John 3:1 And there was a man of the Pharisees, Nicodemus his name, a
ruler of the Jews,
John 3:2 this one came unto him by night, and said to him, `Rabbi, we
have known that from God thou hast come -- a teacher, for no one these
signs is able to do that thou dost, if God may not be with him.'
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, `Verily, verily, I say to thee,
if any one may not be born from above, he is not able to see the reign of
John 3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, `How is a man able to be born, being
old? is he able into the womb of his mother a second time to enter, and to
sn Or born again. The Greek word a[nwqen (anwqen) can mean both “again”
and “from above,” giving rise to Nicodemus’ misunderstanding about a
second physical birth (v. 4).
Note - We know that many of the apostles and others of those days were
confused by the words of Jesus. For example, when Yahshua said "Destroy
this Temple, and I will rebuild it in three days", He was referring to His
resurrection, but the Pharisees thought He was referring to the physical
Temple. Jesus does not clarify the issue but allows the Pharisees to
remain in darkness.
Here Nicodemus is wrongly assuming that Jesus means we must be “born
again” and have a second birth in order to be "born from above", when
actually the birth "from above" is the first birth that occurred before
our earthly birth via our earthly mother. So, for those who were born
above, our birth from our earthly mother is our second birth, and for
those who were not born from above, their first and only birth is through
their earthly mother.
Unfortunately, many scribes have viewed this text in the context of the
confused and wrongful interpretation of Nicodemus, rather than recording
Jesus’ words faithfully, they have translated the text from the
perspective of Nicodemus’ confusion as well as their own.
IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT AND VITAL TO REMEMBER THAT JESUS IS NOT SAYING
EITHER 'BORN FROM ABOVE' OR 'BORN AGAIN'. RATHER HE IS SAYING THE GREEK
WORD 'anothen', WHICH CAN BE INTERPRETED BY NICODEMUS AS EITHER OF TWO
PHRASES. WHEN JESUS SAYS ‘ANOTHEN’, HE IS MEANING ‘BORN FROM ABOVE’, BUT
NICODEMUS IS INTERPRETING IT BY THE SECONDARY MEANING OF ‘ANOTHEN’, WHICH
CARRIES THE MEANING OF ‘BORN AGAIN’. (MANY WORDS IN ENGLISH ALSO HAVE MORE
THAN ONE MEANING; CONSIDER THE DIFFERENT MEANINGS OF THE WORD ‘GAY’, FOR
8tn The word a[nwqen (anwqen) has a double meaning, either “again” (in
which case it is synonymous with palivn [palin]) or “from above” (BDAG 92
s.v. a[nwqen). This is a favorite technique of the author of the Fourth
Gospel, and it is lost in almost all translations at this point. John uses
the word 5 times, in 3:3, 7; 3:31; 19:11 and 23. In the latter 3 cases the
context makes clear that it means “from above.” Here (3:3, 7) it could
mean either, but the primary meaning intended by Jesus is “from above.”
Nicodemus apparently understood it the other way, which explains his
reply, “How can a man be born when he is old? He can’t enter his mother’s
womb a second time and be born, can he?” The author uses the technique of
the “misunderstood question” often to bring out a particularly important
point: Jesus says something which is misunderstood by the disciples or (as
here) someone else, which then gives Jesus the opportunity to explain more
fully and in more detail what he really!
8. Use of the “misunderstood statement.”
John makes frequent use of the “misunderstood statement” as a literary
technique. Jesus says something to someone which is misunderstood, thus
giving Jesus a further opportunity to clarify what he really meant.
Examples: John 3 (Nicodemus’ misunderstanding of the new birth as a second
physical birth; John 4 (the Samaritan woman’s misunderstanding of the
living water as drinkable water).
Note – In cases when speaking to Edomite Pharisees, Jesus does not clarify
the issue further but allows the listener to remain in ignorance as when
He said "Destroy this Temple, and I will rebuild it in three days", He was
referring to His resurrection, but the Pharisees thought He was referring
to the physical Temple. Jesus allows the Pharisees to remain in ignorance
and this is very consistent with His overall policy of refusing to heal
the Pharisees of their ignorance
John 12:40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they
should not see with [their] eyes, nor understand with [their] heart, and
be converted, and I should heal them.
In Liddell and Scotts' big Lexicon, the word always meant from above or
from on high, and never meant "again" to the Greeks. In Kittel's TDNT,
vol. 1, page 378, it makes clear
that John uses the word always in the sense of "from above." Further, in
same chapter three, John uses the word two more times: in verses 7 and 31,
both times meaning obviously "from above." With such overwhelming and
support for its definition as "from above," I can only conclude that the
English Bible translators have DELIBERATELY mistranslated the word.
That's not too unusual, though, because one soon finds there are many
seemingly deliberate mistranslations of Greek words into English.