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I had planned for this week’s post to close out on my study of John 3:5 but I find there is an interpretation of “born of water” I would be remiss if I didn’t address.  That interpretation is the one that states being born of water is in reference to our physical birth.  I had personally discounted this interpretation because I had no found no scripture using “born of water” to mean physical birth.  I had found “born of a woman” but never “born of water”.  I had looked at various blog posts that discounted this interpretation but was looking up my scripture reference in the Mirror Study Bible and saw that John 3:5 was translated as “unless someone is born out of water (the womb) and Spirit, there would be no possible connection with the realm of God!” 1 

When I first started this series and was talking it over with my mother, she said she’d always thought being born of water meant physical birth because of the rush of water that announces an imminent birth.  She had been taught so in her church.  While I personally have never heard this interpretation, I’ve also never heard a sermon on John 3:5 so don’t have any idea how prevalent this interpretation might be.  And so, in the interests of being thorough, I am going to take a look at the possibility that being born of water is referencing the physical birth.

At first glance, this interpretation appears obvious.  Nicodemus does ask how it’s possible for a grown man to return to the womb and Jesus does reply with “that which is born of flesh is flesh” (John 3:6).  The Mirror Study Bible translates John 3:6 as, “Whatever originates out of flesh is flesh; but what is sourced in Spirit is spirit” and then has the following commentary: “The Message says, when you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch.  But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit”.

Let us continue in the Mirror Study Bible for two more verses.  John 3:7; “Don’t be so surprised when I say to you [manity – plural!] You couldn’t get here in the flesh unless you got here from above! (See John 1:10 These are the ones who discover their genesis in God beyond their natural conception!  This is not about our blood lineage or whether we were a wanted or an unwanted child – this is about our God-begotteness; we are his dream come true!  We are not the invention of our parents! [You are the greatest idea God has ever had!]) John 3:8; We can observe the effect the wind has and hear its sound whenever it touches objects – yet those objects do not define the wind; it comes and goes of its own accord – if life was not born out of the spirit in the first place, it would not be possible to detect spirit influence at all!  We are spirit-compatible by design! (Spirit is our origin!  Not our mother’s womb!…) 

This confuses me a bit.  What is Mr. du Toit saying here?  Is he saying while the Spirit is our true origin, we must be born into a physical body in order to-he says have a possible connection but other translations say see, enter-the Kingdom of God?  If so, I have a massive question I must lay before my Heavenly Father.  What about all the children who don’t make it through the birth process?

While seeking an answer in scripture to that question, I found I had to ask another: when does life begin?  I’ve heard various people say life begins at birth and others say it begins at conception.  What does the Bible say?  The Bible appears to share a truth so massive my mind can hardly fathom it.  The Writer of the Book of Hebrews, in talking about the Priesthood of Melchizedek, says it is a higher priesthood than that of Levi because “even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him” (Hebrews 7:9-10) This scripture suggests Levi was alive in his great-grandfather decades before his physical birth.  And yet, there is a scripture that takes all of humanity’s origins back further than Abraham because “as in Adam all die” (1 Corinthians 13:22).  The first human made a choice that affected every one of his descendants.  It affected me so I had to be in Adam all those millennia before my actual birth.

The Bible does make clear the fact that God knew us before our physical birth.  God says to Jeremiah, “before I formed you in the womb I knew you: Before you were born I sanctified you” (Jeremiah 1:5).  One of my favorite Psalms contains a passage that echoes God’s words to Jeremiah: “You formed my inward parts: You covered me in my mother’s womb…my frame was not hidden from you…you saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” (Psalm 139: 13-16) The Gospel of John says “All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made.”  Consider Colossians 1:16: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.”  Ephesians 1:4-5 says “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the pleasure of His will”.   

When I meditate on these scriptures, especially Colossians and Ephesians, I think I have not yet begun to fathom my origin.  Regarding John 3:5, I do not agree that “born of water” means a physical birth and then being born of the Spirit is the being born again.  In fact, the Greek word that has been translated again is anothen (G509) and would have been translated more accurately as from above, or anew.  (I’ve addressed this here) I believe born of water and the spirit were meant to explain being born anew and conducting this study has convinced me that the being born from above has nothing to do with water baptism.  Do I think a human has to be born physically and live some time on this earth in order to be then born into the Kingdom of God?

I do think this human existence is of immense value.  I think every life matters to God in a way we humans don’t understand unless His Spirit opens our eyes.  I know death is an enemy but one that is defeated by Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15, Revelation 1:18) therefore I do not believe the death of this body in some way thwarts God.  I do know that “in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth-in Him.” The Amplified Bible puts it beautifully: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. (For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him.) To Him be glory forever!  Amen (so be it). (Romans 11:36)


To be continued…

  1. “Scripture taken from THE MIRROR. Copyright © 2012. Used by permission of The Author.”

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