But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
The children of God are born —
I. NOT OF BLOOD. Grace does not run on the lines of nature. Many beautiful and graceful things do come by gentle and noble blood, but not this. It needs a very narrow field of observation to convince us that no parent, however pious, can command the conversion of his children. Else why should there be in this world that bitterest spectacle of a pious parent's heart being broken by a wicked child!
II. NOT OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH. The expression relates to any desire which, ruling in a man's mind, might be supposed to lead him to some act whereby he should become a child of God, and the idea is utterly repelled. Every one who is a subject of the grace of God is so first passively, that afterwards he may be so actively. He is first acted upon by a will and power without him, and then he acts out that will and manifests that power.
III. Not of the will of man. Observe the steps. Not of parents, not of self, nor of any creature whatsoever. One man, indeed, may will the conversion of another; and if he clothe that will with prayer, if he offer that will with faith, and if he does all in his power to forward that will, God may give him that man's soul. But God never promises He will do this. A soul passes into the family of God and becomes an heir in the register of sons when he receives Christ, and only then.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: