John Chapter 3

Published Aug. 30, 2023, 12:45 p.m.

Recap CH2: Jesus travels to Cana where he performs his first miracle: Turing water into wine.  That specific water was associated with ritual purification and cleansing.  Then Jesus travels to Capernaum to rest and then to Jerusalem where he "cleanses" the temple of the people defiling his Father's house.  Jesus prophesies his death and resurrection.  Jesus knows what is in man and does not need man's approval.

  • Jesus is going to meet with a member of the Pharisees (Conservative religeous Jewish group).   

  • When the phrase "Truly Truly" is used it is a way of communicating that places STRONG EMPHASIS on the thing being said.  Jesus is literally saying "Amen, Amen" transliterated from Hebrew to Greek.

  • "Born again" may also be translated "Born from above"

  • Let us think about a "Theory of Interpretation" of what we read in Scripture.  (A fancy word for "theory of interpretation is "Hermeneutic").

  • Let us be careful to avoid "1-verse Theology".  Rather let us test scripture against other scripture.

  • In Hebrew and in Greek the word for "Breath",  "Wind" and "Spirit" is the same word.  Hebrew is 'Ruach"  ;  Greek is "Pneuma"

You Must Be Born Again

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus[a] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[b] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c] Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ The wind[e] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

A little background on Nicodemus:  From a wealthy family.  Mentioned in other historical texts of the time period. (Talmud, Josephus)  Probably associated with Sanhedrin (Jewish religious rulers).  Probably talking to Jesus on behalf of a small group of Pharisees.

  1. What is the setting for this meeting between Nicodemus and Jesus?  Why do you think he is meeting Jesus this way? 
  2. The Pharisees were believers in the Law and the Prophets. Nicodemus seems to be on the right track.  How does Jesus speak to him?  How does Nicodemus interpret what Jesus is saying?  What is his "theory of interpretation"?
  3. Jesus invokes the phrase "Born Again" or "Born from Above"  What other similar metaphors have we encountered already in John 1?  Are these usages consistent?
  4. It is my "theory of interpretation" that Jesus is speaking this way to Nicodemus for his benefit and for ours.  However, Jesus is not being very direct (in my opinion) with his communication.  How does that happen to us?  When do we feel like we don't know what God is trying to say to us?
  5. Is Jesus using "word-play" or puns in vs 8? 

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you[f] do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.[g] 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.[h]

Read Numbers 21:4-9 and 2 Kings 18:1-5

  1. In Numbers 21:4-9  What was the form of God's judgement of his people? ____________;  What biblical associations are there with this creature?

  2. What was the remedy and how did the remedy use the symbol of God's judgement?

  3. Who is the Son of Man?  How does Jesus connect the "Son of Man" with the Serpent in the wilderness (from Numbers 21)?  (Daniel 7:13-14)

  4. Sybolism: Snake --> Sin,  Bronze or Brass --> Can withstand fire (judgement),  2 Corinthians 5:21 )

  5. "Eternal Life" shows up in John's Gospel 18 times.  When does one have eternal life?


For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Four Greek Words for Love: 1) Philia (Friend-love), 2) Eros (Lovers-love), 3) Storge(Parental Affection -love), and 4) Agape (Love for the object's sake-love).  God's love for us is the "Agape" kind -- HOWEVER-- That does not mean that only God loves with "Agape"-style love.

  1. Which word for love do you think is used in vs. 16?

  2. The phrase "does not believe" might sound passive, but in reality, unbelief is active.  What are the implications of vs. 17 and 18?  Why is this important to keep joined to the implications of vs. 16?

  3. Who is the light?  What other scripture would reinforce the message of vs. 19-21?  
    Psalm 106:20, Romans 1:23-25, Proverbs 2:13, Psalm 18:28, Psalm 139:11-12, Gen. 1:3-5, Job 12:22, Isaiah 9:1-3, Acts 26:23
  4. Which word for love do you think is used in vs. 19?

John the Baptist Exalts Christ

22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).

25 Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”[j]

Map of area:

  1. Writer-John transitions back to John the Baptist.  What does vs. 27 imply about J the B's theology?  Vs. 30?  How can we apply that to our lives?

  2.  What metaphor does John use about Jesus?  About himself? 


31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

  1. Who is speaking in vs. 31 - 36?

  2. What hope can we take away from vs. 31-36?

  3. What warning is made clear here?

  4. Under what conditions do we have eternal life?  When do we get it?



  1. John 3:2 Greek him
  2. John 3:3 Or from above; the Greek is purposely ambiguous and can mean both again and from above; also verse 7
  3. John 3:6 The same Greek word means both wind and spirit
  4. John 3:7 The Greek for you is plural here
  5. John 3:8 The same Greek word means both wind and spirit
  6. John 3:11 The Greek for you is plural here; also four times in verse 12
  7. John 3:13 Some manuscripts add who is in heaven
  8. John 3:15 Some interpreters hold that the quotation ends at verse 15
  9. John 3:16 Or For this is how God loved the world
  10. John 3:30 Some interpreters hold that the quotation continues through verse 36

Interpretation Questions: 

  1. What seems to be the author's intent for these passages?

  2. Is there a principle or lesson that is communicated to the audience? If so, what is it?

  3. Would these principles or lessons be applied in the same way today as they would have for the original audience?

  4. Are these interpretations consistent with the theme, structure and purpose of the letter/book in which they are found?

  5. Are these interpretations consistent with other scripture?

Application Questions:

  1. What does the passage have to say about God's view of reality?

  2. How does this passage impact my intimacy with Him?

  3. How does this passage speak to the issues and attitudes of my heart?

  4. How does this passage impact my relationships with other people and with the natural world?

  5. What specific actions does God want me to take in response to this passage?

skip_nextJohn Chapter 4
  • Introduction to John's Gospel

  • John Chapter 1

  • John Chapter 2

  • John Chapter 3
    (currently viewing)
  • John Chapter 4

  • John Chapter 5

  • John Chapter 6

  • John Chapter 7 (and end of Ch.6)

  • John Chapter 8

  • John Chapters 9 and 10

  • John Chapter 10 and 11

  • John Chapter 12

  • End of John 12 and Chapter 13

  • John Chapter 14

  • John Chapter 15 and 16

  • John Chapter 17

  • John Selections from Ch. 18 and 19

  • John Chapter 20 and 21