How do I explain one needs to be born again with water?


I was talking to someone (who is obviously not Catholic) about Baptism and grace, and we stumbled apon John 3:1-21.

He focused on verses 5-7.

5Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’

He says the “water” mentioned here refers to a woman’s water breaking shortly before physical birth. How can this be? I know this isn’t true. He goes on to say that this is supported by verse 6/7.

He explains to me…(and I quote)

“Jesus states here that being “Born Again” is NOT a physical process, but a spiritual process. Being a spiritual process is further evidence that there is nothing that we can do to achieve it! It has to come from God!”

I encourage you to read his whole post (if the link is still available) here His post is under his username “Buzz1954”.

He goes on to say that being “born again” is spiritual when you look at John3:8 “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” as he compares it to being prophetical, being a similar thing did occur at Pentecost.

He also takes luke 3:16 "John answered them all, 'I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

How do I need to explain Baptism with water? He seems very convincing.


My Baptist mother also believes that being born of water means to be literally born. The fact is, the Aramaic doesn’t suggest this at all, and it’s not even logical for Jesus to be saying that. He says that if one is to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, one must be born of water and born of the Spirit. Um, what’s the point of Him saying that if He’s talking about being born? Also, the Aramaic for “born again” is exactly the same as “born from above.” Jesus is telling Nicodemus that one must be born from above, and Nicodemus misunderstands Jesus, thinking He’s saying to be “born again.” The whole passage is much more logical when read in this context.

Jesus also says elsewhere that one must believe and be baptized in order to be saved.

Another thing that seems to discredit the whole choice of being “born again” nonsense is in John 1, where we are told we become children of God not by NATURAL GENERATION (which seems to fly in the face of your friend’s “water” = “childbirth” argument) nor by human CHOICE (“sinner’s prayer”) but by God (Who has told us to be baptized).

I hope this helps somewhat.


Is the fluid from “water breaking” even water?


Good question.

Evangelicals seem to think so. :wink:


In an attempt to explain this verse away some will make the claim that the water spoken of in this passage refers to the bag of waters/amniotic fluid of a mother’s womb. They then say that the first half of Jesus statement merely refers to a person’s natural birth.

This view does violence to the passage in which Jesus tells Nicodemus that a man must be born anew in baptism. Clearly, the bag of waters interpretation cannot be true. First of all, those who make the case for the interpretation do not offer any evidence that the Jews described childbirth in terms of the bag of waters. We know that Jesus was talking about the water of baptism because the scriptures that immediately follow the meeting with Nicodemus say that, “After this Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea: there he remained with them and baptized” (John 3:22). The subsequent verses also mention that John the Baptist was nearby baptizing because there was an abundance of water. The entire context is about water baptism. Baptism has always been associated with water, whereas childbirth in Jewish usage was more likely associated with blood. A biblical foundation for this latter point is found in John 1:12-13 where we read, “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God: who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”


This is exactly what happens when one has a belief, and then interprets the bible according to that belief.

On a related note, do you ever wonder why Martin Luther wanted to get rid of the Epistle of James?


Indeed, if the Jewish concept of birth had not to do with blood, then there would not need to be an offering for the ritual impurity of childbirth. This is the offering that Mary made when she brought Jesus to the temple. It wasn’t for the breaking of the bag of water!


Matt 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Acts 2:37-38 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


The last time I tried to use these passages to show the necessity of Baptism, I was met with “They’re talking about baptism in the Word of God – you have to hear and accept the Gospel, and then water baptism is just an outward sign of your acceptance.”

As NotWorthy said, this was an incredible back-interpretation of what’s written here.

But if you run into this argument – that “baptism” doesn’t refer to water baptism but a mere “baptism in the word” you can appeal to 1 Pt 3:20-21, in which we learn that baptism was prefigured not by the preaching of any Old Testament priest, but by Noah’s flood. Peter is abundantly clear about what “baptism” means here, so it’s impossible to deliberately misunderstand his meaning.


Thanks GJ for the 1 Peter reference. I would also use the following passage from Acts to show that “baptism” means baptism by water:

Acts 8:36 And as they went along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What is to prevent my being baptized?” 8:38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 8:39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught up Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.



Great point about the need for ritual purification after childbirth.


I have also heard that those verses are speaking about the HS baptism, and have nothing to do with water.

It is also in scripture that there is only ONE BAPTISM, which means the baptism with water and the HS must go together, or else there would be more than one!

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