Given birth to from above

marmsky May (14)

Given birth to from above

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2381

John 3:1-8

Joh 3:1 There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.

Joh 3:2 This man came to him at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, because no one is able to do these signs you do unless God is with him.”

Joh 3:3 Jesus answered, and this is what he said, “Sincerely I tell you, unless someone is given birth to from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Joh 3:4 “How can anyone be given birth to when he is old?” Nicodemus asked him. “Can he enter his mother’s uterus a second time and be born?”

Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, “Sincerely I tell you, unless someone is given birth to out of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Joh 3:6 Whatever is given birth to by the flesh is flesh, and whatever is given birth to by the Spirit is spirit.

Joh 3:7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be given birth to again.

Joh 3:8 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 given birth to by the Spirit.”

Given birth to from above

I know that traditionally English translations have used “born” to translate γεννάω in this passage, but it does not mean that. It refers to a father’s act of begetting a child, or a mother’s act of bearing, or giving birth to child. Every use of the word in this passage is passive.1 The emphasis is not on a person getting himself remade. The emphasis is on the action of another causing a person to be reborn, and that person who acts is identified: the Holy Spirit (verses 5, 6, 8).

Unless the new life begins outside of us, in the miraculous grace of God, it is not genuine. This was what Nicodemus was struggling with. His religion – up to this point – was man-made. He did not yet know how to let God transform him into someone new.

LORD, we surrender to your sovereignty. Make into us new children whose origins are from above.

1 γεννηθῇ (3,5); γεννηθῆναι (4,7) γεγεννημένον (6), γεγεννημένος (8).

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