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John 3

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Chapter Summary

  • v1-15 - I often refer to the establishment as we read through the gospels to refer to people like Nicodemus, who's not only a member of the strictest Jewish sect, the Pharisees, but also a member of the Jewish ruling council. We often think of the establishment as being the bad guys, but Nicodemus shows us that there were some sincere men in these groups who sought the truth.

    • It's significant that he came to Jesus at night. Notice how John contrasts light and dark often in his gospel. Certainly Nicodemus literally came at night, but John uses the night often to refer to the sin and darkness in the world.

    • Jesus drops several theological bombs in this conversation:

      • People can't even see the Kingdom of God, much less enter it, unless they are born again.

      • Nicodemus was right: a person can't be physically born again (v4). Jesus clarifies that the phrase refers to a person who becomes born of water and spirit; in other words, a person who has repented & been cleansed and come into new spiritual life.

    • Jesus ends this conversation by comparing Himself to the serpent Moses lifted up in the desert (see the Old Testament Reference below).

  • v16-21 - There's disagreement as to whether or not this most famous verse of the Bible was spoken by Jesus, or added as commentary by John. My vote is that it's John's commentary, but regardless, these are still the inspired words of God! They're so famous because they so clearly articulate the gospel:

    • Those who believe into Jesus (see yesterday's post) shall have eternal life.

    • Once again, John contrasts light and dark, again referring to Jesus as the light, but reminding that people prefer the dark, thinking it will keep their evil deeds hidden.

    • Those who live in the truth realize that God knows all, but cling to the promises made in v16-18 that there is no condemnation for those who've been born again in Christ.

  • v22-30 - John the Baptist models his trademark humility by modeling an attitude that all Christians should take: Jesus must become greater, and we must become less (v30).

  • v31-35 - John closes this passages with another poetic monologue, similar to the poem that he began with in chapter 1, and the one that's so well known in v16-21.

    • Christ, who is from heaven, is above all things.

    • Christ speaks the very words of God.

    • Once again, John makes the good news crystal clear by contrasting it with the bad news:

      • Whoever believes into the Son has eternal life,

      • but those who do not remain the recipients of God's wrath.

OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE: God sent venomous snakes to punish His unbelieving people in Numbers 21:4-9. When they repented, God instructed Moses to lift up a bronze snake on a pole, and those who looked to it were saved. Jesus tells Nicodemus that He is that snake who will be lifted up (the Greek word Jesus used also means exalted), that those who look to Him will be saved.


Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:

  1. EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: As He was speaking with Nicodemus, what did Jesus note about the wind? (See verse 8.)

  2. Try paraphrasing 3:16 in your own words.

Question 1 taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament

Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God is our Father who loves His world (v16)

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God that you might live by the truth and come into the light (v21)



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