Exegeting John 3 – Part 3

My intention in Exegeting John 3 part 2 was to  get through verse eight, but I fell a few verses short.  I ended in verse 5

John 3:5  Jesus 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

Let’s do a short recap:

  1. Jesus knows the heart of all men, and knows all about Nicodemus
  2. Nicodemus is a ruler of the Jews, what we would call an O.T. Scholar
  3. Jesus telling Nicodemus “You must be born again” aims directly at the Jewish connection that their standing with God is based on being a descendant from Abraham.
  4. Jesus is making a reference back to Ezekiel 36 and the New Covenant in John 3:5


With that being recapped, I would like to try and move on in our exegesis of John 3, keeping in mind those things we have already determined to be ‘in play’ when it comes to this passage of scripture.  The real problem that we have in exegesis of scripture is remembering the context throughout the passage, and fighting the temptation to insert into the text ‘what the scripture says to me’.

John 3:6

(6)  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.


The Lord here is differentiating the two births that have been talked about.  He defines the birth that Nicodemus mentioned as ‘flesh’.  It will be nothing but a fleshly birth, and will always be as such.  This birth does not produce spirituality, nor can it.  Paul described the limitation of the flesh this way in 1st Corinthians:

1Co 2:14

(14)  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.


I can use this verse because its context is in line with John 3.  Do not use verses out of context to try and prove a point, you only discredit yourself by doing that.

So here it is established that there is a birth that is of the flesh to which the outcome of it is flesh.  It cannot be spiritual, it is incapable of producing spiritual fruit.  The outcome of the work of the Spirit, the spiritual birth, is all spirit, and is not produced by the flesh.

John 3:7-8

(7)  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.(8)  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.

A direct command to Nicodemus is not to wonder or marvel at the reality or necessity of the new birth, or at how it happens.  Understand, man by his sinful nature wants to accomplish something to ‘earn’ the right to go to heaven, whether it be by deed or repetition of a creed.  Jesus by these words takes any notion that this is in man’s control completely away here.  He uses a natural phenomenon of the blowing wind to describe what happens when one is born again.  Let’s list them out:

  1. Blows where it wishes – it goes where and when it wants to
  2. You hear its sound – it gives evidence of its work
  3. You don’t know where it comes from or where it goes –  not the direction, but the source and final destination of the wind is unseen by human eyes.

This describes what happens when one is born again.  You see the evidence of the new birth, but you cannot physically see it happen.  This birth is totally in the spirit, by the Spirit.

So we conclude:

  1. The works of the flesh do not produce the work of the Spirit.
  2. The Spirit is not controlled by the flesh
  3. The Spirit produces the spiritual birth

This post has been shorter than the previous ones, but I did this on purpose.  We have established the foundation work needed to work our way through the rest of passage we are going to go through.  We will start in verse 9 and work our way through verse 22.  This may take a few more posts, but we are almost there.

God bless.

About prchrbill

Bill Conover has written 9 post in this blog.

I am married and am the father of six children. I have spent the majority of my life in the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement, preaching in their pulpits and earning a 'degree' in Pastoral Theology from one of their schools. I no longer consider myself as IFB. I am recovering. I would hold to the 1742 Philadelphia Confession of Faith and to the Doctrines of Grace.

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