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.” Jesus answered and said unto him, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus saith unto him, “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” 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. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus answered and said unto him, “How can these things be?”
Jesus answered and said unto him, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?”John 3:1-12
Today we are still in John 3. It is important to pay attention to detail. In Chapter Three there are many things to note like:-
- Nicodemus coming at night.
- Born of water and the Spirit
- Snakes being lifted up
- Salvation vs Judgement
But you can sort out these elements. Go dig.
I want to comment on Jesus’ use of pronouns. He starts the encounter with Nicodemus talking to him and uses the singular pronoun “you”. Of course the difficulty with English is that you can’t distinguish between “you” singular and “you” plural. Other languages have a distinctly different form for their singular and plural pronouns, Greek and Hebrew do. Also “we inclusive” and “we exclusive” are different in many languages but not English. All of the uses of “you” from Chapter Three Verse One to Verse Eleven are singular. Note the strange switch to a first person plural “We” in Verse 11. Note also verse 3:10 where Jesus says “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? There is heavy irony in the respected teacher of Israel and yet you don’t understand. But you can figure that out without comment from me.
What is very interesting is that in verse 3:12 Jesus switches to “you” plural. Most Bibles don’t mark it. You just see “you” and “you” and you don’t realise the singular pronoun has been changed for a plural. (You will need to read that sentence again. John’s focus is now on all the teachers of Israel.)
This is where using multiple versions will help you pick up the change.
The standard: (NLT) But if you don’t believe Me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
Compared with: (ISV) If I have told you people about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
The KJV highlights the difference between the Greek plural (υμιν) and the Greek singular (σύ) by using (you) and (ye).
From this point on Jesus uses the all inclusive everyone or anyone or no one instead of pronouns. No I am not going to spell it out for you either. You can do something about it. I am doing what my Greek and Hebrew professor did for me and my class mates. “There is something of interest here; dig a little and think about it.”
I have decided I am going to ultimately post all of these Gems on my website. So you would help me by interacting with me and telling me when descriptions are too vague for you to pick up what I am saying. Or too difficult to understand because I haven’t explained it well enough yet. Give me feed back so I know you are still alive out there. That’s all for today.
Be ye fishers of men: You catch ’em; He’ll clean ’em.Ian Vail