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John chapter 3

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1There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8The 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. 9Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
22After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. 23And John also was baptizing in AEnon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. 24For John was not yet cast into prison. 25Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. 26And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. 27John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. 28Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30He must increase, but I must decrease. 31He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. 32And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. 33He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. 34For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. 35The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

What does John chapter 3 mean?

The third chapter of John contains two related stories. First, Jesus is visited at night by a Pharisee, Nicodemus, who is curious about His teachings. Afterwards, John the Baptist explains why he's content to see his own ministry fade into the background. This chapter contains the most recognizable verse in the entire Bible, John 3:16. This one-sentence summary of the gospel is the most famous portion of Christian Scripture, and probably the most often-memorized and often-quoted portion of any holy text in human history.

As is typical of the gospel of John, chapter three begins with an abrupt contrast. Chapter 2 ended with Jesus passionately, publicly driving corrupt businessmen out of the Temple, in broad daylight. Chapter 3 begins with a quiet, private nighttime conversation. Chapter 4 will transition again, from the respected, educated, self-assured Nicodemus to the outcast, uneducated, immoral woman at the well. John uses contrasts often, to remind us that Jesus meets every person exactly where, and how, they most need to be met.

Nicodemus was not just a devout Pharisee, but also one of only 70 members of the Sanhedrin religious court. He would have been highly influential in religion, politics, and wealth. So, Nicodemus was the equivalent of a modern politician, celebrity preacher, and wealthy businessman all rolled into one. He may have come at night so he wouldn't be seen with Jesus. Or, so that he could speak to Him without an interfering crowd.

Their conversation partly involves Jesus taking some wind out of Nicodemus' sails. Nicodemus recognizes that Jesus' miracles are proofs of His divine mission. And yet, he struggles with Jesus' description of spiritual rebirth. Christ explains that one must be "born again" —a person must express saving faith, in order to be saved. Jesus gently teases Nicodemus, saying a "teacher of Israel" ought to know these things. Christ also points out that those who resist mundane ideas about God will never accept deeper, more spiritual ideas.

Verses 16–21 summarize the entire gospel. God loved man enough to send His Son to save them, but those who reject Jesus are condemned. Ultimately, those who are lost loved their sin more than they desired God. These verses also form a bridge between Nicodemus' visit and an argument between the followers of John the Baptist and an unnamed Jewish leader. More than likely, this was Nicodemus. The argument involves the same topic, purification, which he had just been discussing with Jesus.

Jesus is attracting far more followers than John the Baptist, who isn't concerned. In fact, he is happy. The Baptist's mission was to point people towards Christ. As believers, we often struggle with pride and jealousy. Instead, we should be happy when our efforts cause people to praise God.

This is the first of Nicodemus' three appearances in the gospel of John. He is part of the Sanhedrin court which convicts Jesus of blasphemy (John 7:50–51). After Jesus' death, He appears to have become a believer. He assists in Jesus' burial, donating the required embalming materials (John 19:38–42). Not all Pharisees were hardened hypocrites, and the presence of men such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50–51; Luke 2:25–38) prove it.

What is the Gospel?
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