“Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.’”
Explanation and Commentary on John 3:5
Nicodemus has asked how a man can be born again when he is old. Incredulous, he wondered allowed if one could enter into his mother’s womb a second time. This was hyperbole, but Jesus answers the question and discourses on rebirth as a necessity before one can enter the Kingdom of God, that is, into the new reality of the rule and reign of God in Christ on the earth where there had been only darkness.
Someone might hear of this Kingdom and long to go in to escape the darkness and the eternal darkness of the damnation of hell, but it is impossible apart from this rebirth.
Being born of water and the Spirit is to be saved. Only the Holy Spirit can change a person by renewing his or her spirit and then making his home in them. Once one is saved, or born again, then one can not only see the Kingdom but live as a citizen of the Kingdom by depending on God for life and sanctification in the same way one received the free gift of salvation.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of John 3:5
#1 “Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you,”
Jesus answered the question about being born again with his signature way of underlining a key concept, “very truly I tell you.” What follows is always a statement worth taking to heart and living by.
#2 “no one can enter…”
No one can enter because “All have fallen short of the glory of God” (Ro 3:21). There is no one who does right (Ps 53:3). There is no one who does not sin (1 Jn 1:8-10). Therefore there is only one way to be saved, and what follows is the way.
#3 “the kingdom of God…”
Jesus’ message, the good news that he preached, was that the Kingdom of God was at hand. In the Church Age, the Kingdom must be entered by faith through rebirth and is a way to live the future rule and reign of God in the present time. Sadly, even saved Christians spend entirely too much time walking in darkness because they walk by the flesh, though they have the Spirit.
#4 “…unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”
Some think “water” means the first birth from the womb. But it is more likely that Jesus is referring to the water of baptism, Ezekiel said, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ez 36:25-27). Put your trust in God alone to do this work, and enter the Kingdom of God.
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Biblical Translations of John 3:5
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”
Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.”
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Jesus answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.