Marvel not that I said to you, You must be born again.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Ye must be born again.—The laws of natural and spiritual generation have been stated as general truths, holding good for all mankind, “that which is born.” But there is a special application to the present case, “Marvel not that I said unto thee (teacher as thou art) that ye (children of Abraham as ye are) must be born again.” In so far as they were children of Abraham according to the flesh, they were children of Abraham’s physical and sinful nature. The law of that, as of all human nature, was that flesh ruled animal life, and animal life ruled spirit, and the whole man became carnal, bringing forth the fruits of the flesh. The law of the regenerate nature was that the spirit, born by the influence of the Divine Spirit, rose to a new life of communion with God, controlled the lower life, with its affections, feelings, and desires, and that these thus controlled became the motive power of the body; the whole man thus became spiritual, bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit. (Comp. Note on 1Thessalonians 5:23.) For them, then, as for all, it was no matter of wonder, it was an absolute necessity of their true life, that they should be born anew.
Ye must—"Ye, says Jesus, not we" [Bengel]. After those universal propositions, about what "a man" must be, to "enter the kingdom of God" (Joh 3:5)—this is remarkable, showing that our Lord meant to hold Himself forth as "separate from sinners."
Ye must be born again. For Nicodemus would easily consent that the pagans, and possibly the vulgar Jews, had need of regeneration, to partake of the kingdom of God; but that the doctors of the law, (of which number himself was), esteemed the lights of the world, should be under the same necessity, was astonishing to him. Therefore our Saviour, to undeceive and humble him, saith,
Ye must be born again, for that all are defiled with the corruption that is universal to mankind.
ye must be born again; in "four" of Beza's copies, it is read "we"; but as Christ was not begotten in a carnal way, or descended not from Adam in the ordinary way of generation, he was not carnal and corrupt, nor in the least tainted with sin; and so stood in no need of regeneration; wherefore such a reading must be rejected. There is a necessity of the regeneration of those, who are the chosen of God, and the redeemed of the Lamb; and of them only can the words be understood; for as for others, they neither can, nor will, nor must be born again: but the people of God "must"; partly because it is the will of God; it is his purpose and resolution, that they shall be regenerated; he has chosen them, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto salvation by Christ: this is the way and method of saving sinners he has fixed upon, namely, not to save them by works of righteousness, but by grace, and according to abundant mercy, through the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost: and partly, because of the case and condition of men, which requires it; for whereas the chosen people of God, are predestinated to the adoption of children, and are taken into the family of God, and are heirs to an inheritance, it is necessary they should have a nature, temper, and disposition of mind, suitable to the inheritance they are to enjoy; which they have not in their natural estate, and which is conveyed to them in regeneration: besides, their carnal minds are enmity to God, and it is necessary that they should be friendly to him, which cannot be without regeneration; nor can they, till they are born again, please God, or do those things which are pleasing to him: to which may be added, which Christ has before suggested, and which shows the necessity of it, that without it, no man can either see, or enter into the kingdom of God. To take off the surprise of Nicodemus, our Lord instances in a common natural case, and to which this affair of regeneration may be compared, and by it illustrated.Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 3:7-8. To allay still more the astonishment of Nicodemus (John 3:4) at the requirement of John 3:3, Jesus subjoins an analogy drawn from nature, illustrating the operation of the Holy Spirit of which He is speaking. The man is seized by the humanly indefinable Spirit, but knows not whence He cometh to him, and whither He leadeth him.
ὑμᾶς] individualizing the general statement: “te et eos, quorum nomine locutus es,” Bengel. Jesus could not have expressed Himself in the first person.
τὸ πνεῦμα] This, as is evident from πνεῖ, means the wind (Genesis 8:1; Job 30:15; Wis 13:2; Hebrews 1:7; often in the classics), not the Spirit (Steinfass). It is the double sense of the word (comp. רוּחַ) which gave rise to this very analogy from nature. For a similar comparison, but between the human soul, so far as it participates in the divine nature, and the well-known but inexplicable agency of wind, see, e.g., Xen. Mem. 4. 3. 14. Comp. also Ecclesiastes 11:5; Psalm 135:7. On the expression τὸ πνεῦμα πνεῖ, see Lobeck, Paral. 503.
