstand, so Jesus clarifies what he said.

The Greek work anóthen can mean “again,” but it can also mean, “from above.”
We know from John later in John, Jesus said, “Unless a man be born from above.” Nicodemus hears, “again,” so asks, “How can a man be born again?” Jesus clarifies what He said to Nicodemus.

When translated in English, It read, “Jesus said, 'Unless a man be born from above… Nicodemus asked, 'How can a man be born again?” People were wondering why Nicodemus asked that when it is obvious Jesus did not say it.

So they translated the Bible in the 1920’s to read, Jesus said, 'Unless a man be born again…"

They then explained what why they did this in a footnote.

But many did not read the footnotes.
And, int he 1920’s the Born Again movement began in the American fundamentalist south
And Jesus never said you had to be born again.

Anyone know why people didn’t read the footnotes?
What does the footnote say exactly?
If it’s incorrect, why not clarify it?


#2

Same thing. One cannot be born again unless it is from above. What has occurred in recent times is that this has been twisted and taken out of context. Water and the spirit, as Jesus spoke to Nicodemus (water baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit) has been grotesquely warped into a mere verbal confession of Christ, the water now being made out (in some cases) to be amniotic fluid.

You can’t make this stuff up.


#3

My Bible (the HarperCollins Study Bible) says “from above” in the text, but in the notes adds the following.
The Greek word translated from above in v.3 can also mean anew… This is the source of Nicodemus’s misunderstanding. Such misunderstandings, cases of dramatic irony since the readers know what the character in the story does not, are common in John; see e.g. 2.19-21; 4.10-15; 31-38; 11.11-13 … 7.33-36. (There are 6 more listed).

BTW I do not recommend this Bible to anyone who is seeking faith. It gives a very secular viewpoint on most matters. I use it because most of my discussions have been with the secular and so it is important that I understand where they are coming from.


#4

The best illustration of this that I’ve ever read is that when musicians (and I am a musician) want to play a piece again, instead of saying “Let’s play it again,” they will say “Let’s take it from the top” (anothen)

And FTR, OP, the “born again” movement goes back a number of decades farther than the 1920s South.


#5

Very nicely put. A very good comparison.


#6

“anew” doesn’t really equate with again.
But at least it explains it in that version.

In John 4:13 we see the word “again”


#7

Do you know more about the “born again” movement in the US?
I am not from the US and honestly I never heard of this whole concept of “born again” till I traveled to the US.


#8

The denomination that I was raised in was the first Pentecostal denomination in the U.S. It was started in 1886 as a holiness reaction to encroaching “worldliness” in the mainline denominations. The Pentecostal experiences began 10 years later. At the time of its beginning in 1886, the born-again movement was already in full swing.

Right now I don’t have time to do any research other than to relate my own experience; we are preparing for a trip.


#9

I went to a Pentecostal church for a short time about 10 years ago, my good friend was a devout Pentecostal and he and his family invited me on day and I liked it and continued to go, I was also baptized there, in a large pool of water in the church, I had to go completely under.

Anyway, I really respect the Pentecostal people, they are true believers, and wherever they go, they talk about God and the bible, they are always starting up conversations with strangers, and anyone they come across in public, they usually invite people to their church, offer to help others, to be honest, I saw more ‘Godliness’ in those people than most at my current catholic church, in fact, I dont think Ive ever been out in public with a fellow parish member and hear them talking about God or the bible to anyone, much less inviting anyone to join them at mass.

From everything Ive seen personally, I would say Pentecostals live their faith much more than Catholics (that I know of anyway), maybe there are Catholics like this out there and I have never seen them…its possible.

But in the end, I stopped going to their church, as I did not feel anything there, but thats not saying much, as I have never felt anything at a Catholic church either, so its par for the course in my case.


#10

Both, since ανωθεν means both, and Nikodemos’ response shows the play on the double meaning. John, however, tends towards the expression of verticality (q.v. 3:31, 19:11, 19:23).

