John 3

Chapter 3

Nicodemus Goes To Visit Jesus. 1 There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus,[a] a member of the Jewish ruling council, 2 who came to Jesus at night. “Rabbi,” he said, “we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one would be able to perform the signs that you do unless God were with him.” 3 Jesus replied,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,
no one can see the kingdom of God[b]
without being born from above.”

4 Nicodemus asked, “How can a man be born again once he is old? Is it possible for him to enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus said,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,
no one can enter the kingdom of God
unless he is born of water and the Spirit.[c]
6 What is born of the flesh is flesh,
and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 “You should not be astonished when I say,
‘You must be born from above.’
8 The wind blows where it chooses,
and you hear the sound of it,
but you do not know where it comes from
or where it goes.
So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

9 “How is this possible?” asked Nicodemus. 10 Jesus responded, “You are a teacher of Israel and you do not know these things?

11 “Amen, amen, I say to you,
we speak of what we know
and we testify to what we have seen,
and yet you do not accept our testimony.
12 If I tell you about earthly things
and you do not believe,
how will you believe
when I speak to you about heavenly things?

Jesus Christ, Savior and Judge[d]

13 “No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who descended from heaven,
the Son of Man.
14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,[e]
15 in order that everyone who believes in him
may have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world
that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him
may not perish
but may attain eternal life.
17 “For God did not send his Son into the world
to condemn the world
but in order that the world might be saved through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned,
but whoever does not believe in him
already stands condemned,
because he has not believed in the name
of the only-begotten Son of God.
19 “And the judgment is this:
the light has come into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light
because their deeds were evil.
20 Everyone who does evil hates the light
and avoids coming near the light
so that his misdeeds may not be exposed.
21 However, whoever lives by the truth
comes to the light
so that it may be clearly seen
that his deeds have been done
in God.”

22 Final Witness of John the Baptist.[f] After this, Jesus went with his disciples into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them and baptized. 23 John was also baptizing at Aenon[g] near Salem, because there was an abundance of water there, and people were coming to be baptized. 24 At that time, John had not yet been imprisoned.

25 Now a dispute about ceremonial washings arose between a certain Jew and the disciples of John. 26 Therefore, they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you bore witness, is baptizing, and everyone is flocking to him.” 27 John replied,

“No one can receive anything
except what has been given to him from heaven.
28 You yourselves can testify that I said,
‘I am not the Christ.
I have been sent before him.’
29 “It is the bridegroom who has the bride,
but the friend of the bridegroom
who stands by and listens for him
rejoices greatly when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.
This joy of mine
is complete.
30 He must increase;
I must decrease.

He Who Comes from Above[h]

31 “The one who comes from above is above all.
The one who is of the earth is earthly
and speaks of earthly things.
The one who comes from heaven is above all.
32 He bears witness to the things he has seen and heard,
yet no one accepts his testimony.
33 “Whoever accepts his testimony
attests that God speaks the truth.
34 For the one whom God has sent
speaks the words of God,
for God gives him the Spirit without measure.[i]
35 The Father loves the Son,
and he has entrusted everything into his hand.
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life;
whoever does not believe in the Son will not see life,
but the wrath of God rests upon him.”


  1. John 3:1 Nicodemus: a member of the Sanhedrin or ruling council in virtue of his being a teacher of the Law.
  2. John 3:3 Kingdom of God: this is the basic theme of the preaching of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels. In John, it appears explicitly only in this verse. However, in the Synoptics it almost disappears in the Passion Narrative, whereas in John it is given particular emphasis there. John identifies the kingdom of God with the very person of Jesus. During the public ministry, the splendor of Jesus’ kingship was somewhat veiled by his fragile humanity, but in the Passion it comes shining through in his exaltation on the cross, which, for John, is intrinsically connected with Jesus’ glorification in heaven. From above: the Greek word anothen could be translated “from above” or “again.” Jesus means “from above,” but Nicodemus understands “again.”
  3. John 3:5 Born of water and the Spirit: this phrase refers to Christian Baptism, the necessary vehicle for our spiritual rebirth, wrought by the Holy Spirit. It may be that here the evangelist is clarifying the words of the Lord according to a later and more mature understanding of Christian teaching, as lived in the primitive community.
  4. John 3:13 The evangelist prolongs the conversation with Nicodemus in meditation on Jesus. What, then, is the mystery of Jesus and what does he bring to the human condition? The evangelist meditates on the Son of God, the divine messenger now glorified at his Father’s side.
    From Jesus, life came through the cross—as is suggested by the allusion to the bronze serpent intended to cure dying Hebrews (see Num 21:9). The cross was a testimony of God’s love for the world and for each one of us. The cross was also the light given to us. This light enables us to recognize our conduct in truth and compels us to make a decisive choice: either to submit to Jesus and be saved, or to flee and be condemned.
  5. John 3:14 So must the Son of Man be lifted up: the reference is to the lifting up on the cross, which in John’s view is identical with the glorification of Jesus.
  6. John 3:22 Using an image familiar to the Jews (see Deut 31:16; Jer 2:2; Hos 2:18f; Mt 9:15), John attests that Jesus is the true Bridegroom, that is, the one in whose person God enters into the new and definitive covenant with his own.
    The witness, moreover, sets himself aside: he is only the friend of the Bridegroom, whose role is to ask for the hand of the bride and, when the wedding feast is prepared, to introduce her to the Bridegroom.
  7. John 3:23 Aenon: the place has not been identified with certainty.
  8. John 3:31 The evangelist continues his reflection on the mystery of Christ. Jesus is the Son who receives from his Father the fullness of life. He has the mission to reveal it and communicate it to those who believe in him, by giving them the Spirit with whom he himself is filled (v. 34). In rich and symbolic words, he is to show how much the believer’s life is a gift of God and a newness of existence beyond anything that is in the earthly power of people.
  9. John 3:34 For God gives him the Spirit without measure: another translation is: “And he gives the Spirit without measure.”

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