ὅπου θέλει] The wind blowing now here, now there, is personified as a free agent, in keeping with the comparison of the personal Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:2).
ποῦ] with a verb of motion. Comp. Hom. Il. 13. 219; Soph. Trach. 40: κεῖνος δʼ ὅπου βέβηκεν, οὐδεὶς οἶδε; and see Lobeck ad Phryn. 45; Mätzn. ad Antiph. 169, § 8. Expressing by anticipation the state of rest following upon the movement. Often in the N. T. as in John (John 7:35, John 8:14, John 12:35) and Hebrews 11:8.
οὕτως ἐστὶ πᾶς, κ.τ.λ.] A popular and concrete mode of expression (Matthew 13:19, etc.): so is it, i.e. with reference experimentally to the course of his higher birth, with every one who has been born (perfect) of the Spirit. The points of resemblance summed up in the οὕτως are: (1) the free self-determining action of the Holy Spirit (ὅπου θέλει, comp. 1 Corinthians 12:11; John 5:21), not merely the greatness of this power, Tholuck; (2) the felt experience of His operations by the subject of them (τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ ἀκ.); and (3) yet their incomprehensibleness as to their origin and their end (ἀλλʼ οὐκ οἶδας, κ.τ.λ.), the latter pertaining to the moral sphere and reaching unto eternal life, the former proceeding from God, and requiring, in order to understand it, the previously experienced workings of divine grace, and faith ensuing thereupon. The man feels the working of grace within, coming to him as a birth from above, but he knows not whence it comes; he feels its attraction, but he knows not whither it leads. These several elements in the delineation are so distinctly indicated by Jesus, that we cannot be satisfied with the mere general point of incomprehensibleness in the comparison (Hengstenberg), upon the basis of Ecclesiastes 11:5.
 Concerning the personality of the Holy Spirit as taught in John, see especially 14–16.John 3:7. Therefore it was no cause for wonder that a new birth was required for entrance into the spiritual kingdom. The argument implies that natural birth produces only σάρξ, not spirit. By his natural birth man is an animal, with a nature fitting him to live in the material world in which he finds himself and with capacities for spiritual life in a spiritual world. These capacities may or may not be developed. If they are developed, the Spirit of God is the Agent, and the change wrought by their development may fitly be called a new birth, because it gives a man entrance into a new world and imparts new life to live in it. (Cf. the second birth and second life of many insects.)7. Ye must] The declaration is brought more closely home. In John 3:3; John 3:5 Christ had made a very general statement, ‘except a man.’ He now shews that none are exempt from it. ‘Ye, the chosen people, ye, the Pharisees, ye, the rulers, must all be born from above.’John 3:7. Ὑμᾶς, ye) Thee, and those in whose name thou hast spoken (John 3:2, “We know,” etc.): Ye, Jesus says; not, we.Verse 7. - Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born anew. Nicodemus had revealed, by his expressions of countenance or unrecorded words, his surprise. This further explanation deepened the solemnity of the first assertion by a bold antithesis between the birth of flesh producing nothing but flesh, however high its culture, and the birth of spirit from the Spirit himself, the heavenly and Divine Originator of all genuine repentance, and the sole Cause of the new life. Nicodemus was clinging more and more eagerly to the old ideas of national privilege, of sacramental purification, of soundly taught principles and habits. He marvelled at such representation which took the heart out of all his previous training. The Messianic kingdom for which he had been looking and longing seemed to fade away in the clouds of an utter mysticism, and to vanish out of his power of recognition. Our Lord gently reproved the expression of his surprise, and reminded him of the previous utterance, "I said to thee, Ye," etc. Nicodemus had come in the name of others. Jesus replies, and reasserts the principles for the entire group of persons which Nicodemus might be supposed to represent. We must not fail to notice that, whereas in other parts of the discourse our Lord speaks in the plural first person, yet be discriminates himself from. others in this statement. He does not say, "We must," etc., but "Ye must," etc. He had no consciousness of personal need of regeneration, nor was he in the first case born as flesh from flesh. His flesh was itself the work of the Spirit.
Note the change from the singular to the plural pronoun. In his address to Nicodemus (thee) the Lord had spoken also to those whom Nicodemus represented, and whom he had included when he said "we know" (John 3:2). His error was the error of his class.
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