Skip to main content

The passage we’re looking at this week is John 2:23-3:21. It’d be good to make sure you’ve read up to at least that much in the Gospel so far. As you’re reading, here are some things to help you along the way.

Passage Big Idea

That new life (being born again) is found in looking to the cross.

Passage Structure

– The problem with men (2:23-35)
– Nicodemus’ misunderstanding (3:1-15)
– God’s solution (3:16-21)

Some things to look out for / background

OT Background

– The Kingdom of God (Zechariah 9:9-13)
– The snake in the desert (Numbers 21)
– New hearts (Jeremiah 31:33-34 & Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:25-27)


– A member of the Pharisees, a powerful Jewish Sect, and most likely sitting on the Sanhedrin (a member of the Jewish ruling council) who are a driving force in having Jesus crucified later on.
– Nicodemus is mentioned twice more in this Gospel (7:50-52 & 19:39-42).
– There is a distinct difference in status between Jesus and Nicodemus. Jesus is a Rabbi which isn’t an official “position”. But Nicodemus is an important man. It’s the difference between a Professor speaking to an undergraduate. But you see the tables turn during the conversation.

The Kingdom of God

– Jesus is referred to as a King twice in John’s Gospel (1:49, 6:15).
– One of the drivers of this passage is that Nicodemus didn’t understand what needed to happen for the Kingdom of God to come about. How would Israel’s new life begin? A new King ushering in a a new culture? The removal of the Romans? Or was there something deeper that needed to be born again…?
– Ezekiel 11, 36 & Jeremiah 31 point to something more fundamental happening as the Kingdom of God is ushered in.

Born Again

– The term born again can equally be translated “born from above”
– It’s the idea of new spiritual birth
– The idea of being born of water & the Spirit (3:5) is not two different events, but referring to the same, and further describing being born again (3:3). It’s closest links in the OT are passages like Ezekiel 36:25-27, Isaiah 4:3-5.

Some areas of possible application

– What does this passage have to say about where our problems stem from and how they might be fixed?
– What does this passage have to say about God, and what it means to be a part of what He is doing in this world?
– Does our pride sometimes get in the way of us hearing / knowing God?
– What does this passage say about the way God looks at His world, and us?