So they translated the Bible in the 1920’s to read, Jesus said, 'Unless a man be born again…"

Well, to be fair, the Vulgate says natus fuerit denuo, that last word meaning ‘again’/‘anew’ and not ‘from above’; Wycliffe followed suit in the late C14th; the King James did likewise in the early C17th, etc. Whichever 1920s translator you mean was following a well-established tradition.

They then explained what why they did this in a footnote.

But many did not read the footnotes.
And, int he 1920’s the Born Again movement began in the American fundamentalist south
And Jesus never said you had to be born again.

Augustine speaks of being born again: renascimur spiritu (Contra Faustum 21.1). The phrase is used down through the ages, somewhat more recently (and with great enthusiasm) by Wesley. It is hardly some C20th American movement which is to blame.


#11

denuo in latin are you sure it can mean again or anew?

I don’t know really if St. Augustine was referring to the same concept of “born again” with renascimur spiritu. Augustine was referring to the completion of Deo Renascimur with the Holy Spirit in confirmation. For Augustine renascimur spiritu was a reference confirmation.

When I read St. Augustine that is what I read about his idea of renascimur spiritu.


#12

I had a different experience. I come from a different country where Catholicism is a lot more passionate than here. Maybe because it is by far the majority, I don’t know.
I think the Pentecostals and many other protestants are great and well meaning but for me when I came back to the Church I realized that I didn’t know anything about Catholicism. And I discovered an immense treasure chest. And today there isn’t an instant that goes by that I don’t have God in my mind. There isn’t one thought I do without reflecting on it. There isn’t an action I do without thinking and reflecting whether it would be God’s will.

There is a whole community of Saints and Angels who accompany me now. When I go to mass I see how the liturgy is in present time as if Jesus was there.

There are many Catholics. One has to look and seek those. I found many excellent Catholics in the Opus Dei.

Maybe it is a matter of discovering and learning first about the Mass as well. When I learned it’s meaning I could no longer consider going to a church without an altar and that sacrifice that I believe is celebrated in Heaven as well as the mass.

Then what helped me a lot was the Saints. When one reads St. Catherine of Sienna or St. John of the Cross. Those two impacted me so much. I’ve never learned so much from anyone than the Saints. Those two in particular.


#13

I believe the exact translation of the Vulgate is

“respondit Iesus amen amen dico tibi nisi quis renatus fuerit ex aqua et Spiritu non potest introire in regnum Dei”

It doesn’t indicate necessarily an adult being born again but a soul being born of water and spirit. ex aqua et Spiritu


#14

I believe St. Augustine was referring to infant baptism

“It is this one Spirit who makes it possible for an infant to be regenerated . . . when that infant is brought to baptism; and it is through this one Spirit that the infant so presented is reborn. For it is not written, Unless a man be born again by the will of his parents' orby the faith of those presenting him or ministering to him,’ but, `Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit.’ The water, therefore, manifesting exteriorly the sacrament of grace, and the Spirit effecting interiorly the benefit of grace, both regenerate in one Christ that man who was generated in Adam” (Letters 98:2 [A.D. 412])."

The problem I see is that born again is also correct, yet it is applied incorrectly. For many it is the only thing required and I think it is only the beginning.

I also think that St. Augustine refers to adult baptism if you will only for converts who have never been baptized before.

“[T]he custom [of not rebaptizing converts] . . . may be supposed to have had its origin in Apostolic Tradition, just as there are many things which are observed by the whole Church, and therefore are fairly held to have been enjoined by the Apostles, which yet are not mentioned in their writings” (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 5:23[31] [A.D. 400]).
“But the admonition that he [Cyprian] gives us, ‘that we should go back to the fountain, that is, to Apostolic Tradition, and thence turn the channel of truth to our times,’ is most excellent, and should be followed without hesitation” (ibid., 5:26[37]).
“But in regard to those observances which we carefully attend and which the whole world keeps, and which derive not from Scripture but from Tradition, we are given to understand that they are recommended and ordained to be kept, either by the Apostles themselves or by plenary [ecumenical] councils, the authority of which is quite vital in the Church” (Letter to Januarius [A.D. 400]).


