HELP with John chapter 3

Help me with this please. I am debating John chapter six with someone and here is their response.

What is interesting is this exchange … a statement accompanied by utter disbelief by a Jewish teacher also happened between Jesus and Nicodemus one night written in John 3: there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” 3In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.a]"

4"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!"

So, as Nicodemus had tried to understand, was it necessary for one to find his way back into his mother’s womb? Or is it possible that Jesus was using this as an illustration for a spiritual matter and not a literal translation?

I’m sorry but don’t understand what it is you are needing help with. Could you explain what point you are debating?

[quote=elizabeth4truth]I’m sorry but don’t understand what it is you are needing help with. Could you explain what point you are debating?

I believe the issue is that sometimes Jesus used imagery that threw people for a loop. Nicodemus thought that Jesus was saying that someone actually had to be physically born by a woman in order to enter the kingdom. Nutty concept, no? But Christ did not mean this literally.
In the same way, a Protestant might argue, John 6 is not to be taken literally, because it’s equally nutty. Why on earth would we eat a man? It sounds crazy to us but it is still just a metaphor. Jesus back at it with his odd imagery.

Correct me if I’m wrong, hoser.

But if I’m right, then it breaks down very quickly. If you read further in John 3, Christ immediately clarifies what he means by “born again.” By water and by the Spirit, he says. He wants there to be no misunderstanding. But in John 6, he refuses to “clarify,” but uses his same language. We must eat his flesh and drink his blood. They do not represent something else. They are what they are.

The point to make to your friend, hoser, is that Christ did not speak in order to confuse us. If Christ was speaking symbolically in John 6, then he could not have chosen a more confusing way to word it.

Not only this, but look at the final reaction of the listeners in each discourse. Nicodemus misunderstood and Jesus explains, apparently to Nicodemus’ satisfaction.

In the John 6 discourse, Jesus’ listeners also cannot believe thier ears. Instead of rephrasing and clarifying, however, Jesus simply repeats what he says, only in stronger terms. Unlike Nicodemus, his listeners eventually walk off, not because they don’t understand, but because they understood all too well–this man is requiring them to somehow eat his flesh and drink his blood. As they say, this is something for which they cannot stand, and they take off.

The two episodes are not comparable in the sense your friend intends them and any attempt to equate them is futile.

I agree with the above posters, and there is one thing I might add.

It seems to me that Jesus used intellectual “shock” to prepare people to accept a teaching that was sufficiently foreign to them that He wanted break them out of their mold, as it were.

It’s like he had to shatter their current way of thinking before he could build a new one, like a grain that dies and falls to the ground before it can grow and produce 100 fold.

If he spoke in a way they were used to, then tried incrementally to move them toward the new thinking, he might have made progress with them but wouldn’t have had the impact.

Therefore, I think Jesus knew very well that He was saying something that they would balk at, and did so intentionally. Once having demolished their sense of understanding, He could begin to build a new one. In this way, Jesus helped destroy their “thought infrastructure” just as He said we must deny our very selves (emotional and intellectual “false selves”) to live.

Another way to view it is that He had to bind the strong man, which was their accumulated incomplete knowledge, in order to take over the house.


Thanks for the clarification. When reading your posts and what scripture says, all I could think about was Jesus being born of Mary and coming from her womb. Do you think part of his analogy reflects what He, Himself did? Not that one can go back inside their Mother’s womb but, that a way to Christ is through His Mother?


Thanks all for your replies, they were helpful.

Jesus was being pretty literal in John 3 when talking to Nicodemus. But Nicodemus, at least at that moment, misunderstood. Though Jesus spoke literally he did not speak of physical birth but spiritual birth.

Jesus stated that you must be “born again”. In Greek “again” is “anothen”, also translated as “from above”. Everyone is born once, physically. And all of us must be born from above, or born again to enter the Kingdom of God - born of water and of the Spirit. This might not be a physical new birth by reentering our mother’s wombs, but spiritually it is a literal new birth, at which point we are called “new creations in Christ”.

As John Gill (reformed teacher) says in his exposition of the Bible: “no man … can have any true knowledge of, or right unto, the enjoyment of the kingdom of God, unless he is born again; or regenerated, and quickened by the Spirit of God; renewed in the spirit of his mind; has Christ formed in his heart; becomes a partaker of the divine nature; and in all respects a new creature;”

This spiritual new birth seems literal to me, not a metaphorical illustration, neither an invitation to reenter the womb. When we become a “new creation” in Christ this is new birth. We might not be able to photograph it or explain it precisely as we can with the birth of a baby but it is new birth in Christ and into Christ at which point our spiritual life with him begins.

Hi Asteroid,

This sounds like a pretty good explanation of the Catholic belief of the real presense of Jesus’ Body and Blood in the Eucharist. We can’t see the physical change but believe in the spiritual nourishment given from above, to continue in our spiritual life, while one earth.

Peace to you,

christ was talking about the new birth…old things are passed away behold all things have become new…its like what he said about he wine bottles…you don’t put new wine in old bottles…we have a new spirit…and in order for us to receive the holy ghost which is referred to in the “wine” we needed to have a new spirit…we have a new spirit which is not tainted by sin…that is why paul refers to spiritual babes in christ…new believers…its a miracle of the new birth…but believe me…christ wasn’t talking about the physical but spiritual…christ even explained himself these things that he talked about spiritual things…


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