Water and the Spirit (Jn 3:5-3:5)

“Jesus answered.

‘Very truly!

I tell you!

No one can enter

The kingdom of God,

Without being born

Of water

And the Spirit.’”

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ Πνεύματος, οὐ δύναται εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ.

John uniquely indicated that Jesus answered (ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς) Nicodemus with very poetic words about the Spirit.  Jesus was very definitive with a solemn pronouncement, just as previously in verse 3, with the same words amen, amen, for sure, in truth, or very truly, I tell you (Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι).  No one could enter (οὐ δύναται εἰσελθεῖν) into the kingdom of God (εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ) without being born (ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ) of water (ἐξ ὕδατος) and the Spirit (καὶ Πνεύματος).  The similarity with verse 3 is clear.  Some sort of spiritual birth was necessary to enter the Kingdom of God.  Jesus’ use of the Kingdom of God was quite common in the synoptics, but this is his only use in this gospel.  Jesus was clear about the importance of the Kingdom of God and being born spiritually again.  Are there two new births, one of water and the other of the Spirit?  Probably this is an allusion to baptism.  The gift of the Spirit may come with baptism or at another time before or after baptism.  Baptism among the early Christians was very important.  The Spirit had descended on Jesus after his baptism.  After this conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus and his disciples went on a baptizing mission, which was not mentioned in the other synoptics.  The Acts of the Apostles had a strong emphasis on baptizing new followers of Jesus.  In fact, the Hebrew prophetic writers like Isaiah, chapter 32:15, Ezekiel, chapter 39:29, and Joel, chapter 2:28, often spoke of a pouring out of the Spirit of Yahweh.  How do you think that the Holy Spirit is connected to water baptism?

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