#15

That is John 3:5, Jesus’ explanation to Nikodemos’ incomprehension. Look at 3:3.


#16

yep (see also Galatians 4:9)

I don’t know really if St. Augustine was referring to the same concept of “born again” with renascimur spiritu. Augustine was referring to the completion of Deo Renascimur with the Holy Spirit in confirmation. For Augustine renascimur spiritu was a reference confirmation.

Was Augustine’s conception identical to modern Evangelicals? No, but it was an idea which existed in his time, and before, and after, not merely a modern fabrication (although there are quite naturally modern reinventions of it).


#17

I don’t know what you are talking about John 3.3 - Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.

unless you mean 3.31

qui desursum venit supra omnes est qui est de terra de terra est et de terra loquitur qui de caelo venit supra omnes est

So you mean anothem is used as above in 3.31?

I see that too. Which makes it even more of a case that anothem would be from above. I see the Anglicans have from “above” in the NRV. Very interesting.


#18

The idea of today’s born again is not the same one. Today’s born again ties directly with the sola fide concept as supposed to Augustine’s time of born again or anew from water and Spirit as a reception of the Holy Spirit. Infant or convert.

Born again movement as personal sins past, present, future forgiveness is not surely what Augustine meant. But that’s the modern day born again movement I’m talking about.

I don’t think is remotely the same idea at all. But it could very well be that some heretics of the time believed in the modern day idea of born again. Who knows…


#19

That is 3:1.

John 3:3 respondit Iesus et dixit ei amen amen dico tibi nisi quis natus fuerit denuo non potest videre regnum Dei

The Vulgate uses denuo (‘again’/‘anew’) there, where the Greek uses ανωθεν. In 3:31, where the Greek uses ανωθεν again, the Vulgate uses desursum (‘from above’). As often happens, the term in one language has a field of meaning which is represented in another language by two different terms.

In Evangelical circles, being ‘born again’ is about reception of the Holy Spirit. The application of sola fide affects the initiation of that regeneration, not its process.

Born again movement as personal sins past, present, future forgiveness is not surely what Augustine meant. But that’s the modern day born again movement I’m talking about.

Forgiveness of sins past and present is there in Augustine, just not future, and that last idea is not universal in modern Evangelical circles, either, at least in the once-saved-always-saved sense, as it has not been in the long history of this idea.


#20

We are definitely talking about different things here. I am talking about what you maybe call a reinvention of the idea.

I really don’t think it is the same in the water-and-Spirit rebirth that takes place at baptism, the repentant sinner is transformed from a state of sin to the state of grace. I am talking about the born again movement that has a concept of “accept Jesus as your personal lord and saviour and one is set for salvation” and no grace of baptism. Yet misunderstanding the context of Jesus’ statements in John 3 that he was referring to water baptism.

For example, I was reading that “When an individual becomes aware of his own weaknesses and his dependence on Christ for salvation, he makes a covenant to follow Christ” And that this is the concept of born again for them.

So going back to my original post, I really want to find out when this concept of born again appeared in this country. I have never even heard of this

As to the Vulgate and St. Augustine, I don’t know how can someone say that it is the same concept at all or that the same idea has been around. Remember I am talking about the modern day adult decision to be born again by consciously accepting Jesus as lord and Savior (which is correct) but not believing in the grace of baptism as water and spirit rebirth.

“What is the Baptism of Christ? A washing in the word. Take away the water, and there is no Baptism. It is, then, by water, the visible and outward sign of grace, and by the Spirit, Who produces the inward gift of grace, which cancels the bond of sin and restores God’s gift to human nature, that the man who was born solely of Adam in the first place is afterwards re-born solely in Christ.” (“On John,” 15:4, Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Latina, Fr. J. P. Migne, Paris, 1855, vol. 35.)


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