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On the Gospel of John, Part 8: Origin and Destiny
When on September 21st, I had presented Part 7 of this series and my commentary on the second half of John Chapter 2, I had promised to continue with Part 8 in mid-October, after a short trip to Tennessee. But Yahweh had other plans, and the October 10th hurricane here in Florida disrupted our lives, along with my writing schedule, days after our return. Now that we are finally getting settled into our new home, I pray that I may resume this commentary without any further unplanned interruptions.
Presenting that last portion of John chapter 2, I chose to focus on the theme of Challenging Orthodoxy as we encountered Yahshua Christ confronting the errors of the generally accepted orthodoxy of Judaea in His Own time. I chose to focus on this theme because we ourselves should perceive that the presumably Christian and generally accepted orthodoxy of today is also in error. Here in John chapter 3, as Christ encounters the inquisitive Nicodemus, some of those errors will be brought to light. The so-called Orthodox and Catholic churches have followed the errors of Nicodemus for perhaps 1,800 years, and they refuse the correction which Christ offered to Nicodemus here in the discussion which is recorded in this chapter.
After our last presentation, I was challenged by certain of my acquaintances with the assertion that the major denominations of Christianity could not possibly have been wrong for these last 1,800 years, or perhaps, as they count, 2,000 years. In actuality, as I elucidated in a presentation of the Identifying the “Beast of the Field” series which I recently concluded, at least some scholars from the Orthodox Church itself admit that their doctrines are drawn from the writings of the so-called “Church Fathers” who lived from the 4th century onward, so giving them 1,800 years is actually giving them too much credit. Orthodox so-called Christianity as we know it is really only about 1,600 years old, it was still developing for a few hundred years after the Council of Nicaea, and it is not an orthodoxy of the Christianity which was taught by apostles of Christ.
As Yahshua Christ attacked the traditions of the orthodoxy of His Own time, He rebuked the errors of the leaders in Judaea while citing the Scriptures as His basis for doing so, condemning them for relying on their own traditions. With His example, we see that the Scripture is a greater authority than the traditions of men. We, as Christians, have an obligation to follow His example today and do that same thing – to question the supposedly orthodox traditions when they are found to conflict with the Word of God in our Bibles. Paul of Tarsus and all of the apostles looked to the Scriptures for the regulation of their lives, for their morals and values, for the promises of the hope that Christians have in Christ, and for governing their assemblies, and we seek to do the same. If the Scripture conflicts with the world, we must seek to please God and not men. When the Scripture conflicts with tradition, we must forsake tradition and build for ourselves a firmer foundation in Christ. We are called to Christ, and it is folly to attempt to call Him to us.
With this we shall begin our presentation and commentary for John chapter 3.
3 1 Now there was a man from among the Pharisees, Nikodemos was his name, a leader of the Judaeans.
The various theological sects in Judaea also served as political parties, since the nation was a sort of theocracy, or more properly a priestocracy, before and while it was subject to Rome. [As a digression, the term priestocracy goes back at least to 1852, where it appeared in a book titled Rational Religion and Morals by Thomas Vaiden, who used it, quite appropriately, in relation to the established Christian clergy of any denomination.] There were a few minor in ancient Judaea, and disaffected sects which had no real political voice, namely the Essenes and that fourth sect which Josephus describes, which was founded by Judas the Galilean, who was a tax protester. But the Pharisees were the dominant sect in Judaea, and most popular among the common people, over whom they had great influence (Josephus, Antiquities, Book 13 [13:288]). However, for at least most of the time, the high priests which were chosen by one of the Herods, or for awhile by the Romans, were from the sect of the Sadducees. As we explained here several years ago in our commentary on Acts Chapter 4, from 6 AD to 70 AD, according to Josephus in his Antiquities, the office of high priest was held almost exclusively by one of twelve men from the families of Annas and Caiaphas, all of whom were Sadducees. These two men, who were almost certainly Edomites, are mentioned frequently in the Gospel accounts. Therefore the politics of Judaea was controlled by a sort of two-party system, itself under the authority of the Romans. The first party, popular with the people, was the Pharisees, and the second, the party preferred by the Edomite aristocracy, was the Sadducees.
