555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

310. What Is Meant by "Except a Man Be Born of Water and of the Spirit"?

This passage in John 3 :$ has given rise to much controversy and theologians are by no means agreed as to its meaning. Our opinion is that Christ had reference to the topic then agitating such men as the one he was speaking to. They had a ceremony by which the Gentile was admitted to the privileges of Judaism, part of which was baptism, which signified purification from the sins of his old life. To the astonishment of the Pharisees, John the Baptist had insisted that even they were in need of baptism, just as the proselyte was. But as John intimated that was not enough. There was One coming who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Therefore Nicodemus would understand Christ's meaning, when he spoke of being born of water and of the spirit. To the new birth it was necessary that a man be purified in heart, his past sins blotted out, which was symbolized by the water, and he must be quickened to a new life, which was done by the Spirit Both are still necessary to conversion. They are called in theological parlance, justification and sanctification. This element of water and the operation of the spirit are the subject of prediction in Ezekiel 36:25-27.