What does John 3:10 mean?
ESV: Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?
NIV: "You are Israel’s teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things?
NASB: Jesus answered and said to him, 'You are the teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
CSB: "Are you a teacher of Israel and don’t know these things?" Jesus replied.
NLT: Jesus replied, 'You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?
KJV: Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
NKJV: Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?
Verse Commentary:
Sometimes, the most loving thing you can do for another person is remind them that they are not perfect. Nicodemus was a well-educated, wealthy, powerful person. In the last few verses, Jesus has told him that this is not enough to earn him the kingdom of heaven. Instead, Jesus tells him that he needs to be "reborn" through the Spirit (John 3:3). Nicodemus is honestly seeking answers, unlike many of the other Pharisees. He sought out Jesus (John 3:1), and correctly interpreted His miracles as signs from God (John 3:2).

Still, Nicodemus's legalistic mindset won't let him accept the ideas Jesus is teaching. So, Jesus puts a hole in his self-image. In the Greek, Jesus literally refers to Nicodemus as "the" teacher of the Jews. Nicodemus must have been a particularly knowledgeable man, and he certainly studied the Old Testament in depth. But there is a large difference between knowing facts and accepting truth (John 7:17; James 2:19). Jesus meets Nicodemus right at the point of his need: by breaking up his self-reliance. This is a strong contrast to the woman at the well, from chapter 4, who needs to be uplifted and encouraged.
Verse Context:
John 2:24—3:15 describes a meeting between Jesus and a Pharisee. The last two verses of chapter two highlight the fact that Jesus knew men better than they knew themselves. Nicodemus was the ancient equivalent of a politician, cleric, and professor all rolled into one. Jesus proves that this man doesn't understand religion as well as he'd like to think. In contrast to the loud, public spectacle of clearing the temple, this encounter is a private, nighttime meeting. Their actual conversation was probably longer than the summary recorded here.
Chapter Summary:
John chapter 3 is one of the most important passages in the entire gospel. Many crucial ideas are explained here, including the role of Jesus as Savior. After the loud, public commotion at the temple, John transitions to a quiet, nighttime discussion. The speakers are Jesus and a Pharisee, Nicodemus, who is sincerely interested in understanding Jesus' ministry. These verses make it clear that Christ—and Christ alone—is the means of salvation for the entire world. This text also states that those who reject Jesus are rejecting God.
Chapter Context:
The gospel of John intends to prove that Jesus is God. Chapter 3 contains some of the most direct, most important concepts in Christianity. The ideas of spiritual rebirth and the necessity of belief in Christ are reinforced by the rest of the information in this gospel. John continues to use contrast, moving from the loud and public temple cleansing to the quiet of this conversation. After Jesus injects humility into a powerful leader, chapter 4 will transition again, as Jesus gives dignity to an outcast stranger.
Book Summary:
The disciple John wrote the gospel of John decades after the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls "signs"— to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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