The word pharisee is from a Hebrew word which can describe a separatist, but the use of the word at the time of Christ was only a religious distinction. Of the Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes, Flavius Josephus in Book 2 of his Wars of the Judaeans attested that the Essenes – who are not at all mentioned by name in the New Testament – were “Judaeans by birth”, by which we see that at least some of those belonging to the other sects were not true Israelites, and neither was it a requirement. In Matthew chapter 23 Christ condemned the Pharisees for this where He said “15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”
Something which we hope to discuss at greater length as we address John chapter 8 is that many Judaeans of the time of Christ were in fact Edomites and other converts to Judaism. Of course, we have had this discussion here many times in the past, especially in our recent presentation of Paul’s epistle to the Romans, and our more recent commentary on Malachi. From the time of John Hyrcanus, around 125 BC, Edomites and other Canaanites dwelling in large numbers in the lands formerly belonging to the ancient Israelites either were compelled to submit or had volunteered to convert to Judaism, after which, as Flavius Josephus also relates in several passages of his histories, they were considered citizens of Judaea and and adherents to what was then a corrupted form of the Old Testament worship at the temple of Yahweh. Among the Pharisees, and especially among the Sadducees, were many of these converts, who were not “Judaeans by birth”, in spite of the fact that their own ancestors were explicitly excluded from any communion with the Israelites, and forbidden by law to join the congregation.
It is apparent from the Gospel accounts that Christ rarely discussed or addressed the Sadducees, and there is circumstantial evidence that they were made up almost exclusively of certain Edomite converts, which may have been the reason why He never sought to preach to them. He only interacted with them on two occasions where some of them had accosted Him, as it is described in Matthew chapter 16, and also in another exchange which is recorded in Matthew 22, Mark 12 and Luke 20. But in contrast, Christ was often described in exchanges or even in communion with many of the Pharisees. So it should be no surprise that He would correct and seek to teach Nicodemus, or that Nicodemus would indeed become a follower.
As for Nicodemus himself, if we must judge him by his fruits, he must have been a good man and a true man of Israel, in spite of the fact that, like most men of his time, he took it for granted that the doctrines of the Pharisees were true. While John’s account here is rather concise, there is no indication that he disputed with the correction which he had received here from Christ. Later, in John chapter 7, it is recorded that this same Nicodemus had vocally protested the unlawful condemnation of Christ by the chief priests and Pharisees. Even later, after the Crucifixion, Nicodemus assisted Joseph of Arimathaea in the burial of Christ. He is only ever mentioned in the Gospel of John, and these things are not described elsewhere. As we have before asserted, John’s gospel was written long after the three synoptic gospels, and evidently John sought only to include what he thought was necessary in order to add details which are wanting in the others, and which he himself had witnessed first-hand.
So speaking of Nicodemus, next John writes:
2 He came to Him at night and said to Him: “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from Yahweh, for no one is able to make these signs which You make, unless it could be that Yahweh is with him.”
Every time John mentions Nicodemus, here and in chapters 7 and 19, he refers to him as he that “came to Jesus by night”, referring back to this account in chapter 3. This serves to inform us that there is something irregular or extraordinary about the fact that Nicodemus had come to Christ in the night, rather than coming openly in the daytime. Where Nicodemus is mentioned in John 19, we see also that where John described the related deeds of Joseph of Arimathaea, he said that he was “a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews”. So this would also explain the situation with Nicodemus, who is called a “ruler of the Judaeans”, meaning that he was one of the principle men of the nation. Evidently, Nicodemus also came to Christ at night for secrecy, “for fear of the Jews”.
Many others of the leaders in Judaea had also believed Christ, but were evidently too cowardly to be even secret disciples. So we read in John chapter 12, after an exchange of words between Christ and many of those Pharisees at the grave of Lazarus, that “42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: 43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” [As another digression, every insurgent movement needs secret followers in order to survive, who are in a position to financially support its leaders and its advocates. Christianity was no different. True Christianity, which today we find in Christian Identity, suffers in this same manner, “for fear of the Jews”, for fear of being “doxxed” and hounded by the ADL, the SPLC, the Antifa and other Jewish organizations. By that we should know that we are on the right path.]
