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Q: #590. Why did Jesus expect Nicodemus to understand what being "born again" meant (Jn 3:10)?

     A: Let’s begin by looking at the verses leading up to (Jn 3:10).

(Jn 3:3-10) Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (4) 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?” (5) Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (7) Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ (8) The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (9) Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” (10) Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?

***Note: (Verse 10) From the “MacArthur Study Bible” – “The use of the definite article “the” indicates that Nicodemus was a renowned master-teacher in the nation of Israel, an established religious authority par excellence. He enjoyed a high standing among the rabbis or teachers of his day.”

     In other words, as one of the most renowned Jewish teachers of his day, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he should understand the things he is telling him. But how? Where does the Old Testament talk about being “born again?”

     While the phrase “born again” is not used in the Old Testament, the concept of a need to be “born again” is. The Old Testament talks in a number of places about the need for a “sinner” to have “Spiritual renewal,” a “new heart,” and to begin a “new life.” Let’s look at a few of these Old Testament verses: 

[Perhaps the best, and clearest first]

(Ezek 36:24-27)(NKJV) “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. (25) Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. (26) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (27) I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”

(Joel 2:28-29) “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: (29) And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit.” (Also see: Acts 2:16-18)

(Ezek 11:19)(NKJV) “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh”

(Ezek 18:31)(NKJV) “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?”

***In Ezekiel, also see: (Ezek 37:1-14)

(Ps 51:10) “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

(Jer 31:33)(NKJV) “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

     Also see: (Deut 30:6)(1 Sam 10:6-9)(Isa 32:15)(Isa 44:3)(Isa 59:21)(Jer 4:4)

     In the verses which follow (Jn 3:10), Jesus tells Nicodemus how he (and all of mankind) can be “born again” (in perhaps the most well-known verse in the Bible):

(Jn 3:16-17) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (17) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (“born again”).”

     At the moment we make this decision to place our trust in Jesus to pay for our sins, we receive a clean (“new”) heart, and a new life (like being born a second time). The Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us (Eph 1:13-14), and He transforms our lives (Rom 5:5)(Rom 8:11)(Jn 6:63)(2 Cor 3:17-18)(Rom 14:17)(Gal 5:22-23).

***Note: For more on how to be “born again,” and accept Jesus’ payment for your sins, please go here.

Copyright: © Steve Shirley

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