Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Gospel According to John, Chapter 3

"Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.  Jesus answered him,  "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."  Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"  Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.  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."

Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?"  Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?  Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.  If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?  No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the judgment:  the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.  But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God."

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing.  John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison).

Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification.  And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness--look he is baptizing, and all are going to him."  John answered, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.  You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.'  The one who has the bride is the bridegroom.  The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice.  Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.  He must increase, but I must decrease."

"He who comes from above is above all.  He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way.  He who comes from heaven is above all.  He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony.  Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.  For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.  The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."  John 3  ESV

Explanation for verses in John 3:1-21, John 3:3, John 3:8, John 3:16, John 3:15, John 3:22:36, John 3:36 from The MacArthur Study Bible, pages 1540-1541

"3:1-21  The story of Jesus and Nicodemus reinforces John's themes that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God (apologetic) and that he came to offer salvation to men (evangelistic).  John 2:23-24 actually serves as the introduction to Nicodemus's story, since ch. 3 constitutes tangible evidence of Jesus' ability to know men's hearts and thereby also demonstrates Jesus' deity.  Jesus also presented God's plan of salvation to Nicodemus, showing that he was God's messenger, whose redemptive work brings about the promised salvation to his people (3:14).  The chapter may be divided into two sections: 1) Jesus' dialogue with Nicodemus (vv. 1-10); and 2) Jesus' discourse on God's plan of salvation (vv. 11-21)."

"3:3 born again.  The phrase lit. means "born from above."  Jesus answered a question that Nicodemus does not even ask.  He read Nicodemus's heart and came to the very core of his problem, i.e., the need for spiritual transformation or regeneration produced by the Holy Spirit.  New birth is an act of God whereby eternal life is imparted to the believer (2 Cor. 5:17); Titus 3:5; 1 Pet. 1:3; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18).   John 1:12-13 indicates that "born again" also carries the idea "to become children of God" through trust in the name of the incarnate Word.  cannot see the kingdom of God.  In context this is primarily a reference to participation in the millennial kingdom at the end of the age, feverently anticipated by the Pharisees and other Jews.  Since the Pharisees were supernaturalists, they naturally and eagerly expected the coming of the prophesied resurrection of the saints and institution of the messianic kingdom (Isa. 11:1-16; Dan. 12:2).  Their problem was that they thought that mere physical lineage and keeping of religious externals qualified them for entrance into the kingdom rather than the needed spiritual transformation that Jesus emphasized (cf. John 8:33-39; Gal. 6:15).  The coming of the kingdom at the end of the age can be described as the "regeneration" of the world (Matt. 19:28, ESV footnote), but regeneration of the individual is required before the end of the world in order to enter the kingdom."

"3:8 The wind blows where it wishes.  Jesus' point was that just as the wind cannot be controlled or understood by human beings but its effects can be witnessed, so also it is with the Holy Spirit.  He cannot be controlled or understood, but the proof of his work is apparent.  Where the Spirit works, there is undeniable and unmistakable evidence."

"3:16 For God so loved the world.  The Son's mission is bound up in the supreme love of God for the evil, sinful "world" of humanity (cf. 6:32, 51; 12:47; see notes on 1:9; Matt. 5:44-45) that is in rebellion against him.  The word "so" emphasizes the intensity of greatness of his love.  The Father gave his unique and beloved Son to die on behalf of sinful men (see note on 2 Cor. 5:21).  eternal life.  See note on John 3:15; cf. 17:3; 1 John 5:20."

"3:15 eternal life.  This is the first of 17 references to "eternal life" in John's Gospel.  The same Greek word is translated in some versions as "everlasting life."  The expression appears in the NT nearly 50 times.  Eternal life refers not only to eternal quantity but divine quality of life.  It means lit. "life of the age to come" and refers therefore to resurrection and heavenly existence in perfect glory and holiness.  This life for believers in the Lord Jesus is experienced before heaven is reached.  This "eternal life" is in essence nothing less than participation in the eternal life of the Living Word, Jesus Christ.  It is the life of God in evey believer, yet not fully manifest until the resurrection (Rom. 8:19-23; Phil. 3:20-21)."

"3:22-36  This section constitutes John the Baptist's last testimony in this Gospel regarding Christ.  As his ministry faded away, Jesus' ministry moved to the forefront.  In spite of the fact that John the Baptist received widespread fame in Israel and was generally accepted by the common people of the land as well as those who were social outcasts, his testimony regarding Jesus was rejected, especially by the leaders of Israel (cf. Matt. 3:5-10; Luke 7:29)."

"3:36  This constitutes a fitting climax to the chapter.  John the Baptist laid out two alternatives, genuine faith and defiant disobedience, thereby bringing to the forefront the threat of looming judgment.  As John faded from the forefront, he offered and invitation to faith in the Son and clearly expressed the ultimate consequence of failure to believe, i.e., "the wrath of God."

Let's pray:  Dear Lord Jesus, Thank You so much for Your gift of salvation for us.  I lift up those reading the Bible today.  I pray that You will soften their hearts and minds so they will come to know You.  I pray that the truth will be made known.  I say these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

Note about the painting:  This painting is called "The Wind".

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