Where John portrays Nicodemus as referring to the signs made by Christ, the only sign, or miracle, recorded by John thus far is the changing of water into wine, at an event in Galilee where we cannot imagine that Nicodemus was present. In the second half of John chapter 2, the Judaeans demanded a sign from Christ after He overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and He did not give them one. So Nicodemus must be referring to the accounts of signs performed by Christ which were evidently circulating as Judaeans were hearing of His reputation, some of which are recorded in the synoptic gospels. This also seems to support our assertion concerning why John wrote this gospel, which was to add important details that are wanting in those others.
With His answer to Nicodemus, Christ is actually explaining why Nicodemus and others believed him, and why many Judaeans did not believe him. He is responding to Nicodemus’ confession that “we know that You are a teacher come from Yahweh”. This exchange must be understood in that context, and in the context of where Christ makes similar explanations later, such as in John chapters 8 and 10. Those who rejected Him did so simply because they were not His sheep in the first place, as He said in John 10: “26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
3 Yahshua replied and said to him: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless a man should be born from above, he is not able to see the Kingdom of Yahweh.”
As we shall see, Yahweh’s sheep are indeed “born from above”.
This phrase, “from above”, is from the Greek word ἄνωθεν and is more popularly translated as “again” in the King James and other Bible versions. But the word does not properly mean again, and I have found no place in Scripture or in other contemporary Greek writings where it must be interpreted to mean again. It is an adverb describing the direction from which something comes, or its source or origin. It is the opposite of another adverb, κάτωθεν, which means “from below”. The preposition ἀνά basically means up, and its opposite is κατά, basically means down.
According to Liddell & Scott, ἄνωθεν means “I. adverb of place from above, from on high, 2. = ἄνω, above, on high, II. of Time, from the beginning… by descent, [and finally] 2. over again, anew,” against which I would protest, and where they cited only the New Testament, customarily providing the translations which are found in the Authorized King James Version. But in the Intermediate version of their lexicon they offered no other citations in the secular writings where the word was used to mean anew or again. The larger 9th edition of the lexicon does cite a passage from Flavius Josephus, however the citation is not convincing. William Whiston translated a line where Josephus wrote of Abimilech in reference to Isaac and said that he “renewed his friendship with him”. However we would write the same phrase to state that he “turned to the friendship he made with him from the beginning”, as the word ἄνωθεν is an adverb, and not a verb as Whiston translated it [τραπέντος φιλίαν ἄνωθεν ποιεῖται πρὸς αὐτὸν]. Whiston took three words, two verbs and an adverb, and translated them as one word in English, “renewed”. Rather, in the context of the account, τραπέντος should be he turned, ποιεῖται he made, and ἄνωθεν from the beginning, since Josephus was describing the “former friendship” which the two men had, and how it may have been ruined. With that, we see that there is no valid reason why ἄνωθεν should be interpreted as anew or again in this passage [Antiquities 1:263].
For a proper example of the use of the word ἄνωθεν from the Septuagint, we see in Ezekiel 41:7, in the famous description of the temple, we read: “7 And the breadth of the upper side was made according to the projection out of the wall, against the upper one round about the house, that it might be enlarged above [ἄνωθεν], and that men might go up to the upper chambers from those below [κάτωθεν], and from the ground-sills to the third story.” The Greek words ἄνωθεν and κάτωθεν are correctly translated as above and below in this passage. Likewise, a phrase which appears several times in the Greek Septuagint, in both Genesis and in the prophets, is ὁ οὐρανὸς ἄνωθεν, which is literally the heaven above.
The word ἄνωθεν appears 23 times in the Greek of the Septuagint, and on every occasion it means from above, above or atop. However on one occasion, where once again we shall dispute the translation, Sir Francis Brenton in his version of the Septuagint rendered the phrase πάλιν ἄνωθεν as “again anew”, following the King James Version Apocrypha in chapter 19, verse 6, of the Wisdom of Solomon. This is interesting, as we shall see, because this very verse gives us insight into just what Yahshua Christ referred to in His statement here in John Chapter 3. The word πάλιν literally means again, and if ἄνωθεν is also understood to mean again, or anew, then the phrase is utterly redundant. But in that passage the phrase πάλιν ἄνωθεν is used as part of an allegory to describe the Exodus event and the giving of the law to Israel as being a creation of God, with language which places the event in a comparison with the creation account of Genesis. Therefore, since it describes an act of creation as being from God, the word ἄνωθεν must be interpreted as “from above”, where Solomon wrote, and where we shall correct Brenton’s version: “For the whole creature [creation] in his proper kind was fashioned again [πάλιν] from above [ἄνωθεν, meaning, fashioned by God], serving the peculiar commandments that were given unto them, that thy children might be kept without hurt….”
