Water and Spirit

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JonC δοῦλος, May 16, 2015.

  1. JonC

    JonC
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    This comes from a discussion on a previous thread.

    John 3:4-8
    Nicodemus *said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?"

    Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

    What does it mean to be born of water and the Spirit?
     
  2. Thousand Hills

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    Here's a good read from Pink http://pbministries.org/books/pink/John/john_08.htm

    A few quotes from Pink on the matter:

    Doesn't Teach Baptismal Regeneration

    Water = Word of God

    The Spirit Gives Life

     
  3. Darrell C

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    That is without a doubt an outstanding response.


    God bless.
     
  4. JonC

    JonC
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    Thank you, TH. That is a good post.

    I agree with Pink on the issue of being born again. Being “born of water” certainly does not refer to Baptismal Regeneration, and most likely does not refer to a physical baptism at all. I think that Jesus used these words to direct Nicodemus to what he already knew…or should have known…being a Pharisee and a prominent teacher of the Jews.

    I believe that being born of water and the Spirit points to God cleansing us and placing within us a new Spirit.

    Ezekiel 36:25-27
    "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
     
  5. Thousand Hills

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    :thumbsup::thumbsup:

    The Power of The Word + The Power of The Spirit = Regeneration

    I like how Paul Washer puts it:

    There is a greater manifestation of the power of God in the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit than in the creation of the world, or even of the universe, because He created the world ex nihilo: out of nothing. But He re-creates a man out of a mass of corruption. It is parallel with the very resurrection of our Savior from the dead.
     
  6. JonC

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    :thumbsup::thumbsup:
     
  7. JonC

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    I know that there are some on this forum who hold a different understanding of "born of water and of Spirit" (Revmitch indicated so on another thread). If you are willing to discuss the topic, I would like to know your interpretation and how that is substantiated.

    The three views I know of:

    1. Born of water is physical birth (I disagree because I don't think physical birth was expressed that way, Nicodemus wouldn't associate it with physical birth).

    2. It means water baptism (I disagree again because this would be meaningless to Nicodemus, Christian baptism has yet to occur within the text, and scripture denies baptismal regeneration).

    3. Jesus is indicating one birth - born again (or from above) which is "born of water and of Spirit." I believe that Nicodemus would have recognized this as a reference to God "sprinkling water" on us to cleans us (forgiveness of sins) and putting within us a new spirit.
     
  8. beameup

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    Using the example of Jesus' baptism, you were first baptized in water (John's baptism), and then if repentance was genuine, the Holy Spirit would "come upon you" (as was the case with OT believers). Then, according to Moses, you were to join-in as "a Nation of Priests". All of this was progressing as a National movement in order to prepare the way for Messiah to set-up his Kingdom. However, the National repentance stalled, as we know, and Messiah was "cut-off".
    There are Christians that do not even recognize baptism as a requirement of the Body of Christ (they also do not recognize "tithing", etc.). They also understand that Jesus was the minister to the circumcision. The Apostle Paul is the apostle to the uncircumcised.
    The instant of faith in Christ we directly received the Holy Spirit. It is not a "coming upon" as in OT cases, but it is a permanent sealing of the H.S.
     
    #8 beameup, Jun 7, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2015
  9. Greektim

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    I think you guys are trying to hard on this one.

    Most scholars agree, this is an allusion to Ezekiel 36 and the New Covenant blessings... thus Nic should've known about this as Jesus said.

    Eze 36:24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.
    Eze 36:25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
    Eze 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
    Eze 36:27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

    Jesus is teaching that the kingdom and the New Covenant are inexorably tied together in such a way that for one to enter the kingdom, he must experience the blessings of the New Covenant.
     
  10. Van

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    One of the difficulties of Bible study is the use of metaphors. Water is used in one verse to mean this, and then we try to force that same meaning in other passages. Ditto for wind or sheep and so forth. The danger is to take a meaning out of its context (an illustration over here) and use it over there. OTOH, sometimes the same metaphoric meaning is used in more than one place. Dicey.

    Question - how many ways is water used as a metaphor for something spiritual? What are the various verses?

    Edit - See John 4:14 and Ephesians 5:26.
     
    #10 Van, Jun 7, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2015
  11. Iconoclast

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    its a fulfillment of numbers 19 the water of separation
     
  12. kyredneck

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    But that's not how the equation reads:

    Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God!

    Born of water plus born of Spirit equals entrance into the kingdom of God.

    Notice verse three mentions only the necessity of the heavenly birth in order to SEE the kingdom of God. To ENTER the kingdom of God requires something in addition to the heavenly birth.

    Kyredneck's paraphrase:

    Profession + Regeneration = Saved.
     
  13. JonC

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    I agree. This is how a Pharisee would understand born of water & Spirit.
     
  14. Revmitchell

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    Jesus was addressing Nicodemus a Jew and a Pharisee as you all know. When it came to the salvation issue the primary thing Jesus addressed with them was the fact that they thought their salvation was tied up in being a son of Abraham or being a Jew. This is what Jesus is addressing in John chapter 3. He was setting Nicodemus straight on where their salvation really comes from and that is was not a birth right simply because they were the children of Abraham, in other words being a Jew. (John 8:33)


    When we take a look at verse 5 of chapter 3 we need to also, at the same time, look at verse 6. Water is therefore a reference to the physical birth because or supposed birth right of the Jews. Jesus is telling Nicodemus that it is not true that all you have to do is be born a Jew. Jesus goes on to say that you must also be born from above.

    In verse 6 Jesus reiterates this when he says "That which is born of the flesh is flesh;[born of water] and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."[born of the Spirit]


    That is my position. Now as to whether or not some other position is what "most" scholars believe, well usually that means most scholars that "I" read. Such claims are an informal fallacy known as the bandwagon fallacy.
     
  15. JonC

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    Thank you Rev. I wondered why people held it to be physical birth, and you explained your position well. Another point is that if Jesus was saying one must be born of water and one must be born of spirit then he could be contrasting that new birth with the physical.

    I disagree with you for a few reasons.

    First, I believe the explanation to be within the immediate context of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. I do not understand how Nicodemus would connect being born of water with physical birth, or being born of Abraham. The connection of John 8:33 would be reverse (it cannot be made in terms of explaining the new birth to Nicodemus because it is a portion of later conversation). Even if it were connected, there is no evidence that a Jew would understand being “born of water” as physical birth.

    Second, as Van points out the imagery of water is connected to salvation (not physical birth) in Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well. Van also notes the cleansing aspect in Ephesians 5:26.

    Third, Jesus gives Nicodemus the information that he (being a religious leader of that time) would be looking for. The divide between Sadducees, Pharisees, and Essenes included a disagreement on how one fulfilled God’s requirements under the Old Covenant. They were looking at what they must do, essentially (although not technically) to be saved. If this is the context in which the conversation takes place, then Nicodemus’ replies make sense as legitimate replies (rather than sarcasm or a misunderstanding).

    Fourth, I believe it is more likely that Jesus takes on a method He uses throughout Scripture - that is, He makes a statement and then expounds on that statement. If I am correct, then Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be “born again.” Nicodemus does not understand how this is possible, and Jesus clarifies by telling him he must be “born of water and Spirit.” This birth (water & Spirit) is another way of saying “born again,” but it is a way of saying it that Nicodemus would immediately understand.

    Fifth, and I admit this is a weaker point, being “born of water and Spirit” as a single birth would correspond to the singular birth of being “born again.” If it is a physical and spiritual birth it would not.

    Sixth, verse 8 alludes to (I believe) Ezekiel 37 when God has Ezekiel prophesy, saying “come from the four winds, O Breath, and breathe on these slain.” This vision is illustrating what Ezekiel had just said in the previous chapter - God will sprinkle clean water on them, and they will be clean; He will cleanse them from all their filthiness; He will put a new spirit within them; He will put His Spirit within them.

    I believe that Jesus was pointing Nicodemus to a passage that he knew well, but had misunderstood all of his life. He was telling Nicodemus that nothing he did could merit a righteous standing with God or put him in the position of inheriting a blessing rather than a curse under the Old Covenant (through which he was trying to have a right standing). What had to happen was a rebirth...that is, God must cleans you of your unrighteousness and put a new spirit in you.
     
  16. Revmitchell

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    Except for verse 6
     
  17. JonC

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    Yes, if Jesus coined the phrase "born of water" to refer to physical birth. But then there's verse 7, which goes back to the rebirth. However, I would not found my conclusion on just this one observation (that's why I listed six).

    Within the context of the passage, I really can see it both ways. I believe Jesus to be using Scripture to explain this new birth to Nicodemus, and that does influence why I think it a reference to Ezekiel 36 (that and the reference to Ezekiel 37). But I understand that within those few verses Jesus could have been comparing the physical birth to the spiritual one - i.e., verse 6 and your reference to the seed of Abraham. I don't believe this is what is happening within the text, but I do understand how it can be interpreted as such.
     
  18. Revmitchell

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    Verse 6 talks about both the physical and the rebirth or spiritual birth. It does not wait until verse 7.


    I do not understand what you mean by "coined the phrase".
     
  19. JamesL

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    JonC and Rev,
    You're both right, and you're both wrong.

    Rev is right that water is physical, but not the first time. Jesus said "born AGAIN" or born from above.

    He was talking about being regenerated physically, which is a work if the Spirit - JonC is right in that regard. Paul said in Romans 8 that the Spirit will give life to our mortal bodies.

    Just like the Spirit gives life to our depraved spirit.

    Paul said in 1Cor 15 tgat flesh and blood cannot inherit the "Kingdom of God", and was clear - we must be resurrected first, before we inherit all things with Christ (see Romans 8 again)

    In the next 2 chapters, Jesus taught about spirit washing with the woman at the well (ch4) and physical resurrection (ch5)

    Both body and spirit must be cleansed of sin, that is Jesus' teaching in John 3
     
  20. Jordan Kurecki

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    I believe the being born of water to be referring to the Physical birth, after all that is what this passage is about, when he says that which is born of of the flesh and that which is born of the spirit is spirit, Jesus is clearly spelling out what he meant when he said you must be born of water and of the Spirit.

    I think this is the logical interpretation based on the context.

    if water represented the word of God, why would Jesus then say that which is born of the flesh is flesh?
     

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