Hebrews 4:12-13 "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

Thanks To Nicodemus!

Set Up:

The purpose of the Gospel of John is given within the pages of the book, note:

John 20:31 “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

The author is determined within the title, ‘ Kata Ioannen ', which is the Greek for according to John. The theme of the letter is presented differently than that of Luke's Gospel (emphasis on the humanity of Christ as the Son of Man); John presents Christ in His deity for the purpose stated above. The precise date for the writing of the book is unknown; however, it was after his release from Patmos , which dates the book between 70 and 90 AD.

This late date would also place the writing of the book in a period of Christ's church where many of the eye witnesses of these events no longer existed (John being one of the last). However, through the writing of this letter, the Christians who read this testimony would be encouraged that their faith has been accurately placed and their obedience to Apostolic teaching will lead them to their desired goal of life with God through Christ Jesus.

John's Gospel is topical by nature instead of chronological as Luke's was. It is built around miracles performed by the Lord; several ‘I Am' statements, four discourses and conversations, and finally the events that lead to the resurrection, the final proof the He is the Son of God.

It is one of these discourses that we wish to examine in this lesson.



Our text for this lesson will be John 3:1-21 , which we will break the text up into six distinct parts for our examination. The title for this lesson could just as easily been ‘poor old Nicodemus', as he really is going to bite off more than he is prepared to chew. However, I like the original title, as we have been blessed with the teachings within the body of the discourse because he makes the statement concerning Jesus.

Nicodemus was a leading Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews and a member of the Sanhedrin court. He is spoken of three times in this Gospel (our text; 7:50 ; 19:39 ). He is going to come to Jesus by night, which indicates that he is afraid to be seen coming to Him. In chapter 7 , he would timidly speak up on Jesus' behalf. He may have been one of the ones the Lord spoke of in Jerusalem prior to the Passover, note:

John 12:42 “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue;”

The last mention of Nicodemus has him assisting Joseph of Arimathea with the Lord's burial.



 I. Necessity of the New Birth.

John 3:1-3 “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 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." 3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God ."

Right away three things jump out at you from the statement of Jesus.

First , He says ‘unless'! The Jews including Nicodemus put great value on their birth as the direct descendants of Abraham. Nicodemus might have thought that his fleshly birth might have entitled him to some consideration in the kingdom that Jesus preached was at hand.

However, based on the conditional word unless, Jesus removed this concept completely. This statement is so strongly presented that the indication is that no one would see the kingdom of God unless the condition is met.

Second , describes the condition itself, ‘born again'. The term ‘again' here comes from the Greek, ‘ deuterous' , which actually translates, ‘from above', or ‘a second time'. This is how Nicodemus understood it by his statement in verse four.

Apart from what the world has taught this to mean, the Christians in the late first century who read this had no trouble understanding what this meant. They understood it to be baptism as the final act in the spiritual rebirth.

Romans 6:3-4 “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death ? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life .”

It wasn't until John Calvin in the early 1500's, that anyone would question this understanding. By his own admission, he would confess that his teaching of this passage was a new idea. However, Christians then as well as Bible believing Christians today understand the very nature of the commission of the kingdom and the new birth, note:

Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

Mark 16:15-16 “And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

Third , is that the kingdom of God would be made up only of those who have gone through the process of this new birth. One may know of the existence of the kingdom of God , however, without the process of becoming a new creature, it would be something concealed. This was the same thing that Matthew recorded in the sermon on the Mount, note:

Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”


 II. The Nature of the New Birth.

John 3:4-5 “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 .”

As was the case with virtually all the Jews who were given the parables and spiritual teachings of Jesus they didn't want to understand the wisdom (see: Matthew 13:10-17 ). So the Lord would emphasize the nature of the rebirth as spiritual.