Why would Solomon say that the “whole creature in his proper kind was fashioned again from above” in relation to the Exodus and the giving of the law? Because he was making an allegory comparing the foundation of Israel as a nation to the original creation of the Adamic race which is described in Genesis. In Luke chapter 3 we see that Adam was the son of God. In Acts chapter 17 Paul addresses the Athenians, who are Ionian Greeks, which are the descendants of Javan who is mentioned in Genesis chapter 10, and he tells them that God made the nations – those nations which are listed in that same chapter of Genesis, “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him…” and Paul goes on to explain to them that they too are the offspring of God, since they also descended from Adam.
But not everyone has descended from Adam, and even in Genesis it is evident that there were people who had different origins than Adam. For example, Cain was caused to wander the earth and departed, finding a wife and building a city in another place. Furthermore, many tribes appear in Scripture after the flood, such as the Kenites and Rephaim and others listed in Genesis chapter 15, who had no part in the genealogy of Noah’s sons which is described in Genesis chapter 10. Later on, Christ had told His adversaries, as it is recorded in John chapter 8, “Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.” Not all people can claim to be the children of God. Again, it says in Malachi chapter 2 that “11 Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god. 12 The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts.” Converting Judah’s Canaanite wife was not an option. Nor was it an option for Esau, whom Paul called a “fornicator, or profane person”, and for whom his mother Rebekah had said “I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth”, the women which Esau had married. Both Paul and Rebekah were referring to Esau’s Canaanite wives, and the Canaanites had mingled with those same Kenites and Rephaim, which is evident in Genesis chapter 15 and elsewhere. The adversaries of Christ were indeed descendants of Esau, as Christ Himself establishes in John chapter 8, and Paul in Romans chapter 9.
This is also what Christ was referring to here where He said “unless a man should be born from above, he is not able to see the Kingdom of Yahweh.” If one is not of the children of those who were created by God, one shall not see the Kingdom of Heaven. In the same discourse where Paul spoke of Esau, he instructed his readers that “if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons”, in Hebrews chapter 12. The promises and the covenants belong to the children of Israel, to those who are the literal seed of Abraham through Jacob which was destined to become many nations and to inherit the earth. It is these people who were described by Solomon as a new creation “from above”, the Septuagint using this same word ἄνωθεν, and therefore it must be this same people to whom Christ is referring to as those who are born “from above”, using this same word, ἄνωθεν. So if Israel is your origin, then the Kingdom of Heaven is your destiny, and no man can rob you of it, not even yourself, since no man can take you from the hand of the Father. But if Israel is not your origin, you cannot attain to the Kingdom of God on your own account.
The children of Israel are the children of Yahweh, as He tells them in Deuteronomy chapter 14: “Ye are the children of the LORD your God…” So as Solomon described in that chapter of his Wisdom, they were taken out of Egypt, given the law, and made into a new creation by Yahweh, which he also described as having come “from above”. This same thing is alluded to in Isaiah chapter 43 where we read: “1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine….” Then describing some of the things which Israel would suffer in their dispersions, as they were going into captivity to be scattered, Yahweh again said through the prophet: “2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. 4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. 5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; 6 I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; 7 Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” That creation of Israel to which Yahweh refers in Isaiah is the same creation described by Solomon in Wisdom chapter 19, where he informs us that the people were created “from above”. To understand who is not “from above”, in part, we must look at the state of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sheba today, since Yahweh had given up those peoples to His enemies.
In that passage of his Wisdom, Solomon also said that the children of Israel were given the law by God because they were His children, where he says that they were treated thusly “that thy children might be kept without hurt….” So we see that keeping the law did not make them God’s children. Rather, they received the law because they were already His children. For that same reason Paul had also explained to the Galatians that “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ,” because the Galatians were also of the ancient and scattered children of Israel, having been redeemed because they were once under the law, as Paul also said to them that Christ had come “to redeem them that were under the law”. Later, in John chapter 10, Christ also attests that the children would ultimately be unhurt, where we read “ 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.”
Only the children of Israel were ever given the law, and only the children of Israel were ever described as having been formed and created for this particular purpose by God, as we have seen in the words of Isaiah. Therefore only the children of Israel can be described as having been “born from above”. Later in this chapter of John, the word ἄνωθεν appears again in verse 7, and then in verse 31, where we read in the King James Version: “He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.” This same word which appears here in verses 4 and 7, ἄνωθεν, is properly rendered as from above in verse 31.
Outside of this chapter of John, the word ἄνωθεν appears on 10 other occasions in the Greek of the New Testament. On two of those occasions, in Matthew 27 and Mark 15, it describes how the vail of the temple was torn, from the top to the bottom. Appearing twice in John 19, it describes first how Pilate was only given authority over Christ from above, and then later how the garment of Christ was sewn seamless from the top down. In Luke chapter 1, the apostle and compiler uses it to describe how he methodically arranged the Gospel accounts which he received from the top, or as we would say, from the beginning. In Acts chapter 26:5 and in Galatians 4:9 the word also has that same meaning. In James chapter 1 it describes the source of every good gift, which is from above. Then finally, twice in James chapter 3 it is used to describe Godly wisdom as being from above, contrary to wordly wisdom which is not from above.
On every occasion outside of John chapter 3, where it appears in 33 other verses of Scripture, ἄνωθεν describes something on top, above, from the beginning, or from above. That same meaning must also be assigned all three times it appears here in John chapter 3, which we have also seen is consistent with the promises made to the children of Israel and the descriptions of their very origin which in turn is consistent with the utterances of the prophets. The Wisdom of Solomon, or Wisdom 19:6 properly translated, is an important key to understanding exactly what Christ was trying to teach Nicodemus here in John chapter 3. But Nicodemus had a difficult time understanding Him, and today’s organized churches follow Nicodemus rather than following Christ. Thus we read:
4 Nikodemos says to Him: “How is a man able to be born, being old? Is he able to enter into the womb of his mother a second time and to be born?”
With this passage, and especially where Christ is about to mention water and the spirit, many denominational Christians attempt to justify the imagined spiritual rebirth which they claim to have had after experiencing the ritual of water baptism, which they sometimes call being “born again”. But here Christ said nothing about age, nor about being born a second time, and Nicodemus himself had only assumed those things. For some time before this conversation between Christ and Nicodemus, John the Baptist was baptizing men as a symbol of spiritual cleansing and repentance, but neither was that ever described as being “born again”. The denominational churches have combined two unrelated concepts and contrived a doctrine from this combination which is not the intention of the Gospel.
There is a rebirth, found in the Greek word παλιγγενεσία, which literally means “birth again”, which is mentioned by Paul in Titus chapter 3 where he says “4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” However the act of regeneration, as it is translated, which is described in that passage is an act performed by God, and not by man. Paul plainly says it is not by works which men have done. This alone refutes the idea that a man can possibly make himself be “born again”.
The Judaeans employed water baptism in connection with their own conversion rituals, as the Jews do to this day, so the officials from the temple wondered from where it was that John had the authority to baptize, but John’s baptism was for an entirely different purpose than their own. For the Judaeans, as John Lightfoot explains it in volume 2 on pages 55 to 63 in A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, baptism was a cleansing ritual representing a transformation and performed in concert with circumcision, in a manner and for a purpose which is not found in the Old Testament Scriptures. Form this concept was the modern baptism ritual developed, but it is not at all Christian. [Even first century Christians were baptized as an act of cleansing, not as an act of transformation.]
Neither could Christ have been referring to water baptism here. At this point in history, men were not yet being baptized to become Christians, so Nicodemus could not have understood Him in that manner. But Yahshua Christ expresses the expectation that Nicodemus should have understood what He meant when He used the phrase γεννηθῆναι ἄνωθεν, or “you must be born from above”. It is folly to imagine that Nicodemus should have understood the term as denominational Christians use it today. If Christ expected Nicodemus to understand what He had meant, then the answer must be found in Old Testament Scriptures, where there is nothing of water baptism for the people in general. So after Nicodemus makes his speculation, Christ elaborates:
5 Yahshua replied: “Truly, truly I say to you, if one should not be born from water and Spirit, he is not able to enter into the Kingdom of Yahweh!
Adam is said by Luke to be “the son of God.” In Genesis chapter 1, we read that Adam was created in the image and likeness of God. Then in Genesis 2:7, where it describes the creation of Adam again from a different perspective, it says that “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” By extension, all of Adam’s descendants – those who are also in his likeness and image – are also sons of God, as Paul, alluding to Deuteronomy 32:8, had described the relationship of the Athenians to God in Acts chapter 17, and as Yahweh God Himself informed the children of Israel in Deuteronomy chapter 14. But in the Old Testament, of all of the Genesis 10 nations descended from Adam through Noah, only the children of Israel were acknowledged by God Himself to be the children of God. This relationship is what is described in the the New Testament as the υἱοθεσία, or the position of sons. So in many other places in the prophets and the Psalms the children of Israel are referred to as the children of Yahweh, as we have already cited, for instance, from Isaiah chapter 43, where it is evident that they were being scattered in punishment for their disobedience, but that they would later be regathered. In John chapter 11 we see that Christ would die “not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad,” which are those same children of God who were addressed in reference to that same purpose in Isaiah chapter 43.
In the Wisdom of Solomon, chapter 2, we learn what the image of God is where he wrote in reference to Adam, as opposed to the devil, and he said “For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity.” There it is explained that for envy of the devil, death came upon Adam. So the Adamic man bears the image of God, which is a representation of God’s eternity. This is manifested in the spirit of God which was breathed into Adam, as it is depicted in Genesis 2:7. So in this manner, we read a profession by Job that he would not speak wickedness “3… while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils”, in Job chapter 27. Then he declares in chapter 33 that “4 The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” Further on, wondering of the possibility that God could destroy man from the earth, in Job chapter 34 he says “14 If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath [meaning that if he calls the spirits of men to Himself]; 15 All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.” The spirit with which man is endowed returns to God again when man dies on earth, and that is the image with which God has endowed man, so that the spirit of man does not die after the body, but rather is gathered to God. Solomon, in Ecclesiastes chapter 12, speaks in the same manner where he wrote that upon death, “7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
Paul explains this same thing in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 where he says that “39 All flesh is not the same flesh…” and distinguishes the flesh of men and beasts. Then describing the spirit which Yahweh had endowed upon the Adamic man, Paul says “42 In this way also is the restoration of the dead. It is sown in decay, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in honor. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body; if there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual.” The King James Version wants that important word, if, in the clause “if there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual.” Then a little further on, speaking of men, Paul says “49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” This is true, because only those born from above, only those who are descended from Adam and therefore have the spirit of God, will see the Kingdom of God. Flesh cannot inherit the Kingdom, because as Christ asserts here in different language, only those who are born from above, only those who have that spirit, can inherit the Kingdom.
6 That which is born from of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born from of the Spirit is Spirit.
While the Evangelicals, Roman Catholics, and other denominations interpret being “born of water” as a baptism ritual, Nicodemus was expected to have already understood this, ostensibly from Scripture, and he could not have understood it in that manner. Here Christ informs us that He is merely referring to what is born in a natural body, as first he states that a man must be born of both water and spirit in order to enter the Kingdom of God, and then here he contrasts what is born of the flesh to what is born of the spirit. So therefore being “born from water” must be the same as being “born from of the flesh”. All men and beasts have a fleshly body, as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. But all flesh is not the same. All races of men have a fleshly body, but all races did not originate with Adam. The Scripture informs us only that men of the Adamic race are endowed with a spirit from Yahweh, so only men of the Adamic race are born from the Spirit of God. Other races, such as the Rephaim and others who descended from the fallen angels, do not have a spirit from Yahweh. The Enoch literature informs us that they are bastards which are destined to be destroyed.
