BSF Study Questions John Lesson 5, Day 3: John 4:11-18

Summary of passage:  The Samaritan woman at the well asks Jesus where to get this living water he speaks of and if he’s greater than Jacob.  Jesus tells her the water he brings will give eternal life.  She asks where to get this water so she won’t thirst.  Jesus tells her to bring back her husband.  She says she has no husband.


6a)  Ordinary water never quenches thirst.  The water Jesus offers will forever quench thirst and bring eternal life.

b)  In Ancient Times, living water was the name for bubbling water. However, for Jews living water is associated with God (Jeremiah 2:13; 17:13).  Jesus is also living water (John 6:35).  Holy Spirit is living water (John 6:63; John 7:37-39).

c)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  People thirst for ordinary water as a basic human need for survival.  People also thirst for success, power, status, material things, relationships, children, other human desires, etc.  Thirsting for other things outside God can take precedence.  This is when it’s dangerous.  Thirst for God first and the other things second.  Then will you be satisfied.  Prioritize.  For me, only Jesus satisfies the basic needs of my soul.  Everything else is meaningless without Him.

7a)  She showed belief by asking for the water that won’t lead to thirst but unbelief by equating living water with ordinary water when she gave her reason for wanting the water so she wouldn’t have to make daily trips to the well.  She was practical; Jesus wants spiritual.  Jesus told her to go and get her husband.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus humbles you to the point you have to acknowledge his precedence in your life.  When we are the most blinded, he shows up to guide us on our path.  For me, it has been bankruptcy and losing it all.  It’s also the constant money struggles we have with my husband’s job being so tied to the economy and the sins in my life.  It’s all about dependence on Him and Him alone.  When that’s all in place, life is full of contentment.

Conclusions:  Love the difference of the waters and the different representations in the Bible (although they are all the Triune God).  Jesus takes a basic need and turns it into an essential need–one even more important that water itself–our spiritual health.

End Notes:  Drinking is God’s supply and man’s need.  We drink through faith and take in and choose God.  It’s simple–even easier than eating.

One sip of Jesus usually isn’t enough.  We must drink and drink and drink of God to satisfy our needs.  The expression “welling up” means leaping up.  It is vigorous and abundant.

Why ask for her to fetch her husband?  Remember from YESTERDAY we spoke of how men don’t speak to women in public.  This conversation is long and Jesus recognizes the need for her husband to be present in order to continue talking.

Jesus confronts the woman about her sinful past–her 5 husbands.  Jesus is not trying to embarrass the woman–he’s trying to get her to realize her sinful life and her need for him.  Apparently, the woman is living with yet another man.  Jesus rightfully says this is no marriage in his eyes.  She must recognize herself as a sinner first in order to drink of the living waters.  Good lesson for us all!

Jews held a woman could divorce two or at the most three times.  Her life is incredibly immoral by Jewish standards.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 5, Day 2: John 4:1-10

Summary of passage:  Jesus’ reputation was spreading and the Pharisees caught wind that Jesus was baptizing more people than John the Baptist although in fact it was Jesus’ disciples who were doing the actual physical act.  Jesus traveled back up north to Galilee from Judea, crossing through Samaria.  At a town named Sychar, Jesus stopped to rest at a well near Jacob’s well while his disciples went to town to buy food.  A Samaritan woman drew water at the well and Jesus asked for a drink from her (something forbidden to do since Jews do not associate with Samaritans).  Jesus tells her if she knew he were God, she would have asked him for the living water instead.


3)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  She needed to know the gift of God, who it is who is asking for a drink, and ask Jesus to drink the gift of living water.  The “when” is every day.  The “how” is accepting Jesus’ sovereignty in my life and receiving the Holy Spirit as my guide–again, every day.

4a)  Nicodemus knows about Jesus and who he claims to be.  The Samaritan woman has never heard of him.  Nicodemus approaches Jesus.  Jesus approaches the Samaritan woman.  Nicodemus speaks first.  Jesus speaks first to the Samaritan woman.  Jesus tells both truths and things they need to do.  He tells Nicodemus he must be born again.  He tells the Samaritan woman she needs to receive the gift of living water.  The Samaritan woman realizes who Jesus is; Nicodemus does not.  She tells others (testifies); Nicodemus does not.  She is responsible for others’ belief; Nicodemus is not.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Speak the truth and keep it simple.  Use analogies.