The work of the Spirit was the work of revelation. The word of God is not up to private human scrutiny as it is of a heavenly source and purpose, note:

2 Peter 1:19-21 “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit .”

It is this prophetic word that causes one to believe in the Son of God and move that person to be born of water. For those that would claim that baptism is a work of law, consider:

•  How can a man die to sin, be buried in water, and rise to a new life unless it is an act of faith ( Romans 6:3-4 )?
•  How can a man be baptized into one body unless it is an act of faith ( I Corinthians 12:13 )?
•  How can a man be baptized into Christ and put on Christ unless it is an act of faith ( Galatians 3:26 -27 )?
•  How can a man be circumcised without hands through baptism unless it is an act of faith ( Colossians 2:11 -12 )?
•  How can a man be saved through baptism by the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ unless it is an act of faith ( I Peter 3:21 )?

In every case it is an act of faith and a spiritual condition.


 III. Evidence of the New Birth.

John 3:6-8 “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."

The Lord would continue to expand His explanation of the nature of the new birth by describing its traits. A mother and Father can clearly see the results of their combining to produce an offspring. However, an offspring of the Spirit can only be seen in the direction and deeds produced by the teaching of the Spirit. Just as a great sail ship is carried forward by the wind, a newborn child of God is carried forward by the teaching of the Spirit.

Romans 8:5 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”

1 John 5:3 “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”


 IV. Rebuke.

John 3:9-13 “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? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”

Nicodemus is displaying the very carnal nature that Jesus is teaching against and draws a harsh rebuke for his ignorance. This rebuke is based on his own acknowledgment made back in verse 2 that Jesus is a teacher of God, based on the signs He did. Nicodemus could not see God; but recognized His power working through Jesus, just as Jesus is describing how the Spirit works through children of the kingdom. Jesus denotes that Nicodemus will not receive Our witness, even though he recognized God working through Jesus.


 V. Foundation for the New Birth.

John 3:14-18 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

In this portion of the Lord's teaching, He denotes three things as the foundation for the new birth (that which makes it possible).

First , is that it would require a sacrifice! Jesus would use as an example the children of Israel who were traveling around Edom in the wilderness ( Numbers 21:4-9 ). As the people became discouraged, they spoke against Moses and God; God sent fiery serpents as a plague to punish them. Many died and they begged for relief. God told Moses to make a fiery serpent and lift it up on a pole; and everyone who was bitten, who looked at it, would live.

All were dieing from the serpents, but only those who looked on the serpent received the benefit of its curative properties. This would act as a shadow of the lamb of sacrifice!

All are dieing in sin, but only those who are born again through the curative power of the sacrifice of the Son of God would see the kingdom of God (live!).

Second , is that Jesus would describe an appreciative value for the foundation of the new birth (not a clause to override the necessity of the new birth). God would display His love as the very means for the provision of the new birth. Nothing that is created would hold the same value as the only begotten Son of God. Who could deny God's love in that He was willing to give His only begotten Son as the means for the redemption of man? Who then could refuse this re-birth?

Third , is the need for all men, for this re-birth? God did not send His son to condemn the world because the world was already condemned by sin. Thus every man needs to be reborn to new life by the removal of sin.

All those who do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God are condemned already by never removing themselves from the original state. However, all those who truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God would naturally strive to participate in the curative power of His sacrifice and resurrection to life. This describes the necessity of the faith of men. The Gospel's message is one of obedience to the faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God ( Romans 1:1-5 ).


 VI. The Choice is Clearly Seen.

John 3:19-21 “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

The fact of the matter is that salvation or condemnation have everything to do with what man loves, verses what God loves. No one would deny the presentation of the love of God in His only begotten Son, that was given for all without partiality ( Acts 10:34 ; Romans 2:11 ; Galatians 2:6; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25 ). However, in these verses are described that which cancels out this presentation of God. The only condition placed on the love of God is not a condition on God's love at all , but on our love ; whether or not we love God or darkness, and our choice is evident in our deeds.

For those who proclaim that it is not necessary to be obedient to the good works described in the New Testament scriptures, I would read these verses very carefully!



The necessity for all men to be reborn is given in one small word in our text, ‘unless'! The nature of this rebirth is spiritual and is produced by baptism through the word of God. The evidence of this rebirth exists in the new life, directed by the Spirit of God (the word), and is observable. The foundation for this new birth has been made possible by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, the love of God, and the obedient faith of men (by which they love light and not darkness).


Now you too can thank Nicodemus and be truly BORN AGAIN!