The Water-Spirit Birth

April 2, 2019 at 1:48 pm | Posted in John | 9 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

John 3:5

Not all theologians, Bible commentators, or scholars agree on what Jesus meant by “born of water and of the Spirit.” Some theories include:

1. A contrast between the physical birth, with “water” meaning the “breaking of water” (amniotic fluid) from the mother’s womb. The problem with this interpretation is that “her water broke,” as far as we can tell, wasn’t an expression that was used back then. However, it is possible that Jesus could have meant that this second birth – this RE-generation – was being contrasted with the first, physical birth. Lending weight to this application is the obvious fact that Jesus called it being born “again.”

2. So-called baptismal regeneration. This theory, although perhaps the majority view historically speaking, is wrong. A belief that physical baptism through the immersion in, or sprinkling of, literal water is necessary for regeneration and eternal salvation goes against the vast majority of Scripture in describing salvation as being by grace through faith alone. It is not dependent upon any “work,” rite, ritual, or observable or administered (sacerdotal) initiation. When considering whether Jesus was communicating anything having to do with literal baptism when he mentioned being born of water, it is important to recognize that this concept would have been totally foreign to Nicodemus, the Jewish religious leader to whom he was speaking, and to the Jewish theologians who he represented.

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, WE know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

John 3:1-2 (emphasis added)

Nicodemus may have come to Jesus alone, by night, but he was clearly a representative of a contingent of Pharisees (possibly the Sanhedrin itself) who thought themselves to be the ultimate authority on salvation – on seeing and entering the Kingdom of God. Despite this standing, Jesus, in the following verses, chastised him for not knowing things which he should have known, because they were indicated in the (Old Testament) Scriptures.

Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

John 3:7 (emphasis added)

Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

John 3:10 (emphasis added)

This lets us know that the key to the phrase “born of water and of the Spirit” is found in the Old Testament, and not in some obscure text hidden or tucked away in some genealogy somewhere, but in a major prophecy.

And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

Ezekiel 36:23-25

There’s the mention of water, and, according to Psalm 24, who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord and who will stand in His holy place? Only those who have clean (washed by some supernatural metaphorical water) hands AND pure hearts. Ezekiel 36:25 promises that God will cleanse His people from the filthiness of their sin, not by baptism, but by His own divine hand sprinkling/splashing them with His power.

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Ezekiel 36:26-27

This was a prophecy about the New Covenant, and would have been very familiar to the typical Jewish scribe or rabbi, and certainly to a chief theologian of the Pharisees. It appears right before Ezekiel’s prophetic vision of the valley of the DRY bones – bones which needed to be revived – brought back to life – regenerated by some type of supernatural “water.”

And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.

Ezekiel 37:3-4 (emphasis added)

Son of Man” was the prophetic title which Jesus used to refer to Himself in John 3:14. Clearly regeneration by water and by the Spirit had been indicated and explicitly referenced in Old Testament prophecies.

And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.

Ezekiel 37:13-14

The water and the Spirit are not two separate stages of the new birth. Jesus was talking about a water-Spirit birth – at once cleansing and giving new life – a true heart transplant surgery with antiseptic poured in – eternal antiseptic which eternally prevents infection/corruption.

9 Comments »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. […] to Face 12. Salt or Scum? 13. The Difference Between a Brave Face and a Bold Face 14. Pining Away 15. The Water-Spirit Birth (Ezekiel 36-37) 16. Touring the Temple 17. The Thousand Year Reign of King Jesus 18. God’s […]

  2. […] Nicodemus’s failure to grasp the concept of the water-spirit birth, Jesus, in His patience, gave him insight into another well-known Old Testament passage of […]

  3. […] The Water-Spirit Birth […]

  4. […] wine (John 2), and after He talked to a religious leader about being born of water and the spirit (John 3), and after He talked to a Samaritan woman about drawing and drinking water from a well (John 4), […]

  5. […] cleansing the Temple in Jerusalem, and after His encounter with Nicodemus, Jesus and His disciples went out into the Judean […]

  6. […] When a lost person gets saved – when someone who has been born only once (physically) gets born again (spiritually) – the Holy Spirit opens His eyes to the […]

  7. […] that can not be truly emulated, but, just as the Old Testament prophecies foretold the necessity of the water-spirit birth, and the meeting of God and man in a greater Tabernacle/Temple, and the need for bread that did not […]

  8. […] This “council” was the Sanhedrin. […]

  9. […] Nicodemus was at least in favor of searching the Scriptures to gauge the truth of what Jesus was teaching. As Christians today, we have access to a fuller revelation of God in our Scriptures than Nicodemus did in his, and we must be even more scrupulous in applying them. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: