Doctrine of Jesus and Nicodemus

January 28, 2011

Jesus and Nicodemus
One of the purposes of the incarnation is that men might have fellowship with God. God wants to have a relationship and fellowship with mankind and this can only be experienced through the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Mediator between God and mankind.
The Lord Jesus Christ who is the eternal, incarnate Word God came into the world in order that He might give eternal life to men and He did this so that men could have fellowship with God.
1 John 1:1, “Who has always existed from eternity past, who we have heard, who we have witnessed with our eyes, who we observed, even our hands touched concerning the Word who is the life (of God).”
1 John 1:2, “that is, this One who is the life (of God) was revealed (by the Holy Spirit) and we have witnessed and we testify and we are proclaiming (from God) at this particular time for the benefit of all of you this One who is the eternal life (of God), who indeed by virtue of His divine nature has always existed face to face with the Father and was revealed (by the Holy Spirit) for the benefit of all of us.”
1 John 1:3, “Who, we have witnessed and we have heard, we also are proclaiming (from God) at this particular time for the benefit of all of you in order that all of you without exception might also continue to experience fellowship and this fellowship is as an eternal spiritual truth with the Father and with His Son, Jesus who is the Christ.”
Eternal life is an attribute of God. Since each member of the Trinity is co-equal, co-infinite and co-eternal, each member of the Trinity is eternal life: (1) God the Father is eternal life (Jo. 5:26; 6:57; 1 Th. 1:9). (2) The Word of God is eternal life (Jn. 5:26, 6:35 Phlp. 2:16; 1 Jo. 1:1) (3) The Holy Spirit is eternal life (Jn. 6:63; Rm. 8:2).
Eternal life has no beginning and no end and is the life of God. It transcends time, matter and space.
Eternal life is received as a gift at the moment one expresses faith alone in Christ alone. It gives one the capacity to experience a relationship with God, which involves intimacy and fellowship with God.
Eternal life is received through faith alone in Christ alone (Jn. 3:1-36) and is appropriated after salvation by being obedient to the Spirit who reveals the Father’s will through the communication of the Word of God.
At the moment of regeneration, God the Father imputes eternal life to the human spirit that was created simultaneously at regeneration by the Holy Spirit. This act of regeneration makes the believer a new spiritual species or in other words it gives him a new Christ-nature that can never sin and that is described in
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 1
Scripture by many phrases such “new self, new man, newness of life, new creation.”
2 Cor 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new spiritual species; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
No one can have a relationship and fellowship with God apart from having the Lord Jesus Christ as one’s Savior. This is clearly stated by our Lord in a famous passage that reports to us our Lord’s encounter with Nicodemus.
John 3:1, “Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.”
Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, which had 70 members. The Sanhedrin put Jesus on trial according to Luke 22:66. Nicodemus defended Jesus before the Pharisees for condemning Jesus without hearing Him (John 7:50-51) and he is the one who helped Joseph of Arimathea bury Jesus (John 1939-40).
Nicodemus was initially attracted to the miracles that Jesus performed and he wanted to know more about the doctrines that the Lord taught.
Nicodemus himself was a prominent teachers in Israel as we will note John 3:10 where the definite preceding the Greek noun didaskalos, “teacher” indicates that Nicodemus was a “well-known” teacher or interpreter of the Law in Israel.
John 3:2, “this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
In John 3:1-21, the Lord employs 4 different illustrations in order to teach Nicodemus the basics of salvation: (1) Birth (John 3:1-7). (2) Wind (John 3:8-13). (3) Serpent on a Pole (John 3:14-18; cf. Num. 21:8-9). (4) Light and darkness (John 3:19-21).
These illustrations were directed toward Nicodemus’ human frame of reference.
John 3:3-5, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ 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.’”
The phrase “of water and the Spirit” is a figure of speech called hendiadys, which literally means, “one by means of two.”
In this figure 2 words are employed but only one thing or idea is intended. One of the 2 words expresses the thing, and the other (of synonymous, or even different, signification, not a 2nd thing or idea) intensifies it by being changed (if a noun) into an adjective of the superlative degree, which is, by this means, made especially emphatic.
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 2
There is no definite article in the Greek text of John 3:5 before the nouns hudor, “water,” and pneuma, “Spirit” and they are both in the same case. Therefore, because of this figure of speech and the context only 1 thing, namely, the Holy Spirit is meant here in John 3:5.
John 3:6 and 8 both refer to the Holy Spirit and not literal water, nor the Word of God as some have interpreted “water” here in John 3:5. The Lord is speaking to Nicodemus about “earthly things” and as well-known and great teacher of the Jews, he knew or ought to have known perfectly well the prophecy of Ezekiel 36:25-27 concerning entrance into the kingdom.
Ezek 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.”
The cleansing of that day is not to be with literal water, as in the ceremonial cleansings of the Law, but with the Spirit of God. Hence, here in John 3:5, only 1 thing is meant: “Unless, a person becomes born of water, yes-and spiritual water too, he can never enter into the kingdom of God. That spiritual water stands by another figure, namely metonymy, for the Holy Spirit Himself.
John 7:37-39, “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
So the Lord in John 3:5 and John 7:37-39 is referring to the Holy Spirit with this figure of water.
John 3:6-7, “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.’”
Now in verses 8-13 the Lord uses the wind as an illustration to teach the basics of salvation.
John 3:8, “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.”
One of the symbols for the Holy Spirit in Scripture is the wind or breath as in Job 33:4, John 20:22, and Acts 2:2. Like the wind, the Spirit is invisible but powerful and you cannot explain or predict the movements of the wind.
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 3
When the Lord used wind as a symbol for the Spirit, Nicodemus as a teacher of the Law should have recalled Ezekiel 37:1-14.
John 3:9-13, “Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can these things be?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.’”
Now in verses 14-18 the Lord uses an illustration from the Old Testament namely Numbers 21:8-9, where Moses put a serpent on a pole and those who simply looked at it were delivered from the plague.
John 3:14-16, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Corrected translation of John 3:15-16, “So that any person who trusts in Him (Son of Man) will, as an eternal spiritual truth, possess eternal life. In this manners God the Father self-sacrificially loved the world that He gave His uniquely born Son in order that whoever places his trust in Him, will never perish but rather will as an eternal spiritual truth, possess eternal life.”
John 3:17-36, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing. John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized — for John had not yet been thrown into prison. Therefore there arose a discussion on the part of John’s disciples with a Jew about purification. And they came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.’ John answered and said, ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, I am not the Christ,’ but, I have been sent ahead of Him.

He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. What He has seen and heard, of that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. He who has received His testimony has set his seal to this, that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.’”