John 3:8 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 3:8, NIV: "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.'"

John 3:8, ESV: "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”"

John 3:8, KJV: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."

John 3:8, NASB: "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it is coming from and where it is going; so is everyone who has been born of the Spirit.'"

John 3:8, NLT: "The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can't tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can't explain how people are born of the Spirit.'"

John 3:8, CSB: "The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.""

What does John 3:8 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jesus is using a very clever play on words here. In English, this doesn't come across clearly. Verse 7 and verse 8 use the Greek word pneuma, which can be translated several different ways. It can mean "spirit," lowercase, or "Spirit," capitalized, or "wind," depending on the context. All of these have a religious meaning which Nicodemus would have recognized. Wind—or breath—is often symbolic of the Holy Spirit (Job 33:4; John 20:22; Acts 2:2). The term would also have reminded Nicodemus of Ezekiel 37:1–14. In that passage, the wind blows across dry bones and brings them back to life.

In verse 7, Jesus explained that the need for rebirth should not surprise Nicodemus. "Flesh" and Spirit" are opposed to each other, so the only way for a person to take on a new nature is by being "born again." The exact reasons why this happens, and how it happens, will always be a mystery to us. We can't really see the wind, or predict everything about it. In the same way, the work of the Spirit isn't something we can completely understand.