It is evident from the Enoch literature found in the Dead Sea Scrolls that demons are believed to have been the disembodied spirits of bastards, especially those bastards which were produced by the race-mixing that occurred in the days leading up to the flood of Noah. One reference to this is found in the Dead Sea Scroll designated 4Q510, a fragment of what is called the Songs of the Sage, in a part of Fragment 1 where we read in reference to the radiance of God: “...declare the splendour of his radiance in order to frighten and terrify all the spirits of the ravaging angels and the bastard spirits, demons, Lilith, owls and jackals … and those who strike unexpectedly to lead astray the spirit of knowledge, to make their hearts forlorn.” Another reference is found in the Dead Sea Scroll designated 4Q204, where it says “Exterminate all the spirits of the bastards and the sons of the Watchers....” So we read in the law in Deuteronomy chapter 23 that “2 A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD…”
As a digression, while there are many others evident in ancient history from outside of the Biblical literature, in Scripture we find Goliath and his brothers, who were described as Rephaim, the giant Og of Bashan, and the Anakim as examples of what the Enoch literature had described. All of these types were also mingled with the blood of Canaan and the other surrounding nations of antiquity, as the same theme is found in Babylonian and Sumerian legends such as the Epic of Gilgamesh. Men descended from these, in whole or in part, would be considered bastards, and many of those descendants remain among us today, especially among the Jewish and Arab races.
In Romans chapter 8, Paul of Tarsus told his intended readers that “16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Of course, the Romans were from a portion of the Israelites who were scattered abroad many centuries before Christ, as Paul informed them often in that same epistle. So speaking of what had befallen Adam in Genesis chapter 3, Paul said “20 For the creature [or creation, meaning the Adamic creation] was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature [creation] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
These children do not somehow become children of God, but rather, they are released from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of eternal life which the children of God are promised in Christ. This Scripture, speaking of the children of Israel, explain in Isaiah chapter 61: “1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” When the children of God finally receive liberty, at that same time the spirits of the bastards shall be destroyed in the vengeance of Yahweh. In Luke chapter 4, it is described that Yahshua Christ read this passage in a synagogue in Nazareth where He then proclaimed that it was speaking of Himself.
Soon after Paul had mentioned deliverance from the bondage of corruption, in that same chapter of Romans, Paul explained that Christ, being of the same race as the children of God, the children of Israel, is first-born among many brethren, and had come for those whom He had predestinated, called, and justified, things which can only be spoken of the scattered children of Israel because the promises that Yahweh would grant those things to them alone are explicit in the writings of the same prophets. Then finally, Paul goes on to compare the Adamic creation, the creation of man, to other creations, including angels, where he says at the end of the chapter: “38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature [or creation], shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Christ Himself had verified Paul’s sentiments in John chapters 10 through 17.
The apostle John, in his first epistle, also verified these things in large degree where he wrote in 1 John chapter 4, speaking of the world of his own time: “1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” John was not speaking of disembodied spirits, but of embodied spirits, of the spirits of men, and there are spirits, and therefore men, which were not of God, and which for that reason, in John’s time, they were denying that Christ was God come in the flesh. Of course, today and in more recent history there are different circumstances and motivations for both beasts and devils to profess Christianity, but it certainly is not the Christianity of Yahshua Christ and His apostles.
Now Christ admonishes Nicodemus:
7 You should not wonder that I said to you that it is necessary for you to be born from above.
Here the word for born, γεννάω (Strong’s # 1080) is an aorist infinitive, and in verse 3 it is an aorist subjunctive verb. Because it is a subjunctive form in verse 3, it does not actually indicate time, as in the past tense, but rather it indicates aspect. So it also does not indicate something which Nicodemus can do in his future. The subjunctive mood describes the possibility of an action, but that also is changed when it is used in the Aorist tense. The article for grammatical aspect at Wikipedia states that “In most dialects of Ancient Greek, aspect is indicated uniquely by verbal morphology. For example, the very frequently used aorist, though a functional preterite [meaning that it functions as a past tense verb] in the indicative mood, conveys historic or 'immediate' aspect in the subjunctive and optative.” Christ is certainly not telling Nicodemus to be born again, at some point in his future. Rather He was referring to the natural birth which Nicodemus already had. At the website Resources for Learning New Testament Greek, we read that “if the subjunctive mood is used in a purpose or result clause, then the action should not be thought of as a possible result, but should be viewed as a definite outcome that will happen as a result of another stated action.” This is what we have here in verse 3, where entering the Kingdom of Heaven is a definite outcome based on the possibility, or rather, the condition, that one is born from above. If indeed Nicodemus were born from above, or any man as it is expressed in verse 3, then the definite result would be that he would see the Kingdom of Heaven, and if not, then he would not see the Kingdom of Heaven. This is not a call to baptism. Rather, it is a statement of results based on the historic circumstances of one’s birth. As Christ is about to explain, no man can change this circumstance:
8 The wind blows where it wishes and you hear its sound, but you do not know from where it comes and where it goes. Thusly are all who are born from of the Spirit.”
