The Berean Expositor
Volume 53 - Page 72 of 215
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was a recognized and respectable teacher in Israel, a true descendant of Abraham -- to
think that he needed a spiritual birth from above! But it was so and is still true today.
This is where we must all start and Christ enforced this by saying:
"Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be
surprised at My saying `You must be born again (or from above)'." (3: 6, 7).
It is important to know that Christ's words hold good for others as well as Nicodemus.
The word "you" in the phrase "you must be born from above" is not the second person
singular, but second person plural, which then has the force "you must all be born from
above". Note the "must"; this is absolutely necessary for all without exception. Those
who remove this Gospel from the present age, remove this "must" of Christ, and not only
this but other statements of His that are true for all time. Here then is the one necessary
experience for personal entry into the plan and purpose of God.
"I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you
believe if I speak of heavenly things?" (3: 12).
What are these "earthly things" which are placed in contrast with "heavenly things"?
These "earthly things" must surely include the teaching that Christ had just given to
Nicodemus, for this is the only way he could understand the words. It may seem peculiar
that a birth from above could be classed with earthly things, but inasmuch as it takes
place and is experienced on earth with earthly illustrations with the earthly kingdom in
view, this is not so strange as it may appear. But we need to realize that the new birth is
but the beginning. There is much more deeper truth of God that He wants us to learn
from His Word. So many fail to understand this, and so do not grow and develop
spiritually (compare Heb. 5: 12-14).
"No one has ever gone into heaven except the One Who came from heaven--the Son
of Man" (3: 13).
The N.I.V. has a footnote pointing out that some Greek manuscripts have "Man, who
is in heaven". This is a difficulty which is removed when one realizes that these words
may be an explanatory comment added by the Evangelist, like the phrase "Who has His
being in the Father's bosom" of John 1: 18.
Professor F. F. Bruce comments here, "by the time the Evangelist wrote, the only one
who came down from heaven had ascended up where He was before; heaven, in any
case, is where He belongs".