5a)  Samaritan religion closely followed Judaism but was considered a cult.  They only accepted the first 5 books of the Old Testament and insisted that Mount Gerizim, not Jerusalem, was the proper place to worship God.

According to 2 Kings 17, when God allowed the Jews to be removed from their homeland by Assyria, the king of Assyria resettled the land which was Samaria with foreigners around 721 BC.  They intermarried with the remaining Jews.  These people eventually did not worship the Lord so the Lord sent lions to kill them.  The king of Assyria sent a Jewish priest to the people to teach them the ways of the Lord.  However, each group made their own gods.  They worshipped the Lord but had all sorts of people be their priests.  They don’t follow the Lord’s commands or ordinances and worshipped their own idols.  Hence, the Jews cut themselves off from the Samaritans because they were unbelievers.

Ezra tells us how the Samaritans tried to stop the temple from being re-built, creating more resentment from the Jews against them.

The height of this rift between the Jews and the Samaritans was in Jesus’ time.  This scene is remarkable and could only have taken place by Jesus.  His purpose was to show how he is for everyone and how he can bring those lost back to him.  There is no prejudice in the eyes of the Lord and no bounds to His love.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Mine is not about cultural at all.  I need the courage to speak to others about Jesus period.

Conclusions:  I found the history behind the rift between the Jews and the Samaritans the most interesting part of this passage.  I always knew they didn’t like each other, but I didn’t know the reasons behind it.  Cool stuff!

End Notes:  Jesus knew the time for confrontation had not yet come.  Hence, he returns to Galilee.

Note Jesus did not baptize.  This was a sign to all of Jesus’ status above John the Baptist.  Yet, he sanctioned baptism as a sign of acceptance of him and repentance of sin.

The road from Jerusalem to Galilee lay through Samaria, but Jews often went around to avoid the Samaritans.  (Cool map HERE of the route around.  It’s a long way just to avoid people you don’t like.).  The Samaritans were considered half-breeds if you will.  When Babylon exiled the Jews, they left behind the lower classes, not wanting them to mix with the Babylonians.  The Samaritans are a mix of these left-over Jewish peoples and non-Jews who immigrated to the area afterwards.  This new race of people took on some aspects of the religion of the non-Jews and built their own temple to God on Mount Gerizim.  The Jews burned this temple around 128 BC.

Jesus went this way because the Samaritans needed to hear him.  He could have gone around but didn’t.

Sychar was ancient Shechem and was the capital of Samaria.  The history of this place is astounding:

This is where Abram first came when he arrived into Canaan from Babylonia. (Genesis 12:6)

This is where God first appeared to Abram in Canaan, and renewed the promise of giving the land to him and his descendants. (Genesis 12:7)

This is where Abram built an altar and called upon the name of the Lord (Genesis 12:8)

This is where Jacob came safely when he returned with his wives and children from his sojourn with Laban. (Genesis 33:18)

This is where Jacob bought a piece of land from a Canaanite named Hamor for 100 pieces of sliver (Genesis 33:19)

This is where Jacob built an altar to the Lord, and called it El Elohe Israel (Genesis 33:20). This established the connection between Jacob and what became known as Jacob’s well there in Sychar.

Sychar (Shechem) was also the place where Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, was raped – and the sons of Jacob massacred the men of the city in retaliation. (Genesis 34)

This was the plot of ground that Jacob gave his son Joseph, land Jacob had conquered from the Amorites with his sword and bow in an unrecorded battle (Genesis 48:22)

This is where the bones of Joseph were eventually buried when they were carried up from Egypt (Joshua 24:32)

This is where Joshua made a covenant with Israel, renewing their commitment to the God of Israel and proclaiming, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24)

Jesus is tired after a long day of walking.  Jesus was fully human and fully God and as fully human experienced the same things we do.

The sixth hour would have been around noon–the hottest part of the day.

The woman at the well was unusual.  Mostly women came together and came during the early part of the day for water for the day.  Maybe she ran out of water or had a sudden need or maybe she was an outcast.  Like a pub today, the well was a gathering place, a place to exchange news and gossip.  Furthermore, men would come, knowing it was a place where young women frequented.  It was also a place where prostitutes hung out as well.

Rabbi never spoke to women in public, not even their own wives of daughters.  Some even closed their eyes when passing a woman on the street.  Furthermore, Jews never asked favors from Samaritans.  Jesus was breaking all the rules–and showing us all how to live.

Also, Jews believed they would become ceremonially unclean if they used a drinking vessel handled by a Samaritan since they held the belief all Samaritans were unclean.

Jesus makes a simple request to the woman–water.  He makes a simple request of us–faith.

Jesus often speaks to us similarly:  “If you knew….” on a quest to draw us closer to him, to investigate more, to pray more.

In Ancient Times, living water was the name for bubbling water.  However, for Jews living water is associated with God (Jeremiah 2:13; 17:13).  It is fresh, flowing water not water that is sitting and stagnant.

Fun Fact:  The Greek word for gift is used only this time in this Gospel here.  It emphasizes God’s grace through Christ.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 4, Day 5: John 3:22-36

Summary of passage:  After Jesus’ time with Nicodemus, he and his disciples began spreading the word of God in the Judean countryside and baptizing people.  John the Baptist was also still baptizing people at this same time.  An argument arose between the followers of John the Baptist and other Jews.  They were saying Jesus is baptizing as well.  John said that’s fine for Jesus is giving the same gift from heaven.  Jesus is above John the Baptist since he came from heaven.  He speaks the words of God and has been given everything by the Father.  Whoever accepts Jesus will have eternal life.


13)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  John said it’s fine Jesus is around and humbled himself by saying Jesus is greater than he since Jesus is from heaven.  He is joyful at Jesus’ presence.  The joy of others doing the same thing as you.

14)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  John says Jesus if “the one who comes from above”, “The one whom God has sent”, “the one who comes from heaven”, “the one above all”, the Son of God, and the one to bring eternal life.  The same.

Conclusions:  John’s reaction to Jesus is what’s important here.  He’s not jealous that people are going to Jesus instead of him.  He’s joyful and happy.  We should all be that way when our competitors in life do better than we do.  It’s very hard to repress that selfishness that arises but John’s example is inspiring to do so.

End Notes:  Notice John’s focus:  Jesus’ work in Judea.  The other gospels focus on Jesus’ work in Galilee.  Map HERE of region.

Jesus is continuing the work of John the Baptist, who was doing the work God told him to do.  Jesus baptized and preached repentance, the same as John.  All we know is we’re in the region of Judea.

Where John was (Aenon near Salim) is disputed.  Aenon means “springs”, which makes sense since you need water to baptize.  Two locations are suggested:  one is 7 miles south of Bethshan and the other near Shechem.

The details of the argument is unknown.  What’s important is John’s reaction:  joy!  Jesus is here.  Let him come!

John responds to his disciples:  all I have is Jesus’, Jesus is the one who he’s announcing is coming and has come (his life’s purpose), and he’s just the best man–not the bridegroom.  The friend of the bridegroom arranges many parts of the wedding for the groom and is there only to help, which is John the Baptist’s role.  Saying Jesus is the bridegroom is saying he’s God.  All would have recognized from the Old Testament that Israel is the bride of Yahweh.

John is happy that Jesus is winning disciples.  That is John’s job–to bring them all to Jesus.  He’s doing a good job at evangelism.

Jesus is greater; the servant is less.  This John understood.  He kept doing the job he was sent to do even if the crowds lessened.  He’s still doing God’s work, which changes for us all.

Scholars debate whether verses 31-36 is John the Baptist still speaking or John the Apostle adding commentary.

Jesus is greater than everyone else and has first-hand knowledge of heaven since he’s from heaven.  This who we trust:  those who’ve been there and done that.  Jesus is the only one who’s been to heaven and back to tell.

No one will believe John says.  Jesus will be rejected.  He is prophesizing here.  This is relatively speaking.  Some did believe but most did not.

The Spirit is given freely to us all (without measure).

“The one whom God has sent” is a key theme in John’s Gospel (John 4:34; John 17:3).

“Without limit” here is debated:  is God giving the Spirit to only Jesus or to all believers?

“Has” means eternal life is a present possession, not something the believer will only obtain later.

Fun Fact:  “The Father loves the Son” is used only twice in the book of John (again in 5:20).  But a different Greek word is used in each case.

Using “the Son” to designate Jesus is a theme in this Gospel.

The wrath of God is brought upon man by himself.  God doesn’t do it.  Wrath is not a passion or an outburst.  It’s God’s displeasure that sin brings.  It’s God’s righteousness against unrighteousness.  So many churches these days downplay God’s wrath.  But without God’s wrath, there is no judgment, no morals, no values.

“God’s wrath” means that God is actively opposed to everything evil.

Fun Fact:  This is the only time John uses “wrath” in his Gospel.

“Abides” or “remains” means God’s wrath is for eternity (total and permanent) unless you accept Jesus who takes God’s wrath.

Conclusions to Lesson 4 and John 3:

John 3 is a must read for any Christian and a great place to point unbelievers.  It states:

You must be born again (John 3:7)

The Son of Man must be lifted up (John 3:14)

God must increase (John 3:30)

Man must decrease (John 3:30)

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 4, Day 4: John 3:16-21

Summary of passage:  God loved us so much He sent His one and only Son to die for our sins.  Whoever believes in Jesus shall have eternal life.  If you don’t believe in Jesus as God’s Son, then you are condemned.  Those who live by the truth (that Jesus is God’s Son) live in the light and work because of God.


10)  John 3:16:  Whoever doesn’t believe in Jesus, shall perish.

John 3:17-19:  Whoever doesn’t believe in Jesus is condemned.

John 3:36:  Whoever rejects Jesus will not see life and will have God’s wrath on him forever.

2 Thessalonians 1:8-9:  Whoever doesn’t obey Jesus shall be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power.

11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Whoever believes in Jesus is not condemned and has eternal life.  As I said in my Conclusions YESTERDAY, it’s simple:  I focus on knowing I’m saved, that I’m His, that He is with me and all else falls into place despite my humanness.  He does it, not me.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God makes coming to Him as easy as possible.  A simple choice:  to believe in Jesus or not.  Yet, as John the Apostle states, men love darkness and are attracted to evil so this choice is not as easy as it seems.  It gives me greater understanding and a new perspective to the struggle of those choosing Jesus or evil.

Conclusions:  I love the focus on simplicity here.  As perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible, it would be easy to delve too deep into this.  Instead, BSF focuses on exactly what it says:  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  The End.  The crux of Christianity in 26 words.  Amazing!

End Notes:  God loved the world.  All of us, including the Gentiles, not just God’s chosen people.  Jesus sets the record straight.

Morrison suggested that there are three centers of love:

· God so loved the world (John 3:16)

· Christ also loved the church (Ephesians 5:25)

· The Son of God, who loved me (Galatians 2:20)

God gave.  What we are all called to do:  give to others and back to God.

Nicodemus might have been reminded of Abraham’s offering of Isaac with these words.

Believe means to trust, rely, and cling to.  This is the only requirement of the world.

God gives us eternal life–His intent is to save us–eternally–forever.

Seven Wonders of John 3:16:

  1. God–Authority
  2. World–Motive
  3. Son–Gift
  4. Whoever–Welcome
  5. Believes–Escape
  6. Not perish–Deliverance
  7. Have everlasting life–Possession

“So” means “in this way”.  “World” is all people on earth.  Jesus is the Son.  “Believes” is continuing belief and convictions.

God’s purpose is to save.

John does not address those before Jesus.  He focuses on those who deliberately reject him.  Romans 1 & 2 addresses this issue and it’s best understood in terms of light:  rejecting light or accepting light.

It is all on our shoulders whether we accept Jesus or not.  God presents; we decide.

We tend to think of evil as the worst sins:  murder, rape, violence, etc.  But love of one’s own life and doing it your way instead of God’s and ignoring Him is the same.  It’s either all of God or none.  Period.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 4, Day 3: John 3:9-17

Summary of passage:  Jesus chastises Nicodemus for not understanding his meaning of regeneration.  He explains again, saying “No one has ever gone into heaven except…everyone who believes in the Son of Man may have eternal life.”  Out of God’s love, He sent his one and only Son so that all may have eternal life.


6)  I talked about this extensively YESTERDAY.  Most Jews at the time are seeking a Savior to usher in a new world where Jews are rulers here on earth.  But Jesus is ushering in a new life, where all are rulers in heaven.  Furthermore, Jews at the time believed they were automatically accepted into heaven by birthright.  They didn’t have to do anything.

Nicodemus’ confusion can further be explained by the Jewish belief of the terms of the New Covenant at that time: 1) Israel would be gathered together 2) God’s people would be spiritually transformed 3) A Messiah would rule over Israel and the whole world. Jews believed the first two had already been fulfilled. They are only seeking the Messiah to rule the world, not someone promising new life.

Also, we know how corrupt the Sanhedrin had become at this time.  Jesus chastises them many times in his ministry for twisting God’s word and taking bribes.  Like today, just because someone is in a position of authority doesn’t mean they know anything or they act responsibly.  We must always be vigilant.

God revealed to Ezekiel the coming of the Holy Spirit.  But that was hundreds of years before Jesus and the Holy Spirit did not descend until Pentecost after Jesus’ death.  I think this concept would have been incredibly hard to understand amidst all the ordinances and cleansing sacrifices the Jews had to do prior to Jesus.  Thus, in my opinion, he shouldn’t have grasped Jesus’ teaching.  This is the first time in his new ministry Jesus has said point blank:  “To get to the kingdom of God, you gotta go through me and be born again.”

7a)  John the Baptist, John the Apostle, Peter, Andrew, Philip, Nathanael.

b)  They did not accept who Jesus was.

8 )  In Numbers, the Lord told Moses to put a snake on a pole, have the people look upon it, and live.  The people were being bitten by poisonous snakes and dying because they spoke against God on their way to the Promised Land.  Here, God is saying, “Have faith in the snake I place on the pole and you shall live.”  Now, in John, God is saying, “Have faith in my Son and you shall live forever!”  God is/was providing a way of escape that requires only simple faith.

9a)  To be “saved” means to be among those chosen to enter heaven and forever dwell with God.  One must merely have faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and accept him as the eternal sacrifice for our sins.  It’s that simple.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The fact it’s so simple causes me to praise God for His infinite and unintelligible grace to us.  It’s truly amazing.

Conclusions:  Great lesson causing us to dive into just how confused God’s people were when Jesus arrived on the scene.  Most Jews had huge passages of Scripture memorized due to the mere fact they didn’t have it written down like we do; yet, still, they did not understand God’s word.  This is encouraging for me when I don’t understand God’s word and His plan for my life.  But if I focus on the stuff I do understand, on how Jesus is my Savior and if i have him I have everything, then I’ll be alright.  God will be with me and guide me and I don’t have to understand everything because God does.  All I have to do is live with God’s heart.

End Notes:  Most commentaries I read on this passage say Nicodemus should have been familiar with the new birth concept in the Old Testament enough to know exactly what Jesus was speaking of and not be stumped.  Since we are unsure exactly how important Nicodemus was, I’ll stand with my original analysis.  Based on mankind’s unchanging nature of selfishness and indifference towards others, Nicodemus believed what he wanted to about the Word.  Same as today.  People cut and paste the Bible like it’s a scrapbook.  It’s not.  It’s the whole picture of God and Jesus.  And right now we need ALL of God and ALL of Jesus in our lives.  Not just pieces.

You can just see how much Jesus wants to hit Nicodemus over the head so he’ll understand.  But he doesn’t.  He’s patient and kind and keeps explaining until we get it.  Like he does today.

Jesus has first-hand knowledge of heaven so he can speak of it.  Here, we are reminded of John 1:1:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

“No one has ever gone into heaven” could be phrased as “no man knows the mysteries of the kingdom of God.”   (Deuteronomy 30:12; Psalm 73:17; Proverbs 30:4; Romans 11:34)

Serpents are often symbols of evil in the Bible (Genesis 3:1-5 and Revelation 12:9).  However, Moses’ serpent in Numbers 21 was made of bronze, which is a metal associated with judgment in the Bible since  bronze is made with fire, a picture of judgment.

So, a bronze serpent does speak of sin, but of sin judged.  In the same way Jesus, who knew no sin became sin for us on the cross, and our sin was judged in Him.  A bronze serpent is a picture of sin judged and dealt with.

We would have wanted to diminish our sense of sin, and put the image of a man up on the pole. Our image of man might represent “both good and bad” in man. But a serpent is more apparently sinful, and shows us our true nature and true need of salvation.

In addition, if the serpent lay horizontally on the vertical pole, it is easy to see how this also was a visual representation of the cross. However, many traditions show the serpent being wrapped around the pole, and this is the source for the ancient figure of healing and medicine – a serpent, wrapped around a pole.  See picture HERE

In Numbers 21:4-9, the people were saved not by doing anything, but by simply looking to the bronze serpent.  They had to trust that something as seemingly foolish as looking at such a thing would be sufficient to save them.  Surely, some did not have faith and paid the ultimate price.

Isaiah 45:22: “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.”  It’s that simple–salvation.

The verb “lifted up” is used in Jesus’ crucifixion (John 12:32) and ascension (Acts 2:33).  Jesus suffered and was exalted in saving grace.

Analysis of verses 16 & 17 will be tomorrow’s lesson.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 4, Day 2: John 3:1-8

Summary of passage:  Nicodemus, a Pharisee on the Jewish ruling council, comes to Jesus in the middle of the night to find out more about him.  Jesus tells him he must be born again to see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus takes this literally.  Jesus explains you must be born of the Spirit and of water.


3a)  Nicodemus is questioning Jesus further on who he is.  Jesus responds with the essence of life with God:  to be with God you must be born again of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and accept his (Jesus’) future death.

b)  First off, he doesn’t understand.  He takes Jesus’ words literally.  Partly because of the Jewish faith that being born Jewish would guarantee a place in heaven.  He might even think Jesus is speaking of merely doing right instead of wrong–changing one’s ways so to speak.  He has been blinded to the truth.  But he’s trying to understand and keeps asking for clarity.  He’s persistent.  Determined.  Eager.  See End Notes for more.

4)  Flesh is man kind empty, devoid of the Holy Spirit.  Be careful with the given verse of John 6:51-56.  Jesus here is talking about his flesh after he has given it as a living sacrifice for mankind.  In our context, he is talking of man’s flesh without him.

5a)  That person is dead.  Dead in sin, following the transgressions of the world.  New birth is essential if you want to live forever.  Period.

b)  Yes.  Yes.  See definition of regeneration below.

Conclusions:  A weighty and important passage.  Here Jesus explains exactly how to get to heaven and essentially him.  It’s all God.  It’s accepting Jesus as your Savior.  It’s being born again with the Holy Spirit and living for God.  This is known as regeneration which is “the spiritual change wrought in people’s hearts by an act of God in which their inherent sinful nature is changed and by which they are enabled to respond to God in faith.”  (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Merrill and Tenney).  God initiates the change through the Holy Spirit, releasing that person from change, and thus enabling them a new life in Christ, voluntarily turning to God in fellowship.  As long as people are in sin, they cannot believe in God.

End Notes:  We can assume Nicodemus was one of those impressed by what they saw Jesus doing at the Passover Feast in John 2:23.  He was educated as a member of the ruling priests (the Sanhedrin).  As a Pharisee, he was committed to a certain set of beliefs.  No doubt he was influential.  His name is Greek meaning “conqueror over the people.”

Why did Nicodemus come to Jesus at night?  Maybe he was afraid of being seen by others.  Maybe he wanted time to speak to Jesus uninterrupted.  Maybe he was just shy.  Maybe curious.  Or maybe from conviction.  Most certainly though led by God.

Scholars are unsure who “we” is in verse 2.  It could be generic such as “It is known”.  It could be Nicodemus is referring to the Sanhedrin, the ruling Jewish rabbi.  Or it could be he’s using the royal we to refer to himself.

False prophets can also do false signs which surely Nicodemus is aware of but he still says and evidently believes God is with Jesus if he’s doing these signs.

Jews believed by just being born Jewish they were assured a place in the Kingdom of God.  Jesus here is saying now that is no longer the case.  You must believe in him to make it into heaven.

Some Jewish leaders taught that Abraham stood at the gates of hell just to make sure none of his descendants accidentally went there.

Remember most Jews at the time are seeking a Savior to usher in a new world where Jews are rulers here on earth.  But Jesus is ushering in a new life, where all are rulers in heaven.

“Born again” is literally in the Greek “born from above.”  To have new life.  After Jesus spoke of new birth here, we see it all over the New Testament.

We cannot birth ourselves.  This is something that must be done to us.  We accept Jesus but he does the rest.

Nicodemus’ confusion can further be explained by the Jewish belief of the terms of the New Covenant at that time:  1)  Israel would be gathered together  2)  God’s people would be spiritually transformed  3)  A Messiah would rule over Israel and the whole world.  Jews believed the first two had already been fulfilled.  They are only seeking the Messiah to rule the world, not someone promising new life.

What does “born of water” mean?  Some believe baptism but there’s nothing in the Old Testament to back this claim.  Some think physical birth.  Some think the Word since Ephesians 5:26 says the Word is water.  Some think the Holy Spirit since it’s called the living waters (John 7:38-39).  Some say cleansing water or purification as in Ezekiel 36:25-28.  Whatever Jesus was referring to, Nicodemus should have known (John 3:10).

Jesus establishes with these words salvation by God’s grace alone.  It is not something man could ever do on his own.  Be born again is God and God alone.

The idea with the wind is you don’t have to understand wind to experience it’s effects.  The same with the Spirit.  You don’t have to understand it or how it works but you can experience a life with the Spirit.  Understanding comes later.

We will see Nicodemus twice more in John and in the Bible where he only appears in this book.  At the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:25-52) Nicodemus says perhaps they shouldn’t kill Jesus without a fair trial and then after Jesus’ death Nicodemus provides a rich store of spices for Jesus’ embalmment and assists in Jesus’ burial (John 19:38-42).  He then vanishes from Scripture, leaving us unsure whether he ever confessed to faith in Jesus.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 3, Day 5: John 2:23-25

Summary of passage:  Many people saw Jesus’ miracles and believed in him.  However, Jesus knew the heart of all men and would not entrust himself to them.


11a)  The disciples knew truly in their hearts who Jesus was.  The Passover believers believed with their minds and not their hearts.  They believed in the spectacular miracles, not in the person who did the miracles.

b)  Those who go through the motions of belief in Jesus but don’t actually have the heart for him.  You see this everywhere from church to work to schools to vacations and every day life events.

12)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus knows these are the very people who are gonna kill him later.  He also is not fooled by their half-hearted belief.  I think Jesus entrusts himself to us every day when he gives us the Holy Spirit and we are his representatives here on earth for others to see.  It is our responsibility to live the life he wants for us, to live His life.

Conclusions:  Great emphasis on the importance of true belief and the depth of Jesus’ love for Fallen mankind.

End Notes:  Superficial belief is a start and better than nothing.  However, it’s not enough for Jesus.  We must always strive to know him better and deeper.

He doesn’t put too much faith in his followers for he knows us.  He is not misled.

Isn’t it amazing how God still loves us even though he knows man?  From here on out, John tells us Jesus is letting us know he knows everything about us.  He is the One.  There can be no doubt.