Men have no power over the wind, and even if they hear it they cannot see it, or see where it came from, or tell where it is going. So how could they ever control it? Therefore men cannot do anything of themselves to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and they cannot determine for themselves who shall enter, even if they have sought to make such determinations through their own religious constructs. Men are either born of the spirit, or they are not, and if they are not then they are bastards. Their origin determines their destiny.
In Hebrews chapter 12, Paul of Tarsus refers to Yahweh God as the Father of Spirits, in relation to this very phenomenon. So he wrote: “6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?”
Paul was speaking of the trials and the faith of the Old Testament patriarchs and saints, and then in reference to the punishment which the children of Israel had historically received for their sins. A passage from the Psalms of Asaph found in Psalm 82 and later cited by Christ, as it is recorded in John chapter 10, says: “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men…” However Christ was telling the Judaeans only what was in the law when He said that, that they should believe it, and they were not all children of the Most High. Originally the Psalm was written for the children of Israel, not for the people of Judaea. Some of them, as He had told them in John chapter 8, were actually children of the devil.
In Hebrews chapter 12, Paul very plainly taught that those who are not corrected by chastisement, who do not accept trials from God for their edification, are certainly bastards, and not sons. Throughout Romans chapter 7, Paul described the struggle between flesh and spirit which is peculiar to the Adamic man. But when Christ told His adversaries, as it is recorded in John chapter 8, that they were not true children of Abraham, and that therefore God was not their father, they protested and said “We be not born of fornication”, fulfilling the prophecy of Malachi chapter 2 warning what would happen because Judah had “married the daughter of a strange god”, and the result was a divided nation and a bastard race. Judah in this instance was used as a type for the future of Judaea from the time of Malachi, which ultimately married itself to the Edomites and other Canaanites of the land by forcibly converting them to Judaism, from the time of John Hyrcanus a hundred and fifty years before the ministry of Christ. A bastard is born of the flesh, but is not born of the Spirit. Even its very existence is a sin before God, as it is a transgression of His law of “kind after kind”.
The adversaries of Christ understood the implications when He told them that God was not their father. They knew that if that assertion were true, then the only alternative was that they were indeed bastards. Indeed, many of them were bastards, as they were of the Edomites that Herod had been appointing to the office of high priest, and of the families and friends of those Edomite priests for which the high priests had in turn provided appointments in the various offices in the administration of the temple. Someone “born from above” is someone born of the race created by God, and a bastard is a corruption which exists on account of the sins of men in the world, namely the sin of fornication. When Christ told His adversaries that God was not their father, they replied and said “we be not born of fornication” because they understood the implications of His statement.
The so-called spiritualizing of these terms, which is the redefining of words found in Scripture from their basic literal meanings into mystical and philosophical meanings began when Gnosticism and Platonism were introduced into Christianity by the so-called “Church Fathers” all of whom had formerly been adherents to pagan philosophies, and who for diverse reasons had introduced elements of those philosophies into their Christian teachings. But to first century Judaeans, if God was not one’s father, then one was a bastard, and Nicodemus only wondered how a man could be born from above, perhaps even mistaking that a grown man could somehow be reborn, or born again. Because the orthodoxy of his time no longer followed the Old Testament scriptures, Nicodemus did not understand what Christ had told him. This left Nicodemus, who was otherwise a good man, hopelessly confused. So:
9 Nikodemos responded and said to Him: “How can these things be?”
It is evident that Nicodemus was a victim of the generally accepted orthodoxy of his time, which turned away from the Scriptures to teach men that they could attain righteousness by their own works, rather than understanding that righteousness was already determined by the Word of God. If one is a son, one will ultimately comply with the Word of God. But for that, for following their own righteousness, Christ later condemned all of His adversaries as hypocrites.